Being Vegetarian

Not that I usually talk about anything other than music or films or television, but this one will do. This is a current topic!

This whole vegetarian thing is quite popular isn’t it? And annoying. My situation is slightly different from the other herbivores as instead of choosing not to eat meat, I was brought up not eating it. As a result, most of it is completely alien and quite grim to me. I don’t even know how to cook most of it. The meat aisle in Sainsburys both fascinates and sickens me as I have no idea what the majority is. It’s all so frighteningly red.. Generally speaking, I’m mainly put off because I’m so very squeamish, but also because it makes me feel sick – physically that is – both during the consumption of it and for a few days after. I heard a great phrase for this – a “carnover”. Like a hangover, just for meat. I suspect you only experience this is you don’t generally go in for fleisch, but it’s still a good phrase. I’ve tried, I’ve really bloody tried because I feel like there’s a whole world out there that I’m missing out on. There are some things I refuse to eat – to even try – because they’re FAR too cute (bastard lamb-eating people!), but aside from the squeamish thing, the feeling sick and the cute factor, most of it just tastes horrid anyway. Still, I do wish I had the option.

The options are there in their plenty for the non-meat eater. You don’t even have to go in for the meat substitutes, and I think there are some vegetarians who would even deem this as cheating – because you’re not trying to find new food, it’s just food replacement. But who can resist the vegetarian sausage?! It’s one of the best inventions ever, it really is. Not the Quorn ones, but the Linda McCartney’s and the Cauldron ones – I think so. Quorn do win at fake chicken and mince though. It also depends on how “hardcore” you want to be – I currently live with two people (men, no less) who even check their beer ingredients to make sure there’s no animal involved – but then my mother (who instigated vegetarianism) (I mean for me, not the world, that would be severely impressive) eats Parmesan cheese and smokey bacon crisps. And fish actually. It all depends on why you’re being vegetarian. I hate it when people assume you’re doing it for moral reasons and then tell you you’re an idiot because it’s instinct to eat meat and we’re going against nature. That may be true but you surely shouldn’t judge so readily.

But similarly, the vegetarians shouldn’t assume it’ll be an easy ride. If you’ve chosen to limit your options, you’ve got to accept there will be less to eat. Someone I know is not only lactose intolerant but also gluten – this isn’t even her choice but it makes for a very expensive and awkward supermarket venture. I feel much worse for her than myself as it’s not like I’ll die if I eat animals (what an odd sentence). But there’s no one to blame in the previous situation – it’s much easier to get on board of you’ve made the choice yourself. Not that I entirely did but I’m choosing to avoid it as much as I can.

I’m always impressed at the lengths the people I know will go to to cater for me whenever they’re cooking. Benchlad’s mum always makes an extra dish for me, or makes everything vegetarian (which makes me feel guilty), or if she hasn’t had time she’ll apologise profusely. And my friend Ana did similar whenever she cooked. It makes me feel guilty because I know it’s more awkward for them, but they all seem fine doing it.. Nice but strange.

That said, it can be immensely frustrating whenever it gets to you. Whenever you go out to eat is usually the worse time. Glastonbury is not a problem, those hippie weirdos are usually vegetarian anyway, but restaurants can be quite depressing. We went to the Curry Festival in Leeds last weekend and I think there was only one all-vegetarian stall. Which was very nice of them, but we got samosas from another stand and I completely didn’t think about the contents, until some mushy, grey-looking meat substances was looking back at me after consuming the initial pastry. Such a shame as they were homemade and everything.

But really, it’s like any extreme. Don’t throw it in someone’s face and don’t expect everyone to get on board. It’s not that normal (although being quite common), but it can be immense if you do it right. Having sympathetic friends can help too.



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