Today I have been celebrating two months of vegetarianism! I’m mostly comfortable with calling it that now, rather than ‘trying to go without meat for a while’ back when I was scared I’d fall off the quorn wagon. But now I’ve assured myself that my will is strong enough to continue. There are two sides to my psyche: the intellectual, moral (and thankfully dominant) side, then the more instinctive ‘go with the flow’ side, which wonders why I am avoiding meat, since everyone eats it. The rational me responds that alcohol, tobacco and capitalism are also accepted by society, yet are what I would consider Bad Things. Resistance usually stops by that point.
Gosh, I really am an all-round abstinent person, thinking about it.
I still believe I’ll eat meat again one day, though I want this lifestyle to be looked back upon as more than just ‘a phase’. My Geography teacher, who’s a slightly obsessive ecologically-minded person, found out recently about my vegetarianism. He seemed to approve, and after making fun of me for destroying the Amazon rainforest with the growth of soya beans admitted that he once was one as well. Which got me thinking: if someone like him tried vegetarianism and eventually decided against it, chances are I probably will too. Then again, I have an uncle who has been a vegetarian for over 30 years now, and is still going strong. It will be interesting to see how I do.
The prospect of eating meat is particularly tempting when faced with a school menu like I had today: ‘reestit mutton’, chicken curry, salad boxes (with added chicken and bacon!) or cheese sandwiches. I’m not the best fan of cheese but was forced to take that option. Would it really be that difficult to include the occasional ‘veggie’ sausage, or quorn chicken, rather than always token vegetarian options like stuffed peppers or, in cases like today, nothing?
Other than these grievances, I’ve gone pretty successfully. I do still eye up meat – bacon’s the worst of all – whenever someone eats it, and sometimes take a sniff as if to test myself, though I’m never seriously tempted. Christmas Dinner was tough; roast quorn didn’t quite cut it. The recent story about horsemeat being an unrecorded ingredient in some beef burgers has strengthened my resolve however, not because eating horse is any worse than eating cow but because it’s highlighted the furtive, shady nature of many cheap meat products. Yes, all is well. Except one small blip…
I discovered that the margarine I’ve been eating, ‘benecol light’, contains gelatine. I’m not sure whose idea it was to put in boiled hoof, skin and hide into something you spread over bread, but there you go. I did some research and it appears that gelatine is often used in various ‘light’ foods as a replacement for certain fats to bond it all together. Gelatine can also appear in some jams, and even yogurts. Most people don’t know that it’s in marshmallows, either – as well as jelly and most chewy sweets like Haribos. I’m now checking the ingredients of many commodities with quite a fervour.
I’m not very bothered by this, because I was unaware of what I was eating, but it’s irritating to have my diet decisions undermined in such a way. I can’t imagine the trouble vegans must go through; though I do think veganism is going a bit too far. Animals could theoretically lead perfect lives in a vegetarian society; chickens will always lay eggs and cows will always produce milk – in fact, it can cause pain for cows not to be milked.
Here’s hoping I can post a similar update in two months’ time!