Not eating meat is murder
For the past few weeks I have been attempting to stick to a vegetarian diet. The roots of this were planted long ago when I decided to take more interest in where my meat came from and how it was raised. I stopped buying cheap meat in the supermarket and treated it like a luxury, buying only from sources that could assure me of their ethical farming methods. It's a great deal more expensive, but was nicer and seemed considerably less like eating victims of torture. Out went the bargain bacon, the Pepperamis, the sausage rolls, the service station pork pies, and all the other convenient meat products. The fact is that no one, not even the producers of such products, can accurately inform you of what’s in them. You’re probably eating hooves, offal, gristle and bone most of the time, and I decided that wasn’t for me. So I stuck to the odd duck breast or steak from the farmers' market, some good mince from the local butcher, things like that.
But sometime in the past couple of months, this line of thought has progressed into questioning the entire notion of meat-eating. I think it might have been when I chomped down on a bit of bone hiding inside a farmer’s handmade sausage. I was absolutely disgusted with this greasy little rock that I found crunching around in my mouth, and spat out in the kitchen sink. Even the trusted farmers make mistakes, I suppose, but it suddenly made me think: if I’m disgusted by the idea of eating offal, gristle and bone, then why shouldn’t I be disgusted by flesh, liver, skin, fat and kidneys too? Ultimately, what’s the difference? It’s all part of the same, once-living creature after all.
So I’ve been wondering why I ate meat in the first place, and the only answer I can find is that I’ve been conditioned to. Depending on who you ask, the human race may or may not be naturally carnivorous. And nutritionists on all sides have different ideas. Some say a lack of meat can even lead to depression, but that doesn’t really bother me because I’ve always been a miserable bastard anyway and I doubt that I or anyone else would even notice. There’s plenty of science out there to help inform a decision, but the only honest conclusion that anyone can ever reasonably draw is that a balanced diet of both meat and non-meat produces the best results in human health.
I looked at a few websites while doing some research on the matter, hoping to find some inspiration to nudge me one way or the other. There’s plenty of nutritional advice to be found, but I also made the grave mistake of visiting PETA’s website. I was confronted with a glossy, patronising MTV infomercial making insane claims such as “Meat makes you sterile!” (actually the opposite might be true and there’s evidence to suggest that a vegetarian diet can cause fertility problems). This aggressive, condescending propaganda only succeeded in making me want to punch the sanctimonious pricks in the mouth. This then led me to do some branch research on People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and it turns out that they fund animal rights terrorists and euthanise around ninety per cent of the animals they claim to “liberate”. They’re a very confused, contradictory organisation and were absolutely no help at all. And if they’re planning on turning us all vegan then they really should think about changing their tactics.
Anyway, for a few weeks I haven’t had any meat, and I must admit that I’m finding it a bit of a struggle. I’ve just turned down the tasty-looking tuna and bean salad that my girlfriend prepared for dinner because I haven’t quite made up my mind about meat yet. Plus, of course, fish are a particularly sensitive area. It’s no secret that the sea is running out of them thanks to us, but it’s also true that probably my favourite meal in the UK is a monkfish supper from The Wee Hurry in Troon, and were that on offer tonight, I’m not sure that I’d be able to resist. I’ve also noticed that I’ve been eating a lot more shit recently to make up for the meat-shaped hole in my diet: there’s been a lot of crisps, cheap noodles, Ritz crackers, and a Lion bar recently, while the rest of the household have enjoyed sausages and salmon and various other tasty dead animals.
So I don’t know what to do. I can’t deny that I miss bacon, beef mince, chicken and duck, and the only real moral obstacle is whether or not I’m comfortable with killing something for my own pleasure. And this, of course, is the crux of the dilemma, and is something I can only reconcile with myself. If I’m to be honest, I think I might be back on meat wagon pretty soon.