So I’m a vegetarian. Great! But that’s about it really: I don’t eat meat. I’m not particularly excited by the many opportunities cutting meat of all forms, out of my life possesses. I could revolutionise the way I eat. Venture into new and exciting dishes, with foods I’ve never tried before as compensation for the lack of chicken or fish in my life.
But do you know what, I can’t be bothered. It’s too much effort. I know some people say that being a vegetarian is a lifestyle choice – and to some extent that is true, as it reflects my values and worldview – but it’s too much effort to go all out.
I’m the sort of vegetarian who gets meat-free meat mock-ups, like meat-free burgers, or meat-free sausages. I make Quorn-chicken stirfry and meat-free mince spaghetti bolognaise. None of this fancy artistry with pepper-sculpting or exploring the 1000 ways to utilise a courgette. I’ll leave that to people with actual skill.
Making exciting pastries filled with all the imaginable cheeses in existence sounds fun, but when I’ve got 2000 words to write in 3 hours, it’s just not practical. Whilst cheese has taken a big new role in my diet (by cheese I mean cheddar and brie), I’m just not enthused by the opportunity to rebalance my diet now meat has gone.
It’s true, I probably eat more fruit and vegetables than I used to, but I put no conscious effort into doing so. I removed meat from my diet, but didn’t seek to add vegetables in its place. I didn’t become a vegetarian for love of vegetables. My diet probably contains just as much chocolate, potatoes and pasta as it always did (just now with the removal of bovine gelatine sweets – perhaps the most insidious of meat products).
I didn’t set out to explore meat-free foods. I just wanted to give up meat for three reasons. 1) It’s better for me – the health risks of red meat is proof enough. 2) It’s better for the environment, as the meat production industry is a major emitter of CO2 and deforester, and it’s also an inefficient use of the environment: if the same land was used for crop production, many millions more people could be fed. 3) It’s better for the animal as it’s not killed, in often inhumane and brutal conditions, or in some cases, with major repercussions on eco-systems, for example in relation to fishing.
So yeah, I am possibly the most boring, unexciting vegetarian in the world (I’ve never cooked cous-cous and only discovered lentils last term), but it’s ok. The main values and virtues of being vegetarian are still being observed. And in that respect, I’m as much a vegetarian as anyone.