I’m a wheat eater not a meat eater: 10 things to never say to a vegetarian or vegan
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'Don't you miss bacon?' and other annoying things that vegetarians and vegans are sick to the back teeth of hearing.
Apparently, one of the most popular New Year's resolutions this year was made by people keen to eat less meat.
I'd desperately struggle with this resolution – not because I'm an offal-guzzling carnivore, but because I haven't eaten meat or fish for more than 30 years. To eat less would involve having some kind of netting fitted to my mouth to prevent kamikaze insects flying down my gullet.
While I don't eat things with a face or food that had parents, I do, however, wear leather (not all over. I'm not Bonnie Tyler) so am a hypocritical vegetarian, although if you'd lived through the summer of 1993 living with a plastic-shoe wearing vegan, you'd understand. There are lots of reasons why people should eat less meat – if the world ate 15 per cent less meat, which means abstaining from flesh for one day a week, it would mean the environmental equivalent of taking 240 million cars off the road each year. And as long as one of those cars isn't either of mine, I am completely down with that.
If you're not trying out vegetarianism or veganism (which is fine, each to their own) then I offer you this, a list of things not to say to those who are already on the green path and if you are, don't be one of the drum-banging bores who judge everyone on what they eat. The whole point of being a vegetarian/vegan is that you live and let live, so adopt the same policy with the meat eaters in your life. They don't know any better. They haven't seen the colonic irrigations that I have.
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1) Don't you miss bacon? No, that's kind of the point of being a vegetarian. I don't miss bacon remotely – from my dim and distant recollection, it tasted like blood-flavoured chewing gum. If I really missed bacon, or sausages, or burgers, or roast beef or any of the other things that many meat eaters think no human should live without, I'd probably eat them.
2) I often choose the vegetarian option when I go out. Oh. Well done? On another note, if you do this when you're at a function and you've not specified that you're a vegetarian, you are taking away the only option we can eat, so THANK YOU VERY MUCH. See also: 'I tried being a vegetarian once.'
3) I am pretty much vegetarian – I just have a bit of fish or chicken occasionally. You are not a vegetarian if you eat fish, or if you 'occasionally' eat chicken. You're just someone who doesn't eat much meat. See also: 'But you eat fish, right?'
4) But meat is delicious! You are talking to the wrong vegetarian. I gave up meat primarily because I thought it wasn't delicious at all – to me, it has all the appeal of chewing on a car tyre or the sole of my shoe. I don't eat meat-flavoured substitutes, I don't weep uncontrollably because I'll never have a steak and organ-that-filters-urine pie. Mind-blowing fact: I used to eat meat AND I DIDN'T LIKE IT. See also: 'Go on! Just try a little bit…'
5) If animals weren't meant to be eaten, why are they made of meat? The answer to this one incites cannibalism. As Oscar Wilde almost said, 'we are all of us made of meat, but some of us prefer to stick to nut roast.' See also: 'Humans are meant to eat meat.' Is that why we have such sharp teeth?
6) How do you know plants don't have the same feelings animals do? This is reserved for people who are really pleased with themselves, which is ironically how lots of people feel about vegetarians and vegans. I know that plants don't have the same feelings as animals do because they don't have a brain or a central nervous system and don't have the nociceptors that are programmed to respond to pain, like us and other animals do. This isn't opinion, it's fact.
7) But what do you EAT? Everything you do, other than the stuff that had a brain or a central nervous system (see above).
8) So…would you eat a sausage for £1 million? Meat eaters love finding out the vegetarian breaking point. The truth is that my price for eating a sausage, even an economy one, even one that has been on the floor for longer than the two-second rule dictates, is far lower than £1 million. Contact me for details.
9) Hitler was a vegetarian. People gleefully point this out to vegetarians. To which the only answer is that you promise not to annexe Poland.