“Mummy, I don’t want to eat animals anymore” stated my youngest with that look of expectation that only small children can replicate and, as all good parents do, I promised that I would look into it, that we would talk about it with daddy and, merrily, off she skipped. Now, naturally, as all good parents do, I was going to ignore said declaration unless it was brought up again with any earnest, as, again, like any good parent, you cannot permit family life to be dictated by the whimsies of a child. However, I had to admit to myself that I was not comfortable with the thought of eating animals either, but I had successfully pushed that to the back of mind somewhere between where I keep “childbirth”, “am I too old for jeans” and “things I’m really not allowed to say”. Like most people, I’m uncomfortable with it all: the, oftentimes dubious mass farming, the whole killing thing and, in essence, the thought of something ceasing to be in order to provide me and mine with our dinner. The trouble is, well, to be honest, we just aren’t vegetarians. In my mind vegetarians wear kaftans and Birkenstocks and they have a heady smell of incense about them. Vegetarians believe crystals actually work.
I’ve never been known for acts based on rash impulse. I’m a cautious person. Additionally, as I have to take responsibility for the health of another human being I needed to ensure that vegetarianism was a viable option for us, so, to the inter-web I went for a little bit of research; a little clarity. Well what a spectacularly unsuccessful event that was! Depending on the origin of the article in the question, the rise of the meat free-stylers is either a myth on an epic scale or their numbers are in the squillions and they’re due to take over the world at any point. Your average vegetarian is either a plaid, windy individual who hasn’t the strength to chop a radish or a rosy cheeked, Buddhist-esque superhero. You see the internet is a vast source of information but, depending on how you phrase your enquiry, the results of that enquiry can swing wildly from the sublime to the ridiculous. In an effort to refine my results, I opted with inserting the word “scientific” in my searches but, despite this, there was still no definitive answer, no matter how much I read, in fact, things became murkier by the minute. Granted, it doesn’t help that my child like mind is very easily led, regularly falling in with the wrong crowd – the “surprising vegan celebs” pages took away a good hour of my life. As an observational warning, if you get beyond the 3rd page of the internet you are positively flirting with the dark web so best not bother continuing if you are trying to actually find an answer rather than a conspiracy theory.
One thing I discovered was that there are 7, yes 7, different types of vegetarians to choose from. I don’t mean tall, medium, male, female etc but, according to “Vegetarian Nation” the term ‘vegetarian’ can be split into various subsections: Veganism – no meat, fish, poultry (that goes without saying you would think) also no eggs, dairy, gelatine or honey, but, that’s not all, no beeswax, leather, silk or wool can be used…geez, shoot me now! (No pun intended). Ovo Vegetarianism – nothing meaty, but allow themselves an egg every now and then. Lacto Ovo Vegetarianism – just no meat or fish on their menu. Pescatarianism – meat free but eat everything else including fish. Pollotarianism – yes folks, guessed it, these ‘vegetarians’ eat fish and chicken, eggs etc whilst, presumably, wearing a full length leather catsuit. Flexitarianism – eat what the jolly heck they like, when they like. These people have no right to have any ‘ism’ attached to them due to a lack of commitment.
So, I’m having to rule out becoming a vegan straight off the bat. They evidently live on a diet of fruit, nuts, vegetables and beans which, is, quite literally, a recipe for disaster if you have IBS… which I do. The next on the list would undoubtedly be worse as the diet is the same but with the addition of eggs. The impact of the bean based menu plus eggs has got to be, in my humble opinion, prohibitive. Pescatarian? If I lived alone I could happily consume lobster bisque every night as I adore fish but, for a family, it’s too darned expensive to be a staple food unless you’re actually catching the fish yourself (which has been banned at my local pond, leading me to believe it has been an issue in the past). In essence, we would have to live off tinned mackerel – but, although it’s weirdly cheap, the economic aspect would not, I’m sure, swing the vote with the family.
The health aspects of the veggie regimen alone, are a minefield. At first glance you would think the vegetarian meal has to be the one of choice but, for this to be the case, you have to be fanatically strict or use dietary supplements to boost you along the highway of health. My little one, though, has not graduated to tablet swallowing yet so not that’s not plausible and, as for the fanaticism, I have simply not got that level of commitment. Vitamins A, D and K2 as well as omega 3 can only be found in animal products and pasteurised eggs. I have touched on the over consumption of eggs already and, what is a pasteurised one for goodness sake? I found lots of references around the topic of weight; that being a veggie keeps the old waistline nice n trim but, and I have no science on my side here, just a lifetime of personal observations, I know a lot of cuddly vegetarians and even a couple of robust vegans. What they are eating I will never know…perhaps it’s just bean bloatage. So, I concluded, that unless you do have the relevant extreme leanings, the lure of snacks to stave off imminent death by starvation might be too much to resist.
“We are not meant to eat meat‘ espouse the veggie lobby “that’s why we don’t have claws and fangs”. This is true but we also don’t have the required 7 stomachs of a cow. We are, biologically speaking, supposed to be omnivorous creatures. Beings of moderation with neither all meat or all veg being of adequate sustenance. My resolve, then at a rather low ebb, took another, somewhat final blow. Whilst stumbling blind around the internet I came across “The Vegan Confusion” a, now, world famous article written by renowned Argentinian naturalist Claudio Bertonatti. An ex vegetarian himself, Bertonatti points out that the mass cultivation of agricultural crops has, itself, a devastating effect on wildlife. Birds, frogs, mammals, reptiles and fish all lose their habitat and disappear because of the impact of deforestation not to mention the millions of insects that are killed in the process. It appeared, to me anyway, that your vegetarian brothers and sisters only “save the lives” of specific animals that they have deemed too cute to die and that is no solid basis for argument. Last, and by god, least, that smell when we cut grass or flowers? Those plants are not exuding these perfumes to bring joy to our olfactory senses, that smell is to try and ward off whatever It is that is damaging it! Who knew?? Do plants feel pain? No, that’s plain stupid but, they are alive and kicking all that same.
My conclusion? Like Simba and Mufasa put into song, it’s all about the circle of life. The organic, happy, free range type of circle with a hearty side salad and multi grain, stoneground bread. Flexitariansim it it…just got to explain it all to the small one.