I have got to say, I’ve never been tempted by the vegetarian persuasion. I’ve been accommodating and respectful, even interested, but never tempted. It’s not that I live for meat; delicious as it is, I rarely crave it. But I could find no reason to… justify the hassle of such a selective diet. Oh, yikes. Somewhere a properly discerning foodie is rolling in their grave. Well, for the first time in my life, my carnivory has put me in a small minority.
The topic of discussion today was “Food avoidances and prohibition, with a focus on vegetarianism.” A quick poll revealed that most, most of the class was or had been vegetarian. I had known that many of my friends were veggies (so far we had only ever been to veg restaurants for our Friday after-class ritual—not that anyone complained), but I was surprised to see an exponential increase around the room. When the prof asked about their motivations, naturally there was a variety. Some chose vegetarianism for environmental/sustainability reasons, others for health, and still others simply out of compassion. This latter rationale is perhaps the most stereotyped, but I liked the way my classmate articulated the argument. She could never eat something with which she could identify so closely: something that has eyes like hers, a liver like hers, and so on. She seemed to imply that it was like cannibalism to her, or at least the suggestion of it. Then she quoted Thoreau, saying that humans will eventually stop eating things that are offensive to the imagination. Without even mentioning the slaughterhouse, she was able to cast carnivory in a freshly grotesque light.
Still, I wasn’t charmed. Honestly, I could suppress my imagination for a good bacon sandwich.
Genius in its simplicity.
But I will say this: they make a mean plate of food. Yes, of all the vegetarian meals I can remember in my life (most of which were delicious, of course), I think few stack up to the ones I’ve had since I’ve been in London, with people who know where to look. Take dinner tonight, at inSpiral in Camden Town: I had a pitch-perfect vegan lasagna with side salads of sweet carrot, pickly cabbage, and rocket and raw parmesan. Scrumptious, satisfying, and decidedly clean-feeling. Dessert, however, was a religious experience.
RAW. CHOCOLATE. PIE.
Imagine this: raw cacao blended with avocado, sweetened with agave nectar and brought together with a soupcon of coconut oil, all piled on a toothsome pecan crust. It was the silkiest and most intensely chocolatey chocolate pie in all my 23 years. Suddenly Graham Hill’s “weekday vegetarian” plan seems more palatable… Holy cow, indeed!
The truth is that it’s just one more classificatory system, of which humans have many. No matter what food you approve of, you’re still eating far less than is biologically edible and therefore engaging a highly critical prohibition of your own. Yes, sustainable meat production is important for the future, but howsabout we see what else is out there?