Vegetarianism, smegetarianism

12 Jan

Mr Milk was vegetarian for 20 years until his curiosity got the better of him. We were visiting Roka, a rather gorgeous sushi restaurant in Charlotte St, London; his work were paying (well they’d pretty much owned his life for several months) so we were eating. In hindsight I think he had decided he was straying before he’d even booked the restaurant.

As it turns out, meat pretty much had him at hello. Grabbed him by the short and curlies with a pincer grip and clamped her striatus muscles around his follicles.

I suppose, as his palette was becoming more and more refined (no doubt by the exponential improvements made in the culinary department) it seemed only sensible to widen the range of foods he would eat, savour, explore. After all, you only live once. So he embarqued on his flesh-eating journey. It was to be limited only to the finest cuts of organic, hand-reared meat, blessed by prepubescent nuns and stroked in a daily ritual by eunich sheep, yada yada.

Within 2 months he was eating 3 macdonalds a week.

I actually joined him as a vegetarian for a few years. It wasn’t some kind of moral quest for me, it was just that it was around the time of the mad cow scare and I didn’t really fancy staggering out my last breath with a moo and a swish of the tail. So the idea was to cut out meat entirely, and then to slowly drip feed back only the best quality cuts…hold on, this sounds familiar….

Anyway, I knocked my own vegetarianism on the head when I started weaning the first born. Well it’s difficult to maintain some kind of rigid quality control when you’re having to sample pureed lamb at every meal.

You see, there is no doubt in my mind that, biologically speaking, we’re meant to eat meat – we’re built for it. Those big monster teeth at the back are clearly for chewing through sinew and gristle, not sauteed parsnip or squishy butter beans. We don’t look at a tiger hunting down it’s prey with cunning and detachment – playful, ruthless, singleminded – and say “that tiger is totally bloody out of order”. It’s natural.

So i’m afraid if the argument is purely that eating meat is immoral I don’t buy it, especially if you’re a “pescatarian” that caveats yourself by saying that fish are different because they’ve got tiny little fish brains. Now if we start talking about the way we farm/kill/process meat and what we’re doing to the planet, well, that’s where any kind of argument I can feebly muster slips on a banana peel and lands firmly on its arse. What argument could I possibly have?

The way we farm is disgusting, the way we treat animals is disgusting. I’d rather run on the ruddy treadmill again in my knickers than see a slaughter first hand. Yet i choose to do nothing about it. I’m lazy, selfish, hypocritical and have my head firmly in the bloodied sands. The problem is, I really do believe we should be eating meat

So where does that leave me? I’m not entirely sure. My views, as ever, are largely under-developed, over-thought and seriously changeable at this time.

I’m pretty sure there’ll be a reaction though. At least it might help me build a better bloody argument (assumes crash position).

18 Responses to “Vegetarianism, smegetarianism”

  1. TheMadHouse January 12, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    I was a veggie for 13 years and then when pregnant with Mini all I wanted was meat, red meat and lots of it. So I caved! We all ear meat now, but in moderation. My FIL is a dairy farmer, so I do see a little bit of farming and would be happy to eat any of his cows!

    • marketingtomilk January 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

      ok *hit i need to change that now, “the way we farm is disgusting” basically a really lazy way of saying, i know there are issues with the mass meat production process, not that all farmers are to blame, erm, you know what i mean…

  2. Paul F January 12, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    Not sure you could say that the above was an ‘over thought’ position – it seems fairly contradictory?
    Appreciate that you’re trying to provoke a debate so I should probably know better than to take the bait, particularly on such an emotive subject, but one thing that I particularly disagree with is the casual use of the terms ‘natural’ and ‘meant to’. Clearly we *can* eat meat but it’s not the same as something being ‘natural’ – a very loaded term I think, often used to justify all kinds of positions, many that you would be very opposed to. Worth noting that several ancient religions/civilisations didn’t eat meat – was this ‘unnatural’? So if you follow your argument to it’s logical conclusion are you saying that any vegetarianism/pescetarianism etc etc is unnatural?
    I’d also be wary of making comparisons with tigers etc – wild animals do all sorts of things that would land humans in jail pretty quickly!

    • marketingtomilk January 12, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

      By natural i suppose i mean “bioligically intended” if there is such a term. And if you took civilisation back to the year dot i would suspect it would be fairly “natural” a situation to eat meat, or whatever else was available. So i suppose the debate moves quickly on to civilised society, and what its intention is, the burden of moral responsibility we take on. We have a choice, tigers don’t, yada yada.
      Would it surprise you to know that i had your face in the back of my mind as i was writing this one? Not the hypocritical pescatarian bit, just the person i knew had the strongest arguments and the person i was most going to have to justify myself to. I do believe there is a “natural ” order of things in my heart, but then i am also very laissez faire when it comes to modern life. I’m a walking contradiction that frequently choses the wrong word. ;<)
      btw i'd be interested to know what "natural" positions you think i'm opposed to…actually maybe i wouldn't….
      x
      x

      • Paul F January 13, 2011 at 11:58 am #

        At the risk of disappearing up my bottom with semantics – I think how you use/define the word ‘natural’ is important as it is (or can be used) as a very emotive term. By this I mean ghastly right wing pundits who misuse the word ‘natural’ as some kind of argument that homosexuality, feminism, atheism etc etc are wrong or misguided – obviously positions you’re opposed to! I’d argue that humans are biologically able rather than intended to eat meat at least in our current society as it suggests people don’t have a choice? I’m not sure I like the thought of being intended to do anything!

        But I take your point that in the year dot e.g. hunter/gatherer societies it would’ve been natural to eat meat when able to. And probably necessary given the lack of alternatives/knowledge, certainly in much of the northern hemisphere. As it happens I’d probably eat meat occasionally if it was still ‘done’ on this basis – what I object to is modern factory farming methods + the massive scale/consumption resulting in forests being decimated, massive use of land/water, displacing people in the 3rd world etc etc. Not very sustainable especially if China’s consumption continues to rocket upwards.

        And although eating fish is arguably not as bad (assuming it’s not farmed) I know I’m on a sticky wicket here really – ideally I shouldn’t eat it either but I’m weak and I like it too much!

        Thanks for making me think a bit, easy sometimes to forget why you do things x x

      • marketingtomilk January 13, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

        Well there’s the banana skin argument i have no retaliation for.
        By “natural” i suppose i mean “as found in the natural world”, which of course homosexuality is, in abundance. The point i was trying to make in this post is that i don’t buy the argument “eating meat is cruel” in its most basic form. It’s what nature intends, one animal preys on another, food chains etc. And to be fair the “modern” world (as distinct from the hunter-gatherer set up) has only been around for a fraction of a millisecond in evolutionary terms. What i can buy is that the way we do it is immoral, un-sustainable and foolish. Like you, i think the ideal situation of course would be self-contained and self-serving communities. Fancy running off to a commune?

        x

  3. kelloggsville January 12, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    I often declare myself vegetarian. Sometimes to avoid mass produced works outing Christmas Turkey, sometimes because I just don’t fancy what’s being offered and sometimes because I’m avoiding calories so I often get the “oh, do you think eating meat is cruel? Food with a face and all that?!” to which my stock answer that always shuts them up is “Nope, I just don’t like the taste”. Actually, I don’t like the smell of pork cooking, the thought of what might be in the mass produced sausage scares the willies out of me but I do like a nice bit of steak. I rarely give a thought to the hormones that have been pumped through it or that the cow was probably bludgeoned to death over the course of a few days and left dying in a hurting, weeping, heap. Nom, Nom ;0)

    • marketingtomilk January 12, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

      Isn’t it funny how us meat eaters often have to inject (no pun intended) humour into our retorts….is it intrinsically an uncomfortable position to be in? x

      • kelloggsville January 12, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

        nooo, I love a good barbie, no guilt, no difficulty…except the day after..the older I get, the harder I find meat to ‘process’ or maybe that’s because I don’t eat a lot of it so my body finds it harder to digest…hmmmm maybe that’s part of evolution saying we don’t really need it anymore…all the same I’m not giving up a Saturday night steak with a splash of ReggaeReggae for Darwin.

  4. This Mid 30s Life January 12, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    I know what you mean. I grew up on a farm where the meat was home-grown. So you’d be tucking into a roast, then Dad would say, “And this is the one we slaughtered last week, remember?” And sure enough, memories of last week would come flooding back. Urgh.

    So while I do eat meat, I try not to think about where it came from – which I know is completely, utterly wrong. But I justify it b/c I’ve assisted in the whole “process” so many times growing up, that I am allowed to be the way I am now. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    We are raising city children though, so I’ll have to make sure they know where their food comes from.

    Congratulations on your BMB award, by the way!!

  5. PurpleRamblings January 13, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    My father is pescatarian, I have no idea why, I have never thought to ask. I went through a phase of vegetarianism in my teens for a few years, no moral reason, just didn’t fancy eating meat, would always have the gravy of whatever meat my mother had cooked though – go figure. I am quite securely back on the meat eating band wagon, but won’t eat pork… Each to their own I say x

  6. Livi January 15, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    Lol! I love that you have such strong views with no reason 😛
    I’m the same with meat tbh: we’re built to eat it but the way we farm it is awful. I know it would be better to only eat organic/free range/happy meat and I know it’s a poor reason but it’s *so* much more expensive and I just can’t afford it. The other option would be to buy a sheep or a cow and raise it myself, but I could never bring myself to kill it so that would just result in another mouth to feed!

  7. Theodora January 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    I can’t see a single ethical reason for eating meat, and a million reasons against it. But I do it anyway. Go figure.

    I’m guessing, and I guess Mr Milk might agree, that it’s because it tastes so damn good.

  8. helloitsgemma January 19, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    I’ve survived a pretty long time without eating meat, therefore I think we are built to do both, humans are very adaptable. I don’t eat meat because of the way it’s farmed, because I wouldn’t slaughter it myself, because mass production beef farming (the type that fuels McDonalds) isn’t environmentally sound. Because I see little lambs in fields and feel a bit crap at the thought of eating them. Because I don’t understand how people have pet rabbits and eat rabbit pie, and if you eat rabbit why not dog?
    It’s my choice, I don’t even think in terms of meat, other people make their choices that’s up to them, and while I love your blog – I would just like to say Vegetarian bashing is boring – it’s a bit 80’s. Love Gemma as in helloitsgemma x

    • marketingtomilk January 19, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

      Umm “vegetarian bashing”? I really hope my post didn’t come across like that. As per usual there is a lot of tongue and cheek in my posts, most of my regular readers get that i think. I’m working things out in my head, and blogging about it while i do it. Not all my opinions are balanced, well-researched or right. I’m the first person to put my hand up and say that. My beloved brother in law is vegetarian, and i married one – so i wouldn’t get far bashing my family around the head!

  9. Helloitsgemma January 20, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    Cool x

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