My best friend’s gone vegan. Even if she weren’t posting pictures of Brad Pitt (a ‘symbol of the vegan diet’ according to Google) on Facebook every five minutes, I’d know this because her cupboards are empty. The problem is see, she hates little round things. Since we were kids she’s retched at the sight of baked beans, thrown a paddy when served sweetcorn and freaked out like a spider had infiltrated her clothes if you flicked a pea in her direction. So lentils. Na ah. I’m not sure what she’s eating because there’s not a Quorn burger in sight, but she’s still alive (and posting Brad Pitt) so she must have found something.
After last Christmas’s decadence in the meat department, my daughter and I decided to go vegetarian. We’d been doing Meat Free Mondays for a couple of years and, in truth, we were doing Meat Free Every Day Except Sunday as we’d pretty much dropped animal from our menu. Also I’d felt increasingly uncomfortable buying meat that wasn’t Freedom Food or organic (both of which guarantee some level of animal welfare) so I was spending more and more time in front of the ‘friendly meat’ aisle lamenting that four slices of ham cost £2.50 and fighting my OH off late night ham-snacking at the fridge. So once we’d endured the turkey curry, turkey risotto, cold meat buffet and turkey frittatas, we ceased filling the fridge with meat products and filled it with eggs, cheese and healthy-looking veg instead.
Then the challenge started.
‘Cheese isn’t necessarily vegetarian,’ my brother tells me. ‘Rennet comes from the stomach of newborn calves.’ Oh.
‘JELLLLLYYYY!’ my daughter shrieks across the hall as I’m about to savour a mouthful of trifle at the church bring and share lunch. Bother.
‘Beef Gelatine,’ the label on the marshmallow packet reads just as I’m about to make myself a hot chocolate with ‘the works’. Urgh.
Also, I’m like literally drooling in the chip shop at the turning meat on the kebab spike. Serious.
Around February we decide to pull it back. Both my daughter and I want to succeed – we both feel unhappy about animal welfare conditions in the meat production industry, not to mention the wider world impacts of eating lots of meat – but diving in headfirst like my admirable sphere-hating friend isn’t for everyone. So we complete the year pescatarian: fish eaters. Despite how it seems, eating less meat doesn’t have to be an all or nothing decision. Habits are best formed slowly, over the long term, one day at a time. The first rule of vegan club is you can take it slowly. You just don’t get to post Brad Pitt yet.