Given how often we have to eat its not surprising that food and what we eat plays a role in how we look at each other. We can bond or be repelled by each others eating habits. Are you with or without sugar? Is dunking a crime or an opportunity to dunk sandwiches in soup? Are you buying the love/hate Marmite ads or just loving them for their legal action against the BNP.
I’m not a fussy eater but do have a few kooky habits. There are certain situations where I am really uncomfortable about eating. Going out to eat with someone for the first time, especially if its first meeting can be hell. Loving food and having an appetite is not the issue here both of these I have in abundance. Still I can sometimes find the experience of eating with people is all too intimate. This is not to say I am always internally stressing. Creating my own montage of what could go wrong whilst I eat or worrying the person across the table might comment.
I’m vegetarian and for the most part this doesn’t make that much of impact. Most people are pretty amenable and as vegetarians we live in wonderful times – there are even corner shops selling Linda McCartney’s. But invariably I find myself dealing with defensive meat eaters. Only the cult of Apple (and as dedicated follower I can safely say) is akin to that of the meat preachers.
Off course it isn’t always the case that you get a judgemental question of what are you eating. But out of nowhere you sometimes have to face the meat preacher. Your presence as a vegetarian is reason for them to defend their brethren. Even if you are not a preachy vegetarian. Apparently you must now make your case for why you are vegetarian.
Trial by dinner table doesn’t just put you off eating meat, it puts you off the plate in front of you. However jovial the meat defendant attempts to be, they never appreciate how tedious repeating hearing “I don’t see the point” or “Why not eat meat?” or the classic “I couldn’t live without meat” can be. Engaging often seems pointless.
I’m not even against other people eating meat. Vegetarian since I was 6 and working on the Safeway’s butcher/deli counter at 17. It is one way to learn how to blag if you are selling something you’ve never eaten. However my enthusiasm for selling the two rotissery chickens for a fiver deal was unappreciated. Apparently naming the chickens Bill and Ben, then saying they had to go together got me sales but was grounds for a disciplinary.
My real big bug bear with meat preachers the fact they are triggered by sight or mention of fake meats;- facon, soya, veggie sausages, quorn, fam (ok I may have made up the last one). Seemingly we don’t have to draw line of when it is acceptable to comment on what a veggie is eating.
Does telling me what I am eating doesn’t taste or look like the thing it is imitating, make me want to give up vegetarian. No and nor does it make me feel less of vegetarian for eating substitutes. Instead it makes me wonder how much of meat is processed to the point it no longer looks like the animal it came from. Unless you are Bear Grylls facing the wilds you might want to hold off judging my fake meat. The point is Meat Preacher I just want to eat in peace.
And to be honest I can be an awful vegetarian – I just waste my guilt on jelly babies.