What I missed about meat

What I missed about meat

What I missed about meat

In 1995 I decided to stop eating meat. I could never really quite explain why. I think it was something to do with watching a documentary where they cooked a cat. It definitely wasn’t anything to do with any ‘vegetarian month’.

I did a number of weird things. I experimented with stopping washing my hair (it got greasy), I stopped watching TV after catching Newsnight really stoned and deciding that Jeremy Paxman was fundamentally a comedian so there was little difference between the news and Beadle’s About. I also stopped eating meat.
First, it was just red meat. I said goodbye in a Burger King; the sandwich was greasy and unpleasant and I thought ‘good riddance’.

I found eating only white meat was hard. People didn’t know what to cook for me — they’d tell me I was just being awkward. They were right, so there was only one thing for it, cutting out all meat altogether.
So I simply stopped putting it in my mouth. It was that simple. I didn’t feel any different and what I cooked didn’t really change as I was a complete povvo and didn’t bother buying much meat anyway.

Say cheese!
To be honest, I was the world’s worst vegetarian. I didn’t really like vegetables very much; I’d spent most of my childhood terrified of them — horrid, bland, mushy things. It’s only as an adult I realise that part of the problem is my mother’s cooking — she hates using salt and has a tendency to over boil things. Thanks, Mum.
So there we are. A vegetarian who hates vegetables and mostly lives on pasta and cheese. Healthy.

The Popeye diet plan
Fast-forward nearly 15 years and I’m a father of two and increasingly aware of my diet. My wife stopped her vegetarian ways when pregnancy brought cravings for meat. With her help (this makes her sound like my sponsor in Fussy Eaters Anonymous), I’d managed to eat  a lot more vegetables.
By the time our second child was in the womb she was having spinach cravings and I didn’t complain once about having to eat boiled green leaves every day. For six months.

So I was doing better with a wider diet but still no drinking from the meaty cup. My four-year-old son has the restricted palate that children often have. He mostly refuses to eat anything that isn’t sausages or fruit, so dining out was becoming difficult. There was the small circle of cheesy carbs I’d eat, and the intersection with the circle of sausages that my son wants to eat was — well, if you understand your Venn diagrams you’ll know there wasn’t much in the middle.

Hooked and cooked
It was a trip to Hastings that finally did it. At a fish ‘n’ chip shop, pretty much the only thing on the menu I could eat was a microwaved cheese pasty. I simply couldn’t face it and ordered fish.
Can’t say I particularly enjoyed it. I found the portion of thick, white flesh alarmingly large and I didn’t want to think about the skin at all. However, it did leave me feeling satisfied in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time. Every cell in my body screaming “protein — that’s what you need.”
My wife was very impressed with me. She asked me what I wanted to try next and the thing that had been filling my thoughts since deciding to allow meat back into my life was pepperoni pizza. Those little toasted cups of fat that make for a party in the mouth everyone can afford. Although to ponce it up a bit we ate it in Hampstead. Lardy dah.

Chewing the fat
Bacon. Let’s talk about bacon. There’s no meat more glorious than bacon. You can add it to pasta instead of cheese. You can stick it in a sandwich, er... instead of cheese. Or even rub it on to attract men (a top tip there, ladies).
On telling my friends I was eating meat, one looked proud and said, “Welcome back to Man Club.” Although my new, macho credentials were severely dented by the admission that largely I’d been eating chicken (“Chicken? Why, us men class chicken as a vegetable!”), I still haven’t tried real meat. I can do a spag bog or even a burger but no steaks. I’m still a bit frightened of them. All too fleshy.
Many people must have had a similar experience. If you’re a lapsed vegetarian (or a resurgent meat eater), what was it that made you fall off the vegetarian wagon?
Word of Mouth Blog