I have a sneaking admiration for vegetarians because, unlike a lot of meat eaters, they’ve actually thought in detail about where meat comes from: how it’s reared, how it’s slaughtered, how it reaches the table. The squeamish reaction to Jamie Oliver’s ‘this-is-how-chickens-are-killed’ TV spots seems to confirm this, with hardened carnivores shrieking in horror while the grim reality of the battery farm is unveiled in front of them. Vegetarians, I imagine, have always been far more willing to confront the ugly brutality of intensive farming, and have made a life-style choice based on this, a decision that affects them every day, that limits the choice of food they can eat in restaurants, and makes them the butt of endless jokes from avowed meatheads like me who consider most of them to be pale-skinned, anaemic weaklings. This is to be admired. It can’t be easy.
So I’m going to join in. For a week, I’m not going to touch flesh. World Vegetarian Week starts tomorrow, and I’m going to join the mung-bean brigade. It’ll be tough – I eat meat with every meal. My fridge contains a huge vat of foie gras. There’s more in the larder. My freezer is brimful of beef, pigeon, duck and deer. Meat? It’s what I do best.
The nice lady at Peta pointed me in the right direction, offering to organise free samples from people like Redwood and Fry’s, purveyors of quality vegetarian gear, but I’m going to stick to my usual routine, shopping in the places I already frequent and seeing if life becomes more difficult.
The evidence, thus far, suggests that it will. Yesterday, on a trip to Waitrose to pick up some peppers, the store was evacuated after a fire alarm went off. This kind of thing never never happened to me as a meat eater, and I almost took it as a sign and gave up on the spot. But when the store re-opened, I accidentally stood on the foot of celebrity Sikh Hardeep Singh Kohli while attempting to retrieve some chives, and while Kohli’s religion doesn’t preclude him from eating meat, it did make me think that, like most holy men, he probably thinks very deeply about the killing of animals, and that I should at least finish the experiment.
Breakfast: scrambled eggs on toast
Lunch: I was at Lords for the test, and while I’d taken some home-made pear and cranberry upside-down cake to thwart the inevitable pangs of hunger, I did have to buy a vegetarian option for lunch. I eventually settled on a Mushroom and Asparagus Pie from the good folks at Pie Minister, whose delicious meat products I’m very familiar with. The pie I ended up with, however, was a disgrace, Â£4.90 for a pastry case concealing what looked like a fistful of Glastonbury mud and didn’t taste much better; a miserable, gritty gloop.
Dinner: Homemade roasted peppers with penne pasta and sage. Delicious.