Up until I was almost fifteen, I had never eaten meat. The delights of a bacon sarnie, a roast dinner, and even a traditional full-English were all absent from my childhood. Which is why, I naively assumed that now, at the age of 19, it would be ridiculously easy for me to simply stop my current carnivorous ways.
My parents like to think of themselves as hippies. The fact that one of them is the managing director of a housing association, and the other goes to bed at 9pm on the dot every night, somewhat seems to have escaped their minds. They go on camping holidays, they get up as the sun rises most mornings, and they’ve planned a gap-year, seemingly because at 50 and 57 years of age, they want to travel the world and truly find themselves. Naturally, they are also vegetarians. And, alas, so were my brother, Joel, and I for the vast majority of our childhoods.
Then, on a holiday with our aunt and cousins, my parents lost all hope of raising two children to adulthood, sans meat. Whilst we have all been in agreement for years that Joel will most likely never return to vegetarianism (the boy literally lives off of M&S beef-filled Yorkshire puddings), my optimistic parents never gave up on me; the animal lover of the family. For them, this was just a phase I was going through, one that would be forgotten in years to come.
Which is why, as a nineteen year old still stuck in the typical early-teen mind-set of never wanting to admit that my parents are right about anything, I have obviously not told them that I am attempting to give up meat. If I’m successful and this ends up being a long-term change, then one day I will clearly have to tell them. But right now? It may be childish, but I just can’t face giving them the satisfaction.
But, seven days in, and it’s looking like this day might never need come, because, and here’s the thing I’m slightly ashamed to admit – I’m finding it harder than anticipated. Given that I was vegetarian for three quarters of my life, I assumed it’d just be a case of getting back on the horse. Naturally, I didn’t crave anything with meat in it before, so I naively assumed that I wouldn’t do so now either. I failed to realise that it’s impossible to miss something you haven’t experienced before, and now that my eyes have been opened to chilli con carne, and meatball subs, and chicken fajitas, and so many other equally delicious dishes, I am struggling. Meat is in EVERYTHING. How did I not notice that the first time I was vegetarian?? How did I not spend the first fifteen years of my existence entering restaurants only to be disheartened upon realising that I could only eat one dish off of the menu; and that worse still, that it was a stuffed mushroom?
£9 for some lettuce
On day one of my new found vegetarianism, I went to an American diner restaurant with my boyfriend, prior to a show that I bought tickets to for his birthday. The only option, other than a salad (and I am not one to go out for a nice meal and pay £9 for some lettuce), was a worryingly limp veggie burger, which probably even pitied itself. On day two, I came home achy, exhausted and starving from a long day of lectures followed by rock climbing, to find that my housemate had cooked the most delicious smelling chicken curry, and left a note saying that I could help myself. On day three, my boyfriend suggested getting a take-away, and for thirty seconds, I could almost taste the pepperoni pizza, before I remembered. The rest of the week continued in much the same fashion.
But, while I am struggling, I remain determined. I may have to keep mentally reminding myself of the reasons to be vegetarian, whilst staring longingly at somebody else’s food; but, for me at least, they are good reasons, and so far they are enough to dissuade me from giving up. That, and also possibly the fact that I can be infuriatingly stubborn, and just as I don’t like my parents being right, I can’t bear to admit to my flatmates, people who have never known me as anything other than a meat eater, and who were annoyingly sceptical when I announced over some Quorn chicken kievs that I had taken up vegetarianism; that I have given up already.