|"I'll have the BLT without any B, please"|
This is a guest post by Mr FlickingtheVs on that most annoying of conversations that veggies and vegans face - "Don't you miss bacon sandwiches?"
"Ahh, so, you don't eat meat. How long for?"
[Putting down my knife and fork, heart sinking and bile rising knowing what's coming next]
"Nearly four years now."
"Really? Why are you a vegan/vegetarian?" [delete as appropriate]
"Don't you miss meat at all? Not even a bacon sandwich?"
"No, I fucking don't. Eating meat's not exactly addictive fun."
As dinner party conversations go, it's the one that ranks as marginally more irritating than small talk about house prices or who might gurn their way to X-Factor success this year. Of course, I mean this speaking from the perspective of being at the receiving end of this conversational wet slap. I can only assume given the metronomic regularity of having to swat aside the question of why I don't eat animals is that what I put on my dinner plate must of unparalleled fascination to my meat-eating co-diners. I'll call these people meat bores. Hearing the gnashing of your teeth, I'm guessing you've encountered a meat bore or two in your lifetime too.
Why should what I choose not to eat be of such profound interest? Well, considering the normal direction the conversation takes, it's obviously drawing a defensive line around their ethical stance on eating meat. They sense politics on the plate. Sanctimony on ceramics. Our diet is a moral judgment of their attitudes to animal welfare, the bastards.
Inevitably they'll challenge me on points of ethics about eating meat and impart some shonky nutritional advice that I'm going to wither away and die if I don't tuck into a big fat steak every week. But I'm rarely inclined to rise to their bait. And I'm never sanctimonious; I'm above that. The ethical argument has been already discussed and won by Team Vegan, so rehashing the points is like doing karaoke. I can belt out the classics, but really it's not going to satisfy the audience.
How I confound my interrogators is very simple. I just tell them that I don't like the idea of eating meat, it creeps me out. They don't feel under attack because I'm merely expressing my personal taste; it's like saying that my favourite colour is blue or that I find ironing annoying. It's a little disconcerting to many meat bores because it encourages them to think about meat, and specifically what it actually is and where it comes from.
This may seem a trivial point, but it's the most revealing thing when you probe it. Most will agree they not fond of looking at a plucked and brazed ducks hanging up in the windows of Chinese delis. They find the sight of a cow being strung up and hacked apart equally stomach-churning. They like their meat in anonymous cuts that mask their provenance.
Does this hint at the fact that lurking within some meat bores there is a latent vegan waiting to be liberated? Possibly. Many clearly find everything to do with the production of meat hideous - just like vegans do - but they just don't want to admit to themselves so overtly. So the next time you're trapped next to a meat bore at a social function don't try an ethical debate, just find out what they really think about meat. If they get squeamish about the details, then perhaps they’ll start to understand why you don't miss bacon fucking sandwiches.