Wednesday, 23 March 2011

On Being a Vegetarian

On Facebook this morning Fi of Four Paws and Whiskers asked if anyone had heard of 'meat glue' being used here in New Zealand.  To understand you may need to watch the link from the Australian Today Tonight programme.  As some of you will know I was brought up in a household with relatively little red meat being eaten and in an era when chicken was an expensive luxury but fish was plentiful.  My Dad had been diagnosed with crippling rheumatism at 18 and had been told that there was no cure but that if he cut out red meat it might help.  He died at 94 never having had rheumatism again.  Mum just disliked meat.

During the course of the 'conversation' another Fiona commented how difficult it was being a vegetarian in France.  That reminded me of a story.....

My wife was a meat eater and an absolutely superb cook and hostess and during the years of our marriage I ate meat until one day when we were in France at a ferme auberge I was faced with a poussin for the meat course (the French tend to have the meat as a separate course).  It sat there on the plate sans feet and head and feathers and I couldn't eat it.  It was many years before I could face anything that actually looked like meat again.

My second partner and her daughter were vegetarian.  It was during this time that I learned how wonderful and varied vegetarian cooking could be.  When my partner's daughter was about 9 I said in conversation that in France it wasn't just difficult being vegetarian but that they ate vegetarians in France.  

Some years later when my partner and I were talking of a visit to Paris for the weekend her daughter became very agitated.  We didn't leave her very often and her reaction was very unusual.  Eventually it transpired that she was frightened that we might get eaten if it was discovered that we were vegetarian.

That taught me a lesson I should have already learned.  When I was a wee lad my Uncle Eric had said that he wouldn't teach anyone to drive because someone he'd taken out had lost her head when she drove.  I took his words as fact and the thought stuck with me for years. 

Although I am by inclination a vegetarian I now eat meat especially when I'm in New Zealand (I use a lot of Quorn in the UK but it's not available here) but am easily put off if it's identifiable as belonging to a particular creature.  C'est la vie.

And I tend to be careful what I say in front of children!


  1. I know exactly what you mean about not eating things that look like animals.

    What I hadn't expected is that now I've given up meat I'm becoming more squeamish about fish. I wonder if I'll end up giving up fish as well (no chance of becoming a vegan though - I love my cheese!).

  2. Nice post, wonderful writing. I'm afraid I'm an offal man or probably awful to a vegetarian.

  3. Interesting post. I never tried being a vegetarian but I don't like to be too reminded of what I'm eating either. Or cooking. So I prefer to buy both meat and fish already neatly cut into bits and pieces... I'm too lazy to try to go all vegetarian. But I eat more of that kind now than I did when I was younger.

  4. Love the stories! N was a vegetarian for a couple of years, Da Vinci - style : She loved animals - I think Da Vinci said he 'didn't want to eat his friends'.

    I feel guilty when I think about eating friends... but I looove the taste of meat! One of the many great human moral dilemmas!

  5. We're not vegetarians, but eat mostly fish and chicken. Red meat is much too hard on the digestion as we (I) get older.
    As I lovingly look at the deer in my vicinity, I can't imagine shooting one of these beauties.

  6. I always said that if I had to hunt and kill animals for my meat, I'd be a vegetarian. But I do eat little meat for health reasons. I don't mind because my favorite protein is peanut butter.