(as an aside, that Sam Pepper scandal really got this blog popular – I got a hundred views in a day! Not that I’m endorsing that kind of reprehensible behaviour)
Being at the trendy, youthful, indie music-listening place I am at UCL, I’ve encountered a fair few people who don’t eat meat, not for religious reasons, but presumably the great moral victory that will inevitably come as McDonald’s entire business model collapses, and millions of factory-farmed cows are set free into the wild like the end of Free Willy, simply because they’re eating the McSalad instead of the McMeat. What McHeroes.
But I’m not here to point out the flaws with this stance on food (except that I just did) but I’m going to explain why I’m not a vegetarian, when it would arguably make more sense, given my personality and influences, if I were to be one. For instance, I am bothered by factory farming, and I’ve copied Rise Against in terms of being straight edge and wearing endless amounts of black t-shirts, but I’ve not adopted their vegetarian and vegan stances.
My first reason is that I’m a poor student – I paid my first instalment of rent today so I know just how financially frakked I’ll be over the coming year – and I don’t really want to be limiting my dietary options because of some moral fantasy about saving cute little chicks from cages and deep-fryers. My method of both buying and eating food invariably boils down to finding the cheapest thing available and shoving it in a microwave, so if I’m prioritising practical need – cost – over personal opinions regarding taste, it would be inconsistent then to disregard that practicality in favour of my opinions regarding chicks that only exist in my head.
Secondly, there are health reasons. I know that people can live happily without meat – otherwise vegetarianism would resemble a Bear Grylls-style survival exercise, with the goal being hardcore land living-off rather than a slight lifestyle alternation to benefit others – and I’m sure I could if I tried, but that ‘tried’ is the operative word. I’m not saying my own convenience is more important than affecting the production and distribution of international food supplies, because I am one insignificant person, and the companies involved in said food supplies consist of many more insignificant people, but in a world where I realised today that I hadn’t bought all the books necessary for my course that starts on Monday, I’d like a little more breathing space.
But I think the biggest reason stems from that idea of effort, that vegetarianism is a conscious effort, involving spending inordinate amounts of time in supermarket Fruit & Veg aisles, and constantly asking for vegetarian menus or to have the sausages removed from hot dogs; this contrasts to my avoidance of alcohol and drugs where I’ve never been exposed to them in quite the same way as food, so not taking them is more practical (not that I wanna be straight edge out of convenience). I’ve always seen food as a passive thing, something I am involved in only to stop myself from dying of starvation, and so it’s difficult for me to form strong, ethically-based opinions on it when I only engage with it functionally, and as a medium through which Mel and Sue can make puns.
I suppose my reluctance to be a vegetarian then, is based on priorities such as laziness, personal convenience, and selfishness; but this is where the ‘I’m not sorry’ but of the title is relevant – I suck, and I know it. Just don’t call me a carnivore when you know it too.