Recently there was a piece in the Economist about how Mongolia is a crap place to be a vegetarian but that's all about to change (i.e. one guy ate a veggie burger once over there. And he smuggled it from the UK).
Forget Mongolia, the entire world can be annoying when you’re a vegetarian. Hello, my name is Stevie Martin and I'm... I'm a vegetarian.
God. Alcoholic would at least conjure romantic images of mental fragility (check out Grazia for more details on how hot that is right now) and drug addiction is getting almost boring in its ubiquity. But vegetarians are, y’know. Michael Bolton is a vegetarian.
The moment I admit to being a meat refrainer, there's a weariness in my conversation partner’s eyes/mind. Don't pretend it's not there by saying "oh!" in that over-enthusiastic, raised eyebrow-y manner before politely asking how long for. You can't disguise that inner wilt, curling inside you like a peashoot 'pon a stake.
The problem is that your stereotypical vegetarian is a pale, anaemic activist type possessing steely willpower, a veal costume (for marches) and a tendency to cry at leather goods. The sort of person who gets drunk and talks about how everything in the world is hinged on equilibrium, and that what you give "to the universe" comes back "threefold, man".
But this doesn't sit well with me, Sgt Apathy of the CBA Division who has both a wheat intolerance and an inability to go more than two days before toast covertly pops into my face like, I don't know, Jason Bourne. Except with less stealth because I went to Tesco, bought the bread, toasted it, Lurpaked it and faced it.
I wear leather. I should do more about the world but I don't. I give £3 a month to the RSCPA. Yes, I'm that person. Yes, I have a chip on my shoulder. A sweet potato chip cooked in vegetable oil, and it’s all because of you meatpeople.
Why? You’re so much worse. There's a misguided attitude that vegetarians bang on about their lack of meat intake when really, that's not vegetarians. That’s just boring people. Listen, are they also launching into a nine minute diatribe about bath salts? Exactly.
I've yet to meet (meat? haha) a steak fancier who doesn't have some sort of comment when I order food in a restaurant. Or go to their house for dinner. Or they see me eating an Incredible Egg Baguette from Pret and just have to ask.
From "how do you live without bacon?" (I don't like meat) to "What do you eat?" (Everything that isn't meat because I don't like meat) to "Oh god you're one of those" (I have no response to this), there's always something. Everytime I say I've been to McDonalds, which is currently every third time I leave the house, people light up with gleeful malice as they chime "BUT WHAT DID YOU HAVE THERE??" like they've never heard of vegetarian options. There's always a vegetarian option. Big secret: if you eat a veggie wrap after a night out, you won’t spend the next morning throwing up and listening to fat and grease curdle in your stomach.
Obviously there are meat-only eateries, but I’m not missing out.* I wouldn't go into a vegetarian restaurant and get upset about the lack of fried chicken, because it’s a vegetarian restaurant. And I don’t like meat.
God, now I have to explain why don't I. Am I going to be ethical? Am I going to go on loads? Do I cry at leather? No, we've already established I wear leather. Read the article properly, it took me ages and in the middle I spilt some (vegetarian) tea on the keyboard (CAN YOU TELL WHERE MEATFOLKS?).
The biggest problem with explaining myself is how I can sometimes see froth bubbling at the corners of a meat eater's mouth as they become excited at the thought of ripping my arguments to shreds. My argument is based on emotion, feeling and gut reaction so can be destroyed easily. But why is believing in something based on gut feeling wrong?
We, unlike rabbits, for example, possess conscious thought. We experience guilt, sympathy, empathy, so making use of this is by no means stupid.
Sure, I started to have trouble with most meat when, aged four, I realised the fish in my stew was the same fish as Flounder. And Bug Eye, my pet fish. I continued to eat chicken because I didn’t want to be a pain in the arse (I’ve always been a socially aware person) but, come university, I cooked for myself and so became a Quorn afficionado. There, I said it. Let’s all chill out now.
We are carnivores, and are supposed to eat meat. We should be able to put anything we can physically catch and kill in a burger because that's natural selection. I know that. I also know that lobster don’t scream when chucked in boiling water, and are probably not thinking about their family and all the things they never achieved on their bucket lists. They’re thinking: WHERE AM I? OH THAT'S HOT. I AM TOO HOT. THIS. IS. BALLS.
It's not, however, natural to shove animals in little boxes/pens, restrict their movement so they can't stand up properly, separate them from their babies and stress them out (just the thought of it is making me want to go to a battery farm and cuddle all the chickens).
My view is that animals are just there, instinctually and simply. They want food and babies and a hug and somewhere to wee. Spiders and wasps and lobsters just want food and babies and somewhere to wee. No, they wouldn't appreciate a hug, and neither would I, but I’d still feel uncomfortable eating them on a burger because they should be creeping around eating their young, pinching beach goers on their ankles or flying into jam. Animals tend to do what they're supposed to.
Are humans supposed to bulldoze through a rabbit warren to make houses? Probs not. Are we supposed to squash them when they fly up our pants? SELF DEFENCE, PEOPLE.
There's an unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach, though, that squashing cows into a little factory, interbreeding them so hard their brains turn to devolutionary mush and then eating them is wrong. I'm fed up of meat eaters telling me it isn't, because I think it is. I think that actively destroying something that isn't particularly doing you any harm is wrong. Soz.
The problem is, you like to eat burgers. So you will continue to let this happen while you can eat your burger. And that's absolutely fine by me, but I don’t. For the aforementioned reasons. And I’m not higher-than-thou, I just don’t enjoy meat, so please don’t ruin my meal or rip me to shreds. I don’t make you eat cucumber (provided you dislike cucumber) do I?
Also, Michael Bolton isn’t THAT naff, because he did that Lonely Island collab which made me laugh so hard I forgot to eat my spinach leaves and kale.
What do you think? Am I being over the top? Are you a vegetarian, and do you bang on about it subsequently thinking my comments about verbose vegetarians are out of order? I would genuinely like to know.
*Mushroom risotto and goats cheese effing tart can go and uncreatively get bent. I would like to start an amnesty against these food items as vegetarian options.
Send Stevie a blow-by-blow account of every steak you've ever eaten @5tevieM.