So I have bought a book that I am scared to read. I’ve never been scared to read a book but I can say with certain that Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, Eating Animals, freaks me out. It took me a very long time to buy it even though it has been on my reading list forever. And it may take even longer for me to actually start reading it. I’ve already started making excuses for myself. Last night when my husband asked if I was going to read it, I said I would look at it but that I had Salt and Russia to read. And that’s when I realised that really, I was scared to read it.
I am a carnivore. But a very tentative one at the best of times. I eat fish, chicken and pork. I don’t eat beef or lamb. I like most game meat but don’t cook it at home. However if you told me tomorrow that I could never eat meat again I wouldn’t have an issue with it. Sure I’d miss bacon and English Sunday roasts. Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas wouldn’t be the same. But honestly the majority of the year, not eating meat would just feel normal to me. I would have a much harder time giving up coffee (and cakes).
I had given up meat for the most part, by the time I entered college. It looked and tasted disgusting in the cafeteria so it wasn’t difficult to not eat it while I was at NU. When I moved back to Southern California it was easy to continue; not eating meat is a way of life there. There were options, alternatives, Trader Joes and Wholefoods, and it wasn’t expensive.
When I moved to England (yep, that’s right, I moved to England by choice from California) I was a pescetarian – a fancy word for fish eater. The only thing that stood in the way between me and true vegetarianism was (and probably still is) sushi. I don’t know why I gave up meat in the first place, I just didn’t miss it once I stopped eating it.
The first time I bought tofu in London I was shocked. I couldn’t find it in the store because it is unrefrigerated in a cardboard box tucked away from sight and covered with dust. There was no hard, firm, or soft options, just tofu in a box. And it was expensive. Three pounds for a box of it! At the time the exchange rate was 2 USD to the pound. Six dollars for unrefrigerated tofu! And it wasn’t even good tofu! I just remember thinking Trader Joe’s where are you now? I miss you.
Eight years ago not eating meat in England was treated like a disease. It was expensive to buy what Californians would classify as simple vegetarian options in the super markets and restaurants just didn’t cater to not eating meat. To be honest, I got sick of eating pasta with red sauce or salmon on every business lunch and dinner I had. Eating meat just became easier, cheaper and more convenient. It might sound like a copout to those staunch and strict vegetarians, pescetarians and vegans out there. But I was 25, living in a new city, in a new country without a lot of money and I just needed to find my way. And part of that involved eating animals. The final thing that converted me was bacon sandwiches. Hung over, in the office on a Tuesday morning, a cheese and tomato toastie just didn’t live up to the bacon sandwiches everyone else around me had.
And so I became a carnivore. And married a man who still believes peas are an exotic vegetable. I almost are tri-tip at our wedding but that was a step to far for me. We’ve been on a healthy eating kick, which invariably means less junk, less fatty meat and more fruit and vegetables. I’ve been reading loads of running and cooking blogs. And I’ve been thinking a lot about giving up meat again.
For now, Eating Animals sits safely on my bedside table. I may get there. But first, I need to decide that I want to get there. Somewhere there is a balance.