After being a vegetarian for seven years, the editor of The Gryphon, Jasmine Andersson, discusses why she decided to start eating meat again, the social pressures of being a vegetarian and her reasons for initialling giving up meat.
‘And you’re going to do it for the rest of your life?’ asked my friend.
‘What?’ I said, slightly baffled.
‘You’re going to be a vegetarian for the rest of your life?’ he said.
‘I hope so. That’s all I can hope for, isn’t it?’
The rest of my life seemed like a very long time.
Stoic and assured that giving up meat was the right option for a multitude of reasons, the entire journey began on a less moralistic note. When my Head of Year wielded a notepad to collate yet another meal list for the Prom, he started asking if I had any ‘funny’ dietary requirements. Funny sat oddly with me. Spending my teen life as an awkward and gangly individual operating in a sports college with the worst GCSE PE grade the school had ever had, laughs came my way more often than most. It was with that in mind that I decided to be absolutely hilarious and inform him that I was a vegetarian.
In reality, there were several valid reasons to stop eating meat. As someone who would never be prepared to slaughter an innocent creature, it is somewhat hypocritical for me to purchase beef mince in a nicely packaged tray without thinking of the consequences. Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans. More than 3,000 animals die every second in slaughterhouses around the world. These figures do not even include fish and other sea creatures whose deaths are so great they are only measured in tonnes. These statistics alone make the most hardened carnivore curl up in a ball, never mind a character who cries at some of the more petty thefts displayed on Crimewatch. Although I felt powerless in the face of such a systematic operation of brutality, I was assured that at least I was doing my part in saying no to something that was so oddly prevalent.
Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans.
Midnight visits to the fridge were not made. Drunken kebab stopouts were not my thing. Gelatine was a dour note on a sweet packet, and even certain toothpastes had to be avoided. Everything and anything contained an element of meat. Relatives would buy me leather satchels for Christmas. I had an existential crisis when an ex-boyfriend bought me my first pair of Dr Martens. Others would forget to mention goose-fat swimming potatoes that they were feeding me, and one friend thought it would be hilarious to throw a piece of meat at me every time we went in for our weekly Subway lunch. I slowly began to ascertain that being a vegetarian itself wasn’t exhausting — it was the attitudes that came with it.
Although it can veer into the anecdotal, it is worth noting the social pressures of opting to be just that little bit ‘funny’. Jon Richardson of 8 Out Of Ten Cats fame once said, ‘Yeah I’m a vegetarian. People don’t like it. Do you know why? Because people think that being moral is a way of saying that you’re better than them’. Every single day, without fail, someone had something to say about a decision that was made by me, for me. Endless ‘jokes’ became echo chambers of eyeball rolling, passing my ear, never to be processed. ‘Ethical reasons’, became a precursor to an essay for every keen passerby who wanted to know a little bit more about the person who said no to the bacon, regardless of my apparent social behaviours that said there couldn’t be anything less I wanted to talk about.
The end came in an effete combo: exhaustion, popular opinion and existential apathy. I am incredibly irritated by the fact that I was an anaemic vegetarian. Every single time I informed someone that I was tired — and I spent seven years of my life being tired — I felt that biology had reigned triumphant, claiming me for instincts that my sickly constitution failed to properly handle. After taking the most perverted graduate option available and campaigning to be Editor of this beloved newspaper, I found myself with a chicken salad meal deal in my hands three times during the fiery torrents of campaigning. I never once made it to the till. The sentiment alone was enough.
I felt that biology had reigned triumphant, claiming me for instincts that my sickly constitution failed to properly handle.
Once these sentiments were consolidated with graduate life, I found myself entering a zone in which consistency of any kind was a mere byline in an old yearbook. As friends come and go, cities change, and the people you love move away, an arduous transitional process is made that means that sometimes, you just have to be a little bit less hard on yourself. Lost in the gulf of the process known as ‘growing up’, testing the waters became an affair of self-affirmation; a quest to track down what pieces of yourself really are relevant.
The end came in an effete combo: exhaustion, popular opinion and existential apathy.
So, if you ask me whether I’m going to eat meat for the rest of my life, the answer is uncertain as the one above. Attaching ourselves to an ideology is an impressive feat that takes courage and conviction, and we should aim to support what we believe is right. However, sometimes it is okay to test the waters. Humans are humans, not bastions of ideology. This period, that I’m living in, right now, is just made that little bit easier through the presence of bacon and chorizo wrapped dates.
Photographs: www.ecorazzi.com, www.imgkid.com, www.gazettelive.co.uk