I quite often get asked by people I go out for lunch or dinner with if I mind them eating meat. It’s a bit like the old ‘do you mind if I smoke’ question, you’re obviously meant to say no, but the answer is anyway, genuinely, no… I don’t pay any attention at all to what’s on other people’s plates.
But at Christmas meat is everywhere, in huge quantities, and for some reason this year it got to me. In the run up to the Christmas festivities there were endless tweets on Twitter from people I normally find nice and interesting and funny, with running commentaries about stuffing turkeys, smothering potatoes in beef fat, and boiling ham in Coke (apparently people do this?) And to be honest, I got rather sick of it.
I know it’s my problem, not theirs. After all, we live in a world – or rather, a country – where eating meat is the norm. But it’s not the norm for me. Apart from the (now deceased) cats I haven’t lived with anyone who eats meat since the 1980s, when I shared a house with a guy who lived on kebabs and KFC. I came home once to find what I thought was the blood-soaked carcass of a mauled animal on the living room carpet. Turned out that the neighbour’s cat had ransacked his bedroom and found a week-old KFC carton with half-eaten leftovers covered in ketchup under his bed. Nice guy. Complete slob.
I spent Christmas Day this year as usual with a bunch of meat-eaters: fussing over them to make sure they’re not using the same serving utensils for the vegetables and the meat, and that the vegetarian gravy hasn’t got muddled up with the ordinary gravy, and trying to help with the serving up and clearing away without having to get too up close and personal with bits of dead animals.
And for the the first time I felt, I don’t really want to do this again. Yes, Christmas should be about spending time with family, but perhaps next year I’ll just turn up in time to see them vegging out in front of Dr Who and Eastenders. (Insert your own ‘vegging out’ pun here… I’m feeling uninspired).