Monday, December 28, 2009

meat after moral certainty

Sitting having breakfast in Billie's Cafe in Brighton this morning, Alba, Lyndsey, Dan, and I discussed foods that we can't - or rather, won't, eat. I was a horribly fussy eater as a child, forcing my poor mother to serve me up all sorts of deeply indulgent dinners as a way of encouraging me to eat. Like a lot of kids, the number of foodstuffs I rolled my eyes at was embarrassingly great - eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes etc. The one constant component of my diet was always meat, although I'm proud to say that I have eliminated practically all of my food-phobias in adulthood. There's pretty much nothing I won't eat now, with the exception of grapefruit (I know, weird). I like just about everything, including things I would have had a cheerful tantrum over when I was a kid - brussel sprouts, frog's legs, olives, avocados. I still eat an awful lot of meat though - too much to make ever becoming a vegetarian absolutely unthinkable.

Still - this article, by Neel Mukherjee, is pretty much beyond reproach. He's absolutely right to say that the intellectual and moral argument over the eating of meat is settled, and that vegetarians are on the right side of the debate. That I can admit this and at the same time admit that I'm still not tempted to abandon meat is evidence, I guess, of a certain moral cowardice. But it's tempered by the suspicion that attempting to live one's life by virtue of rational, intellectual moral arguments alone is ultimately fruitless; a never-ending quest. There will be many painful decisions still to be made once animal welfare issues are resolved.

And anyway, I'm much too thin as it is, so I need the sustenance. So there.

Back to the article - it's hardly an in-depth study of the subject, but I like Neel's candour, and his own admission of inadequacy at the end. Worth reading.

"To understand intellectually is one thing, to put it into practice quite another, a whole untraversable territory away. I still haven't been able to stop eating meat. In any restaurant, my eyes alight first, as if by an atavistic pull, on the meat dishes on the menu. In any dinner party I throw, I think of the non-vegetarian dish as central. I view this as a combination of weakness, greed and moral failure. Someone please help."
No need to help me - but I'm roasting a chicken tomorrow, so let me know if you fancy lunch.


Milly said...

Make sure it's free range ;)

Jonathan said...

It is!