One day at the beginning of January, we sat down as a family to dinner and started to discuss our various exploits and antics over the Christmas and New Year period. Teenage parties, boozy dinners, late nights, long lunches, sore heads, unexplained stains on carpets, the usual litany of destruction and chaos.
'We should do dry January' someone said, and 20 minutes later, I realised that the discussion had somehow suffered mission creep, and that I had just agreed to give vegetarianism another try. I can't quite remember just how we got to that point, but as the last of the Coq au vin slipped down, I began to realise that we were heading for some changes around here.
This would be my third shot at it.
Episode 1 was when I was a student way back in the late '70s. A group of us lived in a cottage outside the city, and decided we would embrace certain aspects of the hippy ideal. This would include becoming vegetarians and being committed to what was then called 'alternative technology'. We were early eco-warriors and talked a lot about trying to change the world and save the planet. Rather than being rebels without a cause, we had a cause all right, but there wasn't much real rebellion going on - we had degrees to study for, after all.
The vegetarianism all started as a result of a particular dinner I cooked one night. Being a veterinary student, I had a working familiarity with the anatomical details of quite a number animals and felt that it was no big deal to stretch out both our food budget and sense of culinary adventure during my occasional visits to the butcher. But when I served up a dish of pig's trotters, my companions felt that I had crossed a certain line from which there was no going back. Not only was my dinner uneaten (it was, to be fair, almost inedible), but the protests were loud and vocal. And two of the gang were turned into life-long vegetarians on the spot.
Episode 2 was many years later, and also came on me as a bit of a surprise. Far less an emotional or ethical decision, I was simply persuaded that meat and dairy products were actually not very good for me and that a diet of vegetables, grains, nuts and fruits, devoid of alcohol, coffee and other stimulants would be the route to unimaginable energy, fitness, stamina, excitement, joy and fulfilment.
This was not wrong, but I lost about 10kg in weight and being already skinny at the start, I tired of continually being asked by concerned friends, family, clients and chance acquaintances
'Are you alright? I mean, really?'
So I gave up and went back onto the dark side.
Episode 3 started seven days ago.
I'll keep you posted.