Pick one. This is your life now.
Now the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum. The way I think of it is, what might be right for you may not be right for some. And if, indeed, it does take diff’rent strokes to rule the world, vegetarians are on course for global domination because there’s bloody loads of diff’rent types of them.
All these varieties of veggie, semi-veggie and vegan are doing good to varying degrees, being as how cutting down on meat even a little is better than not bothering at all. There’s no superiority here, no judgement, no shame. Maybe a little encouragement to tempt you in; as the old saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Although now I’m vegan I’m not allowed to catch flies or use honey, so a ton of vinegar is all I’ve got left.
The carnivore – or omnivore, really – is the least vegetarian of vegetarians, accounting for almost three quarters of earth-dwelling humans. They’ll eat anything: chops, sausages, eyeballs, tongues, penis tips, glass, their first-born son and such and such. They have an easy life, being able to pick anything from any shelf in any supermarket, or order anything from any menu in any restaurant in the world, and shove it into their murderous face hole without the slightest crisis of conscience. There is one drawback, of course: They carry with them the foul stench of death. But who am I to judge?
Looking down on the carnivore with thinly-veiled disgust, pescatarians eat fish but not flesh. No cows, no chickens, no pigs, no sheep, no ducks, no geese, no dogs because PRINCIPLES. But fish? Kill ‘em all because REASONS. Accounting for about three percent of human eaterers, it’s like they want to be in our clique but keep doing stuff wrong, like they’re wearing last month’s trainers or still using Instagram when the rest of us have switched to SyllableMessage. Fish bullying pricks. (But who am I to judge?)
The pollotarian is horrified by the pescatarian’s fish holocaust, seeing every whelk and cockle, as well as every cow and sheep and such and such, as a lifeform equal to their own, as a soul with as much right to life as any other creature. Except chickens, who can go fuck themselves. As can ducks and turkeys and other poultry.
The chicken/fish divide has torn families and communities apart, much like the Catholic/Protestant divide before it. Pescasectarianism has started countless wars down through the centuries, and caused at least six drunken night-bus scuffles. But who am I to etc?
The pesce-pollotarian has the both of best worlds, unless your place in either world is as a fish or a chicken. Pesce-pollotarians won’t eat mammals but think everything else is fair game. Including game. They are the toe-dippers of non-vegetarians but, to be fair, they’ve tried to bridge the divide of pescasectarianism, encouraging their brethren to put aside their differences and slaughter fish and poultry in equal numbers, a kind of Ebony And Ivory effort but with more blood and murder.
I swear this is real. Kangatarians are basically full-on vegetarians except they’ll eat dead kangaroos, believing that kangaroos alone can be sustainably farmed and that kangaroos alone can be kindly murdered. While credible statistics on kangatarians are hard to come by, recent estimates suggest they account for up to seven people. Sadly they’ve not been accepted by the wider veggie community: A lone kangatarian showed up to a pescasectarian race war one time and had the absolute shit kicked out of them and was laughed at for a week.
Flexitarians are kind of weekender vegetarians. They eat a mostly plant-based diet, then every so often go berserk and do two laps of a KFC drive-thru. It’s like how my ex was fleximonogamous because she mostly didn’t cheat on me a bunch of times.
Purity-sneering aside, flexitarians and the other above dabblers might be our best hope of cutting down the environmental harm of industrial meatery, given most people are unlikely to go full vegan. And it’s catching on, with about 14 percent of the world giving it a go. It seems cutting down a bit is the new being consistent.
This is where we get to vegetarianism proper. And this is maybe the most common type of vegetarian, the Ford Focus of animal do-goodery accounting for about five percent of humans. A lacto-ovo vegetarian doesn’t eat animals or slaughterhouse by-products. And by animals we mean meat, fish (yeah, fish), seafood, game, poultry (yeah, poultry) or insects. They’re still up for dairy products though, chowing down on cheese, butter, yogurt and milk (yer lacto) and eggs (yer ovo) and trying not to think about what happens to the cow after they’ve stopped sucking its tits or the chicken after they’ve eaten its vaginal deposits. I did about 15 years at this point on the veggie scale, most of it wishing I’d eaten more venison when I’d had the chance.
It’s at this point in the veggie hierarchy people get really specific. The lacto vegetarian will do everything their ovum-eating peers do except eggs. They draw the line right there, perhaps because of religious beliefs, perhaps because of the cruelties of battery farming, or perhaps because of the off-putting description above.
Ovo vegetarians, meanwhile, will eat eggs but not dairy products, positioning themselves as the yin to the lacto vegetarian’s yang, and proving for every self-righteous action there is an equal and opposite self-righteous reaction.
This is hardcore. This makes lacto vegetarians look like pescatarians. We’re talking no animals, no slaughterhouse by-products and no animal by-products. We’re talking no meat, no fish, no seafood, no poultry, no game, no insects, no cheese, no milk, no cream, no yoghurt, no butter, no eggs, no ice cream, no custard, no whey, no whey powder, no honey, no fur, no leather, no wool, no silk and no lanolin. It’s convenient. That’s what I like about it. But what vegans lack in convenience – and charm, and sense of humour – they make up for in zeitgeisty momentum. Accounting for about three percent of human food consumers, veganism has crossed from extreme-lifestyle-choice to environmentalist-hipster-essential.
Adding an extra layer of inconvenience, the raw vegan shuns the regular vegan’s filthy habit of… warming up plants. While some might see this as a diet of pure affectation, an edible pocket watch, a fedora and waistcoat on a plate, who are we to judge? Let he who has the strength to cast the first stone…
Finally, while you’d assume the raw vegan was at the top of the tree, there’s a category above them. Or really below them, picking up scraps at the bottom of the tree. The fruitarian only eats things that have fallen naturally from a plant, without harm or harvest. At the time of writing, all of them are presumed dead.
So that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about veggieness. It’s a broad church. A diverse coalition. A complex matrix of kindness, environmentalism, self-righteousness and half-assedry. And although the world would be in better shape if people quit killing and eating animals altogether, cutting down is a decent place to be and a better place to start. Every chicken drumstick you do without is another chicken that gets to live, even if it’s in a wheelchair and on disability benefits and becomes increasingly bitter and disillusioned with America’s role in Vietnam before rallying as a staunch anti-war campaigner or co-owner of a shrimping boat. That goes without saying.
How a spider spurred my veggie awakening and with it my wider Zero awakening and with it your wider Zero awakening and with it a general saving of animals, humanity and the planet.
Bits of animals are hidden everywhere: in marshmallows, in red food dye, in fake fingernails, even in meat and fish and everything. Swot up on what you need to miss out on.
Because even being ill is an ethical pickle for the self-righteous vegetarian. Between gelatine capsules and mandatory animal testing, you’re best just maintaining perfect health forever.
What should we feed our fellow omnivores? Should we force our morality on other creatures? Will a leopard ever want a bit of tofu? Just three of the questions I’m not all that into but wrote about anyway.
As Veganuary hit and I finished updating the Veggieness section of this here website, I was lightning-bolted by one of my many micro-epiphanies: Ever since Covid demanded I spend less time in the kitchen and more time in bed I’ve become a lousy, lazy vegan.
Veganuary aims to get people trying veganism for a month, drawing them in with time-limited new year faddishness. Last year it had more than half a million sign ups, with about 85% committing to cutting down on meat and dairy thereafter, and a solid 40% aiming to stay vegan for all time. That’s decent, given the most popular new year’s resolution – getting and using an annual gym membership – has a success rate of less than 3% I assume.
As with many hells, the road to veganism is paved with good intentions…
You’ll recall they made a stem cell burger a while back. It was funded by one of the guys from Google taking a break off reading your emails and spying on what you spaff to. He gave a few hundred grand to a couple of mad scientists taking a break off stitching hitchhikers’ mouths to hobos’ bumholes.
As you’ll recall I’ve been terribly ill, mummy’s brave little soldier keeping his chin up through the flu, a chest infection, a spot of whooping cough and very little in the way of blogging. Throughout this charming episode I’ve had a number of very helpful people explain it’s all down to my vegetarianism, there having been no documented cases of illness among meat eaters.
In the days before my epic post-qualifying/pre-job slouchfest, back when I was an overworked and increasingly tetchy student, I bashed out a few new year’s resolutions to fill up a bit of space on what was becoming a seriously neglected blog. However, comeuppances being what they are, I’m now forced to put some effort into doing whatever it was I said I’d do, and all to satisfy an audience of precisely no one. How I hate myself.
As the days count down and 2011 draws to a close I have some unfinished business to attend to, an outstanding resolution yet to be instood. I speak, of course, of Operation Parmesan, the unprecedented assault on the world of cuisine that will make the Hiroshima bombing look like an inappropriate historical event to make reference to.
It’s a hard and trying task, all this Zero business. All this research, all this protesting, all this motivating the troops and doing the groupies. At times I grow weary. People cannot live on self-righteousness alone. It can’t be all hard work and hand wringing and so from time to time I put down my tools, tramp down from the moral high ground to the sewer in which the rest of you live, and have a night off. A couple of nights ago I watched a film. Naturally, I was able to turn it pretty quickly into hard work and handwringing.
You’ll recall how I’ve been writing for my uni’s studentmag. It’s some full on proper do-gooding, converting everyone on campus to my splendid way of life and raising issues usually neglected by right-on students such as Fairtrade, vegetarianism, feminism, environmentalism… Oh. Right.