My Life As A Hypocrite
In the Before Time, back when I ate dead things.
Let’s start with the obvious: I’m not saying all meat eaters are hypocrites. No, friends, I’m not doing that. Nor would I. Nor am I. Nor would I. What I am doing is I’m admitting that, back in the dim and distant past, back before my enlightenment, back when the statues of me were just formless chunks of untouched marble, I was a hypocrite.
It’s true. For you see, I’d wanted to be vegetarian for a long time. I hated the thought of animals being killed just so I had something to eat. But, God damn, I wasn’t willing to give up bacon or steak. Or roast beef. Or roast lamb with mint sauce. Or a full English, or sausage sandwiches, or bacon double cheeseburgers, or barbecue ribs or pigs in blankets because they’re all amazing. I even had a fondness for Spam. Spam! I ate frozen, microwaveable doner kebabs, the lowest rung on the edible ladder before you get to actual toxic waste. I was in deep. I’d tried going veggie as a kid, and lasted about a week on health store hamster food bullshit before giving in to the aroma of cooking meat in the house, ankle deep in my own saliva. I hated the thought of eating animals but I ate them anyway, and that, friends, is why I was a hypocrite.
It’s true. I was living against what I knew to be right. People who eat meat because they don’t mind eating animals, or because they don’t care about animal welfare, or because they’re big on food chains aren’t hypocrites. They’re barely evolved from barbarians, yes. They spend much of their time recreating the opening scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, obviously. But they’re living in line with their principles. I wasn’t. I was a hypocrite.
I was. But then one day came an epiphany. (This pre-dated the general Zero epiphany; I have a lot of them). There I was, in dressing gown and slippers, my pipe warming the palm of my hand, my glass of port sitting empty and appreciated on the table beside me, the end credits of America’s Dumbest Idiots crawling across the screen of the television before me. As I stood and bid goodnight to my porcelain-skinned lady, whose latest tapestry was nearing completion, my attention was drawn to a small spider crossing the floor in a cocksure manner not unlike that of a young Jack Nicholson. I did that night as I had done many times before. I bent down and picked up the little fellow, cupping my hands gently so as not to crush him, and made my way to the front door to release him back into his natural habitat and keep mine for myself. It was then I was struck by a curious notion: Here I was sparing the life of a creature most would have trampled underfoot, and yet earlier that evening I had tucked into a pleasant supper of goose-stuffed swan, foie gras and Findus Crispy Pancakes. “This is hypocrisy”, I thought. “Fuck me backwards if this ain’t a double standard.”
I didn’t kill animals and I didn’t approve of hunting – except of humans and in that case only by millionaires on private islands – but I did allow animals to be killed on my behalf. And once they were dead I ate their decaying corpses. Suddenly I realised how good they tasted was irrelevant, and that hypocrisy was a bigger issue to me than animal welfare. If I didn’t want to have double standards I had a choice to make: either I’d have to stop eating meat or start killing insects. So began the great insecticide of 2004. Millions of insects were killed. Millions more were widowed.
Not really. I just stopped eating meat and felt good for it because I wasn’t a hypocrite any more, and I wasn’t asking for animals to be hurt and killed for me any more. Now my actions were in line with my ethics. Now I was living according to my conscience. And there was something habit-forming about living that way. Something that made me want to live according to my conscience in all areas of my life.
My life as a hypocrite had come to an end. My future stood before me. Where would this new life take me, I wondered? Perhaps to a life of helping my fellow humans. Perhaps to a series of bland, unsatisfying meals. Perhaps to a do-gooding website that undermines its good intentions with silliness, sarcasm and swearwords.
Perhaps, little Zero. Perhaps.
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.