In the event it didn’t actually rain, but it was cold enough for us all to be wearing coats and gloves as we ate our hotdogs. And if you’re wondering, gloves and hotdogs don’t mix too well – you get little bits of woolly glove in your roll and ketchup on your gloves.
So as I’m standing there chewing on a marinated slice of pork belly, I’m wondering once again about going vegetarian. I go through this phase from time to time. Toni (my wife) says she’s noticed I tend to do it when I’m eating a bacon sandwich or something pork-related. She’s right. I’ve ended up with this big conscience thing about eating pork, and it’s seriously affecting my enjoyment of meat generally. I blame it all on Dougie, our dog.
Before we got Dougie a couple of years ago, I didn’t really think much about animal welfare. I was quite happy to chomp on a burger or a sausage like most people. But then Dougie came along and it really messed up my fun. I completely fell in love with our little puppy. I really couldn’t believe how I felt about him, and that was all fine for a while. Then I started thinking. I’ve been warned about thinking before, but it was too late. I had already started.
My train of thought was all about animal intelligence. As we got to know Dougie, we couldn’t believe how intelligent he was, and not just like how he could fetch things or do tricks. He was emotionally intelligent too. He could sense happiness and sadness, tension and upset. And he had a range of his own emotions too. It all got me thinking about pigs. Pigs are supposed to be smarter than dogs. Do I really want to be eating something that’s even smarter than my dog?
The short answer is…yes, yes I do. I do want to be eating something smarter than my dog, because I haven’t done very much at all about quitting meat. I’m a bit ashamed of it, and actually that may be why I’m still eating meat. You know, forbidden fruit? It now feels just a little bit naughty to be eating meat. I’m really not helping myself here at all!
But there is something else, and it’s the hardest part for me in changing my diet. It’s all about how things taste. If you’ve ever enjoyed a KFC or a McDonalds, you’ll know what I’m about to say!
These types of foods and others (like pizza etc) are actually engineered to produce emotional satisfaction in our brains. When I first read about it, I found it so creepy! But when you think about it, it’s true – all that fat and all those carbs…all that cheese, the texture of meat. It’s so good, it makes us feel full up and contented. That produces good memories of having eaten it, and then we want more. It’s a conspiracy, I’m telling you!
All I’m doing here is ignoring the truth, which I already know. The point is to make the change from eating the things I just like, to eating the things which I know are good for me. It can’t go on as I have been, because I’m a bit overweight, and I’ve known for years that cutting down on meat is important for a healthy diet.
So now I’m on the path to a better diet. Less pork, fewer sausages, no steaks at all. More veg, more Mediterranean meals with sundried tomatoes, olives, hummus and pitta. I’ve also been trying meat alternatives, but not with much success. Ever tried Quorn? Oh my. I reckon they’ve got a job ahead of them. Linda McCartney veggie food is ok, as long as it’s not too often.
My sister says Marks & Spencer are really good for veggie shepherd’s pie, so I’ll be having a go. I mean it’s M&S – how bad can it be? I’ll just have to try not to buy bags of Percy Pigs every time I’m in there! Pigs again. What is it with pigs??