{08/03/2012}   Must. Eat. Meat.

I am a veritable carnivore. For my last few dinners I’ve had steak, roast chicken, bone marrow, chicken and bacon salad. When I think about what to eat for dinner, it is often decided by what meat I want to eat. I have always known there was no full time vegetarian on me. This revelation came when I was about 20 and considering a particular someone’s fanciability. But I just couldn’t fancy a vegetarian, it would ruin my meals! I am sure I would survive just fine without meat for dinner but to live with a vegetarian would mean I would feel guilty keeping and eating meat in the house, no matter how laid back they were about my lifestyle choice.
I have absolutely no issues with vegetarianism or indeed vegetarians, indeed I have respect for people who commit to diets, whether for ethical, dietary, health etc reasons. It may surprise you that I even have vegetarian friends! I happily eat with them and cook for them when they visit, and indeed eat the same food. I just couldn’t and wouldn’t want to stop eating meat.
Last night, I had dinner at one of my favourite restaurants, Hansa’s in Leeds. It is a Gujarati restaurant and the food is vegetarian and some of it is vegan. In my Indian food experience it is different and exciting, maybe in part due to the influence of Kenyan food in the dishes she has selected. I don’t usually see the point in my going to a vegetarian restaurant, I have a psychological issue with it: no meat=will be hungry (I reiterate it is a psychological issue). But there is something about this menu that genuinely excites me and it surprises me that I have absolutely no qualms about going to that particular vegetarian restaurant, ie knowing there will be no meat option. I have been there three times and have travelled an hour to get there (once from Sheffield and last night from Manchester).
I don’t really get my attitude to meat, maybe at heart I’m a meat, potato, two-veg person; after all that is a dish I will crave after a few days of hotel living/three meals a day out. Bland! I happily eat/cook pasta dishes without meat, gnocchi, penne arrabiata, jacket potato with baked beans and cheese, the odd macaroni cheese (a recent but destined to be short loved phase!), a quorn stir fry I make and love. Maybe the point is that if I’m doing a food shop for dinner, I see noodles for sale and think about the quorn chunks stir fry someone once made for me and which I love, so buy the ingredients, not once thinking about the lack of meat. So to an extent it probably is just psychological. If someone non-vegetarian suggested going to a vegetarian restaurant for dinner, I would refuse. If I went to a non-vegetarian restaurant and a vegetarian meal appealed, I would order it without thinking about the lack of meat.
I bought Hugh F-W’s veg book. I have enjoyed quite a few meals from that, though I do recall adding a side of steak to one recipe! I see I have come to a few conclusions about my relationship with meat, namely that my perceived need for meat to maketh the meal is born of my mindset. But, I also love the taste of most meat and feel you can be more inventive and creative with meat than non-meat … but that brings me round to the fact that the best vegetarian food is from creative restaurants like Hansa’s and from the kitchens of vegetarian friends. Your average restaurant has a miserable selection (or just one) of vegetarian options, most of which are a variation of the same, maybe a goat’s cheese tart, vegetarian sausage and mash … maybe that’s why I rarely find the vegetarian options so unappealing and convince myself I am in need of a meat based dinner every day.


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