Friday, 16 November 2012

I used to be a vegetarian...of sorts.

When I was younger I had a babysitter named Elaine. Elaine was a vegetarian and, because I thought she was wonderful, I decided that her way of thinking was surely the right way, and gave up meat. I say gave up meat, but really, as a fussy child, all I was giving up hot dogs, burgers, sausages and lasagne, but still it was massive decision for an attention seeker such as myself.

I told everybody about my new found vegetarianism-strangers on the street included, and felt as if, having made the decision to boycott eating animals, everyone else I knew should also. I don't remember anyone choosing to go veggie. This did not stop me, the little activist. I forced my mother to pay for my "Vegetarian Society" membership, buy me "Quorn" and therefore cook entirely separate meals for me. To this day I admire her patience.

This went on for around 4 years, until my first hangover. I don't remember how much I drunk (I suspect it was roughly 3 alcopops), but I remember the agony of being hungover. I felt lousy. That is the day I asked my mum to make me something, anything with meat in it. I'm unsure if I felt that I needed this to cure my sickness, or because earlier in the day I'd been to McDonalds with my friends and watched them devour cheeseburgers whilst I ate a Fillet 'o' Fish (vile slabs of processed white fish with a disgusting tartre sauce style dressing. I know one person who eats them. And he's incredibly strange.)

For the next few years I ate meat until I stopped smoking. I went through one of those "self improvement" phases and alongside stopping smoking decided I was going to lose a shit load of weight as well. I perused Amazon for about 30 seconds then purchased a book called "Skinny Bitch".

 Do not buy this book. Ever. Ever. It turns people into activist psycho vegans. It uses scare tactics to force you to give up everything delicious and lovely, tells you processed food is evil, diet "soda" is evil, then advocates a diet of processed tofu and raw veggies. Safe to say veganism does not suit me, most wine isn't considered vegan so you can rule that out as an option for me.

 So I gave up meat again. I gained weight, and pissed off pretty much everybody I knew with my fussy eating. I'm surprised my lovely boyfriend put up with it to be totally honest. It can't have been pleasant to sit down with your juicy steak and look up to your other half wrinkling their nose and projecting "murderer" mentally across the dinner table! Our freezer was full of cardboard burgers and plastic sausages and I was constantly hungry. If I tore a muscle running it would take me about 4 weeks to recover because of the lack of protein I was consuming and I was basically a weak, chunky little mess surviving on carbohydrates and baked beans.

I was by no means a perfect vegetarian. Believe it or not, most sweets are not suitable for vegetarians, and one of my favourite past times was stopping at Tesco on the way home from work and buying 3 bags of marshmallows and a bag of wine gums and eating the lot in the car like one of those secret eaters on dieting programmes that hide Pringles in the cistern and eat them whilst continuously flushing the toilet. (I don't actually know if they do this but I imagine its a bit like alcoholism, and I read somewhere that alcoholics hide vodka in the toilet cistern.)

 I had visions of myself eventually stopping at the farm shop and buying a veal sandwich to eat on the way home just to get my naughty fix, a bit like those thieves that begin by stealing a packet of gummy bears and escalate to stuffing 40" tellies up there tops and legging it out of Currys or Comet or wherever it is you buy televisions.

So you could say I wasn't a proper vegetarian the second time round. Alongside all the sweetie eating I regularly refused to check ingredients lists because I decided that if I hadn't read that there was meat in something then there wasn't meat in it. I started eating fish again (which, lets face it, is meat really), and I wore my Ugg boots to pretty much every casual social occasion I could. I bought leather shoes regularly and at Christmas ate the goose fat smothered roast potatoes.

After three more years of meat deprivation, I started to get tired. Not just a bit tired, exhausted. I struggled to drag myself out of bed, gave up running, ate a lot more to try and muster some energy up, panicked that I might be pregnant and went to the doctor. To my relief, we were not about to be blessed with a child, but I was to be put through the torture (to me, it is) of a blood test.

I am NOT afraid of needles. I don't mind them a bit. At school, I was the first to volunteer to go up for my TB jab. I say this a lot and people look at me as if I'm some sort of junkie, but the fact is I just don't see needles as a legitimate fear. Moths are a legitimate fear, heights make me feel a bit poorly and I'm not a fan of horses, but needles, bring it on. What I am afraid of however, is fainting. And I do when I have blood tests. I've been told this is something to do with low blood pressure, so it's unavoidable.

So of course, I dragged myself reluctantly to the doctors to have holes poked in me and blood sucked out of me, I left a pale, dribbling mess, but hopeful that they would get to the bottom of my weak state.

My results showed that I have low haemagoblins (I know that's wrong, I just like the idea of little lonely goblins running around my veins) and that I needed iron tablets and further tests. I started taking the tablets, which tasted like little pound coins and turned my poo black and my stomach into a scrunchy, achy ball of pain. I decided after three days of feeling shit that enough was enough.

 That night I ate chicken. Then beef. The next day I ate lamb. Ever since then I've been pretty much a carnivore.

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