With the notable exception of Hitler, I have always thought of vegetarians as slightly better versions of the rest of us.
While we tuck in to our daily meat feast, vegetarians — mindful of the sometimes dreadful conditions and cruelty endured by animals bred for slaughter — stoically, healthily, tuck in to their nut roast without complaint. My journey towards a smaller carbon footprint was bound to take me to vegetarianism sooner or later.
The facts speak for themselves: farmed animals produce more greenhouse gas emissions (18 per cent) than the world’s entire transport system (13.5 per cent). Methane, produced by cows and sheep, has 23 times the global warming impact of CO2 and these animals are responsible for 37 per cent of the total methane generated by human activity*.
I could go on, but you get the picture. Rather than go cold turkey (or should that be turnip?) and forsake all meat for as long as I live, I decided to take a month-long break from eating meat. The results have been surprising.
Surprise number one was that I really haven’t missed meat. This may be because I am a vegetarian ‘tourist’ and I know I will eat it again, but I’d expected to have at least one middle-of-the-night pang for a bacon sandwich.
Surprise number two – my husband hadn’t even noticed he’d been living in a meat vacuum until I pointed it out to him two weeks in.
Surprise number three – eating vegetarian in restaurants is a boring merry-go-round of risotto, mushroom pie and stuffed peppers yet, paradoxically, when picking up a lunchtime sandwich, soup or salad you’re spoilt for choice.
I’m not going to give up meat for ever, not yet anyway, but I will never eat as much meat as I used to. I don’t want to – and I promise to go easy on the methane-making sheep and cows from now on. One brilliant side effect of the holiday was proved when a colleague emailed to say, ‘I’ve noticed you’re looking really good at the moment. Have you been on a secret diet?’ If that doesn’t tempt you to take a meat holiday of your own, what will?
• People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has a handy and extensive online vegetarian starter kit