Sunday, February 27, 2005

Meat Is Murder 

I hope that I’m not a mean person. I try not to be, but here’s where I draw the line: I would hate to be eaten.
I would find the experience undignified and degrading, and if I had the slightest hunch that you were planning to do such a thing, very frightening as well. Even if I was already dead, I still think it would be a terrible and graceless way to pass from existence to non-existence.
So please understand me when I say you absolutely do not receive my blessing to eat me. Not unless your very survival depends on it and you’ve looked very closely at all other available options, and I’m talking VERY closely.
In return, I promise never to knowingly eat you or your loved ones. Not for passing pleasure, and probably not even if my continued existence was at stake, although I can’t swear to that.

In February 1985, The Smiths released Meat Is Murder. I became a vegetarian a few days later - twenty years ago to this day, as it happens - and although I’d been thinking about ‘converting’ for a while, I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to admit that hearing Meat Is Murder was surely the catalyst that spurred me into action.

I did it for two reasons. First, I felt that it was the right thing to do.
I stopped believing that I was worthy of the - at best undignified, at worst painful and frightening - end to another creature’s life. I still don’t think I would be worthy of it. I don’t think anyone is.

Second, I hoped that it would make me fascinating and irresistible to girls.
My theory was that girls would be so impressed by my compassion and integrity and my commitment to acting upon beliefs and feelings - to put my money where my mouth was, as it were - that they’d feel helplessly drawn to having sex with me, or at least letting me see some of their girl parts.

I never got to test my theory because I didn’t know any girls, let alone discuss dietary issues with them. All the same, I hoped that word would get out onto the grapevine, and that girls would want to discover more about the mysterious nut eating boy, and maybe even express an interest in sharing cider with him and getting horizontal in a mutually moist and cosy way.

Even now, I still half-expect a delegation of farm animals in tuxedos and evening gowns to knock at my door and hand me some kind of award in thanks and recognition of my not eating them for all this time.

“No really. Thank you so very much for this beautiful bronze statue of - what is it? A vege-sausage? But I would have done it anyway. I did it all for you, and I accept this award in honour of you, my smelly farmyard friends.”

But it hasn’t happened yet, and doesn’t seem likely now.
Then again, perhaps they’re saving it up for a big thirtieth anniversary blow-out, with champagne and stars of stage and screen, and little nibbley things on sticks and maybe even cocaine, and all those high school girls who never did and never even knew, and surely would have done if only they’d known, but didn’t, and would all now love to, but can’t because I say no, I’ve moved on, we were all so much younger then, you had your chance and missed it, sorry about that, isn’t it murder?

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