I first gave up meat for a few years in my early twenties; Naomi has considerably more impressive vegetarian credentials than me, having been one for most of her youth when the only thing she could eat on a restaurant menu was an omelette.
Nowadays there’s a far greater range of vegetarian food available and its adherents are no longer (in most places) looked upon as freaks, but something has always made me uncomfortable about being vegetarian. For the past year we’ve eaten almost no meat, at the request of our youngest who keeps apologising for making our lives more difficult (even though we keep pointing out that she’s made us healthier). But I think we’ve all hesitated to be properly vegetarian; at least I have.
For me the hesitance springs from attempts to rationalise it: if I’m doing it for animal welfare then how can I really continue to consume dairy? I’m not going to link to any of the multitude of articles and videos about how milk is produced because I wouldn’t know where to start; suffice to say that keeping any mammal in constant milk production isn’t a nice thing.
Starting tomorrow we’re going to do a proper test of whether we can live with the reality of giving up everything produced by an animal: a week of being vegan. We all know it’s the right thing to do, but we also know that it’s going to be difficult. Milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt, honey, eggs. And giving up the obvious dairy is the easy bit: we’re going to be reading a lot of food packaging over the next seven days; it’s amazing what they’ll stick milk products in.
When the week is over we’ll take stock. How do we survive without so many things we love? Perhaps it will be easier than we imagine. Or perhaps it will be really hard and our reflections will come down to just how much we’re prepared to sacrifice for what we know is the right thing to do.