Sunday, February 28, 2010

Vegetarian

I don't know how this happened. The crunch was a tiny piece of bone in an IKEA meatball on Wednesday evening when we went to look at sinks and sofabeds. IKEA is exhausting, just as all large stores are exhausting, something to do with the lighting and formaldehyde, or chemicals in the furnishings, I have stopped trying to work it out, and mostly try not to go to these places. The meatballs and lingonberry sauce, have always been our consolation prize. Bleached out on a lime-green sofa, staring into a rectangular oblong of porcelain (but how does the water run out?), it was ok because in a minute we would go and have meatballs with lingonberry and chips. The bone fragment shouldn't have been there, it was a one-off, but fate arranged it so that we would come up against each other when I was wavering and vulnerable - about the whole business of eating meat, I mean. I have found myself wanting it less and less, choosing the vegetarian option when we went out, sensing an unfamiliar squeamishness in myself when looking at a tray of skinned chicken thighs and latterly (before Jonathan Safran Foer exploded into the scene) questioning whether I felt ok about eating animals at all. I used to. I began not to. I don't know why. It's not as though anything much has changed, and for many years (apart from IKEA meatballs and the occasional hamburger) I've bought responsibly-sourced, organic meat.

It was the piece of bone. It made me think of death, I felt like death. I remembered being five years old and how meatballs used to smell of snot and smoke. I thought about the mangledness of the once-living animal, the fact of it. A shudder was engendered, it is still there and I am not eating meat or wanting to.

I wonder if this will last. I hope so.

13 comments:

Mim said...

Like you, Signs, I seldom eat meat. Steak smells like sweat. In the past this was not so. I used to chew flesh with the best of them.

Those big box stores are like mazes and seem to go on forever.

Just think: you have now escaped!

Reading the Signs said...

Mim, that's exactly how I feel - as though I might actually be free of something. So strange!

Anna MR said...

Ah, my poor schwes, Ikea is horrible. It's easily six years since I've been to one - and then only for work, it'll be more like ten since I've been to one for myself - and look forward to a future of never visiting one again, ever. Amen. (But I thought they had mashed potato with the meatballs and lingonberry? Do here - or so I'm told. All for a euro, isn't it? Or in your case, seventy pence, I guess?)

As for Jonathan Thingy Whatsit - is he the guy who's written some book about animals, or more like, the meat industry? I read a review this week in my Finnish-Swedish daily (the fabulously-for-non-Swedish-speaking-ears-named Hufvudstadsbladet, which I have delivered to my door alongside the Finnish-language daily (the not so fabulously-named Helsingin Sanomat), for two reasons, one of which is they need my support not to go bust (and this is true, and enough of a reason to pay two-hundred and something a year for a paper I often don't get round to even opening - shame on me), the other being that I like to keep up my Swedish, which is pretty good although not by any means brilliant), yes, the HBL, which I have firmly decided to read at least bits of *daily*, again, only this week (failed today, mind). Yes, is Jonathan Whatsit Foer this guy? For, funnily enough, I also went to the Guardian website today and read a thing by him, about being injured in a freakish school-camp accident as a child and as a result of the accident, becoming unable to express anger towards anyone, ever again (a very interesting concept, but unfortunately he didn't focus on that, choosing instead to harp on about his accident). So yes, have you read this book, or have you just been made aware of it by the publicity surrounding it, and do you think it is feeding into the ick-feeling, which the bit of bone inflamed to a rage?

You and the Signs family will be able to continue eating wonderfully, though, for I know for a fact you cook a delicious veggie meal (and you know, fish is still allowed, no? For kedgeree and other purposes).

I'm just waffling on here, Signs my dear, sorry about that (although I mean every word I say about your wonder vegetarian meals), sleep is evading me and a busy week of philosophical and scientific effort awaits and, you know, stuff. I was delighted to find *yet another* new post when I arrived, you prolificky person, you. How do you do it?

Respect and mwahs and good things and, one hopes, goodnight for now

x

Anonymous said...

I was a SERIOUS meat-eater until I had a similar turning point with a chicken sausage patty that had a bone fragment in it...That was about 4 years ago. Then, I saw "Earthlings" which pretty much sealed it for me...Been vegetarian for 3 years now, with one regret...I wish I'd done it sooner.

Zhoen said...

A good choice. Just remember, it takes a bit of thought and planning and energy to eat a solidly nutritious full vegetarian diet. Doable, worth doing, needs doing right.

I can't imagine how you manage Ikea, reward or no. I can't abide driving by it.

Reading the Signs said...

Chips or boiled in the Croydon branch, Schwes. The thing about IKEA, why the peeps keep going there, is that they are cheaper and better than all the other bog-standard places here, if you don't have loadsa money. And as places go, it's not really so bad, just my Condition makes it so.

There has been a fair bit about Safran Foers in the papers recently, but the pull away from meat has been gaining on me steadily for a while. I'd like to read his book but feel the facts probably won't hold many surprises for me. I'd like to read his take on it all though.

I think I know the particular veggie dish you have in mind - and here (if I can remember how to do the blue thingy) is the link to it. Everyone I've made it for has loved it.

I like, no love waffles. Not that you were, but just saying.

Reading the Signs said...

Hi Anon, I haven't seen Earthlings and probably couldn't bear to. I also wish I'd done this sooner. But having said that, I think there are people who actually need meat in their diets. I have felt for a while that it is something I could quite easily do without - which is enough reason to give it up entirely.

Zhoen, it's true, a good veggie diet takes more planning and thought. But I have a fairly good grounding, having done a lot of cooking. And am happy with very simple (nutritious) things.

Fire Bird said...

Off to IKEA tomorrow - think maybe I'll opt for the fish...

Reading the Signs said...

Fire Bird, don't do that! I've had the fish there too and it was dried out and horrible. Probably best stick to chips and cake.

Minx said...

Meat is not good for your health and meatballs (like sausages) are just an excuse to use the bits that no one knows what to do with.

I like a chicken curry once a month but my body thanks me for a mainly green diet!

Reading the Signs said...

Minx, hello! I know, I always knew ghastly truth about meatballs, but now that I'm veggie I can actually acknowledge it. I'll eat a bit of fish now and then.

Kahless said...

Yuck... I can taste your meatball through your words!

Dont blame you - meatballs - urgh!

Elie said...

I get exactly the same feeling when I'm at IKEA. It always makes me feel dead tired, it must be the colors and smells (and the distance you have to walk when in the shop).