Meat Free May: Continuance.

And so to you, the first day of June. At the start of Meat Free May I would’ve anticipated things to resemble 30 Days of Night by now.

Truth is, I’ve really enjoyed this whole vegetarian thing. Correlation don’t always equal causation; but I do feel better, and I haven’t missed eating meat in any way I might have expected. So many things have changed in the last few months, and diet is always one you need to look at. I’ve been looking at mine and I think the less animal parts the better.

The month may have ended, but the donation page will be online for a little while longer. Thanks to everyone who’s supported this, one way or another.

Namaste.

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Meat Free May: Tobago – An Angry Post about Endangered Species

Nothing lasts like a little context. From a charitable perspective, my primary motivation for signing up for Meat Free May comes from a certain revelatory moment about the impact farming and fisheries smack down on the environment.

My hotel balcony offers a breathtaking view of the Atlantic coast. I could vault over the bannister, drop a floor and limp to the water’s edge all within a few minutes. where grass surrenders to sand their is a sign explaining that this private beach moonlights as a hatchery for the island’s three principal turtle species.

The Green Turtle (chelonia mydas) principally concerns itself with seagrass and algae, though the fates consider viral tumours and the inevitable poaching to be worthy considerations too.

The Hawksbill Turtle (eretmochelys imbricata) carries a distinctive bill and a taste for certain corals, sponges and invertebrates which promote levels of toxicity within its flesh which can be fatal to humans if ingested. Because humans can find any reason to slaughter something beautiful, crafts made from their shells apparently justify their reaping. Combined with the degradation of marine habitats and ‘incidental mortality’ from fishing; the hawksbill occupies pride of place in the crosshairs.

For some reason the story of the Leatherback (dermochelys coriacea) resonates with me the most. That any species is endangered is an outrage, but the Leatherback’s demise would deprive us of something truly unique.

Besides being the largest of all modern turtles; Leatherbacks are the fourth largest reptile behind three renditions of crocodile. They have occupied every single ocean on the planet, often as far down as 4000 feet, and have been doing so for the better part of 100 million years.

For scale; and to demonstrate how fucking despicable some people can be.

You’ll note the distinctive ridges and leathery shell (hence the name) this twisted abuse of oxygen is obscuring. Lacking a traditional bony shell diminishes their suitability for arts and crafts; and their size limits their predators to killer whales, sharks and us. Poaching during the nesting season contributes to their endangered status, but entanglement in fishing gear is yet again a critical threat to the Leatherback. Another entirely perverse danger to these beautiful creatures is ocean pollution – often suffocating plastic bags mistaken for the jellyfish which forms much of their diet.

This post has meandered and is far more incensed than I was anticipating. Proximity can do that – in the dead of night I’ve seen men stalking the beach from here. This could be entirely innocent – night fishing is a valued (and legal) practice – but suspicion is justified. Despite extensive education, legislation and committed enforcement; the fight for survival is undermined by a demand for exotic, seasonal delicacies. I can’t think of a more perfect demonstration of the importance of work by organisations like Friends of the Earth. From here, I could transplant something precious and rare from beach to bowl with comparative ease.

Responsibility isn’t an abstract. Its easy to forget that we can all remain informed and that we all have to make a choice.

Even the tiniest contribution can make a difference. Donations to Friends of the Earth are greatly appreciated.

Meat Free May: Tobago – Temptation Waits

I won't be churlish enough to state that I haven't received any support from my loved ones during Meat Free May. Shared meals and excursions have easily accomodated my sudden change in diet, with little disruption and healthy support. However, I do feel that the principle behind this is somewhat obscured.

We've made friends with an energetic, and powerfully helpful tour guide. There was a long conversation by the poolside; sharing life stories, touching on our perspectives and experiences. She was making recommendations on things to see and do; giving us information beyond the polish of the brochures and reps. The topic of food inevitably came up, and I explained how I'd given up meat and fish for one month, for charity.

She was astonished. My mother fell back on a rejoinder I'd heard before we left Blighty: "Eat meat and make up the days in June." Our new friend told me to keep any ravening I do secret. Just don't tell anyone.

I hope I'm not making too much of us, especially since I'm talking about a person I love dearly and a bright young woman who has been so warm and generous to us. I think what unsettles me is that I've heard things like this multiple times since this began.

Don't tell. For me, the principle is more important than any temptation this beautiful island can offer. And believe me, temptation waits. Enormous, juicy steaks; constellations of exotic, mouth watering seafood, usually with little delay twixt salt water and plate. But I signed up for this, knowing full well I was coming here. To an island paradise which chalks up much of its appeal to its culinary delights.  

The message of Meat Free May is an important one. For me, its about keeping informed and accepting that, while guilt shouldn't necessarily follow, we should accept some responsibility for what finds its way onto our plates. I wouldn't describe myself as the most moral of individuals, but I've always recognised the value of open eyes.

Namaste.

I've not gone into withdrawal yet. Help keep me on track, and contribute to an important and worthy cause here.

Meat Free May: Tobago – Outbound

Written somewhere over the Atlantic:

One thing I love is a sense of momentum. Staring out of a train window, and now, as I type this, cruising at roughly 35,000 feet. Polarity is very much a part of my nature. Black and white, high and low. Static and taking flight.

JG Ballard had a thing about airports. I have a thing for Ballard, and I think I know where he was coming from. Airside you find yourself in an approximate world – recognisable with subtle, uncanny adjustments.

I’m here in this cabin. South African wine out of a small plastic bottle, splitting my attention between typing this and Catching Fire. Here’s a meal from on high:

image

Macaroni with spinach and lemon crumble. Lemon very much to the fore. Not quite overpowering; but strange enough to make itself conspicuous.
I’m not sure what the side salad was. There was a little feta, I think, and some little round things I can’t quite place. I want to say vinegar, or vinegarette, or some other thing I have no goddamn clue about.
One thing which I’ve so far found surprising about Meat Free May, is that I can think and talk about food without a rising desire to scratch my own eyes out. A concern I have is that I’m not focusing on my initial reasons for signing up in the first place. The environmental concerns, globalisation, the realisation that subtle, uncanny adjustments in our daily lives present some kind of opportunity.
I’m over the mid-Atlantic. I love flying. That sense of disconnect, natural defiance even. The whole world compressed into …ft of steel and glass. I love turbulence and ears popping even. But I’m suddenly conscious of the enormous energy cost of what we’re doing up here. Flying somewhere frequently tagged ‘paradise’, inside of a device which poses its own threats to this rock of ours.
I’m no luddite. I was once tagged as a Transhumanist: I look forward to our cyborg future. I’ve been an uncle for just under 3 months, and I keep fascinating over the type of world my nephew is going to come of age in. At the pace with which technology and information are infusing themselves within us, everyday presents exciting new possibilities. My iPod Nano is 4 years old still has a greater hard disk capacity than my first PC. What on Earth will be within his finger’s reach?

This genuinely excites me. Tantalising prospects but, again, polarity. I get to eat a half decent vegetarian meal high above the clouds. There’s no guilt, just a greater sense of responsibility. That everything, everyday is tipping the scales.

If you would like to make a donation to Friends of the Earth’s “Meat Free May”, you can here.

Namaste.

Meat Free May – Tempus

Timing is everything. I literally discovered the existence of Meat Free May about four days before it was due to start on, er, the 1st May. I knew I was going to do it, especially since I have considered giving vegetarianism a spin in the past. Prior to this however, I’d organised a trip to the Caribbean, to where I leave tomorrow.

Paraphrased from a recent, amusing conversation: “I admire you doing this [MFM], but…JERK CHICKEN!!! Fish fresh from the ocean!” As I get older I am getting more and more stubborn (I dare say combative too). Point out the reasons why something will be difficult and I’ll plough in for any number of reasons. Petulance frequently, ultimately because I like seeing what I can overcome.

At the risk of turning this into a therapy session, life ain’t exactly been a bed of roses. Lot of damage, lot of time spent focused on why things can’t be done. Never any time like the present; especially when you’re trying to run decades of doubt and self-destructive impulse into reverse. Or at least water it down.

‘Trust me…this is character building.’

Everything includes the little things. The last time I left the country I was teetotal. And I ended up in New Orleans, where drinking is pretty much compulsory. Here, if a policeman finds you walking the streets with a drink, they take it off of you. In NOLA the police hand you one if you’re going without. Teetotal in a blissful, beautiful city of inspiration and hedonism.

I purposefully haven’t done much research into my destination. I’m not the tourist sort – I like to trip into an adventure where I can. Several people have pointed all this amazing food I’ll be missing out on, despite the fact that I can’t be the only person with a vegetarian diet to have ever been there.

Regardless, its going to be amazing. I don’t really sleep anymore, so I’m hoping I can cram updates and posts around everything that I’ll be doing. Certainly information on what I’m eating and where you can get it. Largely because it could be interesting and there’s always the possibility of advertising revenue somewhere down the road.

Namaste.

You may not need advertising for your Caribbean restaurant, so why not donate a little of what you’ve saved on matchboxes and sandwich boards to Friends of the Earth? Clickenzee here for the donation page.   

Frittata Complex

Tonight I tried this recipe. No casualties as of yet, and though its not a complex dish by any means, its a big deal for someone like me. Someone who hates cooking, who rues the fact we haven’t got those food pills 1950’s sci-fi promised us. Oh yes there’s food I like – Pho, blue steak, lasagne, spaghetti, madras curry – but ultimately food is fuel. Very much with Sherlock on that one.

So I made a frittata. The first time in living memory I’ve cooked something without beef mince. Plenty of spinach went into it because I need the iron, though it could have done with far more cheese. The only point of contention was the requirement of eggs. Dairy isn’t excluded during Meat Free May, so my issue is the fact that eggs commonly come from chickens.

I have a longstanding conflict with chickens. Aged 9: a slice of tikka chicken pizza in a supermarket. A night of stomach cramps and exorcist style projectile vomiting. Though chicken has never been removed from my diet, I am desperately paranoid about it. I see a a sliver of pink in a chicken breast, the whole thing goes uneaten. A single piece of gristle? Its out for the foxes. In fact, I wonder why I eat the damn stuff at all.

Eggs come from chickens. From the business end of chickens. Either in Birkenau style battery farms, or free range spaces where shite, sustenance and (one assumes) shagging coalesce harmoniously. Who are these people who want to keep chickens in urban spaces? Allotments and gardens full of squawking, pestilent devil-poultry. Clearly you hate your children.

This post was meant to be about a recipe. It worked. It wasn’t half bad. I’m going to make it again, but I know they are watching; and waiting…

 

Ignore the psychotic rant – focus on Meat Free May. I’ve gone vegetarian for one month to raise money for Friends of the Earth. More information can be found on My Donation Page.