We’ve just passed the anniversary of my last proper Greek moussaka — what used to be my fave food. The dish for my last meal request, perhaps. I loved eating it, I loved making it. Three hours in the kitchen — bechamel sauce, fried aubergines, meat sauce with a hint of cinnamon (since I was taught by a Constantinopolitan, and that’s how they flavour it). Rembetika music playing, nostalgic aromas of Greece filling the air.
But no longer. Perhaps, in fact, never again.
This is all fine. I put no expectations on a full-on vegetarian transition. I’m not out to change the world. Maybe I’ll go back to eating meat one day. For now I’m just following my body’s needs. My body tells me it doesn’t want meat at the moment, however much my head argues that we’re biologically meant to be omnivore. For a while I tried to find meat that was local, organic, humanely-slaughtered, head-reared, all-natural, whatever…. Until even this made me feel sick. So I joined the camp of the reluctant (almost-) vegetarians. And things were stable for a while. I made my peace with falafel.
And then the other day I started to wonder about cheese. Lovely cheese, full of protein and calcium. The perfect snack, traditional sandwich filler, essential accompaniment to many a pasta dish. Plus my everyday cheese is the lower-fat variety so I don’t even worry about cholesterol. It was all good for me. Until I asked what rennet is.
So is this is a further step in my diet change? Certainly cheese is less innocuous now. No more parmesan perhaps. Vegetarian cheese has entered my world.
And then gelatin. And the notion of vegetarian wine even. And all the other hidden ingredients I’ve not thought about yet…. How much does this matter to me?
I’m becoming a label freak in the supermarket.
It goes on. A trickle of decisions now to be made where once there was simply unconscious, selfish habit. When did my physical needs stop being the ultimate requirement in my world? Will I one day morph into a fully-fledged planet-saving, ethical vegan? What started as food my body rejects (though I still can’t explain why) has become an unexpected stepping stone to a world of ethical considerations that I’d never even noticed before.
And I feel I’m getting scruffier by the day as I impose a moratorium on clothes-buying while I fret about where I stand on organic cotton and non-sweatshop jeans. As if properly-fitting jeans aren’t hard enough to find under normal high-street conditions!
I don’t suppose this ever gets easier.
Of course I blame yoga for all this.