My grandfather used to counsel my mother’s worries about my insatiable carnivorous tendencies as a child by suggesting that the only solution would be to ensure I gain a butcher as a father-in-law. I would frequently be teased at dinner parties when it looked like I was struggling to make it to dessert with mock incentives such as the profiteroles actually being meatballs. My meat eating was so ingrained by my teens that an aunt felt compelled to proclaim that I should stop making my stomach a graveyard for dead animals.
Needless to say, I think I would have struggled growing up in the infamously meat free McCartney household. This week, Sir Paul McCartney led a gaggle of celebrities all advocating the limiting of meat eating as a means of combating climate change. This gives media oxygen to the radical idea first proposed last year by Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As a result of habitat destruction and animal flatulence it is estimated that meat production accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Methane is apparently 23 times more effective at global warming than carbon dioxide meaning cow farts could be responsible for the end of the world. The purported health benefits of a low meat diet only bolster the case further.
I think I became pro-meat through my utter dislike of vegetables rather than an active pursuit of animal muscle and sinew. However, my own meat eating habits have metamorphosed quite significantly over the last few years. More precisely, vegetables now play a much larger role in my life. Aubergines, previously the stuff of nightmares and off limits due to their uncanny resemblance to oversized slugs, now feature prominently in my diet. I even ate beetroot last weekend.
I wish I could lay claim to a rational deliberation of the facts and arrival at a reasoned position but the truth is I’m not quite sure what has brought about this gradual but substantial change in what I eat. There are undoubtedly competing contenders for the role of catalyst in this transformation including the credit crunch, actually believing what I tell patients and my wife’s talent for making vegetarian curries that taste, well, meaty!
Ancient Arab tradition holds that man takes on the qualities of the meat he eats. Copious sheep eating allegedly makes one timid. A preference for camel renders one haughty and proud. Thus I would claim that my well rounded personality is down to the copious donner meat (of varied and often dubious heritage) I’ve eaten during my lifetime. I’m somewhat fearful of what type of person all these aubergines will transform me into.
Tauseef Mehrali is a GP registrar