There's a certain well-known dinner-party-based reality TV show that I have been known to watch from time to time. And in it, there's one type of person who's guaranteed to get me yelling at the screen – namely, the euphemistic carnivore. This is the person who loves a juicy steak or a bacon sandwich, but could never eat a rabbit because they're 'too cute'. The person who gets all squeamish about a whole baked fish because the eyes and bones and tail are 'really gross'. The person who thinks nothing of buying sanitised, plasticised packets of meat from a supermarket, but considers the idea of eating roadkill to be 'the most disgusting thing ever'.
The euphemistic carnivore has lost all touch with what eating meat means: the blood and brain and gooey bits that are the inevitable result of killing another animal for food. He or she lives in a world of abstract substances – beef, pork, veal – that have no connection to any living, breathing creature. And I have no patience with that. If you're going to eat meat then that's fine, but at least have the decency to embrace everything it implies. At least have the decency to realise that meat isn't just a miraculous product that appears on your supermarket shelves with a buy one, get one free sticker on it. It's flesh; and if you wouldn't be willing to visit an abattoir or skin and gut a carcass then maybe you should reconsider whether you have any right to eat it.
That's how I see it, anyway. And since I wouldn't be capable of killing an animal, I won't eat one either. I don't necessarily expect anyone else to agree with my logic, but I do think that people should at least have a better relationship with their food and a stronger understanding of where it comes from. Personally, I have been a vegetarian since I was seven years old, and it has become as much a part of me as any of my limbs. I don't even need to think about it any more; it's a fundamental moral choice that's central to how I define myself.
And that reminds me. There's another type of person who probably annoys me even more than the euphemistic carnivore: the person who says, in all seriousness, If I have to cook you a vegetarian meal then it's only fair that you should cook me meat. The sheer illogic of this statement leaves me speechless – it's like insisting on being served alcohol by a teetotaller. Having a preference is not the same as adhering to a principle.
One last thing, while I'm ranting. Quite a few people I know have said things like I understand why you're vegetarian. I just like the taste of meat too much to give it up. That's their choice. But as an argument, it strikes me as being pretty weak: equivalent to I know I should save energy, but I like my gadgets too much or I know I should recycle, but I'm too lazy to sort my rubbish. People are free to make whatever choices they like, but I think they should at least have a reason for them.