I don’t know why it feels like a radical step, plenty of people do it. I’ve abstained from meat for the past two months – with one exception: a steak pie cooked by my dad. A while ago I decided it was better not to eat processed meat and to only buy meat that was raised to some kind of ethical standard. It mattered more how the animals lived than how they died, I thought, and you have to be in the market to change the way meat is produced. My feelings moved on when my son was born. I was uncomfortable at the thought of generations of animals being bred for slaughter. It seems to me that certain animals have emotional bonds with their offspring. Is it right that we systematically destroy them for commercial profit?
One of the last justifications to fall was the idea that our bodies evolved to eat meat. No one wants to act in opposition to the perceived needs of their body. And it may well have been adaptive for us to eat some meat in an environment of scarcity. Hunting was undoubtedly a formative, possibly thrilling practice that helped us to develop social cohesion. I’d love to track an animal in the wild (though I feel it would defeat the point to then shoot that animal). We no longer live in that environment of scarcity. In fact, our environment is highly artificial and I sometimes distrust the prevailing system not to serve us people burgers if it could create a market for them. I don’t think that eating meat is necessarily wrong but there’s a difference between picking off a stray wildebeest and subsidising your diet with it, and a mechanised industry in which animals are treated as inanimate products.