Wednesday, May 10, 2006

You hold it. I'll kill it.

I was at an Arts Council meeting in London on Monday. In the middle of last week, one of the meeting’s organisers called me to check on my dietary requirements. I told this person that I had a special dietary requirement: “meat”. There was a pause after I said this and I still do not understand why. Most of the meetings I attend lately, especially those organised by any branch of the Arts Council have entirely vegetarian buffets. I sincerely feel that, as a meat-eater, I have become the victim of sustained discrimination.

The caller thought that I was being facetious and said “perhaps you would like us to bring a live animal and you could kill it on site to guarantee freshness….”

“If that could be arranged,” I replied, “that would be great. Thanks.”

The buffet monitor laughed politely and then rang off. Of course when the buffet arrived at Monday’s meeting it was meatless and in the absence of anything else I joined the queue of pallid arts fonctionnaires to feast on Lollo Rosso and goat's cheese. I have just been invited to another meeting in June in Stoke (surely they eat meat there). The email ends with the words:

‘If you have any special dietary requirements let me know, but all food will be veggie anyway - Look forward to seeing you all there’

I work in a non-smoking building – which seems to be the norm these days and is a good idea. The smokers have been given a corner of the wheelie-bin compound to indulge their vice. A corrugated plastic porch has been constructed, so that they can even huddle together in the rain if their need to smoke is that desperate. I fully expect the Arts Council to bring in a similar policy for carnivores. I can contemplate being handed a ham sandwich with contempt at a not too distant meeting, before being directed to a dark corner of a car park, or even a cold fire-escape. There I will be expected to eat while standing and I will have to endure disgusted looks from self-righteous vegetarians and the even purer vegans in the organisation. I will walk this Via Dolorosa and endure whatever pain it entails. I will feel no shame and I will eat my meat.

I look forward to the meeting in Stoke, but I look forward even more to letting them know in advance that I do indeed have ‘special dietary requirements’.

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