Being a veggie was murder

As increasing numbers turn their backs on meat, former animal rights campaigner Tim Samuels will be tucking into turkey for the first Christmas in 10 years. He explains why he's decided to give up beanburgers and make the switch back to beef - after a decade of being vegetarian.

For the majority of the population, the act of buying a cheeseburger at McDonald's is a relatively mundane procedure. But after a decade of abstinence from meat, making the purchase became a near-pornographic experience.

Standing in the queue warily eyeing up the McDonald's menu board, I was struck by a sensation first experienced around the mid-1980s when stretching for the magazine top shelf in a Manchester corner shop - the rush of adrenalin that heralds the triumph of carnal urge over poxy principle. The simple cheeseburger had been transformed into a smutty mag - a metamorphosis abetted by its being served in a brown paper bag.

Buying the burger represented a volte-face in my teenage relationship with McDonald's - which largely consisted of standing outside its restaurants handing out leaflets graphically depicting a cow upturned in an abattoir, blood gushing from its head, under the slogan: "Would you still eat meat if it looked like this?" Back then vegetarianism took on something of a quasi-religious status. Facts about the meat industry, detailed in the glossy literature issued by animal rights' groups, carried the reverence of absolute truths. My vegetarianism acquired an evangelical zeal after being adopted as a "youth spokesperson" by the Vegetarian Society, precipitating a series of cringing television appearances; the most retrospectively traumatic involved cooking a broccoli dish alongside Cheryl Baker on her Saturday morning kids' show Eggs 'n' Baker (marginally more embarrassing than preparing a veggie burger, of all things, for an ungracious Terry Christian). Compensation did come, however, with the opportunity to interview the Lord High Priest of Vegetarianism, Morrissey (naturally, a "Meat Is Murder" T-shirt was donned for the occasion).

Back to the queue in McDonald's. Edging closer to the front - still no sign of remorse to make a last-minute killjoy appearance. However, a show of remorse would only really be allowed on grounds of nostalgia for an adolescent era, when idealism was the main player. But major changes in principles have taken place since then: idealism has been substituted off, scepticism is the new star striker in town. It took scepticism a while to settle in, but once it found form it was only a matter of time before vegetarianism was hounded off the pitch.

"Can I take your order please?" Only one obstacle now stood between me and my McDonald's: the scare stories. According to such legends, a sudden return to meat-eating prompts a violent bodily reaction: instant vomiting, days of diarrhoea - tales luridly deployed as the final defence to keep the potential defector inside the camp. Those afflicted by such complaints should have possessed the foresight to renounce their vegetarianism at a McDonald's. Picking a lovingly prepared 7oz sirloin steak is just asking for trouble, when opting for a cheeseburger even keeps open the possibility that no meat is going to be ingested. The first bite did rekindle certain memories amongst the taste-buds: not from the distant days of care-free childhood carnivorism, but of a Veggie Whopper last month at a Burger King by King's Cross station. It was something of a disappointment just how close the imitation burger had come to emulating the genuine article. Maybe a tad saltier, a little rougher to chew, but no major reunion with long-lost taste sensations. And no vomiting or diarrhoea.

Considering the sacrifice involved in maintaining principles, they are enticingly cheap to dispose of - 69p in this case. Having decided to make diet and belief congruous once again, there was something deeply satisfying about sacrificing vegetarianism by dining with the devil of days gone-by, Ronald McDonald.

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

    £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

    C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

    £60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?