Dom Joly: I'm going to eat like an elephant for a whole year

Share
Related Topics

It might be my age or it just might be that I've succumbed to the same nonsense that I've ribbed all my Sloane hippy friends about, but it seems that I've "seen the light". I've had a "spiritual" moment out here in Indochina.

Like all great things, it started with me smelling elephant poo. We went to an elephant farm in the hills outside Chiang Mai. The idea was to look after our own elephants for the day. As well as feeding and washing them, we had to inspect their poo, as this is a good determinant of whether an elephant is healthy. Now you might imagine that an elephant's poo might be of a particularly nasty disposition. Well you'd be wrong. We all happily held a cannonball or two and sniffed it without any discomfort. As we were leaving, we were entreated by our mahout to "eat like an elephant" in our everyday lives.

Sadly, he didn't mean that we should stuff our faces with huge portions as often as possible. I already do that. He was suggesting that we should eat only fruit and vegetables – the diet of an elephant. Elephants suffer very little from cancer or heart conditions.

Without going into too much detail, upon my next bowel movement I realised that this kind of lifestyle choice might be deeply beneficial for me. So, in true "seen the light" fashion I have decided to become a vegetarian and see if I feel any better for it. I'm still going to eat fish as I'm not a total masochist and I am sure that, were elephants fleet enough of foot, they would be spearing salmon like there was no tomorrow.

It does help that I'm now in Cambodia, where vegetables actually seem to taste like vegetables and fruit appears to have been recently plucked from the Garden of Eden. I am, however, determined to eat like an elephant for at least a year.

This might come as something of a surprise to some, but it's not the first time that I've been vegetarian. As a moody teenager I became one for three years in a somewhat futile protest against animal experimentation. Eventually, like all waverers, I was drawn back to the rare side by the smell of bacon. Being a vegetarian is all about whether you can resist the smell of cooking bacon. My tip for the starter veggie is to spend a couple of months in a Muslim country. It just makes life easier.

I can still remember the day I finally cracked. It was a Saturday evening at boarding school and we used to have a buffet-style supper. There would be industrial trays of sausages and beans and chips and bacon, lovely bacon. I got nostril overload and I just snapped. I piled my plate high with the stuff and never looked back.

My wife is the same. When I met her she was a vegetarian with a weakness for hot dogs and beefburgers and steak. If the truth be told, she was never that good at being one. Then kids arrive and you start to graze their food, and it all becomes impossible. Until now. Now I shall eat like an elephant and I shall go forward strong in my belief until I wander past a bacon butty stall in London. Only then shall my elephantine resolve be truly tested.

I'm quite excited about this attempt at self-discipline. I don't think that I've ever denied myself a pleasure since an unfortunate day in Syria when I was filming and the director suggested that it would be "good TV" if I joined our fixer in fasting for Ramadan for the day. It also happened to be the day we crossed the desert and all liquids were forbidden – just the most unhappy day of my life.

Still, I think there might be a Christmas health DVD in this for me. Any offers, anyone?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

KS2 Teacher

£21000 - £34000 per annum + Excellent rates of pay, CPD, Support : Randstad Ed...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: I am currently recruiting level 3 n...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Photo issued by Flinders University of an artist's impression of a Microbrachius dicki mating scene  

One look at us Scots is enough to show how it was our fishy ancestors who invented sex

Donald MacInnes
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp  

Oscar Pistorius sentence: Judge Masipa might have shown mercy, but she has delivered perfect justice

Chris Maume
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album