Does newly vegan Al Gore know what he’s getting himself into?

I was a vegetarian for two decades, but couldn't hold out against temptation

Share

Al Gore has gone vegan, for which we should applaud him. As somebody who spent more than 20 years as a vegetarian, I certainly do – but I’m afraid I won’t be joining him. I fell off the wagon a couple of years ago, thanks to the irresistible smell of spicy Thai chicken soup, and I tell people it’s one of the best things I ever did. That’s being flippant, of course – going veggie was one of the best things I ever did. I just couldn’t keep it up.

Veganism has become something of a badge of honour in the US – Gwwore is following such figures as Joan Jett, Brad Pitt, James Cameron, Anne Hathaway and Woody Harrelson. He seems motivated as much by health concerns as animal rights or ecology; when I went vegetarian, I was the classic bleeding-heart liberal. It wasn’t that I didn’t like meat – quite the opposite. It was about the animals, penned and caged in sunless misery, pumped full of drugs, then stun-gunned and slaughtered.

My conversion came about thanks to a deer farm in the Highlands. As we were driving past one, my mother wondered what they were being reared for. To be released into the wild, where they might eventually be shot but would lead a decent and noble life – and might, indeed, end up dying of old age? Or were they being reared like cattle, destined for a meat hook? The former she could take, but not the latter.

That was illogical, I said; she was happy for cows and pigs to be part of a grim industrial process. During the ensuing argument, I realised I was espousing the vegetarian cause, and so followed 20 years of self-denial. It came to an end because I was ground down by living in a family of carnivores. Too many legs of lamb, sides of beef and rashers of bacon eaten in front of me while I tucked into my quornburger or vegetable kiev – all nice enough, but without that meat hit. Then came the spicy Thai chicken soup, and I cracked – since when I eat meat with the zeal of the reconverted.

My ethical position hasn’t changed, but I tell myself I have done my stint for the cause so I can live happily ever after as a meat-loving hypocrite. I never took the full plunge into veganism because it seemed too much like hard work. I was happy to do my ethical bit as far as it went without having my dietary choices rule my life. I had a vegan friend who seemed to spend his waking hours calculating how much protein he had had that day, and whether he would need to get some nuts or pulses down him to redress any deficiency.

I don’t know how much help Al Gore will be getting in his new lifestyle. Will he be opening a can of lentil soup last thing at night because he has not had enough protein? Or will a personal nutritionist have done the sums for him? He may be getting from tips from his old boss Bill Clinton, who calls himself a vegan although he permits himself salmon or eggs once a week for protein and iron purposes. Oh, and he also eats turkey at Thanksgiving – just one bite. Whatever you say, Bill.

Those weekend warriors and their little white lies

What did you do last weekend? After running a marathon for charity on Saturday morning, I manned the Samaritans’ switchboard in the afternoon, then took in a performance of Parsifal in the evening. Sunday was spent white-water rafting, mentoring inner-city youngsters and, er, watching Match of the Day 2.

There may be one or two inaccuracies in that account, though the last one’s definitely true. If there are, don’t blame me. According to a survey by lastminute.com, 2.5 million of us regularly lie about how we’ve spent our weekends to make them sound more interesting.

Frankly, I don’t believe it. My friends are aware I know them well enough to see through any claims to have, say, climbed the Munros or gone tombstoning at Angel Falls. The most frequently uttered phrase I hear in response to the question “What did you do this weekend?” is: “Oh, you know, the usual.”

Perhaps this confirms another finding in the survey, that too often we get to Sunday evening and feel the past two days have been a letdown. Lastminute.com sells weekend breaks, so it’s not difficult to guess what its remedy is. But could you ever be pathetic enough to tell fibs about it? Me neither.

React Now

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

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Muslim men pray at the East London Mosque  

Sadly, it needs to be said again: being a Muslim is not a crime

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible