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


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, 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. 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

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

Government hails latest GDP figures, but there is still room for scepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little