Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A pesky diet and why ignorance is not bliss

I'm the type of person who worries about what I can't see. I stretch my sleeve over my hand to avoid touching buttons at crossings and door handles. I get squeamish about public transport, hotel beds and sharing toilets with strangers. I don't have OCD. I just can't stand dirty people.

It was easy when I could disassociate. I think most people do this. You go to a restaurant or even just a cheap take-away. It doesn't cross your mind who handled all your food before it was given to you. It crosses my mind through and crosses back and loops and ties my mind in knots. Sure they have their food hygiene licence hanging proudly in a poundland frame behind the bar and they're nice to your face. Is the chef in perfect health or did he come in with a bit of cold because he needs the money? Does he think it's okay to use the five second rule if no one is looking?

Putting my shopping away I wonder how many people have touched these things. I prefer to pour my drink into a glass than worry about what fingers have possibly groped the top of my beer cans. At least you can wash fruit and vegetables and remove any trace of picker, packer, stacker and curious shopper.

Meat is a whole different story. It's interesting how vegetables stay vegetables but animals become meat. There's that disassociation again. You don't have to connect what you're putting in your mouth with anything alive. Unless you're standing in the supermarket and realise that what you have just put in your trolley is the dead body of a chicken that had been crammed in a shed with hundreds of other chickens awaiting their ultimate fate in the slaughterhouse just to become somebody's dinner. Maybe you're still able to disassociate or you just can't get sentimental about chickens.

But all animals can feel pain and fear. Your heart may soften at a charity advert showing a dog cowering and hopeless after being abused and neglected. It's easy to forget the same happens behind closed factory doors to animals bred purely to be sold as meat. I may not be able to stop it from happening but I feel happier knowing I'm not part of the cause.

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