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12 September 2014updated 30 Jun 2021 11:53am

Does the world really need another vegetarian lesbian?

A cheerfully-purchased memento mori is forcing Eleanor Margolis to rethink her dietary choices. At least in the bedroom.

By Eleanor Margolis

I’m in bed, eating a bacon sandwich. Eating meat in bed is the ultimate luxury, and I feel like a more carnivorous Marie Antoinette. Ketchup drips onto my chin.

“Eleanor,” whispers a skull on the wall, “Is it worth it, Eleanor?”

Welcome to my own, personal Lord of the Flies. The skull, that of a roe deer, was an impulse buy. After binging on the US reality series, Oddities, about a New York antique shop that specialises in everything from the macabre to the outright disgusting (pig rectums in jars, that sort of thing), I decided that my bedroom was badly in need of a memento mori. Since this room doubles as my office, I decided that a stark reminder of death’s terrifying soon-ness would make me more productive. Perhaps every office should be equipped with something dead, something that says, “Get on with it, or end up a pile of bones that did fuck all, ever.”

So far though, my productivity has remained about the same, whereas my potential for quitting meat has increased by about 700 per cent.

I love meat. I love that pupil-widening shot of umami when it hits your tongue. I love the caustic hiss of a steak meeting a hot frying pan. I could practically drink burgers. Animal flesh just bleeds pleasure at you; it wants you to be happy and strong. On top of this, the entire essence of meat has been hijacked by the dumbest kind of masculinity. The 14th of March is the official (I actually have no idea in what sense it’s official) Steak and Blowjob Day. The man meat paradigm needs shifting. If I can help out with that by regularly tucking into an exsanguinating slab of sirloin, then all the better. Meat, like Yorkies and equal pay, isn’t for girls. I think the idea is that we salad ourselves into an anaemic slump, so that men can get on with running the world without us bothering them.

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Plus, the world doesn’t need another vegetarian lesbian. There isn’t room. And if I’m going to be a stereotype, I’d rather pick a less puritanical trait associated with lesbianism – like fondness for Jennifer Lawrence films, or Georgia O’Keeffe’s unsubtle vag paintings.  

But, right now, I’m on the verge of queasily deserting the vanguard of female carnivores. The skull’s empty eye sockets are locked on my brutish, Ketchup-spattered face. Those holes were once bursting with eye. On my wall is the sorry remnant of something that once frolicked; that munched grass and did loads of general deer stuff. I can kid myself that the skull belonged to the Pol Pot of the cervine world, but he was probably just an average roe. When I bought it, I was assured that the skull was ethically sourced. He, who I’ve named Anthony, supposedly died of natural causes.

But when I meet Anthony’s glower, I can hear the frantic shrieks of the slaughterhouse. I’ve never been to, or even knowingly near an abattoir, but it’s not hard to imagine one. Livestock goes in, deadstock comes out. Logic dictates that what happens in-between must be unfathomably gory.

All I want to do now is ditch this Tell-Tale Heart of a sandwich. It’s not bacon anymore, it’s dead pig. You’re right, Anthony, this delicious hangover cure of a breakfast is murder on a plate. I’m sorry, mate. If I could reanimate you, Frankenstein-style, maybe I’d ride you to my nearest abattoir and liberate the cows. Fuck. I think Morrissey may have been right all along. Maybe not when he said that eating meat is morally equivalent to being a child molester, but some of the other times, perhaps.

We all know that meat is murder. Duh. Many of us also know that it tastes good enough not to care. But I just can’t bring myself to eat meat in Anthony’s ghastly presence. I may not be ready to go cold turkey on turkey, but bedroom vegetarianism is a start.