Nothing But An Imposition 3


Are plant eaters just an annoying, irrelevant cult?

The only veg at this airport cafe was a gluggy, inedible 'savoury' muffin.

The only veg at this airport cafe was a gluggy, inedible ‘savoury’ muffin.

LATELY, WHENEVER I go anywhere – or even if I stay home glued to the plasma – I’m reminded about how just left-of-centre my food choice has made me.

It’s crazy, really. I’m not a terrorist, I don’t hold any cranky religious beliefs, and until the last few years I’ve felt almost ashamed when out and about and making it ‘difficult’ for friends or relatives with my oddball food choices.

These days, I’m lucky to live with a wife who shares my views about animals and the environment, so at least there’s little discord at home.

But there’s certainly internal discord when I watch those ‘meat girls’ before the TV news promoting the idea that meat is the only great and complete food source. And there’s certainly gnashing of teeth when I accidentally come across one of Pak N Save’s theoretically humorous swipes at vegetarians masquerading as advertising.

Heck – am I losing my sense of humour?

It’s just that it all buries your enthusiasm after awhile.

Going out is even worse. Have you tried to find a café lately that serves vegetarian food of any description? I really pity vegans and those intolerant to various ingredients, because there’s often nothing at all that isn’t slathered in cheese and butter, or glue-like with gluten.

No veg at all at Mitre 10 cafe, Albany.

No veg at all at Mitre 10 cafe, Albany.


Yes, there are great vegetarian cafes in Auckland, but when you’re stuck out in the Western suburbs, or Albany, or in any shopping mall… forget it.

It seems that it’s getting harder, rather than easier, to find anything to eat in the average café, and let’s face it, we all get stuck with a great need for coffee or juice at some point on a big shopping expedition in the suburbs.

Lately, I’ve found all this so oppressive that it’s made me wonder whether the general public consider vegetarians to be members of the lunatic fringe; a strange, annoying, possibly lunatic cult trying to impose their strange beliefs and rituals on ‘normal’ people (ie. meat eaters).

How does the rest of society see us, anyway? Perhaps it’s my fault that I’ve never thought about it before. I always assumed that everyone makes choices about how they want to live their lives, and that everyone else would respect those choices. Isn’t that part of what living in a democracy is supposed to be all about?

The thing is, I don’t think I’m a member of the lunatic fringe. I do, however, think that I’m in the vanguard of a movement that will bring about massive changes in the way people eat, and what they eat, and what they think of as food fit to eat; and whether that process of change takes 10 years or 100, I think it’s inevitable, and ultimately unstoppable. Why? Because science is on our side, and it’s becoming more and more clear that the earth can’t go on supporting the production and consumption of meat.

I do believe that even if it takes 500 years, eventually people will stop eating animals, and they will recognise animals as flesh and blood beings like themselves, but different. They will eventually see that animals are ‘people’ too, and they will look back in horror at the human diet and its mindless consumption of animal products, with no thought of the suffering these sentient beings went through simply to satiate our food lust.

Annoying cult or the vanguard of a new era? From now on, I’m going to start complaining long and loud wherever I find examples of food stores, cafes or restaurants that are unfriendly to vegetarians, and I hope you do, too. In fact, perhaps we can all get together and insist on it. Action group, anyone? GARY STEEL


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3 thoughts on “Nothing But An Imposition

  • Catherine

    You think Albany or out west is bad — ever tried to get anything for lunch in Otara or Papatoetoe?
    St Pierres has an acceptably edible vego sushi box & is in most malls.
    PS thanks for your heads up about Mithai recently. Has become a regular.

  • Gary Steel Post author

    Thanks for the comment, Catherine. Yes, parts of South Auckland are indeed appalling for veg (or even generally healthy) fare.
    I spent a day in Otahuhu not so long ago and the only food I could find to eat was at an Indian sweet shop – that was quite delicious, I have to admit!