Real life

Could this pandemic be the death of veganism?

11 April 2020

9:00 AM

11 April 2020

9:00 AM

‘Do you want some of the private stuff from out the back?’ said the butcher to the builder boyfriend, leaning forward over the counter and winking theatrically.

The builder b winced a little for this was starting to feel like the terrifying scene in League Of Gentlemen when Mr Briss starts selling a mysterious and highly addictive ‘special’ meat to the residents of Royston Vasey.

Thankfully, this butcher was only selling private lamb. He revealed his secret stash to the BB because he took a liking to him.

The butcher grinned, revealing big teeth between rosy cheeks, before disappearing out the back and returning with an entire side, which he butchered in front of him, offering him as much as he wanted. When he got home with the meaty chops, the BB said he had never seen anything so funny and frightening.

The butcher declared he had nothing but contempt for the spoilt shoppers who had been rude to him for decades and now came in every day complaining about the difficulties of fulfilling their posh recipes. Consequently, he filled his display cabinet with sausages, bacon and the odd chicken and kept everything else out the back. He was, apparently, only selling the private stuff to people he considered working class.


The builder b had just come off a roof, which is work he continues to do legitimately because mending holes in buildings is essential so far as anyone can make out. Dressed in his tar-spattered jeans, steel toe-capped boots and woolly hat, he must have looked precisely the sort of worker this butcher considered deserving, and so he is, I suppose. Consequently, he took him into his confidence.

After serving him the private stuff, the butcher stiffened as a well-dressed lady entered the shop, perused the display disdainfully and said ‘Do you not have any lamb?’ in an imperious tone.

‘No love, just what’s out. Bacon or sausage.’ And he winked at the builder b again in a most alarming fashion.

I fried the chops plain and served them with a good honest mash and thick gravy. It would have been a betrayal of the butcher’s principles to subject them to any form of fancification. Any question they might be decorated with a jus or sat on a bed of something middle class, like creamed spinach — even if I had the means to do such a thing, which I didn’t really — was taking the proverbial. And we want to keep our Mr Briss happy.

The queue at the farm shop is now right across the pebbled drive towards the field that is the overflow car park. In another week the queue might be all the way around that field, over the fence, across the road and into the field where they seized the 123 horses last year. It seems an age since that happened. A lot of the folks who rang that messy old place into the authorities may soon be wishing they hadn’t had those big fat cobs removed because they were standing in mud.

The trial of the farmer who owns the herd of horses was postponed a few weeks ago, as several lawyers in the courtroom fell sick. Where the horses are, and how long they can be kept going in the current climate, is anyone’s guess. The farm is now covered in 100 acres of grass they might have been grazing and a barn stacked to the rafters with hay. But the irony of that seems lost on most local people.

Not the man who runs the garden centre, who was helping put together deliveries, running backward and forward ranting about greed. Much like the butcher, he had come to his own moral conclusions and was prioritising old people. I mentioned the horse seizure seeming like another era and he agreed: ‘There are fine, upstanding individuals in this society of ours who would eat your cat as soon as look at it.’

I see where he is coming from but I’m not so sure. I fear the opposite, that people have been pampered so long they are not prepared to tap into their instincts to survive. The BB, however, points out that there is an awful lot of vegan food left on the shelves in stores that are otherwise empty.

Could it be that when push comes to shove, the dolts practising food faddishness will revert to eating what nature truly intended?

Perhaps it was only when there was an endless supply of everything that the Veganuary crowd were happy to opt for an allegedly cruelty-free, environmentally sustainable food source in the name of doing something a bit different. Maybe now general survival is coming into question, they will be grateful for any meat and cheese they can get, as the Free From ranges moulder on the shelves.

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