Dining at the Round Table: How the dream of Camelot made me vegan
A week ago today, I left three little rissoles uneaten on my dinner plate. With them I left behind a lifetime of eating meat and became vegan. Why? (Glad you asked…) Only because of a magical truth that cuts to the core of everything. Of course.
I'm obviously not the first person to get to this Round Table. My arrival came through the invitation of friends and the friends I’ve only met in books or on YouTube. Did you know Gandi, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr are all vegan? I’ve recently discovered my favourite journalist and rewilding campaigner George Monbiot is trying to get here too. From regular doses of the Trews I know Russell Brand is a vegetarian (and vegan by the end of this post…or else!). And from the gateway drug known as Trews Extra I met Tony Benn, a heavyweight lefty and another vegetarian. Bit of a theme emerging.
A couple of weeks ago I saw Morrissey play Meat is Murder at VIVID Sydney — the one with the video footage. I didn't turn away. But it didn't put me off. Just because some ways of slaughtering animals are inhumane, there are humane ways to do it too, I thought. As a species eating meat has made us successful. It’s our right, isn't it? And what about the fact that by breeding animals for slaughter they become a ‘successful’ species, in that there’s lots of them. That’s good, isn't it? And milk! Even if you don’t eat meat, surely a Milo or a latte and a bit of Swiss cheese or pecorino is OK, here and there. Surely there’s a balance somewhere?!
But, what’s beautiful is, there doesn't need to be.
We no longer need to eat animals, or animal products, to survive and thrive.
We no longer need to kill 500 million animals each year in Australia, 63 billion in America, and 150 billion animals worldwide — and to make their lives utter misery before they are slain— just because we think their flesh tastes good on a bun.
Camelot was founded on a dream. A dream that the powerful use their might to help and protect the weak.
The truth is, you hold Excalibur in your right hand every night at the dinner table. With every dull stroke you make, you move a myriad of meat cleavers, butcher knives and splitting saws, cutting short the dark, fear-ridden lives of the lowest of the low in our society.
But, just by changing the target of that same blade, you can remake the world.
By something you have total power over — what you put into your mouth — you cast yourself in the role of slave master, torturer and executioner of the living things you share the planet with.
Or you can leave that role behind, raise yourself up, and roll like they do in Camelot, by using the might you have to protect those weaker than you.
Then instead of trying to dominate nature, you partner with her — as a part of creation, not its self-appointed conqueror. And when someday you find yourself standing open-mouthed in wonder at the endless unfolding beauty of the universe, you'll be in a great spot for ‘here comes the aeroplane’ at the Round Table. (Just close your mouth as you chew.)
“Those who have suffered the longest and the most at human hands are going to be the same animals that awaken our humanity. We call them dumb animals, but they have every right to call us dumb humans.” Lynn White, Animals Australia.
Meet best mates Henry and Raffy.
Without Brightside Farm Sanctuary, Henry would have died before he was two weeks old; too sick to even grow up into a sandwich. Now he has life and love because someone used their might for what was right. (Onya Emma Haswell and friends!)
Now a blind golden retriever and a half-grown pig are an unlikely pair upon which to cascade an evolution of consciousness. But, hey, it worked for me. And now they’re in your head too.