Take one part privately educated Londoner, one part Mean Girls , one part confused-and-horrified local, and Pret ’s lunchtime queue may begin to form in your mind’s eye. As a socially conscious eco-warrior who only eats prosciutto after sex and is vegan six-and-a-half days of my eight-day week, Pret ™ is my most treasured St Andrews eatery. And I find it difficult to understand why people are still consuming meat. This week, I probed Edmund, Horatio and Pippa on their eating habits in our favourite, local charcuterie – Pret , duh.
I posed these questions: what if parents are just as obsessed with appearing vegan as their teenage kids? And are our fathers’ uncomfortably younger second-wives too ashamed to admit they swallow flesh outwith their fortnightly Meatless Mondays? And why is veganism so on-brand right now? I swear the paleo diet was so in just last week?
Their response is irrelevant, what matters is this – veganism is trending, like Cath Kidston jars in 2013, Paris Hilton in 2001 or those little dogs that can fit in your handbag (they’re timeless). According to a 2018 study conducted by the Vegan Society UK, there are now 600,000 vegans in Great Britain.
Wow! I’ve faked partial veganism for at least three years now – give or take a few years of flexitarianism and fictitious vegetarianism. I’m not proud of being the Bill Clinton of plant-based diets, but let’s be honest everyone knows “I did not have culinary relations with that steak,” is a lie.
Recently, over dinner (vegan, of course), I asked four of my herbivore friends (one of whom is a fruitarian – see that famous scene in Notting Hill ) if they’ve ever faked it. They laughed, “Duh, we’re Londoners.” In fact, Psychology Today, where I get my daily horoscope (shout out fellow Virgos), estimates that 84% of vegetarians and vegans return to meat. That’s a lot… But if this widespread fraud is quite obviously preventing us from saving the planet, then why do so many of us fake it?
I’m guessing we are constantly told by fake-vegans, and my celebrity-crush Boris Johnson, that we need to be vegan, turn off the lights, and use biodegradable lube or else risk the untimely destruction – nay, death – of our planet.
And I guess that’s kind of true? But, also let’s start holding Big Oil, Big Pharma and The Notorious B.I.G. to account. After all, I suppose eating grass isn’t really the point. Being vegan was more about validation from my peers, class expectations, growing anxieties about the state of our planet and provoking my champagne-socialist parents. Maybe, if we gather all the posh, Pret-eating, independently educated St Andreans (and there’s a lot of them) we can mutually agree to give up our vegan façade and advocate for a reduction in our meat and dairy consumption – not an elimination.
Anyway, eventually going back to meat feels like smoking a Cuban cigar after you’ve told Papa that you’re going to quit smoking, or at least limit your Juul intake to when you’re completely blootered at an après ski. I guess what Edmund, Horatio, Pippa and I concluded was that us toffs should stop lying to ourselves and virtue-signalling about our veganism and start making meaningful changes. I mean at least we bring our reusable coffee cup to Pret – sometimes.