Vegans and all vegetarians know that we are better off not eating meat. Some of us carnivores put such people in the category of Wet-blankets, Wowsers and Puritans, who seem to suggest that everything we like is bad for us. Single Malts, barbecued T-bones and Ben and Jerry’s are among the gastronomical and gustative delights from which we are expected to abstain. Recently I discovered that even toast (seriously !) is bad for you. Before long we’ll be reduced to eating insects.
We’re already there. Firms like Chirp-Farms, BittyFoods and TinyFarms are following FAO recommendations by producing a flour made from … crickets, and energy-bars composed of insects. There is even a company called “Beyond Meat” which produces “meat” based on vegetable protein.
The message is that we don’t need meat but we do need what its substitutes can provide, whatever about the challenge of making them palatable. There are perfectly good economic and ecological reasons behind all this, including the exorbitant expense of breeding and feeding animals destined to become our food, as well as certain dietary and health advantages in avoiding consumption of animal products.
If only we could wean people off belief and find a substitute for its addictive attraction in people who can’t face life thinking that death is its definitive end. Life surely is not meant to be a perpetual Lent : no alcohol (or so little, there’s no point in imbibing), no fatty foods, no desserts, no jam, no butter, on forbidden toast. By the same logic we can’t be expected to give up the comfort, the reassurance, the hopes, the “certitudes” of pie (WITH salt AND sugar) in the sky when we die. That is the challenge militant atheists like me face. No one wants to listen to a kill-joy nutritionist, and even less to some loony inviting them to live a life without the fuel which is faith. We have “Beyond Meat”. Is there any way we can package a substitute, “Beyond Belief” ?
I believe we can . But it won’t be everybody’s cuppa. This Blog tries to invite Believers on the Brink to burn that security-blanket, to accept that the comforting illusions and mirages of belief are a debilitating drug that may enable us to stifle our anguish, helplessness and fear of death, but remain pipe-dreams. I try to make atheism attractive as a liberation, but many will continue to prefer the equivalent of Big Macs and MacFlurries, 75% sugar breakfast cereals and, as Toad found in “Wind in the Willows”, “very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in it in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb”. Tough competition. I’ve been off alcohol for four straight years and an atheist for forty. But I’m no vegan, just a pagan. And I like my toast.