Tomorrow is the dawn of a new era. It may well be a relatively short era, but it's definitely a new era.
Due to years of niggling guilt and a week of being shouted at by three good friends, all of whom have taken the vow of not masticating animals, I've decided to be a vegetarian. For at least the duration of a month's trial. You don't get much more committed than that now, do you people? It's more commitment than I generally give to any job or relationship.
So from tomorrow, which is what? Hang on. From Friday 14 December, for a month, not a single piece of meat will pass my lips. And should it prove to be the worst month of my life (highly doubtful, to be honest, I've had some right beauties this year) then I will concede defeat and apologise to the pigs.
I don't think I'll struggle that much. I haven't eaten pig for ages. Apart from the cheese and ham toastie the other day. I suppose my friend was technically correct in the view that just because "I didn't like anything else on the menu" doesn't mean it counts as not eating pork. Oh, and a couple of teeny weeny sausages last night. It will be chicken and fish I will miss the most I think, but I do genuinely like nut cutlets and Quorn is more than palatable these days. Even if it is grown in vats somewhere near Milton Keynes.
And, to be honest, I can no longer reconcile my almost obsessively weird love for animals with the eating of said animals. Because it's not just cats and dogs that turn me into mush. It's cows, pigs, sheep, snakes, spiders. Basically all animals. Anything with eyes that can look at me. Apart, perhaps, from the woodlouse. Something about hard exoskeletons makes me heave, I'm assuming it's some throwback to deep rooted fears in my animal brain.
But everything else. I can be reduced to tears of wonder by gazing into a cow's eyes. That's actually true. I fell in love with one when I was out running once. He was looking at me with these soft, trusting, beautiful eyes. And I could have wept for all the burgers I've chowed down over the years. I wish it was like The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, where special cows have been bred who actively want you to eat them. They wiggle up to you in a restaurant and ask you which bit you'd like to carve. They practically beg you to fry up their most succulent bits. Then it would be OK. Probably.
Some of my fellow animal lovers who have been vegetarians for many years have sporadically asked me over the years why I am not one. And I never really have an answer. I think mostly because I like the taste of meat. There's no point denying that. I really really like it in fact. And I'm not precious about it, I'm almost certain I would equally enjoy the taste of human flesh, should it be presented to me at a particularly interesting barbecue.
But does that mean if I had been born and brought up somewhere in Asia where cat is regularly eaten (I am not being racialist. It's a fact), would I just happily cook up a Fatman lookalike and have it for Christmas dinner? I mean, maybe I would. I've often looked at him and thought that'd he'd make a tasty alternative to a turkey. Could also feed a large family for at least a week.
Basically next time I'm at a petting zoo/hanging over a fence making goo goo eyes at sheep (this happens more than you might think)/stroking a cow or marvelling at the cute wondrousness of a little pink porker, I want to be able to stand up tall, look them in the eye, and tell them that I, for one, will never put them in a sandwich.
I could have waited for New Year and added it to my usual list of resolutions (giving up smoking, drugs, going on the rob, arson - I like to have a few I can immediately tick off). But I also know that if I did that it would be the kiss of death to actually DOING it. So instead, I'm making a December 14th resolution. They always work out better.
So it begins. Let's see how I go.