Opinion: Orlando Bloom and beautiful cows — and why I’m addicted to fake meat

Opinion: Orlando Bloom and beautiful cows — and why I’m addicted to fake meat

Orlando Bloom, the actor who is famous for The Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings movies and also for living with singer Katy Perry has gone viral this week for all the wrong reasons.

He gave an interview to The Sunday Times magazine which many thought was a spoof — an Englishman in la-la-land — but in fact was legit.

The regular feature in the magazine is titled A Life In The Day and has various celebs telling us what a normal day is like in their rarefied world. I’ve read the feature for years. It’s pure celeb voyeurism, even if most of the rich and famous pretend to be normal, everyday folk, just like us.

“Me. Oh, I get up, feed the cat, have cornflakes for breakfast, hoover the carpet and slump in front of the TV watching soaps.”

Orlando, to his credit, didn’t fake it. After getting up in the morning in his L.A. mansion and letting Katy lie in, he plays with daughter Daisy for awhile. Then he chants for 20 minutes – he’s been into Buddhism for decades, he says.

And then:

“I like to earn my breakfast so I’ll just have some green powders that I mix with brain octane oil, a collagen powder for my hair and nails, and some protein. It’s all quite LA, really. Then I’ll go for a hike while I listen to some Nirvana or Stone Temple Pilots.

“By 9 a.m. it’s breakfast, which is usually porridge, a little hazelnut milk, cinnamon, vanilla paste, hazelnuts, goji berries, a vegan protein powder and a cup of PG Tips. I’m 90 per cent plant-based, so I’ll only eat a really good piece of red meat maybe once a month. I sometimes look at a cow and think, that’s the most beautiful thing ever. At some point in time we’ll look back and not be able to believe we used to eat meat.”

Social media critics — and everyone’s a critic — have been having a field day with the brain octane oil, the collagen powder, the vegan protein powder, and the fact he’s 90 per cent vegetarian and thinks a cow is the most beautiful thing ever. Except, once a month, when he fancies a nice rump steak and the most beautiful thing ever becomes a piece of meat.

I’m not judgmental about Orlando. I’m mostly envious that he gets to eat two breakfasts and gets to consume brain octane oil. That, obviously, is what I’ve been missing in my diet. By 11 a.m. my brain has already turned to mush.

But what did catch my attention was the beautiful animal bit. Yes, cows are beautiful. I stopped eating meat a few years ago for that very reason — I couldn’t bear to bite down on an animal any more. Even ugly ones.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a born-again vegetarian, hectoring and lecturing meat eaters. I respect people’s choices. I used to love eating meat, from lamb chops to pork ribs to juicy burgers and even KFC, but the meat had to be heavily disguised.

Turkeys at Christmas began to make me feel uneasy. Some saw this wonderful Norman Rockwell scene with the father of the house ready to carve the succulent roast turkey. All I saw was a large bird, plunked upside down in the middle of the table, with its legs in the air. The final indignity: someone had stuffed bread and herbs up its backside.

The final straw came one Easter, when my mother-in-law, knowing I enjoyed roast lamb, bought a whole leg and roasted it in the oven. Except it hadn’t been fully roasted. When it was served, all I could see in the middle of the table was the severed leg chopped off a baby lamb with blood oozing all over the plate.

And so I stopped eating meat.

Two things have happened since. First, everyone asks me if I feel better, healthier. Not really, I tell them. I can’t honestly say I feel better. But the animals sure do.

Second, just about everyone tells me they eat much less meat these days. “We only eat it, oh, once or twice a week,” they’ll say, as if I will give them some kind of papal vegetarian dispensation.

No, the reformed meat-eater can be just as insufferable as the reformed smoker, or the people who don’t take sugar in their coffee any more. I’ve eaten my fair share of meat over the years.

Plenty. I figure. More than enough.

The thing is, I may not eat meat any more. But I am addicted to fake meat. Vegetariansim is a whole lot easier these days. Beyond Meat burgers and sausages led the way, but now there’s a dizzying array of fake meats in the supermarkets. And they’re mostly very good. Even my favorite butcher’s shop — Orr’s in Saanichton — sells fake meat, along with a many delicious imported foods, so I’m still a regular there.

Some veggie purists won’t eat fake meat and are happy to enjoy lentils and beans and tofu and other foodstuffs. Me? The meat substitutes have helped ease my journey into vegetarianism. The first time I ate a Beyond Meat burger at A&W was a revelation. It was the nearest thing I’d had to a real burger in years.

Now the supermarket shelves and local restaurants are crammed with meat substitutes. I can make a passable shepherd’s pie with fake mince, a world-class toad-in-the-hole with veggie sausage and a fake chicken stir-fry that’s delicious.  And I can order an Impossible Burger at White Spot.

I still haven’t found a good veggie bacon. Most are rubbery and taste like kippers. And, yes, I do miss the smell of bacon on a Sunday morning. Especially the Red Barn Market’s double-smoked. But it will come, in time, I’m sure.

Most importantly, at Easter, when I ride my bike around the Saanich peninsula, I can look at the lambs in the fields and enjoy them and look them in the eye and not feel even a twinge of guilt.

I’m not a smug vegetarian or a veggie evangelist. To each their own. And Easter ham, I know, can be fantastic.

But I am with Orlando on one thing. Some time in the future, we’ll all look back and wonder how we could eat dead animals.

We’ll grow animal cells in the lab commerically. They’re already doing that experimentally in Germany and the United States. I’m cool with that. Kinda. Though Franken-food, as some term it, doesn’t sound that appetizing.

In the short term, I’ll stick with plant-based food. My fake meat. Created from soy or pea protein or mushrooms and myriad other ingredients.

And wait for someone to invent the perfect bacon — that doesn’t include a pig.

Journalist and writer Ian Haysom is consultant editor with CHEK Media.

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