• Michael Forno

Confessions of a sober-tarian

I have a confession to make, albeit a rather small and insignificant one but it’s a confession all the same.My little misdemeanour occurs, as with many others, while under the influence. The nature of insobriety is well recorded, and is nothing new. Be it the glorious debauchery of a one night stand or the shameful abandonment of a munt filled taxi, inebriation invariably lends itself to indecency.

My offending act occurs not in strangers’ bedrooms, nor down some darkened suburban streets. My shame is instead hidden in plain fluorescent sight of any passers-by of my local kebab shop circa 2 o’clock Sunday morning.

You see, to my family and friends I am a vegetarian. And to the rest of the world, I’m that boozy unashamed bloke in the gutter making love with his döner kebab.

But to me, I am a barbarous meat-eating savage.

Now obviously this all assumes that vegetarianism is ethically superior to meat eating and as far as I’m concerned it is. I think it impossible to justify or establish any ethical warrant to rear and slaughter animals for no reason other than their pleasing gustatory effect.

So to my continual displeasure I awake to rancid garlicky meat breath after each night on the piss, a reeking reminder of my night’s shame.

To address this dissonance between my convictions and my actions I’ve decided to coin a new dietary term. It’s inadequate to call oneself an ‘occasional meat eater but only while drunk’. In order to legitimate one’s lifestyle choices nowadays it’s necessary to create a label.

Any self-respecting twenty something needs neat labels to pugnaciously repudiate whenever they’re used against them as pejoratives.

Therefore, I shall henceforth be known as a sobertarian!

The beauty of creating one’s own dietary term is that rather than wallow in self-pity at being a failed vegetarian I can effortlessly rejoice in being a successful sobertarian.

This raises deeper questions for our ethical beliefs. Is it acceptable to simply change the goal posts on ethical matters? And are any of our ethical actions or convictions any more than a simple naming game of what we already do?

Too often we merely give a descriptive account of how our actions and thoughts already are, rather than attempt to answer how we ought to act and think about ethics.

Be it politics, ethics, religion or science we’re never terribly quick to rigorously question our own fundamental assumptive thoughts or actions.

To remedy this we can either track backwards and say “I do action X, and now I will attempt to justify action X as ethical.”

Or we can track forwards say: “I won’t act until I find an ethical action to take.”

So since I’ve gone and put my foot in it, so to speak, I’m burdened with the task of backtracking to justify my sobertatian lifestyle.

It somehow seems easier to do this than to find drunken restraint and remain vegetarian. So begins the task of justifying my actions, an attempt to find a kind of intellectual equilibrium between thoughts and actions.

So, if I only eat meat sometimes when I’m on the piss, and if I only drink to this point say once per week, then I find myself eating meat once per week at most.

If we do a little ethical calculus it’s possible to justify the occasional consumption of meat, as it’s far more desirable than a frequent consumption of meat.

So suppose that each serve of a beef kebab yields 100g of meat, just to make it simple, and that I ate a kebab 50 of the 52 weeks of the year. This would see me consuming 5kg of beef per year.

Suppose further that the average yield of edible meat from a 500kg cow is around 40% or 200kg. It would take me 40 years to eat a cow’s worth of meat. 40 fucking years!

At that rate, the most I could eat for the rest of my life would be two cows.

While it still pains my sobered self to have eaten meat, I can rest assured that with a little ethical calculus and argumentative contortion my actions are permissible in a framework of dynamic ethical absolutism.

So, maybe a little drunken mischief is okay after all.

Sobertarians of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your integrity!

Image: Alex Jack


Michael is an inner city twenty something journalism student. When not shackled to the drudgery of daily life he can be found reading books he pretends to understand and quaffing grotesque volumes of wine; sometimes simultaneously. Michael collates and exhibits his idle thoughts on thefence.net or you can follow him on instagram and twitter @mjforno

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