Proctor : March 2018
55 PROCTOR | March 2018 Opinions sprout at an early age So, could vegetarianism really be genetic? Somewhere along the line, while I was apparently not watching, my children began to develop opinions about things. I wasn’t particularly prepared for this as, in my recollection back when I was a kid not long after the solar system formed from a whirling cloud of dust, children didn’t have opinions on things. Or, to be more accurate, we had opinions but they weren’t especially useful as they didn’t have the slightest effect on what happened to us. For example, my brother and I were quite firmly of the opinion that Brussels sprouts were not food. In fact, we held the suspicion that they may well have been droppings of some strange and repugnant animal of the Australian Outback, which should have become extinct long ago but hadn’t because Indigenous Australians were far too clever to eat anything that tasted so despicable (at least going by the taste of its droppings). Indeed, it did cross our minds that the first settlers had asked the Indigenous people if you could eat Brussels sprouts, and the Indigenous people had managed to keep a straight face long enough to say, “sure mate, eat them and they keep bunyips away!” and had been wetting their pants laughing about it ever since. These strongly held and persuasively argued opinions, backed up by the fact that Brussels sprouts have the same overall look, feel and taste of a squash ball dunked in green paint, did not result in us avoiding the consumption of Brussels sprouts. My dad was of the view that we ate whatever mum put on the plate, and that meant we ended up eating bags of them. I am not sure it was particularly cost-effective for mum and dad though, because our method for consuming them involved adding about a third of a litre of tomato sauce per sprout (this replaced the previous method – rolling them under the couch we were hiding behind while watching Dr Who – which was discovered far sooner than we had anticipated). Anyway, my kids have opinions on things (including food) and ignoring them has proven much harder than my dad made it look. This means that there is now occasionally an argument in our kitchen focused around what we should eat, similar to the way there is occasionally an argument in parliament about whether or not politicians are, technically, citizens of this country (which is Australia, in case you were wondering). I find the argument about citizenship odd, because it should be pretty easy to determine whether or not you are Australian, by the way you answer these two questions: Is it ever OK for England to win the Ashes? Should the AFL be able to force Australian cricket grounds to use drop-in wickets so that AFL players do not break a nail while doing each other’s hair, which as far as I can tell is what they do during the game? The correct answer to both of these questions is obviously no, because: • Alistair Cook got a double-century on a drop- in wicket in Melbourne, and I think we can all agree that Poms scoring double-centuries is a bad thing – maybe not as bad as global warming, but certainly on a par with having to listen to Bono talk about global warming – and should not be allowed, and • England having the Ashes is like NSW holding the State of Origin shield – an offence against nature similar to the sort of imbalance in The Force that lead to the rise of evil creatures in the Star Wars universe such as Darth Vader, Snoke and Jar Jar Binks. Thus, as long as you answer both of those questions in the negative, you are an Aussie – citizenship issue solved and without the need for constitutional amendment (you’re welcome). Anyway, I digress (and at a post-grad level!) and return to the arguments about food. These have been exacerbated of late by the fact that my daughter has become a vegetarian. At the outset (he says, halfway through the column) I should say that I have nothing against vegetarianism, and my brother and father are both vegetarian, which means this defect – er, propensity – could be genetic. It may be that some people possess a gene variant which allows them to resist bacon, because otherwise being vegetarian would be torture. In fact, I suspect that most vegetarians spend a good 70% of their waking hours supressing bacon cravings. We may never know how much vegetarian violence is due to bacon rage, but apropos of nothing I note that Hitler was a vegetarian (NB: ‘apropos of nothing’ is how articulate, self-respecting people say “just sayin’”). (Note to vegetarians enraged by reading this: Put down the potato peeler you carved from a piece of old growth deadfall using a knife made from recycled plastic bottles. I am aware of the existence of bacon substitutes like ‘not bacon’ but as you well know it is made by pummelling Brussels sprouts until they lose their colour, and if it was edible and tasted anything like bacon you wouldn’t have picked up the peeler in the first place.) This would not be so bad, except my son takes the position that, had the flying spaghetti monster wanted us to eat vegetables, she would have made them taste like meat. This means that dinner time can resemble question time in parliament, except that my children are intelligent, articulate and capable of stringing words together to make sentences and coherent arguments. On the plus side, I now understand why my parents allowed the sauce option. (Note to people who are already writing letters to the editor pointing out that I am an idiot because Brussels sprouts were introduced to Australia by Europeans: I know that, but my primary school self didn’t. So if you want to write letters telling me I am stupid, write them to the 1977 me; while you are at it, tell me to invest in Microsoft and remind me to tighten the handlebars on my BMX before every ride. Long story, but it goes some way to explaining my photo above.). Suburban cowboy by Shane Budden © Shane Budden 2018. Shane Budden is a Queensland Law Society ethics solicitor.