Late in April, one of my workmates decided that she was going to have ‘Meat-free May’. Well, I tried not to look TOO over-excited, but you can imagine how rapt I was! Such a great idea—I think we should promote it widely. (She’s actually making every month a special month in 2013. I think someone suggested that she also set one aside for dating hot men, or something 🙂 ).
Anyway, it just happened that May was also ‘Meat-free Monday’ month at the Aylesbury Hotel in Melbourne. Each Monday night during May they hosted a chef from a different Melbourne restaurant who prepared a vegetarian degustation. We made it along twice during the month, and it was pretty spectacular.
I contacted them in advance, and they were only too happy to prepare a special vegan degustation for me. The most memorable items for me were freeze-dried rhubarb, on our first visit, and herb sorbet (flavoured with rosemary, basil and …something else that escapes me…maybe dill?) on our second visit—both really unusual and delicious!
They promised they’d have a meat-free Monday month again soon, as it was really popular, so watch out for it. They also have a fantastic roof-top bar, where we’ll be visiting again in the meantime.
However, this isn’t the main point of my story. I wanted to tell you about what happened on our second visit, last week
I had arrived very early, and was full of joy at the world, because my meat-eating friends were happily going out for a night of vegetarian food. Maybe the world would change after all. I thought I’d have a bit of a stroll around the city while I waited, and wandered around Lonsdale, Bourke and Russell Streets in the chilly, dark, late-Autumn, after-work bustle.
Peering into the shop windows, I soon started losing my faith in humanity as I saw dead ducks hanging by their necks in one restaurant, and then a murky fish tank crammed with hopeless fish waiting to be scooped out and killed for the delight of the diners in another. I watched those fish and the lobsters in the next tank, and just felt sad and sorry for what humans do to animals.The night suddenly felt cold and dismal, and I looked at the people as they rushed past, and thought about how nobody gets it, there is no hope and nothing will ever change.
I crossed the road to the darker side of the street to get away from those restaurants, and in a particularly dark and creepy area, a tall man sidled up to me and held out a foil bag of chocolate biscuits. “Would you like a chocolate bikkie?” Obviously I refused because they’d have some kind of animal product in them. “No, but thank you. That’s really kind of you.”
Walking just in front of me was another man, hunched over with the cold, broken sandals on his feet and beanie pulled down over his ears. I waited for the biscuit man to hold the bag out to him, knowing he’d probably be hungry and delighted to be offered a treat. What happened next nearly knocked me down with surprise!
The shuffly man held up his hand and said, “No thanks mate, I’m a vegan”. The biscuit man looked a bit crestfallen—I’m sure he’d expected surprise and gratitude. “WHAT?” I yelled from behind, “I’m a vegan too, that’s why I didn’t have one!” The biscuit man laughed and said, “Geez, all I’m trying to do is give away some chocolate biscuits!” I told him, “Sorry, but it seems like we’re taking over the world!” The vegan man, who I now saw was not the homeless man I’d imagined, but was a groovy old hippy with purple sunglasses, yelled, “ONE DAY THERE WILL BE NO MORE FACTORY FARMS!”
As you can imagine, my faith in humanity got a bit of a boost from this! It was such a surprising thing to happen, and was just what I needed at that moment. I pretty much skipped all the way up to the Aylesbury’s rooftop bar and waited for my friends to join me for our vegetarian/vegan degustation. It was a great night…apart from the fish and the ducks.