Campbell, or Camp to us regulars, was in good spirits this evening and he didn’t take long to let me in on the reason for his ebullient mood.
‘You know what’s happening in June?’ he asked rather cryptically.
‘Well, let me see, in June the official summer starts, it’s also the longest day of the year and school is out for trillions of kids.’
‘Yes, yes, all of that. I’m talking more personal, like what’s happing in my life in June,’ Camp said.
‘Oh, I get it,’ I said, ‘you and Muriel are tying the knot, saying nice things to each other in front of witnesses, commit to a life together, merge bank accounts.’
‘Hold it right there,’ Camp said, putting up a defensive hand, palm towards me. ‘You make it sound like so much cliché, and we’re certainly not merging bank accounts. We’re just gathering some friends for a mid-summer night garden party.’
‘Camp, there is a word for that. It’s called a wedding,’ I said.
‘Ok then if you insist. It just sounds so mundane and ordinary.’
‘I’m sure what you and Muriel have is special, unique and has never been done before,’ I said.
‘Exactly, and you and Clare are invited of course,’
‘Thank you, and what’s it going to be. A pot-luck, a catered dinner, a bbq?’
‘Well, bbq’s are all about meat. Steaks, hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages from the grill, skewers of prime beef and ribs and since Muriel is an aspiring vegetarian and I’m not eating as much meat as I used to we’re not sure what to serve.’
‘Camp, since you can’t please all of the people all of the time just give people a choice, meat or no meat and I’m happy to man the bbq for you. There are some pretty good plant based hamburger substitutes.’
‘Did I hear bbq?” Vicky said, on her way to serve a couple of customers. ‘It’s such a male thing. Fire and meat, probably harks back to the hunter and gatherer days. You know, guys sitting around the fire in the cave, roasting a dead animal.’
‘Vicky, it’s Camp’s and Muriel’s wedding. They can’t very well offer vegetable smoothies and quinoa salad,’ I said.
‘It’s going to be a pot-luck. A variety of food. And bbq.’
‘You know Vicky has got a point,’ Camp said. ‘In rich countries like ours people are trending away from meat. It’s part moral compunction, part health concerns, part environmental awareness. I hardly eat red meat anymore and besides it’s expensive.’
‘We’ve been over this before but you’re right and wrong. Worldwide, the trend is the other way. In the previous decade meat and fresh dairy consumption rose twice as fast as population growth, something like 2% per year.’
‘Yeah and four fifths of all agricultural land is used to feed livestock,’ Camp said. ‘ I read the same article. And ruminant animals will increase from 4 to 6 billion by 2050. Not a pretty picture. On a planetary scale, the rise of meat and dairy consumption is a giant environmental problem.’
I had to focus on my beer to banish the thought of all of those cows and sheep farting and producing one big methane and nitrous oxide cloud. ‘I think the chicken population is growing even faster. It’s already the most common bird in the world with about 23bn alive at this moment.’
‘Over the past decade no animal has increased faster than the Chinese pig.,’ Camp said. ‘Annual pork production in China has grown more then 30-fold since the 60s. China consists of legions of pork eaters, over 55 million tons per year.
‘We’re carnivores, there is no denying that. Just look at our teeth and the fact that we have a very vigorous digestive system. If we were meant to be vegans or herbivores, we’d have two stomachs and a mouth full of grinders.’
‘Eating and diets have taken on almost religious overtones. Holier than thou attitudes around vegan diets with meat eaters seen as evil killers and barbarians,’ I said. ‘Rich peoples’ problems,’ as Clare pointed out. ‘Everything in moderation is still her mantra.’
‘Well, Clare is right as usual. Are we supposed to feel bad about everything?Driving, flying, garbage disposal, even burning wood for heat and now we have to fact check every meal and drink? Is the fish wild or farmed, the meat grain fed and antibiotic free, the vegetables raised without chemicals, the wheat in our bread not controlled by Monsanto and on it goes.’
‘You two ready for a refill. You should try this organic micro brewed local beer. We have an IPA called Stormrider or my favorite: Blonde Logger,’ Vicky said. ‘We also have one named Golden Goddess.’
‘I’ll have the Goddess,’ I said.
‘I guess it’s the Stormrider for me,’ Camp said.
‘Nobody for the Blonde Logger?’ Vicky asked mischievously.
‘Who names these beers?’ Camp asked, shaking his head.