Beef jerky is probably the thing I miss most about eating meat. Never have I felt manlier than when I was chowing down on a chewy, sinuous hunk of something that so conspicuously belonged to something alive. It is definitely the closest a Jewish boy from North West London who lived with his parents until he was 28 will ever get to feeling like a cowboy.
But I gave up all that carcass-chewing malarkey because, well, y’know, morals and that. My meat-free journey thus far has been largely uneventful and without regret, but it must be admitted that every time I pass a packet of Jack Link’s hung up on one of those plastic pegs at a motorway service station, which happens, oh, at least ten times a week (such is the insalubrious life of an itinerant poet), I get a jerky-flavoured pang of ‘what if’.
But I’ve never succumbed. And, it must be admitted, I thought my jerking days were behind me, along with my days as a professional table tennis player and an international pimp.* When I happened upon Vegan Texas BBQ jerky at the local branch of Whole Foods, then, something went through my mind akin to “fuck yeah.” I could now get my jerk on in good conscience.
But my mood was tempered by the fact that I have now used the same connective to begin each of the previous three paragraphs. It was also tempered by two other things, the first being that I could actually see the jerky through the transparent plastic casing, and it looked disconcertingly like a piece of pig’s offal. The second was that, all too often, vegan/vegetarian alternatives to stuff, whilst usually not unpleasant, also almost never taste or feel remotely like that which they purport to represent. Also, the thing cost about two squid, which is a lot for what was a pretty small portion. And if there’s one thing about jerking, you need a decent portion.
So it was that I began still another paragraph with a connective. So it was, also, that I bought the ‘verky’, and proceeded thenceforth to eat unto it. And you know what? It was actually very good. It delivered a solid hit of BBQ flavour and, whilst not having exactly the same texture as its carcass-based distant cousin, nonetheless had a pleasing, chewy, stringy, tangibly jerky texture. To continue the pathetic, sophomoric innuendo that has been latent throughout this piece, it was a bit like having sex whilst wearing a condom: not exactly the same experience, and qualitatively a bit worse, but nonetheless a morally better alternative**, and something that is still very nice.
*at least one of these is false.
** see ‘anti-natalism’