DUNCAN BARKES Would turning veggie be the best recipe for feeling fitter?

What price a chop? As a rampant carnivore I have become very aware that meat can do your body no favours at all. In fact, I am pondering the possibility of life as a vegetarian.

A friend of mine reckons that the only reason a man would ever give up meat would be to impress a woman. He may be right, but while Mrs B certainly watches her meat consumption, she still can’t resist a bleeding ribeye or a lamb chop every now and then, so there is no pressure on me from the other half.

Not a week goes by without a deadly revelation about eating too much meat. Recently it was revealed that eating two rashers of bacon a day, or just one sausage, could increase the risk of a deadly form of cancer by almost a fifth. Aside from the traditional bacon butty on a Saturday morning, my usual breakfast consists of black coffee, but I am painfully aware that in the past I have eaten an above-average amount of processed meat.

I have also read stories of how those who give up meat find themselves feeling altogether perkier. This is definitely an attractive idea, especially as I struggle with the chilly early dawns of January. “Yes,” I say to myself, “give up the beef, pork, lamb, chicken and whatever they put in petrol station sausage rolls these days, and my life will be instantly better.” Indeed as quick fixes go, turning veggie would be a pretty speedy way to feeling brighter and bouncier (although less bouncy in the chubby sense, as too much steak pie does tend to pile on the pounds).

A vegetarian expert I once interviewed informed me that veggies have better sex, as meat contains some substance that makes the nerve endings less sensitive. Be that as it may, whenever I talk to vegetarians they never seem terribly happy. Conversation quickly turns to how they miss bacon sandwiches, and how only last week they fell off the meatless wagon; ‘accidentally’ eating a kebab on the way home from the pub. And if they really are getting more than their fair share of hanky panky, then they aren’t boasting about it.

I adore the idea of giving up meat to feel healthier and to lose a few pounds, but know I would miss the T-bones, the shanks, the chops and, especially, the delicious two-rib of beef as sold by the splendid Chichester butcher M J Penfold. I know there are heaps of veggie substitutes on the market, but to me they have all the taste of moist cardboard.

So, how easy is it to go cold turkey on giving up meat? I’m almost certain I’d get cravings and would have to get Mrs B to hide the car keys to prevent an illicit late night scoot to the burger drive-thru.

Realistically I think going veggie might just be too much for me, so instead I plan to follow my good lady’s example and simply reduce my meat consumption. Being a committed vegetarian may be beneficial to your health but, as the saying goes, a little of what you fancy does you good. Pass the mustard.