It’s true that autistic people have a special, even complicated, relationship with food. We are sensitive to tastes, textures, colours to a point that affects what we eat and how. We can eat the same food for days (months) at a time because that’s the one thing we like and can eat at that time.
That does play a role in my difficulty to become a vegan, but the difficulty goes beyond that.
I have had a hard time eating meat since I was a child, but got used to it eventually.
Then around the time I went to University – in the UK, early 2000s – I had stints at being vegetarian. I could find meat substitutes in Tesco, whilst in France it was still very difficult to find outside of health food shops.
I went through periods of going off meat, then back to eating it. Now I have totally gone off it.
I am trying to go off fish as much as possible, I am keeping it mostly for when eating out.
I went off milk and cream a few years ago and practically never eat (real) butter or yogurts, at least in my house. When eating out or staying with other people, I make do with what is available.
But I have a particular relationship with cheese.
When I was a child, my mother would take me groceries shopping with her in the village, and the shop owner would always try to give me sweets.
My mother suggested cheese instead, starting a love story that has lasted since.
Granted, I am French, so it might have something to do with it as well.
Contrarily to what some might think, I am as fond of British cheeses as I am of French ones. I particularly like mature cheddars, but I remember a “roulé” with garlic and herbs that was really good.
I regret never trying the cheddar with the taste of Guinness that I saw once on a market.
In my opinion – or rather, taste – false “cheeses” can’t compare to the real thing. I do enjoy some soy-based spread occasionally, but the mock-up hard cheeses just don’t cut it for me. And they don’t really melt except, as I witnessed a few times, when doing a “raclette”.
I am accepting this short-coming and I try to both limit my consumption of it and find ethical sources. I can find French organic cheese easily, including some produced not too far.
I am also lucky to find, post-Brexit, a really good organic cheddar, Godminster vintage, made in a farm respectful of the environment and the animals (as much as possible). (I do buy the non-organic big brands too occasionally.)
I admit I had considered asking for food parcels had it not been available any more.
Is there #CheeseLover on social networks, or should I start it?
(I have read many smaller brands and companies – such as the Cheshire Cheese company, to stick with the theme – are struggling with or have stopped selling to (individual) European customers due to the complex and time consuming paper work required and the new taxes. It’s such a shame.)
(Amongst the environmental friendly but not organic brands, there is Wyke, which is careful of biodiversity, water use, electricity production, and workers’ rights. They have also set up a scheme to help smaller brands carrying on importing in Europe – including Godminster.)