It has sort of stayed with me ever since. I'm not a vegetarian - though I did try to be for about a year when I was 15, because I thought it'd make me different and cool and I nearly died because all I ever ate for dinner was Pot Noodles and chips. Also: my other half is a vegetarian, and my daughter is vegan, and from them I've learned a number of things.
1) It's actually easier to give up meat than I realised.
2) I don't want to give up meat because, well... bacon/steak/hamburgers, but I wish I did, because... y'know... animals are nice. Well, some animals. My cats act like they hate me unless I'm feeding them.
3) Some vegans are full-on extremist mentals.
Indeed, if you think gaming has its dramas... it's nothing compared to some of the in-fighting that occurs online in the vegan community.
The cheerleaders of vegan extremism appear to be PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. I wrote earlier this week how they'd taken offence to the cow teat-yanking in Nintendo's 1-2-Switch, but it isn't the first time the organisation has generated publicity by taking aim at the games what we play.
Indeed, PETA has even created some surprisingly decent online versions of popular video games, to highlight what they believe is the games industry's pro-animal cruelty agenda. You can try them here.
And now? And now: behold... behold those times that gaming wandered into PETA's sights, like a sweet, innocent, bewildered dik-dik (a type of delicious edible animal).
A statement issued by the organisation read: "The grimdark, battle-hardened warriors are known for their martial prowess – but wearing the skins of dead animals doesn’t take any skill.
"PETA has written to Games Workshop CEO Kevin Rountree asking that the leading British miniature war-gaming brand ban fur garments from all Warhammer characters. While we appreciate that they are fictional, draping them in what looks like a replica of a dead animal sends the message that wearing fur is acceptable – when, in fact, it has no more place in 2017 than it would in the year 40,000."
Fur real, nerds!
Polygon spoke to Matt Bruce of PETA, who told him: "There are so many creative minds at Ubisoft that are involved with the Assassin's Creed series that we find it really disappointing that they feel the need to glorify whaling,"
Brucey-boy continued: "PETA encourages video game companies to create games that celebrate animals, not games that promote hurting and killing them.
"This would be a different story if the game portrayed the cruelty and horror experienced when a whale is literally fleeing for her life and then shot with a harpoon - or even several harpoons - and forced to struggle for hours or be hacked apart while still alive aboard a ship.
"In Assassin's Creed 4, you get ahead by killing. Joe Shmoe who plays this game in his mother's basement in the safety and comfort of his home will feel a sense of accomplishment by killing this whale."
Joe Shmoe was unavailable for comment. Presumably because his mother had locked him in her basement, the ker-aaaaayzy bee-yatch!
When students at a Massachusetts high school voiced their disgust with Activision over the dog-shooting in Call of Duty: World at War, PETA threw their entire weight behind the campaign.
Said the organiser of the protest, after witnessing her brother shoot a dog in-game: "My brother is a sweetheart. He won’t be killing dogs after playing. But some people might.”
Kindly, PETA offered Activision Blizzard a free place at the organisation's Developing Empathy for Animals seminar, and sent a several copies of Nintendo's "dog-friendly" Nintendogs game to the Activision offices. The lesson here? It is okay to shoot people in the face. Talk about PETA and the wolf (dogs)!!!!!
Genuine question: how would PETA feel if you ate your dog after it died of natural causes?
Indeed, the Pokemon series so enraged PETA that it created its own version of the game series, Pokemon Black & Blue, which saw Pikachu being battered with a bloody baseball bat, while trying to placate his opponent with hugs and ethical protests.
"Much like animals in the real world, Pokémon are treated as unfeeling objects and used for such things as human entertainment and as subjects in experiments," screeched PETA.
"The way that Pokémon are stuffed into pokéballs is similar to how circuses chain elephants inside railroad cars and let them out only to perform confusing and often painful tricks that were taught using sharp steel-tipped bullhooks and electric shock prods. If PETA existed in Unova, our motto would be: Pokémon are not ours to use or abuse. They exist for their own reasons. We believe that this is the message that should be sent to children."
What sort of confusing tricks? Pushing a couple of swifts out of their trunks. Cruel or not, who wouldn't pay good money to see that?
Unfortunately, this time it was PETA which found itself on the receiving end of a backlash.
Doctor Glen Mason, a counselling psychologist from Belfast, complained that the game could warp young minds: “When the child takes on the role of a particular character, he is usually exposed to ‘killing’ for a ‘reward’. The child is playing a game and there is that active element to it and it’s a reinforcement of a video game that sparks an act of violence.
“Tough family relationship and the level of violence a child gets from a video game can increase the overall exposure to violence. The virtual reality on the screen can impact young people’s behaviour and there is a possibility that games like Mama Kills Animals may not be helpful in terms of relationships with their parents."
PETA's Joel Bartlett threatened: "This game is the best thing ever. So play it now, or else."
PETA produced Mario Kills Tanooki to highlight the fashion-conscious Italian's actions, and protest against the fur trade.
According to the organisation, the game was "meant to be tongue-in-cheek, a fun way to call attention to a serious issue that raccoon dogs are skinned alive for their fur," showing Mario dressed in a bloodied and dripping racoon skin.
"Mario is sending the message that it's OK to wear fur," blubbed a PETA spokesperson, before rubbing himself all over with a couple of fronds stapled to a broccoli stem.