First They Came for Your Meat…

Perhaps it’s a matter of making a virtue of necessity, but I’ve never been much of a hypocrite. Many other awful things, yes, but not a hypocrite. This is my pathetic way of propitiating the gods of political correctness before making a vocal minority mad.

I once had a boyfriend who went in for a great deal of new age mumbo jumbo, retreats at Essalen and whatnot. Once, he went a way for a long weekend to a retreat in the woods to dance. This wasn’t just dancing to have fun, but dancing to get in touch with whatever that thing is that people get in touch with. You know, one of those spiritual type of things. This dance retreat served vegan food, because… I don’t know why, but they did. My boyfriend returned home from his retreat and was relating a story about something that happened. Incidental to the story, was the line, “A group of us snuck out to find a steakhouse….” I rolled my eyes. He shrugged.

That relationship fell by the wayside and my profile was back up on a dating site. (Note the passive voice. I have no idea how that profile got there. Profiles just do things like that sometimes.) An activist type who worked for the Democratic Party contacted me. He wanted to take me to a documentary film and then we’d go out to a burger joint afterward. Oh, yes, and would I please not tell anyone where we’d being going to eat afterwards. At would really look bad for him professionally if people knew he ate meat. Needless to say, I cancelled the date.

There are lots of arguments for avoiding meat. It has always seemed to me that one of the worst ones was the environmental argument. After all, if there were significantly fewer people, we could all eat what we want. As the population of the planet continues to increase, aren’t there other things we would have to start to avoid as well. If we avoid meat because raising livestock uses more resources than growing vegetables, then aren’t some vegetables to be avoided for the same reason. Why don’t they just go ahead and devise some insanely restrictive diet that maximizes resources. I’ve wondered how long it would take them to get there.

Well, a few months ago, an article appeared in The Washington Post which talked about the evils of leafy greens. The article starts with the author, Tamar Haspel, specifically stating that we need to “eat better and farm better” “as the world population grows.” What food do we need to get rid of? Salad, specifically lettuce, “a leafy-green waste of resources.” She goes on to name four foods that are low in nutrients, “cucumbers, radishes, iceberg lettuce and celery.”

She goes on to make a couple of good points about people mistaking salads for being healthy even when they’re not. It’s a point that’s been made before. She also mentions “food-borne illnesses.” A point that I came across after a bout of food poisoning a few months ago that was a new bit of information to me, that raw vegetable are a common culprit for food poisoning.

Still, micromanaging what we eat in order to maximize the number of people on the planet sounds positively dystopian to me.

  1. I don’t think they grow veggies in Somalia 🙂 it would be an uphill task to convince them to be vegetarian

    • fojap said:

      A friend was interested in a woman who was a member of PETA and suddenly he started to advocate veganism. At one point, I suggested to him that one reason human diets are so different across the planet is because we have different climates. If you look at the Inuit, their diet is almost entirely meat.

      There’s an article right now in the Atlantic about how humans evolved to eat meat.

      As the rains became less abundant, so did the fruits, leaves, and flowers that our ancestors relied on. Much of the rain forest turned into sparsely wooded grasslands, with few high-quality plants to eat but with more and more grazing animals.

      Maybe humans dominate the planet because we seem capable of eating almost anything. An article in The New York Times about traditional diets makes a few interesting points.

      There are no vegan societies for a simple reason: a vegan diet is not adequate in the long run.

      Further down she says:

      Historically, diet honored tradition: we ate the foods that our mothers, and their mothers, ate. Now, your neighbor or sibling may be a meat-eater or vegetarian, may ferment his foods or eat them raw.

      That paragraph has a few strange ways of phrasing things. I don’t think anyone was “honoring tradition.” They just ate what they knew. Like a boyfriend who was a really good cook told me that his father was a chef “but I really learned to cook from my grandmother.” I learned some dishes from my grandmother, too. Until we had widespread cookbooks, a nineteenth century development, and convenience food, a mid-twentieth century development, that’s what we all did. It wasn’t “honoring” or even “tradition” in any sort of symbolic sense. It was probably just practical.

      • I think most of the discussion on vegan diets ignore climate, availability of alternatives and lifestyle.

      • Great article, thanks for sharing.
        I see traditional vegetables in some of the eateries I go to and in most places they get finished earlier than any other veggies

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