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December 04, 2008

Comments

It is mostly because I eat a lot of cereal.

"World-class cereal-eating is a dance of fine compromises. The giant heaping bowl of sodden cereal, awash in milk, is the mark of the novice. Ideally one wants the bone-dry cereal nuggets and the cryogenic milk to enter the mouth with minimal contact and for the entire reaction between them to take place in the mouth. ... The next-best thing is to work in small increments, putting only a small amount...in your bowl at a time and eating it all up before it becomes a pit of loathsome slime, which takes about thirty seconds in the case of Cap'n Crunch."

Or you just eat Grape-nuts, which doesn't have such a short edible life after the milk is poured, and which actually fills you up without having to eat three or four bowls like the fluffy cereals.

ChuckD:

Speaking strictly for myself, I haven't responded to your abolitionism analogy because I don't agree that the situation is at all analogous.

There are a large number of reasons why people might decide to eat less meat or no meat that have nothing whatsoever to do with the treatment of animals or moral convictions about the killing of other animals for human use.

Even people whose main concern is the treatment of animals need not become vegetarians. It's quite doable for someone with that commitment (and resources) to ensure that all the animals whose meat they consume are ethically raised and slaughtered.

The conviction that there can be no such thing as morally permissible killing of other animals for human use is a minority position even among vegetarians. Active political promotion of this view does have some analogies with early British and U.S. abolitionism. The confusion of this position with vegetarianism generally, much less with the simple activity of reducing meat consumption, is a vivid illustration of the concerns that led to publius' questions in the main post.

And yes, I'm illustrating Donald J.'s point about standards applied to those holding views that society at large is in moral error.

{The loathsome pagination of comments makes ChuckD less likely to see this, other commenters less likely to know what I'm responding to, and me grind my teeth.}

But anyway, let's get back to non-meat eating. I'm being snarky, but I'm honestly curious. What are the precise origins of these stereotypes with vegetarians?


Well, for starters, eating animal protein raises testosterone levels. Eating soy does the inverse.

Oy, veh ist mir. I'm getting out of the commenting game.

Feh.

Double feh.

i am certainly no novice - been eating cereal for most of my 38 - but i prefer the middle between bone-dry crunch and milk-logged. give the milk a little time to start relaxing the cereal, but not enough to turn it into bloated, sodden mush.

my bowl of choice these days is Cinnamon Strudel Mini-Wheats - which isn't nearly as disgusting as it sounds. Kashi's version of the cinnamon mini-wheat is also good, and oddly, cheaper.

die italics. die.

there's always granola. or is that too DFHish? ;)

I also don't want my milk "cryogenic". The refrigeration is to keep it from going bad, not to make it mouth-numbingly cold.

And please don't serve me beer in a fresh-from-the-freezer mug that causes ice crystals to form at the bottom and may even turn the thing into beer slush. I'd like to be able to taste the beer.

Second Nell on the pagination. Boo!

there's always granola. or is that too DFHish? ;)

Meusli for me. Simultaneously dfh'ish and effete.

If I ate it with soy milk I could claim some kind of elitist trifecta, but I just can't bring myself to go that far.

Hey nous, when I get home I'll see if I can dig up some information on land, water, and petro use by animal. That stuff's all out there if you dig a bit.

Thanks -

Right. That’s why we had a total freak-out over Palin giving an interview with turkeys being slaughtered (not even slaughtered as that part was off camera) in the background. The outrage! It was pretty hilarious, all the outrage and pontification a couple of days before the same folks had their Thanksgiving dinner.

I don't remember any outrage, actually. I remember laughing at the way Palin kept prattling on oblivious, while the farmworker behind her kept looking at the camera with this expression that said, "Huh...this is kinda awkward."

I think the point may have been the irony - she was there to ceremonially pardon a turkey, and then you go out back and they're slaughtering turkeys, perhaps the same one that just got pardoned. It's like something out of a Vonnegut novel.

Or maybe it was just metaphorically apt - a Republican chatting amiably in the foreground as grisly slaughter is carried out in the background.

Either way, I don't think anyone was saying "OMG someone's killing innocent turkeys! We must stop them!!"

My main thought was, bemusedly, "Could she possibly be anymore clueless?"

(Man, I could go for a hummus sandwich right now.)

now_what: Vegetarians can eat meat. They aren't allergic to it. It won't kill them.

When they serve me food, I will eat what they choose to serve and like it. When I serve them food, they will get bacon-wrapped steak and like it.

Would you feel the same way at a cannibal's house? Eating human flesh wouldn't kill you, either.

when's the last time you've met a right wing vegan?

Not familiar with members of the Hardline movement, are you? Count yourself lucky. It's the fascist analogue to Crunchy Cons.

Anyone have a decent comparison of the relative food efficiency of the various animals we consume for protein

Of the big three, chicken is the best at about 2:1 feed weight to body weight, beef is the worst at 8:1, and pork is in between at about 4:1. A good rule of thumb is that the longer an animal lives before you eat it, the less efficient it is as a source of food. Most chickens today are eaten when they're 10 weeks or less old, most pigs when they're several months old, and cattle when they're between 18 and 24 months old.

The flip side is that there's a lot of cruelty involved in raising animals as efficiently as possible. Chickens can only reach a marketable weight as fast as they do if they're raised in tight confinement, induced to eat as rapidly as possible, and otherwise manipulated. Even feedlot cattle get much better conditions than that, and free range cattle live in something vaguely resembling their natural environment.

http://www.riverfronttimes.com/2008-11-26/news/the-pope-of-pork-in-tiny-towns-across-missouri-old-school-hog-farming-stages-a-comeback-mdash-and-at-tables-across-the-nation-diners-rejoice/


This is a very interesting article about a pig farmer in Missouri who almost quit the biz because of the 'industrialization' of raising animals for food. He found a better way and is almost succeeding. Very interesting.

My maternal grandfather was a butcher. We would get a side of beef every year for Christmas. When my parents had steak, we kids did, too. My paternal grandfather had a huge 1/2 acre garden that we could raid anytime we wanted. We had fresh potatoes, carrots, greenbeans, peas, corn, brussel sprouts, broccoli. Also, fruit trees, grape arbors, you name it. We always had good wholesome, healthy food to eat. I JUST DON'T LIKE VEGATABLES! I can eat some of them, but I don't like them. And I don't eat most of them... I have friends who are "vegheads" (their term) and they sometime come across as a bit superior. Their excuse is that they "just want me to be healthy & live longer". My response? Both my grandmothers lived into their 90s and grandfathers to almost 80. I think that is long enough.

@Slartibartfast:

Excellent use of the Stephenson quote. I enjoy those digressions in his writing, but his stories would be a lot faster and tighter if he could lay off that stuff.

"That stuff" is why I like him. But I'm all about digression.

Italics fixed, BTW, not that it now matters.

"There are a large number of reasons why people might decide to eat less meat or no meat that have nothing whatsoever to do with the treatment of animals or moral convictions about the killing of other animals for human use."

Yes, there are, but I wouldn't want the treatment of animals to be seen as less important than the other issues. I'm not an animal rights person or even a vegetarian, but I do think that if we eat animals or use them for other purposes we have a moral obligation not to be cruel. Which of course will make the price of meat and chicken and turkey go up. Of course that hurts poor people the most, but since I'm just pontificating about the way things ought to be, I can fix all the world's problems at once--we need a much more equal distribution of income.

I'm not a moral absolutist--if it is a choice between some form of cruelty to animals and saving people's lives (as might possibly be the case with medical research, but I don't know), then I go with the people. But I think that our society has a long way to go before we have to worry too much about putting the rights of, say, food animals above the rights of people to enjoy a good steak. (Which is where ChuckD's unfortunate rape analogy came in--unfortunate because it was so easily twisted into a reason for not taking him seriously).

Oh, one other reason for me not being an absolutist on this--my wife and I have a cat. There are no vegetarian cats. This is the paradox of being an animal lover. Under an absolutist regime, the cats have to fend for themselves. As it is, given my own position if I'm logical I have to hope for an increase in the price of cat food, because the food animals should live on farms that allow them to live a natural life.

Italics fixed, BTW, not that it now matters.

The violence of italics returns to the calm of textured prose.

I'm sure there's a metaphor in there about vegetarians versus meat-eaters, since it appears virtually everything else is such a metaphor, including Proposition 8. One of my favourite vegetarian restaurants has an elephant on its logo, and obviously elephants, being very vegetarian, aren't violent at all. They do live in matriarchies, though, so they probably support lesbian marriage.

V.

You need steamed milk....in your coffee? WTF? Are you three years old?

What, you don't ever mix ingredients? But didn't we just enjoy bacon-wrapped steak a moment ago? What kind of baby wuss non-man needs bacon on his steak? Can't you just act like an adult with an actual penis and eat a steak, just a steak, only a steak?
Steak sauce? You flower-girl. "why don't you go put on your sun-dress; you'll be *so* pretty"?

I eat what I want to eat. That happens to include plenty of mammals and if you don't like it, I don't care.

Funny thing, I don't see anyone who's said they don't like it. I see a lot of people arguing for personal choice, one fly-by thing about violence that was promptly ridiculed, and you protesting that you're all manly while vegetarians aren't.

When you're at the vegetarians' house you play by their rules. When the vegetarians are at your house, you play by their rules.

Guess you're just lucky that your rules are more expansive than their rules. Now, let's say they were naturists, and insisted on you being nude when you are in their home- they'll dress to visit you, but you've got to bare it all to visit them.
Or maybe they eat bugs. They'll eat your steak, but visit their house, it's cockroach stew.
Still game for that home-field-advantage rule of guest treatment?

I wonder why there is this stereotype of vegetarians as complete weenies. It's a mystery!

Not really. Fat guys who eat steak and huff to get up a few flights of stairs like to have something to fall back on to assume themselves that they're still masculine. Other easy ways to prove masculinity that don't involve actually being able to do anything include cat-calling, watching sports, and vigorously arguing in favor of wars that you don't have to fight personally.
[nb I like sports, not saying that those things come exclusively from compensation for a lack of manhood- but they certainly can, particularly when accompanied by a psychological need to play the victim and claim that those who don't are wusses.]

Not many, but I've been lectured by more meat-eaters over the years about how they eat meat and aren't about to stop now, or "how do I know vegetables don't feel pain"?

My favorites are the ones who act like vegetables emasculate one (nb I'm 6'4" 210 and exercise constantly- I eat plenty of fish though, and eggs)- when in fact many bodybuilders and pro athletes don't eat much meat, particularly fatty meat, bc the ratio of fat/protein is too high (and their protein intake is huge).

I'm still working to find vegetarian food that I actively like.

Im presuming that you already like some vegetable dishes, and just aren't thinking about them as main courses (stuffed potato skins, eggplant parmisan, homefries, non-meat lasagne or spaghetti, stuffed manicoti, huevos rancheros, etc). if you're looking for meat substitutes specifically, try seitan, imo much better than tofu-based fake meat. I dont like field roast, but their line of sausages is genuinely good stuff.

From what I recall of my food chemistry classes, sugar, salt, fat all taste good because the body requires them to function and they are a pain in the ass to obtain in the wild. Now we've got convenient supplies.

Fried dough is also vegetarian. I get the feeling that you're unconsciously substituting "shitty-tasting" or "completely vegetable based" for "vegetarian". There are so many things that aren't meat but contain loads of fats (olive oil, butter, avocado), sugars (uh, sugars mostly come from plants, animals aren't particularly sugar-y), and salts.
Really, the tricky part (insofar as their is one) is protein. And that's really pretty easy. And take a multivitamin, but that's good advice for everyone.

If the reason is primarily, "don't hurt the animals," then you should in theory be able to eat meat that is humanely raised and slaughtered, right? And if that's your moral stand, have you also applied it to wearing leather? How about your shoes and belts? Handbag? Wallet? Why should one be different than the other.

So would you not care if I slaughtered you, as long as I did it "humanely"? Or is it not perfectly plausible to think that slaughter is inherently inhumane? And there are vegan alternatives to leather that people seriously committed to not exploiting animals buy -- it's a standard component of veganism.

For instance, if it's for health reasons, then "just this once" shouldn't really matter, should it? The comment that "there's nothing I can eat here" doesn't really fly, because you can eat those bacon bits on the salad. Really, you can. It's not like it would violate your religious principles, which are different than your dietary preference.

I love burgers, but I don't eat them anymore. I don't backslide, because backsliding is just a way of getting back into something. Like only smoking in bars, Sooner or later Ill figure that Im already eating meat 1)on vacation 2)when visiting friends 3)at parties, art openings, other functions 4)leftovers from same, so why not just cook burgers the one night a week none of those things is happening?

Also, do you demand this rigorous consistency to everyone around you in every area, or just this one? Would you harangue a friend who is saving money but decides to splurge on a night out or a new jacket?
I dunno, maybe you would- but then, that must make life kinda hard on your friends. "Last week you had the cottage cheese instead of the club sandwich because you were on a diet- but just now, you ate an apple turnover for lunch! Ah HAH!"

Sorry this is so long!!

The thing that's noteworthy about Daniel 1 is that it shows vegetarianism as a healthy alternative to eating meat.

As far as I can tell, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel%201&version=9>that chapter says NOTHING about vegetarianism as opposed to eating meat. It's about eating the King's meat vs their own (unless you think that Daniel et al didn't drink anything, as well). Where does it say anything about vegetables?
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We're having a pot-luck in a few weeks and one woman was going to make her "family recipe" mac & cheese -- with chicken noodle soup. I advised her that we have a lot of vegetarians here (as much as 40%, mostly Hindu), and that they might assume that mac & cheese is a vegetarian (but obviously not vegan) dish. She's going to look for a substitiute for the soup or make sure her dish is labelled non-veg, but hadn't even thought about it before I mentioned it.

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My family ... are notorious steak burners.

My girlfriend is one, too. I have to rescue any meat she's cooking about 5 minutes before it's done enough for her.

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Sometimes I even drag my kids out of bed in the middle of the night and spank them, just because it makes the popcorn taste better.

Slarti wins the thread!

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Vegetarians can eat meat. They aren't allergic to it. It won't kill them.

Jews aren't allergic to bacon. Although I was allergic to shellfish for a while. I guess I became un-Jewish enough for it to stop making me "revisit my dinner".

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I drink 2 gallons of whole milk a week.

I can easily drink a gallon of chocolate soy milk (yum!) every week. I'm not sure I'd be able to do 2 though.

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This was accompanied and followed by a huge increase in availability of and knowledge about different foods.

About 10 to 15 years ago (or so), I was in North Carolina, and one of the VERY few options for the 2 Hindus who worked in our office at our local Food Court was the bean burrito from Taco Bell. I debated whether or not to tell them that it had probably been cooked in lard; I don't recall whether I did so.

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Man, I could go for a hummus sandwich right now.

How about a ham-mus sandwich?

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Even feedlot cattle get much better conditions than that, and free range cattle live in something vaguely resembling their natural environment.

How do free-range chickens rate compared with the other critters?

I have friends who have chickens. Chickens don't always treat each other very well, but sometimes get along. My friends say that they have a lot more personality than people give them credit for. Roosters are sometimes abusive rapists, and the pecking order seems cruel from a human perspective.

My friends aren't vegetarians but they don't eat their own chickens, treating them instead as egg-laying pets. They get to know them individually and treat them with dignity.

Well: I'm a vegetarian. I do eat fish and free-range things, though since I just think of myself as veggie, I don't actually buy free-range meat. It's for moral reasons: I do not think animals have the same moral status as humans, but I do think we ought not to make them suffer needlessly. And as far as I'm concerned, factory farming to enable us to eat a food we do not actually need counts as 'making them suffer needlessly'.

I don't think I'm particularly obnoxious about it, though of course I wouldn't, would I? Lots of people have, however, been obnoxious to me about it. I don't really know why. I just think of it as one of those oddities I'm not supposed to understand.

Perhaps because meat is not an essential part of a meal, so that by eating a vegetarian meal at a friend's house, you are not deprived of anything

You're deprived of meat. Meat isn't essential? Well neither are fruits, grains, legumes, seafood, alcohol, chocolate, salad or cheese. You can satisfy your nutritional needs with a diet of potatoes and milk, so the next time you have guests over, serve them each a few pounds of potatoes and a glass of milk at each meal and explain to them how they aren't being deprived of anything. Let us know if you get any repeat visitors.

...

No, that's your problem. If you invite guests into your home, it's considered basic human courtesy to offer them food they can eat

Vegetarians can eat meat just fine, and if they get hungry enough, they will. The implication in this thread has been that to be a gracious host, one should take into account the guests' preferences, unless the host is a vegetarian in which case the guests should take into account the host's preferences. That argument is not going to fly. I take into account my health, happiness and the morality of my actions when I choose my diet and I will not allow some other class of people to have their personal preferences automatically valued over mine.

Becuause vegetarianism is generally a conscious choice, and is difficult, there is reasonably a perception that you need a good reason to do it. The problem is that most of the reasons (other than religion) to become vegetarian have a serious potential to seem aribitrary and inconsistent, if not hypocritical.
That pretty much gets to the heart of it. Vegetarianism for most people is not like keeping kosher, which is just a small component of a much larger set of beliefs. It comes across in many cases as a symbolic gesture which is taken too silly extremes.

Vegetarianism is a shibboleth for left-wing political beliefs, which makes it unpalatable to a significant portion of the population. How it got that way is probably a product of 60's counterculture.

The implication in this thread has been that to be a gracious host, one should take into account the guests' preferences, unless the host is a vegetarian in which case the guests should take into account the host's preferences.

No. The implication is that a good host should serve food which everyone present will enjoy eating.

The implication in this thread has been that to be a gracious host, one should take into account the guests' preferences, unless the host is a vegetarian in which case the guests should take into account the host's preferences.

If you had some kind of personal need to eat nothing but meat, I guess Id find a way to accommodate. And then this would be a good analogy.
But you don't, and it isn't.

Vegetarians can eat meat just fine, and if they get hungry enough,

You know what you could probably eat if you got hungry enough? Guess what you're having for dinner if you come over to my house?

Slarti wins the thread!

About frackin' time. It's my first one; do I have to buy everyone here a beer?

Beer is vegetarian, no?

Hummus. Baba Ganoush. Lentil frickin' stew. Chili made from bulgur and ground carrots is awesome, and you can set it on fire just as much as your taste buds can stand. Really, there's not much end of what you can serve a vegetarian guest, aside from meat. One of my favorites is: make a salad, and instead of dressing, put a big dollop of hummus on top. Very satisfying.

If vegetarians wierd you out, let them know right away; it's more direct and more honest.

G- I agree that many of the people who find out that I'm a vegetarian (and believe me, I do NOT flaunt it) focus obsessively on possible inconsistencies, and mentally carry the equation "inconsistency is automatically hypocritical".

But I don't see the same fanatical determination to stamp out inconsistency deployed in other areas of life. Human life is full of inconsistency- but I don't see people questioning their Republican neighbors about whether their maid (or nanny) is legal, or questioning evangelical protestants about whether they are on their first marriage. I don't see people questioning Mormons or Muslims about the fact that fresh-squeezed fruit juice contains detectable amounts of ethyl alcohol. I'm a liberal who works for a defense contractor, and no one has ever challenged me on that.

There is something about vegetarianism that evokes gut-level hostility from non-vegetarians, and I would really, really like to understand why.

By the way, some hosts who served me meals in which every dish on the table contained meat (my ex's extended family for instance) became mortally offended when I pulled a PBJ sandwich out of my non-leather purse! Go figure.

As far as I can tell, that chapter says NOTHING about vegetarianism as opposed to eating meat. It's about eating the King's meat vs their own (unless you think that Daniel et al didn't drink anything, as well). Where does it say anything about vegetables?

What do you think the "pulse to eat, and water to drink" was, then? That means eating vegetables and drinking water instead of meat and wine. That's the problem with reading the KJV; the writing is very nice but the usage is archaic. The NIV translates that same line as "Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink." Of course it also translates the earlier word as "food" rather than "meat" (probably correct, since 17th Century English used "meat" for all kinds of solid food, not just flesh), so the point still isn't entirely clear.

That said, you're probably right. The argument is really about following the Law. Daniel was worried about defiling himself by eating unkosher food, so he made a sacrifice by eating something seen as less appealing and nutritious. That he still prospered and even did better than the people who ate the king's food was a sign of God's favor for following the Law.

There is something about vegetarianism that evokes gut-level hostility from non-vegetarians, and I would really, really like to understand why.

And there's something about eating meat that evokes gut level hostility from vegetarians. There's a lot of criticism from both sides. You're just a lot more likely to notice it when it's your diet being criticized because A) it's directed at you and B) you find the argument unconvincing or you'd have a different diet.

If you had some kind of personal need to eat nothing but meat, I guess Id find a way to accommodate. And then this would be a good analogy.

You'd be surprised.

I don't need to eat nothing but meat, but I do need to eat significant quantities of animal fats on a regular basis, or my cholesterol crashes down to "umm ... we need to run some tests, because we've never seen these numbers outside of terminally ill patients" levels.

One of the more surreal points in my life was having my doctor suggest I increase my saturated fat intake. From the expression on her face, I suspect she felt about the same way. But in the year since I quit eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet and started eating a lot more cheese, eggs, and meat, I've gone from being constantly ill and having papercuts take weeks to heal to being healthy and energetic most of the time.

There is something about vegetarianism that evokes gut-level hostility from non-vegetarians, and I would really, really like to understand why.

Vegetarianism is a made to order example of the Kantian Master/Slave dialectic. And given the relatively stable distribution of assholes in the population, there is always someone pushing someone else's button.

If one really wants to advance the cause of vegetarianism, they would, whenever a thread like this cracks open, refrain from displaying their moral superiority and pass on some mouthwatering vegetarian recipes. This is similar to my wife's recipe for mushroom stew, though she uses some Japanese ingredients.

whoops, forgot to add the link

I'm a vegetarian. Usually when I tell people that they jump to the conclusion that I am a health food nut. I'm not. Donuts and potatoe chips and Milky Ways aren't meat.

The implication in this thread has been that to be a gracious host, one should take into account the guests' preferences, unless the host is a vegetarian in which case the guests should take into account the host's preferences.

(In response) If you had some kind of personal need to eat nothing but meat, I guess Id find a way to accommodate. And then this would be a good analogy.
But you don't, and it isn't.

There are people like me, who, while I'm not a pure carnivore, dislike the vast majority of vegetables. And there are probably more people who hate specific vegetables than hate specific meats. Do the vegetarians among you ask your guests beforehand about any really strong aversions or do you just presume that they will like whatever you like?

Do the vegetarians among you ask your guests beforehand about any really strong aversions or do you just presume that they will like whatever you like?

I love to cook, so it's one of my standard questions "Is there anything you don't eat?" (which, if the person I am asking looks bewildered, I clarify that means for example "hates celery" or "can't bear spicy food" or "no tofu!"). Nothing worse for me than preparing a delicious meal to discover that you didn't take account of your guests' food preferences and they're not going to be able to enjoy it...

Obviously as a guest one can choke unpleasant food down with a pleasant smile (and a lot of water): but if you're going to be/are a recurring guest, it does make a certain amount of sense to indicate what your food preferences exclude, as well as what you literally can't eat.

If one really wants to advance the cause of vegetarianism, they would, whenever a thread like this cracks open, refrain from displaying their moral superiority and pass on some mouthwatering vegetarian recipes.

I regard the ability to cook delicious food as an element in my overweening moral superiority, Liberal Japonicus. So there. Also, Tuesday Recipe Blogging. Which I need to get back to...

Do the vegetarians among you ask your guests beforehand about any really strong aversions or do you just presume that they will like whatever you like?

I think a good solution to this problem might be to keep at least an assortment of pasta and a variety of tomato based sauces at home. Everybody likes pasta, no? So carnivores can make vegetarians happy and vice versa - all that with little fuss and in under 15 minutes.

the Kantian Master/Slave dialectic

Oh, and the lapsed philosopher in me I feels the need to point out that you must be referring to the famous chapter in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, rather than Kant, here ;).

absolutely right novakant. Which reminds me, I've always wondered about your name, is there a relation to Kant

My pleasure, lj.

The origin of my alias is slightly embarrassing, but since you asked and just between us:

Back when I chose it ages ago, I was reading a lot of Kant (mainly the first and third Critiques) and about Kant (Guyer, Strawson, also some post-structuralists). At the same time I discovered Heather Nova during her early, darker phase (i.e. the magnificent albums "Glow Stars" and "Oyster") and went to several of her European concerts (at the first one there were only about 50 people).

My admiration for both Kant and the fragile, little girl with the big guitar singing her heart led me to choose this alias - strange times...

Novakant, many thanks! I love hearing the thought processes behind choosing names.

"Vegetarianism for most people is not like keeping kosher, which is just a small component of a much larger set of beliefs. .. "
Posted by: DBN | December 04, 2008 at 09:54 PM

"Vegetarianism is a shibboleth for left-wing political beliefs . . ."
Posted by: DBN | December 04, 2008 at 09:58 PM

These seem at least potentially contradictory to me?

And yes, what Anne E said. I should add that (after a certain point) until recently, reasonably-raised meat, etc., wasn't even as limitedly available (if you have both the budget and access to a farmer's market/crunchy co-op/local supplier) as it is now, so that often wasn't an obvious option for folks concerned about cruelty (rather than health, killing per se, etc.) Add in people not being strictly and solely rational and logically consistent beings . . .

But there's some ill feeling between us omnivores and vegetarians due to the latter's tendency to assert moral equivalence between an intelligent species at the top of the food chain, and really stupid critters well down it. Which is somewhat insulting.

And some hippie I met once thought Bush was worse than Saddam, so invading Iraq was totally justified.

Y'know, being a vegetarian in the Northeast, you'd think I would occasionally run into one of these sanctimonious ignoramuses who discredit meat abstention in the eyes of cleek et al. (I know the above quote's not his) I mean, I hear about them all the damn time, and usually from liberals, so they've gotta exist, right?

Or is this like atheism, where modifiers like "evangelical," "prosyletizing," and "militant" are synonymous with "admitted?"

Factory farming and big agra suck for animals. Vegetarianism is an extremely imperfect way to deal with that fact. If someone's out there making that case so stridently and with such a tin ear that it makes you want to roast a pig luau-style for breakfast, maybe do your cholestrol a favor and don't hang out with that person.

Everybody likes pasta, no?

i knew a guy who hated pasta and cereal. he said he simply hated "wet wheat products".

I mean, I hear about them all the damn time, and usually from liberals, so they've gotta exist, right?

not only do they "gotta exist", they actually do exist. for example (as mentioned above) a big group of them decided to organize under the name "PETA" and now they do silly shit like suggest Ben & Jerry should make their ice cream out of human milk.


If someone's out there making that case so stridently and with such a tin ear that it makes you want to roast a pig luau-style for breakfast, maybe do your cholestrol a favor and don't hang out with that person.

i'm way ahead of you, there.

now_what: Vegetarians can eat meat just fine, and if they get hungry enough, they will

True, but for me "hungry enough" would be the surety that I have to choose between starving to death or putting up with the painful gut-cramps and other dietary annoyances that go with eating meat. Unless you are in the habit of imprisoning your "guests" in your dungeon for indefinite periods of time while serving them nothing but bacon-wrapped steak, I can assure you: I had rather fast for 24 hours than eat meat. If you are in the habit of imprisoning your guests in your dungeon, you... probably have other problems that even a good vegetarian diet won't cure. ;-)

Novakant: I think a good solution to this problem might be to keep at least an assortment of pasta and a variety of tomato based sauces at home.

Make it gluten-free pasta and vegan/gluten-free sauces and you're pretty much home free, really. (I found I liked the buckwheat and/or rice pasta shapes better than I liked the wheat pasta, anyway: tastier.)

I actually quite enjoy working around people's food preferences and allergies: the most complicated one (for me!) was a friend who couldn't eat onions - anything acidic, but onions were a major no. Most of my standard savoury recipes include onions... but I made her cheese-and-potato pie with smoked Arran cheddar and lots of mushrooms, and that worked just fine.

hilzoy: "Well: I'm a vegetarian. I do eat fish and free-range things..."

um. I do not think that word means what you think it means. :)

No onions?

Damn. Onion is one of my secret weapons. Most things that onion goes in can be improved by cooking at least part of them to the point of caramelization. It's a completely different kind of flavor. Also, onion is really a vital ingredient in gumbo and other Cajun foods. You have someone stir the roux while it's frying, and just chop as many onions as you can lay your hands on. When the roux is browned (bronzed, really) you throw the onion in and stir it up; quite a bit of the liquid in gumbo comes from the onions and peppers. And of course, if you don't have the onion, you're missing a chunk of that gumbo taste.

Vegetarian gumbo? Wow, I'd have to think that over. I'm sure it could be done, but it might take a much better cook than me. I'd probably want to look into smoking some of the vegetables, but I've never done that.

a big group of them decided to organize under the name "PETA"

Oh, would that be the same PETA that constantly gets trotted out as indicative of the animal welfare movement, even though everyone involved in the actual work of same hates them with a passion and constantly denounces them?

Help me out. How can I, personally, make up for the damage inflicted by a couple of coeds walking around in lettuce bikinis, or whatever the hell it is they do? If I get Ingrid Newkirk sent to a CIA black site, can chickens have a little extra room and maybe see the sun once in a while?

@lj: relatively stable distribution of assholes

My next band name.

And count me with gil mann. When I read the post, I thought, is this really such a big deal? I'm an omnivore, but I have friends that are vegetarian, and vegan, even macrobiotic, and while we're passionate and obstinate about many things, we tend not to be rude about people's food choices. I'm frankly surprised to read that it's not so, elsewhere. Maybe it's a city/country thing?

Come to upstate NY and live with the DFHs. We're not as bad as the hype. Just bring winter clothes.

THE BROCCOLI MUST DIE!!!!!!!

Oh, would that be the same PETA that constantly gets trotted out as indicative of the animal welfare movement, even though everyone involved in the actual work of same hates them with a passion and constantly denounces them?

yes.

now be careful to note that i nowhere said anything that suggests that annoying vegetarians make up the majority of all vegetarians. nor did i say PETA represents all vegetarians (or animal rights activists).

How can I, personally, make up for the damage inflicted by a couple of coeds walking around in lettuce bikinis, or whatever the hell it is they do?

beats me. but if you figure it out, be sure to tell the members of any other group who feel unfairly defined by the actions of the loud and obnoxious fringe.

Some random notes...

1) Like OCSteve I was utterly puzzled by the outrage over the Palin turkey video. Yes, it was incompetent image management. But if you're outraged by what was going on in the background of that video, you really shouldn't be eating poultry (NB: I do eat poultry.) I'm not a vegetarian, though I think that there are many compelling arguments for vegetarianism (the environmental ones being among the most compelling). But watching the Palin-video freakout makes me realize that whatever hypocrisy attends my meat-eating, it pales in comparison to that of most of my fellow American carnivores: You're eating dead animals that have been violently killed. Deal with it!

2) However effective but controversial vegetarianism might be as an environmental policy suggestion, I have an even better and more controversial one: zero population growth.

3) Not all Jews keep Kosher. In fact, I suspect that most of us don't. So "would you feed a Jew treif?" is, at least here and now, really not the equivalent of "would you feed a vegetarian meat?"

There are people like me, who, while I'm not a pure carnivore, dislike the vast majority of vegetables. And there are probably more people who hate specific vegetables than hate specific meats.

I just wanted to point out in passing that meat vs. vegetables is a false dichotomy. (I don't mean to infer that that's what you're saying, but it is a common fallacy.)

The bulk of any good vegetarian diet consists of foods that are not vegetables: grains, fruits, legumes, nuts, and all manner of dairy products.

"The bulk of any good vegetarian diet consists of foods that are not vegetables: grains, fruits, legumes, nuts, and all manner of dairy products."

Please note what is NOT included: fish, chicken, or other flesh-products, no matter how free-range. :)

And there are probably more people who hate specific vegetables than hate specific meats.

I think if one were to add offal into the conversation, one would find just as many people who hate specific meats. (Not me, however! I eat with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls.)

When I read the post, I thought, is this really such a big deal?

I know, Amos, right? I don't think I've ever met a vegetarian who wasn't totally off-handed about the whole thing. Maybe we're the only two people in the lower 48 who haven't dated Alicia Silverstone.

beats me. but if you figure it out, be sure to tell the members of any other group who feel unfairly defined by the actions of the loud and obnoxious fringe.

Dude, people like you who hold them up as an example of my pet cause's excesses are the ones doing the unfair defining. PETA's just employing their winning formula for attention-getting, and though it'd be nice if they'd make a lateral move to hemp advocacy and stop kneecapping the rest of us, it's not incumbent upon me to erase them from the landscape before a good faith argument about where food comes from can take place.

Oh, jeez, I gotta get to the think tank. I passed by a Code Pink rally yesterday, now I'm an AEI fellow.

Dude, people like you who hold them up as an example of my pet cause's excesses are the ones doing the unfair defining

you'd do well to go back and read what i actually wrote.

Please note what is NOT included: fish, chicken, or other flesh-products, no matter how free-range.

Just to back hilzoy up on this, I'm with her that it's better to support humane farming than to take yourself out of the equation entirely. I always meant to go back to eating meat when I could afford animal products that don't come from torture chambers, but I waited too long and now my system rejects flesh with extreme prejudice. I do eggs and dairy but it's still pretty Naderrific of me.

I won't stop until the entire world is italicized.

you'd do well to go back and read what i actually wrote.

Still don't see where I'm wildly misinterpreting you, but based on my track record I'll have to hold that out as a possibility, so apologies.

Okay, I'm gonna try one more time.

Test one two echo.

Well I think that the image of the self righteous vegetation comes frm the same place as the imageo of the self righteous jogger or the image of the self-righteous person who recycles: the imaginations of the person who eats meat or doesn't jog or doesn't recycle.

Back when jogging for health first caught on and there was a lot of media attention joggers wer derided as sneering phonies. When recycling was in its infancy people who sorted thier trash and looked for places to dump the reusable stuff were sneered at as sneering phonies.

See the pattern? Which is not to say that absolutly no vegetarian or jogger or recyler ever was a snob about it, but the pervasive stereotype is a defense mechanism dreamed up by people who feel threatened by other people's choices,not a result of behavior by the jogger, veggie eater or recycler.

The myth of the self righteious recycler is mostly gone, the myth of the self righteous jogger is fading (as are joggers, replaced by walkers!) and I suppose the the myth of the self righteous vegetarian will fade too as meat eating declines, which I think it will for a variety of sensible pragmatic reasons.

If someone's out there making that case so stridently and with such a tin ear that it makes you want to roast a pig luau-style for breakfast, maybe do your cholestrol a favor and don't hang out with that person.

That's kind of hard to to if the person is a coworker who likes to use the lunch room at the same time you do. I had a coworker who loved to tell everyone else in the room how bad their food was. He seemed to think that criticizing others food choices was one of the perks of veganism. I think he did it because he was a jerk, but I could definitely understand if he gave others a skewed, negative impression of vegans and vegetarians. He was sufficiently unpopular that he was the first person I know who got a good riddance lunch the day after he left rather than a good bye lunch the day he left.

italics begone.

Still don't see where I'm wildly misinterpreting you,

what i've been trying to say is that i don't think that all vegetarians are loudmouth proselytizers and scolds, but some are (PETA's the obvious example), and that those people contribute to an overall negative stereotype of vegetarians that some people have.

other people on the thread have given different reasons why some people have negative opinions of vegetarians. and i'd guess that all of the things people have mentioned contribute in differing amounts in each individual who holds such an opinion.

personally, i have no problem with vegetarians or vegetarianism. i actually think it's admirable in many ways (though not enough to convert me).

:cheers:

italexico!

(ObWi - give me 20 seconds with your HTML template and i'll fix this for good - all you gotta do is wrap each individual comment in something like a TABLE tag, and it will stop formatting from bleeding outside)

Meat: it's the new third rail.

He was sufficiently unpopular that he was the first person I know who got a good riddance lunch the day after he left rather than a good bye lunch the day he left.

Ouch! Now that, my friends, is cold.

Thanks -

gil -- count me in also as someone who commends people who have the time and money to make food choices that support humane treatment of food animals. that *still* doesn't make them into vegetarians, and makes it a little harder for those of us who *are* to have a clear category by which other people can understand what we do and do not eat.

the image of the self righteous vegetation

I'm totally with you, wonkie, and the jogging analogy's going right into my toolbox, so don't take it as a dig when I point out what a wonderful typo that is. I'm picturing you restraining the impulse to wipe that smug look off a head of cabbage.

Cleek, cheers back, but are you still seeing my italic aftermath? I fixed it on my end.

Also, I get your point, but I still think it's akin to that of Roger's (I liked James Bond as a prissy cartoon character, BTW) above. Some people whose beliefs dovetail with mine are kind of dickish, therefore I'm supposed to do something about that. C'mon, if Democrats can win elections without disabling comments on the Huffington Post, surely I don't have to apologize for people who throw red paint at supermodels every time I quote Temple Grandin.

"I'm picturing you restraining the impulse to wipe that smug look off a head of cabbage"


Yeah and the broccoli is REALLY obnoxious. (slams the refrigerator door).

therefore I'm supposed to do something about that

but i never said that.

I personally wouldn't invite people over for a meal without checking their dietary requirements or preferences. However, I've never had a meat-eating guest complain about being served vegetarian food (assuming that eggs and cheese are allowed under one's definition of vegetarianism). Tortilla strata made with tomatoes, corn, potato and chipotle, or risotto with preserved lemons, leeks, and mushrooms, for example.

There are people like me, who, while I'm not a pure carnivore, dislike the vast majority of vegetables. And there are probably more people who hate specific vegetables than hate specific meats.

If you don't like veggies, you don't, but I would like to know if this is more a matter of how the vegetables are typically presented, or a matter of the actual taste/texture of the veggie? For example, whenever I have dinner with my partner's family, we're typically presented with seven or eight vegetable options, every one of them boiled. It's pretty dull. However, the same vegetables, roasted or sauteed or stir-fried or steamed and tossed with oil and vinegar can be absolutely delicious. We're slowly working on introducing them to alternatives, such as ginger-glazed carrots or brussels sprouts tossed with butter and parmesan.

@d'd'd'docile dave:

Church, not academy. But New York, yes! :-D

Just want to say two things:

1. What organization is it, exactly, that includes coeds wearing lettuce bikinis, and how can one join?

2. What time is lunch at tariqata's house?

Thanks -

"At the same time I discovered Heather Nova during her early, darker phase..."

Since we are late in the thread, I'm going to threadjack.

Heather Nova is seriously underappreciated in the US. Especially 'Oyster'. She has a powerful voice, and is willing to express emotions both dark and light.
One of my very favorite songs of all time is "Truth and Bone", it hits something just right deep in my nervous system...

Interestingly for some reason I link it in my mind with "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove" by Dead Can Dance.

Anyway, that has been your irregularly scheduled threadjack.

but i never said that.

Yeah, I know, but the implication is that...

Oh, Christ, here, maybe this'll work. Y'know that old Onion piece about "Gay Rights Parade Sets Gay Rights Back 50 Years?" (I'd link to it, but after the great emphasis debacle of '08, I'm HTML-shy)

Hilarious and certainly some truth to it, but I've seen enough of your comments here and elsewhere to assume you'd agree with me that there's no room in a discussion of Prop 8 for lamentations about shirtless bears blowing kisses and going "yoo-hoo!" to random straight dudes.

Now let's eat this dead horse!

You know, I've got no beef with vegetarians (yuk, yuk), I've dated them, lived with them, been them at various stages. But I did have one really bad experience, which was when I had to organize a conference of foreign language teaching assistants based in the Northern part of Japan, and the biggest pain in the ass was dealing with a small but noisy contingent of vegetarians. There was some expectation that with 600 people in a hotel setting, we were supposed to somehow magically synchronize what was served with their particular eating habits. This was Japan, so we weren't serving steaks, but there were a few people who refused to eat any fish based products. Given that the basic stock in Japanese cooking is dashi, made with flakes of a dried tuna, this was impossible.

Similar situations, smaller in scale, have occurred in organizing dinners out after a conference and the like, where the point is to go somewhere to continue discussing things with a featured speaker, and someone says 'well, I'm vegetarian, so I can't go to restaurant X' which may be the only space that can take the numbers you have, or is within walking distance of the conference site, or some other stricture. Again, this isn't all vegetarians, but there have been some who don't seem to think that there are any other strictures involved except their own dietary needs.

cleek: what i've been trying to say is that i don't think that e all vegetarians are loudmouth proselytizers and scolds, but some are (PETA's the obvious example), and that those people contribute to an overall negative stereotype of vegetarians that some people have.

And you don't think the existence of people who are openly hostile towards vegetarians and who express that hostility without any other provocation than just discovering that a person is vegetarian... could possibly contribute towards that "overall negative stereotype of vegetarians"?

While I don't think most vegetarians are self-righteous and obnoxious, there is, of course, one sub-group of vegetarians likely to be both: teenage vegetarians. And I suspect in countries where vegetarianism is not widespread, adults (and other teenagers) may be most likely to encounter vegetarianism among their friends first via teenagers practising it and promoting it loudly. (It's an idealistic cause and a way of winding-up your parents: what's not to like about it?) Those who encounter such young zealots then make the mistake of thinking that it is because they are vegetarians that they are objectionable, rather than that it is because they are teenagers :-)

liberal japonicus: This was Japan, so we weren't serving steaks, but there were a few people who refused to eat any fish based products. Given that the basic stock in Japanese cooking is dashi, made with flakes of a dried tuna, this was impossible.

*nods solemnly* I've heard it said that in Japan, all Buddhists starve to death because it's impossible for any Japanese cook to provide them with meals without fish or meat.

Or maybe, you know... not.

Again, this isn't all vegetarians, but there have been some who don't seem to think that there are any other strictures involved except their own dietary needs.

The main stricture is, surely: contact restaurant in advance, explain you have a certain number of vegetarians, ask them to cook dishes for them suitable for strict Buddhists who won't eat meat or fish. Any event organiser worth their salt will ask all attendees to give an indication of their dietary restrictions on the registration form.

jes got to it first at 12:47, so I will just second her. I will only say that I find lj's irritation with those "noisy" vegetarians somewhat bemusing. can you not even see it from their perspective? try substituting "urine" for "fish" and see where you get.

I did have a friend in California who traveled on occasion to Japan for business, and always packed enough energy bars in her suitcase so she could eat one FOR EVERY MEAL if need be, because quite often she'd be lunching at places like lj described. yes, they *could* make the vegetable maki roll without the fish egg garnish, but *refused* to do so. she hated travel there.

Any event organiser worth their salt will ask all attendees to give an indication of their dietary restrictions on the registration form.

I have no idea what things are like in Japan, but at least in Toronto, on occasions when I've gone out for dim sum with vegetarians, dishes have been identified by restaurant staff as "vegetarian" which turned out to contain meat in various forms. Although I think it should be possible for any caterer or restaurant to serve vegetarian food, I would imagine it often takes a lot of thought and discussion on the part of the organizer. If food issues aren't something at the top of his or her mind, I can certainly see how slip ups would happen, even if they are aware of the requirements of event attendees.

food culture warriors can play on the tropes in a number of registers--not only is taking our red meat stealing our manhood but it is also an elitist attack on our working class!

yummy! aimai gots chops.

great thread, y'all.

Another thing I see (from within a designated hippie conservation reserve on California's north coast) is that all of this culture-war demonization shit has overtones of alternative suppression. Vegetarian coworkers are like Sandinista socialism, beacheads of an intolerable invasion that must be suppressed, lest the existence of alternative models threaten the stability of Our American Way Of Life.

Thus the rage. Your eggplant undermines the rigid patterns of belief and behavior that so many adopt of psychological necessity.

try substituting "urine" for "fish" and see where you get.

Not consuming urine. I doubt lj was force-feeding anyone. And people can't just pull restaurants out of their butts.

Some people whose beliefs dovetail with mine are kind of dickish, therefore I'm supposed to do something about that.

Not quite. As I see it, the problem is that food choice is a largely silent one. The main way that people are going to realize that you're a vegetarian (or a meat eater) is if you tell them. So meat eaters' image of vegetarians tends to be defined by the most obnoxiously vocal ones (like PETA) rather than the quiet majority. It's not fair, but it's the way things are. Similarly, the image that vegetarians have of meat eaters is skewed by the few who are publicly critical of them rather than the majority who don't really care.

Still, she has a point. When you have guests over, you serve them food that they'll eat, or you don't invite them.

Don't invite vegetarians to your house. Got it.

Here's how I see it. Vegetarians have a reputation for being smug or militant. The militant ones are the ones who loudly declare that there's nothing they can eat wherever they are because it is fully of filthy charred flesh. If they can't do that, then they loudly declare how glad they are to finally find someplace they can eat without having to look at disgusting charred flesh.

The smug ones are the ones that tsk tsk at how unenlightened you are for having a hamburger because you don't understand how terribly the bovine population is exploited by the giant corporations. They are noble because they are enlightened, and you might just become enlightened one day, too, if you can just get past your unpleasant habit of eating meat. Of course, they will try to enlighten you by showing you all the wonderful things they can make without having to rely on the horrible slaughter of our animal cousins. Because it's for your own good.

The vegetarians that aren't militant or smug don't register, because they aren't militant or smug.

Environmentalists, at their core, want to change your behavior for your own good. They are already getting pushback, and they know that linking up with another group that wants to change your behavior for your own good, especially on a subject as personal as the food you put into your own body, is not good for their cause.

Getting people to recycle or drive less is one thing. Messing around with Thanksgiving dinner and family barbecues and romantic dinners (and all the other cultural staples that center around food) would be a bridge waaaaay too far.

And you don't think the existence of people who are openly hostile towards vegetarians and who express that hostility without any other provocation than just discovering that a person is vegetarian... could possibly contribute towards that "overall negative stereotype of vegetarians"?

are you suggesting that a vegetarian is somehow incapable of being as much of a self-righteous scold as anyone else in the world ? is that due to the lack of meat in their diet (would we all be less preachy if we ate less meat), or are saints naturally drawn to vegetarianism?

Vegetarians are more likely to be self-righteous scolds. It is because they don't get enough animal lipids which makes them irritable because the myelin sheath of their nerves becomes thinner.

NB: The above is psuedo-scientific claptrap and should not be taken seriously. For example it totally misstates how myelin sheaths on nerves work.

tariqata: Although I think it should be possible for any caterer or restaurant to serve vegetarian food, I would imagine it often takes a lot of thought and discussion on the part of the organizer.

Yes, but that's part of organizing an event. Sometimes it comes down to specifying to the caterer or restaurant that if they don't manage to provide the meals as requested, they won't get paid. Amazing how that focusses their minds.

but at least in Toronto, on occasions when I've gone out for dim sum with vegetarians, dishes have been identified by restaurant staff as "vegetarian" which turned out to contain meat in various forms.

Yes: a Malaysian-born Chinese friend tells me that basically, so much dim sum is made with pork (or chicken) it's just not the right cuisine to invite a vegetarian to. There is excellent vegetarian Chinese food to be had, but dim sum isn't it.

I contribute to the Red Cross. Therefore, no one else does.

i had a fantastic myelin sheath confit last night. it was tingly.

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