Friday, February 15, 2008

Carnivore vs. Herbivore

Do you eat big, bloody, juicy steaks dripping in fat, glistening in gristle? Do you gravitate towards tofu and veggies, the light dishes and shunning anything remotely related to any animal byproduct? We have here the classic meat-eater vs. vegetarian/vegan debate.

People get really intense over this issue of what people put in their mouths. Take, for example, the proposed bill down in Mississippi to ban people with a BMI over 30 from eating out at restaurants. Now, totally ignoring the logistical issues (what about people on vacation, or at business meetings, or on dates, where do they eat?) and the scientific issues (there are people who are very fit and have a real BMI of under 30, but taking their weight and height into consideration would be considered obese), and the host of other random objections you could have (and there are many many many), why do people get so up in arms over what people eat? Yes, there are too many obese people in this country, yes they put a drain on our health care system, yes there are things that can be done about it (uh, say, education, or addressing poverty). But people get so uppity about what other people eat (there was a huge thread on The Straight Dope a few years ago where people were bashing a fat person for having had the audacity to buy ONE dough nut at Dunkin Donuts, geez). For instance, I know people on certain diets who insinuate constantly that their way is right and if you eat otherwise, you have a horrible diet.

So this brings me back to the question of meat vs. veggie. Personally, if you want to eat steak or veggies or cupcakes or frogs legs or chicken feet, I don't really care. Perhaps that's because I eat everything (yes, I've had chicken feet), though I do try to keep the fat and refined carbs out of my diet. Basically, I feel like it's none of anyone else's business what I want to eat (now, if I were 300lbs and my health was being impacted and my family and friends were afraid for my life and health, then intervention would be understandable, but I'm taking the obesity picture off the table, nevermind my Mississippi ramble last paragraph).

I've run into several militant vegetarians. I understand that they've gone vegetarian for health and ethical reasons. I'm fully aware of the chemicals in the meat, the horrible slaughterhouse process we have in this country, the sometimes inhumane treatment of animals, and the potential for foodbourne pathogens. I choose to eat meat anyway. Some of my very good friends are vegan or vegetarian, and the reason the it works is that non of us try to convert the others. Then these militant vegetarians come along and it seems like every conversation has to include vegetarianism at least once.

There are people who won't even date someone who eats meat, or who doesn't (see this discussion). And I respect that. I think everyone should make the decision whether it's important for them that the person they're dating has their same diet. I wouldn't have a problem dating a vegetarian, but honestly, since I cook a lot, it would make an impact to always cook vegetarian, though I have no problem with it on occasion). I've even heard the term Vegisexual used (people who only sleep with vegetarians). My problem arises with people who only want to date vegetarians, but they go out with meat eaters and then try to convert them. Same thing with smokers. I'm not a smoker, and I would prefer dating a non-smoker, though I could deal with it if someone did smoke. But I'm not going to try to get them to quit. Smoking, like vegetarianism, is a very personal health decision that shouldn't be made under pressure and should be made for the good of one's own health, and not for someone else.

Can't we all just get along? Live and let live? To each their own? (Fill in your own appropriate cliche hackneyed phrase here)


Gopi Rajaseharan said...

"Can't we all just get along? Live and let live? To each their own? (Fill in your own appropriate cliche hackneyed phrase here)"

How about "Live and let die"? If they want to smoke or drink themselves to death...(shrugs).

In many parts of the world, people think of food as just Actually they don't think about it. They just seek out and eat :) That is how I have always thought of food myself.

It is only in western countries, like the US, with their big screen TVs, condos and a life of relative comfort, that people tend to overcomplicate and overthink about such a basic necessity. If some of these people struggled in an extreme part of the planet, I bet they would stop making a distinction amongst the various types of food! I have a strong feeling that both land and marine conservation efforts will become a lot easier to manage if everyone didn't make such distinctions.

The Lethological Reader said...

Yeah, some people are totally drinking and smoking and eating themselves to death. And the thing is, if they want to do that, they're going to. All we can do is educate (in a non-judgemental way), and then we should just leave people alone.

It is totally a construct of our urbanized economy that food has become such a philosophical thing, rather than just a necessity. But I suppose that's the paradigm we live in, so we have to deal with it and try to make it as easy to live with each other as possible.

How do you think conservation efforts will be easier if people didn't make veggie/meat/etc distinctions?

Gopi Rajaseharan said...

"How do you think conservation efforts will be easier if people didn't make veggie/meat/etc distinctions?"

Oh, its just a feeling. When a given populace eats a similar diet, then the feeding needs of that populace becomes simplified. Land and marine management experts then end up dealing with much less food cultivation/inspection factors and can spend more time and resources on habitat conservation. Just a (far-fetched) feeling...

The Lethological Reader said...

But I'm not sure that's really realistic. I mean, I don't think that we're all going to go vegetarian, but even if everyone ate meat, we'd still have to grow veggies since they're important for a balanced diet. So even if everyone ate meat, there'd still be a large variety of veggies and grains. And simplifying to just two or three crops would make conservation with the rest of the land easier, but it was be boring to eat the same thing all the time!

Miss Anthrope said...

I was once convinced to convert to vegistarianism, though it was by someone who was so not because of chemicals or health benefits, but rather because of religious beliefs. I got tired of it and converted back to being an omnivore and love it, though the bf didn't so much. Oh well...

I think this veg vs non-veg contention is just as much if not more present in India. Personal experience. *nods*