Thursday, July 1, 2010

Food Hypocrisy

[warning, this post is mostly a rant...]

I know a lot of people who follow a particular diet, whether it's eating vegetarian, vegan, raw, organic, local, or dairy/nut/gluten/wheat-free.
I will state off the top that I do see allergies as somewhat of an exception--nobody asks to have a food allergy, and as I'm muddling into the middle of it myself I certainly feel the pain of thinking "but if I can't have ___, then what CAN I have?!" and it is overwhelming. However, this post is more about people who are choosing a particular dietary style based on morals or ideals, not on allergies.

My husband (before he was my husband obviously) took a girl out to dinner once. She told him that she was vegetarian, and he said ok, well, where would you like to go? He proposed an Indian restaurant, or a Thai restaurant, knowing that both of those places would have some great vegetarian dishes. She declined. He thought perhaps that was a little to exotic for her so asked about Chinese, but she said no. Where did she want to go? A soup and salad place...and once there, her dinner consisted of iceburg lettuce with a couple of carrots and tomatoes. She said that's what she usually ate.
I will bet you anything that her vegetarianism was short-lived, because you cannot survive on iceburg lettuce, and this girl wasn't willing to branch out and explore what vegetarianism had to offer.
In the grocery stores in November I always see something frightening: tofurky. Really? Turkey flavored tofu? Does anyone else think that sounds just gross? If you want to eat turkey, then do so. If you want to be vegetarian, then make a Thanksgiving meal centered on baked potatoes, or an amazing 'stuffing' casserole, or something like that.
If you like hamburgers, then eat them. If you are concerned about the treatment of the animals, then try eating local, grass-fed beef, or humanely-shot wild moose or elk burger. If you are morally opposed to meat, then feel free to grill up a portabella mushroom cap, or make rice & bean patties (which are good, but nothing like meat). But the 'veggie burgers' that are supposed to taste and feel like meat? Oh give me a break! They are full of fillers for one thing--they may be vegetarian, but I don't for a second believe that they are healthy...and if you're just eating substitute meats, then how committed are you to a meatless life? In my humble opinion, eating meat substitutes is still supporting a culture of meat-eating, even if you're not consuming it yourself, and if you don't believe in that...

The second part of my rant is this: if you DO eat meat, then you should be willing to participate in the whole process. I remember a college roommate who wouldn't touch raw chicken--it was too slimy and gross she said. But she liked to eat chicken. After the second time that she refused to help with that part of the meal preparation I told her that she had better give up chicken or else come help, because she was being a hypocrite and I wasn't going to enable her. (Yeah, I'm blunt like that ☺) From then on she helped...squeamishly, sure, but she helped.
Last weekend my husband went fishing and brought home a bunch of wild silver salmon. Salmon isn't my favorite fish, but they are plentiful here and very healthy, and you can't beat the price (or the feeling of fulfillment of literally providing food for your family with your bare hands). So he brought home fish...which then needed to be gutted and filleted. Do I enjoy gutting fish? Oh my no. But if I am going to eat the fish then I'd better be willing to start with an actual flopping fish, bash it's head myself, and so on. Yes, I have to touch it. Yes, I am taking a life. But I eat meat--that inherently means something died for me. So I participate in the whole process, doing my best to waste nothing (the heads and bones and other parts we don't eat get tossed back into the sea, where they will be put to good use).

The honest truth is that I don't really care what diet you have concluded is best for you and your family--be it vegetarian, vegan, raw, traditional foodism, or whatever else. I think that different families in different places have different needs. BUT, whatever it is that you decide you believe in, do it all the way, ok? Don't cheat on yourself. You're better than that. ☺


One of my food idols blogs here, and she not only has lots of appetizing photos and amazing recipes (mostly vegetarian + lots of gluten-free), she also blogs about her reasons for her dietary choices, her perception of 'real food,' and her active participation in the process. Go on over to her sites, be inspired. ☺


Mallory said...

I love this rant! :D I think this is one reason why I haven't turned to completely natural and healthy foods....because I LOVE LOVE LOVE junk food, and I would feel a complete hypocrite to make my family eat healthy foods all the time, while I was still craving a McDonald's sausage, egg and cheese McGriddle!!! I believe in being open and honest about food. I love healthy foods, they make me feel good. I love junk foods, they are yummy...even though it is usually short lived. I love meat, and I am willing to touch any kind if I have to, just to prepare it. I will try new things at least once, because I can't say I don't like it, until I have tried it!

Anyway, I'm just blabbering now! Great post! :D

Katie said...

You can make very nourishing stock out of fish bones/heads!

I'm glad you are pro-Chandelle. I was pretty sure you weren't writing about her, but you never know!

Natalie Sadler said...

I've always seen vegetarianism and veganism as such a mystery. My sister and I went with a friend to an all vegan restaurant once (pretty much just to see what it was like) and we noted that everyone there looked SO sickly and unhealthy. Stick-thin women (and MEN!) with pale, ghostly skin, and with just a general aura of sickness. I'm a firm believer in the role of meat in a healthy diet (but sparingly, of course!). This may not have been a good sample of the vegetarian/vegan population, but I couldn't help but notice how sick they all looked . . .

And I'm all for eating meat, but I believe we should treat these animals we eat with respect. They are giving their lives to feed us, after all.

Good post!

Laura said...

I used to be squeamish about handling raw meat, but as I've become more experienced in the kitchen, it has become less intimidating.

My mother-in-law does a lot of research into natural, healthy living, and she has found that meat is necessary for getting enough B12 in your diet. Most of the vegetarian-leaning Dietitians even say to take a B12 supplement. Why not go the easy route and eat a little meat?

There is no way I'm giving up my sushi ;)

Loved this post.

Carolyn said...

I can totally relate to this post! When I was a teenager, I hated the sight of meat so I went vegetarian. Now I'm married to a hunter/fisherman, and we eat meat, mostly processed by my husband. I admit I don't do much of the processing part myself, but I will help out and package the meat. I have no problem with it.

katef said...

Great post!
I am still working out what I believe is a healthy diet for our family, but I an sitting her nodding along with your 'rant'.

I feel strongly about providing my children with REAL food - not pretend food substitutes. And this year we ventured into the some what scary world of eating our own home grown meat... some people were appalled that we allowed our young children not only to eat one of our roosters (which they had named - oh the horror!) but also to be a part of it's death and processing (they were not forced and only watched the bits they wanted to). But I feel strongly that this is what eating meat is about - it should not be hidden away and if we are not comfortable with any of the processes involved in killing and eating our own chickens then we need to stop eating all meat...

I know not everyone agrees... but I do find it odd that vegetarian friends can eat 'pretend meat' and then criticise us for our choices...

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