Where’s my Big Carrot money?

Big Meat is training up influencers to propagandize meat eating.

This has been around for a while. Several years ago, a student at our local high school talked up vegetarianism — I think he even got an op-ed in the local paper — and almost immediately the Cattlemen’s Association showed up at the school to give away free steak sandwiches. I think they’re running scared.

We’ve mostly* given up on red meat for a number of reasons, but one of them is that the meat industry is incredibly wasteful and damaging to the environment. It’s very sad that the Lettuce Industry or Bean Corp. isn’t knocking on my door offering big bucks to chat up their delicious vegetarian items. Moderation doesn’t pay as much as indulgence.

*”Mostly” because we’re not fanatical about it. If we’re out visiting friends or family and they serve a lunch with meat in it, we’ll say thank you and consume it — we’re mainly just trying to cut way, way back on it. Heck, if the Cattlemen’s Association shows up at my front door and hands me a steak, I’ll say thanks and include it in that night’s dinner, and also tell them I won’t ever be buying their dead cows, or encouraging others to order it.


  1. mordred says

    And yet I frequently here people complaining how meat eating is demonised and everybody attacks them for it.

    My impression was that while news media here in Germany occasionally report on the negative effects of massive meat consumption, they also seem to jump at every chance to print a negative headline on vegetarianism – for example “Vegetarian food is unhealthy!!!!” when researchers found out that (surprise, surprise) vegetarian junk food is about as healthy as junk food normally is.

  2. Paul K says

    We stopped buying beef some time ago, but like PZ, will eat it if on offer. We also recently stopped buying pork. I won’t deny that this was not so easy, for the very selfish reason that we love ham and bacon. But the factory farm industry, the environmental repercussions, and — most importantly for us — the fact that pigs are fascinating, intelligent beings who deserve not to be tortured got us past our love for eating their flesh.

    We still eat fowl, so far. We get our eggs from a local person who keeps a small group of well-cared-for chickens. We’re getting there.

  3. wzrd1 says

    I’ve not bought raw beef in years, I’ve only recently gotten a couple of prepared foods with beef in them. Otherwise, it’s small amounts of pork (think a half of a pork chop or so), chicken and look out if you’re a catfish or tilapia. The rest, a carb load and plenty of veggies.
    Other commonly consumed foods, milk, cheese, coffee, occasional teas (herbal and tea leaf types), fruits and eggs.
    Still, the cholesterol numbers are lousy, it’s a familial thing, although since I can’t tolerate statins, there are effective absorption blockers. I get enough animal products to ensure I don’t need B-12 supplementation. I do run a chronic mystery magnesium deficiency (mild) and when I fall zinc deficient, some shellfish, especially mussels will last me for months after one good serving. Might try making a fish based pasta sauce beyond the usual mussels or occasional shrimp based ones.

    Bollocks! I just noticed, I’m out of split pea soup! And no carrots and ham bone (with a generous bit of ham on it) to make more. :/
    Now, I have to huff and puff to the store for some soup, as I’m now 2+ weeks without my beta blockers and am mystified as to why the pharmacy doesn’t want to fill and deliver the damned things. Oh well, gotta get a postage stamp as well to mail my ballot.

    @PZ, no can do on carrot money, but I can shoot you along a bag of carrots. Just be warned, I never buy carrots alone, celery comes along with them. I dry the leaves for soups and a fair amount gets frozen diced and ready for stock, soups and stews.
    Oh, I’m delighted to say, I’ve finally found a walking distance market that has tofu. I love it thinly sliced and stir fried with a flavorful sauce and I make a killer tofu substituted for ricotta cheese lasagna (it still has parmesan cheese and egg). Occasionally, alternating layers of pasta in the lasagna with eggplant.
    My neighbors went nuts over the eggplant lasagna that I had leftover. OK, I had additional eggplant, so I made a second lasagna for them…

  4. seversky says

    All things in moderation. I like some veggies but for my money it takes a special kind of masochism to allegedly enjoy dishes based primarily on lentils and/or beans. Trying to hide the crime under a heavy dose of chili doesn’t cut it either.

  5. joel says

    My wife is an immigrant from China. It was only after we started cooking together that I discovered the fundamental difference between (authentic) Chinese food and western food: the vast majority of Chinese dishes are veggie-forward, with meat basically as a side, a sharp contrast to the cuisine I grew up with (in rural Iowa) where meat was almost always the centerpiece.

  6. robro says

    About 12 years ago my partner had her first 4 stents implanted. She had 2 more done a year or two later. She’s a former journalist and a great information researcher. So, she discovered and got hooked on Caldwell Esselstyn’s diet advice, which I refer to as “extreme vegetarianism”: absolutely no meat, no oil, and no refined sugar.

    For about 7 or 8 years she was adamantly faithful about not eating meat of any kind. Because we’re partners I also gave up meat except on the rare occasion when I would be out for dinner with our son. We read the books, watched the movie (“Forks Over Knives”) and even went to see his son, Rip, who had gotten the fire department where he worked in Austin to go on the diet and was on tour promoting his books about the diet.

    Our son (now 30+) is almost as adamant about eating meat and highly critical of the pure vegetarian diet. Sometimes he sounds like a preacher.

    The good news is that my partner has avoided further heart problems. She has now relaxed somewhat on the no-meat regimen. In fact we had meat several times this past week.

    And our son has started being more amenable to eating some vegetables.

    When we saw Rip he told on his dad. Once year…I think it’s Christmas or New Years…his dad will eat a whole lot of M&Ms.

  7. Cutty Snark says

    …surely the most appropriate term suspicious salad-sellers would be “big farmer”…?


  8. anat says

    seversky @6: Lentils are delicious. Last week I made lentil moussaka that vanished so fast!

    Some tricks to help make beans for people with sensitive guts (such as my spouse): wash the dry beans, and soak overnight, with a strip of kombu seaweed. The following day wash the soaked beans, then pressure cook with the kombu. Pressure cookers are wonderful. My spouse’s favorite cooking technique is to just toss anything that might possibly go together with the beans of choice into the cooker with them.

    And then there are garbanzo beans – great for curries and hummus.

  9. microraptor says

    I try to go more vegetarian for health reasons. Reducing my red meat intake has really helped. Though the one thing I don’t like are the meat substitutes: a lot of them are so heavily processed that eating one actually isn’t any better for you than eating the real thing. In my opinion, at east, vegetarian food is at its best when it’s not trying to pretend to be meat- a grilled portabella sandwich is perfectly fine on its own, I don’t need it to be a hamburger imitation.

  10. prairieslug says

    A few miles from me there is a farm that has a huge sign that says “Eat Beef” in an overgrazed eroding pasture that is right next to a wetland.
    I yell “No!” loudly whenever I see it.

  11. jrkrideau says

    6 seversky
    I like some veggies but for my money it takes a special kind of masochism to allegedly enjoy dishes based primarily on lentils and/or beans.

    As @Raging Bee suggests try Indian vegetartian recipes.

    Maybe some onion bajis as a snack? Or another lovely light lunch idea is Pav Bhaj (Mashed Veggies in a Spicy Curry with Rolls

    I am not a vegetarian but there are all kinds of great vegetarian/vegan dishes I’ll cook because they are great. Still on snacks or light meals, samosas and perogi are great. And don’t forget a side dish of kimchi.

  12. jrkrideau says

    @ 14 Autobot Silverwynde

    I can’t wait for the day that beef can be grown in a lab.

    I don’t have a link but I think there are a couple of companies already sell it—Sweden maybe?

    There, also, is the exciting world of bugs for dinner. We in North America and Europe recoil at the thought but a lot of people in a lot of places in the world regard bugs as good food or even gourmet dining.
    / Edible Insects </a

  13. gijoel says

    Maybe they can hire Jordan Peterson to spruik beef. He loves to talk endlessly and they could pay him in salted beef.

  14. wzrd1 says

    seversky @ 6, true enough, trying to disguise the indisguisable is an exercise in sadomasochism. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses.
    Although, I have had “burgers” with lentils and mushrooms that made no pretensions of being a meat replacement at all and were above and beyond the call of tasty.
    For lentil soup, I go with a bit of sumac for a spice, gives a wonderful slightly bitter, earthy flavor. Got two bags of sumac (ordered one, didn’t arrive, order got replaced and the first order finally showed up), bags of different kinds of dry beans and a bag of lentils.
    Given the number of Indian folks who complimented the soups after having them, enough said.

    gijoel, naw, pemmican. Salted beef with tons of beef fat.That’ll clog sedentary arteries like nobody’s business!

    jrkrideau, I eat enough bugs and the occasional passenger airplane while I’m asleep snoring.

  15. StevoR says

    @16. jrkrideau : “There, also, is the exciting world of bugs for dinner. We in North America and Europe recoil at the thought but a lot of people in a lot of places in the world regard bugs as good food or even gourmet dining.”

    Certain kinds of Bug are gourmet dining here in Oz – namely Balmain Bug & Moreton Bay Bug to name a couple of species. Albeit those are actually crustaceans rather than critters in the class insecta. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibacus_peronii & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thenus )

    Our First Peoples at least those living where the relevant species also live have dined on Bogong Moths and Honey Ants (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honeypot_ant ) for tens of thousands of years. Reckon they have the right idea.

  16. wzrd1 says

    StevoR @ 19, I’ve eaten those often when I was at the base in Qatar. Still prefer crab meat to “lobster”.

    Hey, maybe someone can save me some grief. I know that there are some good vegetable sources of B-12, but Google’s search has been rather poor in quality of returns for a while now, anyone know some actual good sources and citations for them?

  17. tuatara says

    Autobot Silverwynde @14.

    Unless we can culture lab meat with just air and water we will still need big agribusiness to produce the necessary nutrients, many of which can feed many more people directly.


    You could try a glass of milk to start with (if you are not lactose-intolerant). 1 cup of full-cream milk provides approximately 50% or the daily recommended B12 amount.
    More here: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/

    seversky @ 6

    And some people like oyster! Yuk!
    I actually like the taste of many vegetarian foods, even raw tofu which I am more than happy to slice off the block and eat as-is.
    Not to everyone’s taste I know, and from your comment I am sure you wont like it, but I AM a vegetarian, so there’s that.

  18. canadiansteve says

    It may be that in a move away from industrial agriculture some livestock – used for grazing fallow or non-crop land and consumption of plant products that would otherwise become waste – are actually beneficial for productivity and the animals can live lives free of torture, up until their execution at least. This likely could provide sufficient meat for a meal or two a week or small amounts spread into primarily vegetarian meals. This would be a much healthier diet that one centred around industrial meat, and under these strict conditions possibly even more healthy than a purely vegetarian diet.
    I recently watched “Eating our way to Extinction” – that should be enough to convince anyone to stop eating meat.

  19. tuatara says

    Oh sorry wzrd1, you asked for vegetable sources of B12. Well, that is a difficult ask. You would need fermented foods like kimchi, miso or sauerkraut (and plenty of them). Some mushrooms can provide a good dose of B12.

    Vegans of course love their nutritional yeast which can be very high in B12.

    But finding purely “vegetable” sources of B12 is impossible because AFAIK B12 is only produced by certain bacteria, not by animals or vegetables.

    Ruminants acquire their B12 from the fermentation of plant material inside their stomachs.


  20. Silentbob says

    @ 7 joel

    That wasn’t by choice of course! Meat was a luxury for the wealthy. Traditional cuisine isn’t light on meat because Chinese people prefer rice and vegetables, it’s because rice and vegetables were considered cheap crap suitable for the peasants to live on. So they made do.

  21. cartomancer says

    I tried eating a vegan diet once, because I was trying to sleep with a vegan friend. When he stopped talking to me, having rather selfishly refused to sleep with me however much culinary torment I put myself through, I gave up. You can make up your own jokes about putting meat inside you.

    My problem is that I just don’t like vegetables. Never have. I will eat potatoes, I don’t mind carrots or apples, and bread and pasta are ok, but the rest of that benighted plant kingdom makes me heave. People tell me to disguise the taste with herbs and spices and what have you, but I’m not a fan of those either. Most of my diet consists of chicken and cheese in some combination.

  22. birgerjohansson says

    Speaking of money, I am told Elon Musk has attacked that rich Jewish guy all Republicans think is behind the liberals.

  23. birgerjohansson says

    Soy and tofu products are still not at a level of sophistication where taste and texture can compete with meat. I hope we are getting there eventually.

    BTW, GM the legumes to provide more varied products and we will not need nitrogen fertilizer.
    Cassava/maniok is resistent to parasites in third world countries but requires major processing. Maybe plant science can solve the latter without sacrificing the former?

    And it is a century after Hugo Gernsback, but I am still not getting my food pills!

  24. voidhawk says

    @21 wzrd1

    The easiest source of B12 is just to take a supplement. Most of the B12 from animal sources comes from B12 supplements nowadays anyway since the soils that ruminants eat from is getting low on the levels of cobalt that the bacteria in their guts use to form B12.

  25. dianne says

    The basic problem with cultured meat is that mammalian (and I presume avian) cell cultures require fetal bovine serum (FBS) to function properly. FBS is currently “free” (if I understand correctly) since the fetuses show up in slaughtered cows as a bonus and so FBS production doesn’t drive slaughter. If “natural” meat consumption goes down enough and cultured meat consumption goes up enough, that equation may change. Also, this may just be my mammal-centricness showing, but killing cows to avoid killing chickens seems to me to be going backwards.

  26. wzrd1 says

    voidhawk, that’s damning in and of itself, the cobalt deficiency in soil. Granted, it’s 32nd most common element, but that’s far from rare and as you said, it’s an essential element. That strongly suggests soil depletion, signalling more dire problems for the future, such as another dust bowl.
    With a laughably simple solution – shit. Entertainingly, most of the research a quick search turned up was discussing cobalt toxicity, to a fair extent, due to mining and processing. Rather than, oh, nature recycling essential minerals and compounds. Showing we still have a blind side to our own damned nutrient cycle!
    You’ll excuse me though if I’m hesitant to take yet another damned pill in the morning. I’m up to 6 pills a day (two each being the same medication, thyroid and beta blocker). Far simpler to get it from dietary sources and well, far more enjoyable. From suggestions above, milk can work, I put enough of it in my coffee each day, cheese and I had completely forgotten fermented gems, like kimchi (yum! Gotta track a source down, otherwise I’ll be making friends by fermenting it myself).

    birgerjohansson, I doubt that basic tofu will ever compete with meat. It’s texture is its texture by nature, one has to further process it with other things and emulating connective tissues and whatnot to emulate meat texture would take a lot of work for that which has a minimal market.
    Although, I imagine some waste products from fruit processing could help add collagen to help emulate part of the textures.
    Cassava gets my attention quickly, as wild cassava is a source of chronic disease in drought stricken areas where that is a staple. Wild cassava being protected by compounds that release hydrogen cyanide in the stomach. Seeing victims in person makes an impact on you! And pisses one off, as we’ve never had any food shortages for over a century. We have regional food shortages, while regionally plowing under and tossing into dumps ridiculous amounts of foods that could be transported to areas afflicted by drought. We have a food distribution problem, due to a longstanding insistence on doing everything for a profit.
    Pity so many bastards refuse to give more than lip service to their own religions!
    What? Elon Musk attacked Larry Ellison? I’m sure he didn’t attack Mark Zuckerberg, as that meta transgression wouldn’t go well for him. I could go down quite a list, but I imagine it’s the perpetual buggerboo George Soros, who seems to not really care what idiots think about his existence, laughing all the way from his bank at the idiot kid. Soon enough, Muskrat will make his place in the world by becoming yet another addition to a universal rule, “Ignore that asshole”… It also suggests he’s flailing to get attention away from his spectacular failures, which grow only on days that end in Y.

    cartomancer, while humans do and have adapted their diet according to availability and social pressure, we also adapt our diet according to taste, texture and odor. If you use spices and herbs to disguise anything, you are fucking that anything up. We historically have used them as a disguise only when the food was falling off in quality. The rest of the time, we use herbs and spices to augment and alter flavors.
    That goes into preparation. Steamed lightly to moderately releases a lot of sugars and converts some carbs into their simpler roots, sugars. Boiled tends to obliterate and wash away those flavors. For herbs and spices, that’s up to your personal taste. I’m one to love garlic in pretty much everything, onions I prefer cooked, less irritation to my esophagus, as I have chronic GERD with fairly significant damage. Adding some fats helps with the flavor profile and carries lipid soluble nutrients along as well. Experiment until you find something you like! It’s cheap, not labor intensive, gives one something to do while waiting for other foods to be cooked and there’s a hell of a lot out there beyond salt and pepper.
    That last, a lesson I had to teach my wife early in our marriage. She came to love my spice rack, which currently is the entire top of my family size refrigerator.

    Humorous in physiology, humans can occasionally harbor interesting flora and fauna in the gut, so yeasts are normally present. On occasion, some can experience brewery syndrome – generating ethanol in their own guts on carb consumption, resulting in inebriation. Maybe call it auto-inebriation? ;)
    Ironically, we can’t host producers of vitamin B-12. No place to put the bioreactor. :P
    Not a very intelligent design for an omnivore. Don’t even get me started on the inability to generate vitamin C…

  27. voidhawk says

    #32 wzrd1

    Absolutely, soil depletion is a serious problem. The animals are eating up the soil then removed for eating before it can be excreted/ decomposed back into the soil. In addition, the amount of vaccines and medical treatment ruminants are given to make them ideal for human consumption means that the gut bacteria is killed off.

    90% of B12 supplements globally are fed directly to livestock, with most of the rest going into fortifying otherwise B12-deficient animal products like milk.

  28. donfelipe says

    I became a vegetarian nearly 15 years ago because there was no justification for eating meat (and still isn’t). It took two uncomfortable weeks in the beginning but I have never even thought about going back. Plant based meat replacements have come so damn far in that time it’s remarkable. I opt for whole vegetables, fruits, legumes, and pulses over meat replacements most of the time. There are so many more flavors and textures to taste with a vegetarian diet. Most meat eaten in the US is just filler anyway, and can easily be removed and replaced with legumes and more complex spices. Complaining about vegetarian diets not replacing whatever it is meat has are just excuses for people who are too lazy to modify their diet. Everyone is different, but people who don’t like vegetables seem truly bizarre to me.

  29. says

    @33 ANB use other than G00GLE
    I reply: YES! G00GLE keeps spying on you and only feeds you things it thinks you want based on what you have already looked up. We use duckduckgo for it is relatively honest in results and surveillance free.
    PZ. “Big Carrot money” Reminds me of talking with my manager who said ‘that’s why you get paid the big bucks!’ I replied, ‘What are you talking about? I cashed my paycheck and the bucks were just the same small denominations!’
    And, I am heartened to hear about PZ and the commenters also improving their diets with less burnt dead cattle.

  30. tuatara says

    I am constantly disappointed by constantly hearing how non-meat foods need to mimic meat in order to be included in one’s diet.

    My own experience made true the saying “hunger is the spice of food”. I wouldn’t wish hunger on anyone else but with it I learned to appreciate different foods on their own merits. Tofu tastes like tofu. Interestingly it also has the texture of tofu – from “silky” to “firm”.

    I don’t eat tofu and think “I wish this tofu had the texture and flavour of [insert your favourite dead animal]” in the same way I don’t eat a banana while thinking “I wish this banana had the texture and flavour of a kiwi fruit or I might eat more bananas and less kiwifruit”.

    No, I eat foods while appreciating the foods that I eat, not wising they were something else.

    If you believe that you should eat less meat (for whatever reason suits you) but don’t want to reduce your meat consumption because non-meat does not taste like meat (WTF!), you really should be examining your own biases.

  31. birgerjohansson says

    I like meals with a small -but non-zero- meat component. I really do not “get” big steaks, for some reason.
    Vegetarian recipes are getting better, but they require a level of cooking skill beyond my very basic level.

  32. wzrd1 says

    shermanj @ 36, yep, I rarely consume beef, save if I make meatballs. Then, 5 pounds fills multiple freezer bags for many months of sparing usage.
    I prefer pork, lamb and goat for red meats, chicken and tons of fish and shellfish and molluscs. But, for red meat, I have an adage I’ve passed along as dietary advice for decades. Eat as much meat as you can catch with this knife. The knife I pull up is either my 2 1/2 inch pocketknife or a massive 6 inch field knife.

    voidhawk @ 34, don’t get me started on antibiotics in livestock! Much of our antibiotic resistance problems originated from that shit.

    tuatara @ 37, I dunno. Given Panama disease’s advances, we might be looking for kiwi fruit that tastes like bananas soon. :/
    Don’t get me started on monoculture in agriculture, dumbest damned idea in the abysmal history of dumb damned ideas. That’s my only real objection to Monsanto’s GM plants, the possibility of spillover into heritage and even wild cultivars of the current staple crop.

    birgerjohansson, that’s why they make slow cookers. Minimal to no skill, put your ingredients in, let it stew all day and by the time it’s dinnertime, it’s ready. Leftovers become lunch at work or dinner the day after the following day. I’m funny with variety in my diet, so I rarely have the same food on consecutive days if I can avoid it.
    Leftovers being put into ziplock bags or more often, a Rubbermaid Take Along, which have a ridiculously long life expectancy. Off brands, not so much. Had one off brand that actually deformed into uselessness when I ran hot tap water into the damned thing!
    And I throw out, in total, a small kitchen trash can every 3 days, so I don’t have much waste.

  33. brightmoon says

    Sorta Reminds me of chick fil la. I got those free sandwich coupons and i enjoyed them thoroughly but I’m not giving them my money because I don’t like abusers who use the Bible as an excuse to abuse.

    I eat meat whether or not a meat association endorses it or not. I also like vegan meals especially in summer.

  34. wzrd1 says

    That is a thing, digesting meat is exothermic to a fair extent. During the summer months, when out or in the field, I mostly ate salads, which helped me stay a tad cooler than otherwise.

  35. voidhawk says

    wzrd1 @ 39

    Unfortunately, mass antibiotic treatment is necessary if we want to consume animals at the rate we currently do. Cramming hundreds or thousands of animals into a foetid barn or a crowded feedlot is deliberately building an enormous petri dish for disease. Easiest way to stop antibacterial resistance is to stop giving diseases hundreds of military bootcamps in the form of industrial animal agriculture.