For reasons that are not clear to me, there are omnivores who get defensive when they encounter vegetarians or vegans. There seems to be a sense that members of the two groups are smug and superior and preachy about their dietary practices when in my own experience, and I know many people who are one or the other, they are not. It seems like some omnivores feel the need to defend their meat eating in some way. An indication of this defensiveness is the impulse to question the purity of the commitment of the vegetarian or vegan pointing out that they might be wearing leather shoes or something like that.
Given the complexity of modern life in which everything is inter-related, it is impossible to be pure about pretty much anything. We can only do the best we can and the fact that vegetarians and vegans may not be able to achieve 100% of their goals should not detract from the fact that their dietary practices are admirable on ethical and moral grounds.
For example, take eating kosher. We once had people over for dinner who kept kosher in their own home. In order to accommodate them, we studied the kosher laws and while we found them to be immensely complex, we tried to be as scrupulous as possible in sticking to them in preparing the meal. I later learned that we had messed up in some way but our guests did not say anything and ate what we offered even though they knew that it violated their rules. But when I told another friend, who also keeps kosher, how mortified we were about our mistake, she said not to worry about it, that our guests would have known even before coming that we, not being observant Jews, would err in some way or another and that if they were completely rigid, they would have simply declined our invitation. The fact that they still ate in our home showed that the principles of friendship and being a courteous guest took precedence and allowed them to override adherence to the strict letter of the law.
In fact, Peter Singer, the noted philosopher who is credited with spawning the animal rights movement and is as prominent an advocate for veganism as one might find, himself says that the drive for purity can actually be harmful because if people feel that 100% purity is unattainable, they may simply give up on the whole thing altogether. In his book The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter that he co-authored with Jim Mason, he says that we should not focus on small violations and he talks about a vegan who invokes what she calls ‘the Paris Exemption’.
Firestone’s dietary rules also include what she calls “the Paris exemption:” if she is lucky enough to find herself in a fine restaurant in Paris – or, very occasionally, in a truly outstanding restaurant elsewhere – she allows herself to eat whatever she likes. We wondered whether she believes that on these rare occasions, the pleasure that she gets from eating meat outweighs the contribution her meal makes to animal suffering. When we contacted her, however, she readily admitted that her “Paris exemption” is “more self-indulgence than utilitarian calculus.” But that doesn’t mean that her general opposition to eating meat is not ethical. It is, but she gives more weight to what she wants to do than she would if she were acting on strictly ethical principles all the time. Very few of us are in any position to criticize that, and most of those who do criticize it are deceiving themselves about their choices when their own desires are at stake. A little self-indulgence, if you can keep it under firm control, doesn’t make you a moral monster, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you might as well abandon your principles entirely. In fact, Firestone believes that by allowing herself to satisfy her occasional cravings – maybe once every three months – she has been able to be faithful to her principles for many years, while other vegetarians she knows have given up the whole practice because one day they could not resist the smell of bacon frying.
Singer is a utilitarian and his argument is made in that context.
There is of course, always the ‘slippery slope’ argument, that once one makes an exemption, other exemptions will soon follow, making a mockery of the whole thing. But that is something that the person trying to hold on to the principle has to struggle with, not for us who are not following that principle at all to judge them for.
Most moral and ethical principles take into account that there may arise circumstances when one has to to compromise for purely practical reasons or because of an over-riding principle that has come into play in that particular situation. To have to do so does not make the principles worthless nor make the person who compromises a hypocrite.
Rob Grigjanis says
The defensiveness of some meat-eaters reminds me of the people who objected when Pluto was demoted from planet status. A lot of nit-picking about the criteria for a body to be considered a planet…
Pierce R. Butler says
… in a fine restaurant in Paris – or, very occasionally, in a truly outstanding restaurant elsewhere …
IOW, an excuse intrinsically unavailable to the 99%.
As a vegan let me say that while the vast majority of vegans are not going to get obnoxious about their veganism, there is a small minority that does -- and tends to give everyone else a bad name. However, it is also true as Rob pointed out above that meat-eaters can get awfully defensive as well.
@Mano, you write
Therein lies the difference between something like being kosher and being vegan. Kosher laws are complex. Vegetarianism and veganism are simple to understand. They can each be boiled down to one sentence -- no animal products other than dairy and eggs (ovo-lacto-vegetarianism), no animal products other than dairy (lacto-vegetarianism) or no animal products period (veganism). That should do for over 99 percent of vegetarians/vegans. There are of course some where it gets more complex. They may not consider white sugar to be vegan because bone char can be used in its production. Likewise, some don’t consider most wines and beers to be vegan because animal products are often used as fining agents.
The other difference is that most ethical vegetarians or vegans want to convert you to their philosophy (or at the very least, push you in that direction) whereas your average Jewish person is not looking to convert you at all. This is probably why the average vegetarian or vegan is going to be more rigid when it comes to their diet than your Jewish friends. Most vegans will not lecture you every chance they get; they prefer to let their actions do the talking. You are going to be a poor advocate for your cause if you keep compromising for the sake of convenience.
The key to staying vegan in my opinion is to determine ahead of time what kind of exceptions you are willing to make. Once the lines have been drawn, stay within them. One person I know who travels a lot is vegan whenever he can but when he is on the road is willing to compromise and eat vegetarian food if nothing vegan is available. I am very strictly vegan but I am not going to bother about where my sugar came from or how my wine/beer was produced.
One Brow says
As a consumer of meat, I feel bad when people need to exclude themselves from something I’ve made (back when we had pot-lucks), or when vegans feel they can’t even eat the brownies because of the eggs. Meals are a source of community and fellowship to me, and the separation irks me (of course, I recognize it’s unfair to expect anyone to compromise for the sake of my feelings).
There’s another, IMO quite important difference. The “laws” of being vegan are laid down by people, and are adhered to on the basis that if you don’t there’s some arbitrary ethical principle that you’re violating which might make you feel bad and get other people looking askance at you if they’re judgy. The law of kosher, on the other hand, is -- we are told -- laid down not by people, but by the literal all-powerful, omniscient creater of the very universe itself, and are adhered to on the basis that to break them is to risk an eternity of torture in a flaming pit of fire, or something. It’s a pretty big difference. Which makes it all the more hilarious when people starting shuffling in their seats and saying they can make an exception this time because reasons. See also eruvs.
I have a very simple rule: If someone invites me to dinner, I will eat what they serve and do not expect them to accommodate me. After all, they invited me and I do not believe one should impose on a host. The exceptions would be if they serve something that would cause problems for me (allergy, et al) or which I would have a hard time holding down.
sonofrojblake @5: Not quite. The belief within rabbinical, Orthodox Judaism is that the rules that are to be followed are the rules Yahweh gave, whether in written or oral form, as were interpreted over the generations by a consensus of the rabbis of each generation, and that in cases of doubt about how to apply said rules one is to consult with their trusted local Orthodox rabbi. But other denominations hold other beliefs. Karaite Jews (as well as Samaritans) do not accept the oral tradition at all and stick to a more literal reading of Torah (Samaritans have their own version of the Torah in the first place). Conservative Jews accept oral tradition but believe that both written and oral laws are to be seen as a limited representation of what people at a given time and place could understand of what Yahweh actually meant, and thus they are free to do their own guessing. Reform Jews (who are the largest denomination in the US, especially outside of Hasidic enclaves) may or may not believe in an actual Yahweh who gave said laws or created the universe or whatever (faith at that level tends not to be discussed openly, they all use the word ‘God’ and everyone is free to take it to mean whatever they want) and their position is that each and every one of them should choose for themselves which Jewish custom they find personally meaningful to practice (there tends to be some accepted standard for each community for communal events). Reconstructionist Judaism believes in a god that resides in the human heart, in rules that evolved historically, and an ultimate goal of social justice (the understanding of which is also evolving) -- they follow those rules that make them feel connected to their heritage as long as this can be done in a form that is in line with their social justice values (for instance no gender discrimination is allowed). Humanistic Judaism is a non-theistic Jewish movement. There is also Renewal Judaism, but I haven’t been able to figure out what their theology is nor what their standards of practice are. (Superficially they look like Reform Jews who like Hassidic music and meditative practices.)
I cannot say anything about you specifically (or any specific individual) but if your average omnivore were served dog or horse meat they would refuse to eat it. There are things that the vast majority of people just won’t eat -- even though there is no medical reason preventing them from eating those items. The vast majority of omnivores would expect their host to accommodate them to that degree at least. The only difference between the above situation and the ones vegans and vegetarians tend to face is that it is far less common.
Raging Bee says
The law of kosher, on the other hand, is — we are told — laid down not by people, but by the literal all-powerful, omniscient creater of the very universe itself…
Meh, yes and no. Yes, God did allegedly lay down those rules, but it was more public-service information for people’s benefit than a demand with a threat of punishment. (Also, is Hell even mentioned in the OT?) IANAE, but it seems to me that the rules were agreed on by primitive people trying to eat right and not get sick, and codified as “God’s Law” to get everyone educated about it. I say all that because I’ve read of rational basis being found for at least a few Kosher rules; i.e., “don’t eat of the cloven hoof” because triconosis, and “keep your slaughtering knives as sharp as possible” to minimize suffering for the animals.
Dog meat? Carnivores don’t, I’m told, taste very good in general (not the mammals at least -- crocodile is delicious). I’d give it a go though.
Horse? Can’t see why anyone would have a problem with it. The French certainly don’t.
It is my own experience that every single person that I -know- is vegan or vegetarian is not only judgemental about what other people eat, but are more judgy about life in general.
A lot of them (again, IME) do a poor job of this judgement. They do not apply reason, they do not apply the valuable tool of emotion, they do not apply experience, they are ignorant, and they are foolish. I think the reaction of carnivores and omnivores (and everybody else) it is reasonable to expect them to react his way to veggiefolk.
“crocodile is delicious”
Mwah. Hardly differs from chicken. It’s considered delicious in Suriname (nick name: water chicken) because it’s pretty hard to get, but in a similar way as kaviar I found it nothing special.
Raging Bee @9: There is no belief in the equivalent for Christian hell in Judaism. In the Hebrew Bible there was a belief in sheol, a place where the shades of all dead go to rest, and it appears that if one dies in a state of deep sorrow or agitation it might be more difficult to achieve restfulness? (The Bible is very vague about this.) The more serious posthumous punishment for some sins is that one’s offspring might fare worse in life.
In later eras more detailed beliefs regarding the afterlife appeared, but even so no mainstream Jewish denomination believes in eternal punishment. One suffers for a while until they learn better and move on to the Garden of Eden (where there are eternal Torah study and eternal feasts of wild ox and leviathan).
During the European horse meat scandal (around 8-10 years ago), a lot of people were disgusted by the fact that they were eating horse and sales of hamburgers fell as a result (a lot of “beef” was found to contain horse meat). This drop in sales was only in areas where horse meat is not typically consumed. As far as dog meat is concerned, it is a delicacy in some parts of the world. The Yulin Dog Meat festival is protested regularly by dog lovers in the West as inhumane. These same people don’t think twice about the other animals they consume. We tend to arbitrarily classify some animals as food and others as pets. Most omnivores I know have no issues eating anything from the food category (except when explicitly forbidden by their religion) but balk at the thought of eating something from the pet category. This really has nothing to do with what the meat tastes like.
steve oberski says
The higher up the food chain you eat the more that toxins like mercury accumulate, for example tuna or shark.
There are also concerns about prion based diseases.
So there are good objective, evidence based reasons for avoiding certain types of animal protein.
Rice is known to contain arsenic and other toxins as well.
steve oberski @15:
Depends where the rice was grown and how it was prepared. White rice is pretty low in arsenic even if grown in high arsenic areas. Brown rice from California was low in arsenic last time I checked. (Though I rarely eat any rice at all.)
John Morales says
Ah, the subtle difference between principles and rules. The nod to pragmatism.
I was amused not too long ago by this story:
It Makes Perfect Sense for New York City’s Fish-Eating Mayor to Call Himself a Vegan
Eric Adams is onto something.
Having actually been hungry, with not enough to eat for an extended period in my life, I will eat pretty much anything -- including dog, raw fish, bugs… whatever. If it’s on the menu, I’ll eat it and be happy about it, and yes, I have eaten those things and others. I think that it is super cool and wonderful that people can decide not to eat things -- because that means there is enough food, and that’s fantastic! Most diets around the world were based on what was available to eat. Now, people can actually decide whether or not to eat something, as opposed to either eating what was there or starving to death. To me that’s real progress in food availability.
I don’t care what other people eat or don’t eat as I feel that’s their own business and I would hope they would extend the same courtesy to me.
Are not (most of) the kosher dietary rules laid down in Leviticus?
Jews who know that Leviticus claims flies have four legs, and that lagomorphs are ruminants may not be so comitted to the whole ‘kosher’ idea.
In regard to vegetarianism, it would be easier if meat replacement products made from soy etc. had better taste and texture, not to mention were priced to compete. I hope GM plants will solve this issue.
Rob Grigjanis says
birgerjohansson @19: Hur hur, silly theists couldn’t count to six. Far more likely that there’s an issue with translation.
@seachange: agreed. Just a short while ago when this topic was raised, I shared that I was vegetarian for nearly a decade, working with a nutritionist from the local hospital….and it didn’t work for me. Instantly, I had half-a-dozen people telling me I was wrong, and that if I only tried THIS diet or tried THAT diet, then I’d be successful. I haven’t seen any ominvores telling vegetarians and vegans that if they only added THIS meat and THAT meat, their life would be perfect.
birgerjohansson @19, no the kosher dietary rules are not laid down in Leviticus. As I said @7, there is a lot that happened in Jewish law and custom between the writing of the Pentateuch (whenever that may have been) and rabbinical Judaism as commonly understood, let alone all the other denominations. For instance there is almost no mention of any requirements regarding how an animal is to be slaughtered, which is a big thing in kashrut, and the whole hop skip and jump that got from forbidding searing a calf in its mother’s milk to having separate cutlery for meat and dairy dishes is in the Talmud, not the Pentateuch, but is considered as important as any other aspect of kashrut (except to Karaites and Samaritans, who don’t recognize the Talmud as authoritative). Also, Torah does not specify how much contamination with what kind of contaminants is permissible (it is 1/60 by volume for forbidden worms, insects and the like). And so forth.
Since vegetarians and vegans usually don’t claim a dislike of the taste of meat as their motivation I don’t see why such ‘advice’ might make sense. Yet discussions of plant-based eating often get comments about both deliciousness and claimed physical necessity of meat-eating (and now that carnivore diets are more commonly known, also claims about the harmfulness of vegetables).
I understand you tried vegetarian eating, I still don’t understand in what way it did not work for you. The reason I kept the discussion going was because you made claims that certain things were *necessary* outcomes of vegetarian eating which contradicted my experience and knowledge.
Seachange @ 11.
My experience has been the opposite.
For example, many years ago, a few months after I became a “full-time” vegetarian, I met up with my mother for an outing to some lunch event or something she had invited me to.
During the drive she looked across to me and said something like, “gee you are looking well. So much better than the last time I saw you. Life must be treating you kindly. What has changed?”
I replied,”well, Mum, I have become a vegetarian.”
To which she immediately asserted, “Oh, now why did you do that? You know that is bad for you.”
What the actual fuck?
I don’t care what other people eat. You can all eat your own faeces if you like. It is not for me to judge, so I hope you don’t judge me for what I eat.
As for leather shoes or belts, yes I do wear a leather belt, and leather shoes for work. I would prefer bare feet but it is not permitted. But I know that an animal wasn’t slaughtered just to make me a belt or shoes. Animal skins for these goods are by-products. And I would prefer a biodegradable belt than some fake belt made of persistent pollutants like plastics.
I prefer the taste of tofu (freshly made, straight out of the press is best) over some fake vegetable based “meat” that tries to taste like a cow. But I don’t care if anyone else wants to eat those products, or animals.
My sister however is another proposition. She is what one might call a “militant” vegan who regularly attends animal rights protests and those sorts of things, and she has two cats, rescued cats that were going to be euthanised if a home were not found for them. She happily feeds them cat food made most probably from offal and horse meat because she knows cats are carnivores and she supports their right to eat meat.
So, you see, it’s complicated.
Actually this happens all the time. Anytime a vegan gets any kind of health condition, his omnivore friends/family will instantly blame it on his veganism. Even if the vegan is perfectly healthy, he will be told that he is going to suffer from some future health issues if he does not add animal products to his diet. Has happened to me a lot since I went vegan -- which is why I never try and play doctor. If you tell me you couldn’t get a vegetarian diet to work for yourself, I am not going to question that. However, if you try and generalize based on your personal experience, you may get an argument from me. I remain convinced that the vast majority of people will be able to live a perfectly healthy life on a vegetarian or vegan diet. That incidentally, is the position of the American Dietetic Association as well.
John Morales says
Um, that rationalisation does not hold up.
(Good comment otherwise)
I’m a vegetarian, but Mano is right — it’s not possible in our society to live like the Jains supposedly do and harm no other creature whatsoever. Driving a car kills bugs, living in a house takes habitat away from other creatures, using plastic creates pollution — being alive causes harm.
The precept that I try to follow is “It is immoral to cause harm if I can avoid doing so with minimal inconvenience to myself.” Since I happen to live in a culture where alternatives to meat are plentiful and tasty, I have the luxury of being able to avoid contributing to the suffering that our factory farm system causes to animals. But if I was on a desert island where meat was the only source of protein, I would eat it with no qualms.
Related to the above precept, though, I have a question for the meat-eaters out there. Suppose there was a hamburger substitute out there that was indistinguishable from a beef hamburger in a blind taste test. (They’re getting close to this now.) Given that cows raised for meat experience suffering, would you still be able to justify eating them?
John Morales @ 26
Yes. I agree.
As I said. It’ complicated.
I personally have no qualms about eating horse, though I do accept that a lot of people might have personal squick about it. My personal issue with that whole situation was that if they’re lying about whether it’s beef or horse, or they can’t even tell which it is throughout a significant part of the supply chain, what the *fuck* else might be in it that they’re also lying about?
Mano Singham says
George Bernard Shaw was a vegetarian and by all accounts had robust health during his long life, riding his bicycle and doing other physical things in cold weather with no ill effects. But he said that all it took was for him to get an occasional cold or a fever and everyone would urge him to take chicken broth and the like, because they were convinced that it was his vegetarian diet that resulted in him falling ill.
John Morales says
I think it might be worth bearing in mind the context of this post.
Most people who don’t eat much meat basically do it because it’s hard to afford.
When they can, they do.
John Morales @31.
While that may offer a generalised correlation between GDP and meat consumption, I think that India should not necessarily be included in the dataset without the following qualifier:
According to the census of 2011, 79.8% of the Indian population identified as Hindu.
Hinduism is not strictly vegetarian, but a large proportion of India’s Hindu population practice vegetarianism as a matter of morality, not affordability.
John Morales says
tuatara, well, yes.
I was speaking of most people globally, not most people in India.
Using the same link as above-cited and using its first and last data points, note that China in 1961 consumed 3.32 kg per capita, and that as you advance the year the amount increases steadily and significantly, until it reaches 60.59 kg in 2017.
Considering the world’s poorest, one can well understand their inclination towards all sorts of “bush tucker” — any wildlife at hand is meat for the pot.
No need to argue the relative morality of having wildlife extinguished because villagers cannot afford farmed meat vs. wildlife being spared (not as easy as shopping in the shop) at the cost of farmed animals, where practically speaking farm animals are a renewable resource unlike wild animals, to get that it’s a complicated thing.
(And then there are those even in first-world countries who scavenge roadkill; kinda hard to say that’s unethical)
John Morales says
Good point, but…
India in 1961: 3.70 kg per capita of 459.64 million; 1 700 668 000 kg total.
India in 2017: 3.77 kg per capita of 1.32 billion; 4 976 400 000 kg total.
… though the rate of carnivory is relatively the same, the actual difference is 3 275 732 000 kg.
More than before.
A fair bit of meat, no?
I for one don’t consider meat consumption as unethical per se.
In my life, because I can choose to do so, I don’t eat meat.
I am pragmatic.
For example if it was me or the bunny, little thumper there is in my belly. But I don’t need to, so when I see that bunny I go “aw, how cute”, and let it get on with its life.
John Morales says
Nor I — but that depends on our ethics. And our ethics may differ from those of others.
Anyway, the point was that while you are quite correct about India, even the comparatively exceedingly moderate Indian consumption is a vast thing, and vaster than decades ago.
John Morales says
[Mmm, rambling. Will shut up henceforth]
As an aside, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_feral_camel#National_Feral_Camel_Action_Plan,_2009%E2%80%932013
I, my husband, his siblings, and most especially my mom-in-law, have all reached an age when “Well, what can you eat this holiday?” is a medical question, not one primarily of ethics. At 89, Mom’s diet is extremely restrictive, pretty flavorless, and getting enough calories has become a challenge for her. (Oh, and they’re healthy calories; the Great American Food Groups of polyunsaturated oils, refined sugars, and most especially sodium are very challenging for her body.)
I am an omnivore, I don’t argue with vegetarians and vegans, and before the pandemic I tried to pay attention to what guests might be medically or ethically choosing in their diets, and accommodate them properly. To me, that means that every dish on the table is vegetarian or vegan, and/or is salted with KCl rather than NaCl, or what-have-you. Friends are valuable, and should be treated well. Likewise, when we get together for a restaurant meal, we make sure the menu will offer several options for all of us.
I have omnivores in my extended family who view meals without animal flesh with suspicion, and those who would eat those meals with extreme suspicion. They feel obligated to share those suspicions frequently and loudly. Fortunately, they live far away and we never meet in person, so “loudly” means all-caps. Having spent the last four decades in a major metropolitan area, I’ve worked with, dined with, and had fun activities with a whole lot of people who seldom or never eat some or all kinds of animal. Not one of them has ever frowned at the critter on my plate and told me sternly that I am wrong to eat it.
@rgmani: If you tell me you couldn’t get a vegetarian diet to work for yourself, I am not going to question that.
And yet, anytime I posted that on the last thread, that’s all I got. “Oh, you *can’t* be a vegetarian, huh? Well, what if you tried THIS thing or THAT thing.”
As for whether I would eat a meat-based substitute if it perfectly matched meat…I repeat myself when I say, “It depends on what it’s made of.” The food intolerances that affected me as a vegetarian on a nutrionist-supervised diet would still be a problem if I ate fake meat that was made of those very same substances.
Repeating myself yet again; I am not an omnivore because “OMG, GIMME MEAT I EAT NOTHING BUT MEAT”, but because it’s the easiest and cheapest AND most nutritious way to feed myself and my family without constantly buying expensive supplements and consulting nutrition books. My diet contains a lot of vegetables and fruits, but I’m not limited solely to them.
And yet, somehow, the very people who claim that vegetarians and vegans are the very definition of kind and polite while those horrible, caveman meat eaters are nothing but rude…simply won’t take that for an answer.
@rockwhisperer; are you going to say that your ominivore friends have never had a bagel, a peanut-butter-sandwich, a plate of spaghetti or a salad or a cup-o-ramen because they become hysterical at the sight of a meatless dish? You must have unusual friends.
But if we’re playing “anecdote time”, I have more than once on business trips gotten a plate of scrambled eggs and a bowl of cereal from the breakfast buffet and been lectured by a vegan that the scrambled eggs and the milk in the cereal are going to kill me. At work I’ve come into the office with a latte made with almond milk (because I prefer the taste to regular milk) and had to shut down a self-righteous vegan that milk is for baby cows and that latte is a crime against humanity….and when told it was almond milk, still got out their soapbox for an extended whine about how milk from a cow is terrible.
Please point out one place where I asked you to try anything. I was responding to your attempt to generalize from your experience and conclude that vegetarianism/veganism is hard. Just because you had issues does not mean most people will. Frankly I am not responsible for what others say. In my very first post in this thread, I start my acknowledging that some vegans can get pretty obnoxious.
This is where my dispute with you lies. The vast majority of people will find a vegetarian/vegan diet cheaper and will not need tons of supplements. As I vegan the only supplements I need are B12 and D3. The latter has nothing to do with veganism and is due to my dark skin and lack of exposure to sunlight.
Reginald Selkirk says
@rgmani, please read for comprehension. I never said that YOU gave me grief, I said that I got grief.
And hooray for you that you don’t need expensive supplements to stay healthy on a vegetarian diet. I said that *I* (and my family) needed expensive supplements. Iron, zinc, D3, K2, the Bs…the list when on and on.
I (note the word usage!) don’t find meat to be terribly expensive; I keep chickens on a small lot and feed them scraps from the garden in season and I (again, please note that word!) buy my meat directly from local farmers who raise their animals mostly on pasture. However, if one (note that word!) wants a zucchini in January, one is going to pay dearly for it. If one wants mushrooms and the grocery doesn’t have it, one does without.
But this is just proving my point, that simply saying, “That didn’t work for me” causes a huge uprising where a bunch of people try to food-splain that something works for them, so therefore it must work for everyone.
I appreciate your inclusive approach to your guests!
One comment: There is a lot of misinformation about poly-unsaturated fatty acids, due to oils containing them being the go-to fat in the ultra-processed food industry. The oils themselves are just fine, some even beneficial. It is OK to use them in cooking or in home-made salad dressing. But since most of the poly-unsaturated fats that are consumed are in the form of ultra-processed foods there is an association between increased consumption and ill-health. This page summarizes tons of research in this area. It is long, and the writing a bit on the rude side, but you can easily find information about plenty of health conditions that were studied.
There are some people that really do regard reductions in meat consumption with suspicion. You exaggerate rockwhisperer’s claim though, as rockwhisperer said the relatives regard meals lacking meat with suspicion, and snacking on a sandwich or cup’o’noodles is not considered a meal by most people. Rather, I think rockwhisperer meant sit-down meals, cooked and served at home. There really are people that think dinner should have a steak or similar every time, and denigrate meals without meat as ‘faggy’, ‘gay’, ‘leftist’ and similar. You might not know the type personally, but they are generally conservative and frequently angry.
Omnivores typically need zero, as least not as a result of being omnivore. Yes omnivores can have impoverished dietary variety -- those that live almost entirely on snack food and takeaway come to mind -- and they may need supplements, but that is not quite the same thing.
Worlds smallest luck dragon.
file thirteen says
Apropos I was going to quote Voltaire but I’ll settle for breaking some illusions.
It’s not because we get pestered by them. It’s because too many of the dietary self-restricting have the unpleasant habit of offhandedly passing sweeping, albeit spurious, statements that support their worldview, as if they’re known truths. There’s a good example of it in your post.
No they’re not.
Holms @45: I don’t know about the rest of the word, but in the US many omnivores don’t need to worry (much) about supplementation only thanks to government food fortification programs. US omnivores in high latitude areas may get sufficient vitamin D thanks to fortification of milk (and even then, in the Pacific Northwest many adults are likely insufficient, even if not deficient). Most US adults get their iodine either thanks to fortification of salt or milk (in the latter case, the fortification comes from iodine used to disinfect containers and cow udders). And people who might get pregnant have better folate stores thanks to fortification of flour with folic acid. All these programs were introduced because people on a typical omnivorous diet were not getting sufficient intake. With the growing interest in various non-typical diets it might be a good idea to fortify some of the foods that are commonly consumed in the context of such diets. (Milk substitutes are already often fortified with calcium. Why not vitamin D and iodine as well?)
And also rethink the existing programs. For instance, among the biggest groups with dietary insufficiencies are probably the elderly. And yet, they are less likely to benefit from the current programs, as many of them limit salt due to hypertension and limit or avoid milk due to lactose intolerance. So perhaps find other/additional foods to fortify, based on the target population?
There are also controversies around folic acid fortification. One is that there is some evidence that while folic acid does not cause new cancers, it may accelerate the growth of existing colorectal cancers (this is the reason given for not using folic acid fortification in Israel, and instead encouraging supplementation among women of reproductive age). Another is that folic acid is not the active form of the vitamin, it needs to be converted in the liver. Some 20-40% of white and Hispanic Americans have a genetic variant that makes the conversion process less efficient. At the same time the inactive folic acid reduces the efficiency of absorption of active folate from food. As a result, some of the carriers of this genetic variant may actually experience a deficiency in folate (all depends on the kinetics of absorption and conversion, as well as quantities and timing of ingesting fortified foods vs foods containing active folate). It is possible that some of the rise in claimed gluten sensitivity over the last decades is actually attributable to folate insufficiency.
I actually went into this on the last veganism topic. Copy/pasting the response here
Yes, vegan food is deficient in B12 but not because of some mysterious property that animals have that humans lack. B12 is produced not by any animal or plant but by bacteria present in the soil and water. Unfortunately, since we wash our vegetables and sanitize our water, that source is not available to us. These bacteria are also present in our guts but they are too far down for us to absorb a significant quantity of the B12 they produce. So, we either need to consume animal products or take a supplement. Interestingly livestock also have the same issue as we do with regards to B12 — so there are plenty of livestock B12 supplements on the market. Directly or indirectly — chances are that everyone is consuming B12 supplements.