GoVeg.com

Vegetarians get my grudging respect. They don’t eat meat – the tastiest part of the  human diet – as a matter of choice. In terms of sheer self-denial and willpower, that’s impressive. And while the environmental benefits of that choice may be somewhat overplayed – the contributions of soy production to deforestation in the Amazon is never brought up, for example – it’s true conventional meat production is a ghastly, unsustainable industry. That said, the bullshitometer went into overdrive when I saw this.

Attention, shoppers: Stop picking up dead “Babes” and “Wilburs” at the grocery store! Here are our top 10 reasons to keep pork off your fork and put delicious Babe-free alternatives on your shopping list instead.

Ahh, the argument from emotion, always a favorite! More absurdity after the jump.

#1.

The number one clue for the evolution of the human diet is as follows: what tastes good today was good for you in the past. Sugar – in the minute amounts we encountered for the first 150,000 years of our existence as a species – is very, very good for you. Quickly accessible energy (in the form of carbs) are helpful for hunting, tracking down a wounded bison, dreaming up the wheel, whatever. Early human individuals who sought out the taste of sugar had a better chance of survival/reproduction and thus, passed that affinity onto their offspring.

Same with meat. Protein was a rare but highly valuable foodstuff. Meat packs on the protein – and in nature, muscles – like nothing else. Meat is not bad for you. Sugar is not bad for you. Eating tons of low-quality, processed imitations is. Dial that back a bit and you’ll be just fine. Hell.

#2-#9

N/A. If you buy pork from responsible, local producers who treat their animals with the respect they deserve, these arguments – if you can even call some of them arguments – do not apply. As an indictment of factory farms and CAFOs, this works. But if I drive out to Jim and Deanna Crocker in Hallsville and see their happy pigs doing happy pig things, not so much.

#10

Sure, I’ll try “faux ham” or “fakin” or whatever. Why not? Maybe friend of the blog (and veggie-blogger in her own right) Jennifer could even provide a couple of tips for using the stuff. Just don’t expect it to replace the (lovingly raised) bacon I’ll be curing later this week.

Conclusion:

Absolutism rarely wins over converts (known anyone who’s changed their minds on abortion lately?). If the GoVeg.com people had acknowledged that traditional farms, run by people who care for their animals, exist at all I’d be far more inclined to take them seriously. That willful omission dissolves their argument. The only argument that would remain – that eating meat is intrinsically immoral no matter how it’s produced – is never made.

So keep eating pork. Just less of it and of a higher-quality.

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Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

7 thoughts

  1. As a vegetarian, this is one of my pet peeves as well. I am partially convinced that some people become vegetarians for the moral superiority they can feel while then munch on their GMO soy veggie burgers processed from who knows where.

    I would be – for the sake of fair disclosure – one of those people who went vegetarian “for the environment”, however I have a number of caveats. I never liked meat a whole lot to begin with, I would always halve or quarter the amount of meat called for in a recipe, I am also concerned with food miles, pesticides, and many other things, which means fortified, enriched, well traveled products are not things that I eat very often. (I make an exception for hempmilk due to my dairy allergy, but I will admit that it isn’t the same. Not to mention, faux meat tastes like a dirty sock, so does tofu, tempeh, and seitan, don’t let anyone fool you, this stuff is nasty.) I try to eat as locally as possible and I factor in food miles in my food purchases, hence I rely on beans, other legumes, grains, and whole foods for my nutrition.

    But enough about me – the point you bring up is a very good one. Vegetarians who eat enriched, highly processed, or exotic foods regularly are likely doing more to harm the environment (and we aren’t even touching on social and economic justice!) than an omnivore who sources all their food locally. I get irritated, admittedly, when I see all these “ethical” arguments as it seems to me that these arguments are selective and they ignore the fact of suffering as part of human life – not that we should encourage it of course – but they act as though their eschewing meat is akin to being some sort of hero, while they ignore other aspects of their life that contribute to suffering. Opinions and behaviors rooted in emotion or faith are the hardest ones to argue though, and purity of principle, such as contained in the “mantra” of an ethical vegetarian, is fleeting at best, impossible at worst. By calling the pig “Babe” they are pulling on emotions and using guilt – great way to spread the message!

    You bring up probably the best point to be made about diet – and well, anything really – and that is moderation. In moderation, there is nothing wrong with eating meat, just as there is nothing wrong with having a beer or a candy bar. You take it too far and you are going to have problems – but don’t blame meat eating in and of itself. As a vegetarian, I really get tired of hearing the bullshit (excuse my language) argument that humans are “naturally herbivores” and that all killing of animals for food is wrong – perhaps in someones dream world, but let us use common sense and sounds judgment.

  2. Good points all, Jennifer. And great to get the thoughts of a vegetarian on this. Less meat, not no meat. More vegetables, not all vegetables (for me, anyway). Is that such a crazy way to eat?

  3. Indeed. I’ve always wanted to take those PETA types out to a real farm and show them the difference. We eat meat occasionally but regularly, mostly from sources we raise and slaughter ourselves.

    It’s nice to see a vegetarian railing against highly processed vegetarian “food”. That sort of thing drives me nuts as well. I don’t believe in pretending; either eat the real thing or eat food that naturally doesn’t require it at all.

    I’ve often wondered if ethical vegetarians really think through how food is produced; are they aware that dairy requires the regular breeding of animals and killing of most of the offspring, or that most farms are fertilized with the manure of doomed animals? Some “organic fertilizer” is made from composted chicken litter from industrial feedlots. We don’t use such products, but many certified farms do.

    I’m curious, Jennifer: have you heard of “veganic farming” and what do you think of it? The idea is that regular farming, even small/organic, requires the death and mistreatment of animals, through the use of manure and other items. Certainly the produce on our farm is soaked in death, as we use a great deal of manure (from local, sustainable sources) that was generated by doomed animals. So veganic farmers use no animal products whatsoever to ensure their fertility, thus closing one of the ethical loopholes in vegetarianism/veganism. Thoughts?

  4. Hey, the whole universe is “soaked in death.” It’s part of the deal. I wonder if “veganic farmers” could explain how we’re supposed to get life if nothing dies (stars, for example, give off the heavy elements that make life possible, eventually losing enough mass to sustain the reaction and thus, “dying”).

    Or do stars – not having a face – not count? Seems like a trivial distinction to me; but whatever, too much coffee for someone this morning.

  5. Eric – I too have wondered about ethical vegetarians – especially, as you say, in how they regard their consumption of dairy as ethical or their consumption of highly traveled very processed products as “better options” for the environment. Again, as I noted earlier, I think a lot of the problem is a fair amount of idealism and naivete. It seems that some truly believe that life can be lived without any outside suffering or sacrifice – this is a fantasy land, you think we have a population problem now! Hyporcrisy is everywhere, some of us are unwilling to acknowledge our own.

    I have heard of veganic farming. Personally, I think it is silly. I mean, in all honesty, I have no problem with veganism, but I do not think the diet or the lifestyle is really all that “natural” or truly feasible in a sustainable world. I mean, vegans, in some ways, separate themselves from the natural world more than anyone else. They seem to think that they can live and consume what they need to live without the consumption of any animal products, bi-products, labor, etc. In my opinion, this would not be possible in a sustainable world. To me veganic farming is just an extension, there is nothing wrong, or even inhumane in my opinion about using fertilizer, but some people feel differently and cannot handle inconsistencies in their worldview (though inconsistencies still exist if the vegan drives a car or takes medicine, both of which contain animal biproducts). To me, this kind of farming is pretty unnatural, and I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it requires the use of synthetic inputs in place of manure – this is again, in my humble opinion, unnatural. I may not eat meat, but that does not make me a saint. Certainly things suffer for me to eat my local veggies, but I also think animals have their place in agriculture, should be used – as they always have been, and that we must accept that as animals ourselves, as PART of nature, we are part of that cycle whether we like it or not.

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