45 thoughts on “Meat Eaters of the World, Unite!

  1. Chris brought up the point in the previous thread about just how terrible science reporting is.

    I just want to point out that as a subset of science reporting, reporting on the outcomes of nutrition studies is notoriously dim-witted.

    I may be pointing back to this comment a few months from now, when I expect another stupid news story might possibly ensue.

    I think all of this reveals just how essentially flawed is our understanding of how diet and nutrition works. It’s all about balance, and Western culture is often incapable of anything but extremes.

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    • Energy balance is all but impossible to maintain, because the human body is highly adaptable. Unless you cut energy in to the point where the human body cannot lower it’s base metabolic rate any further (starvation rations, basically — doing so has it’s own implications for health) your body will quite handily adapt to changes in diet.

      You’ll have less energy, but that’s because you’re eating less. But you won’t lose much weight. (It’s why ‘fad’ diets work at all — and why it doesn’t last. You make a radical change, your body takes time to adjust. Then it bounces back).

      And of course, how badly your body demands food is also apparently quite variable.

      If you want to be depressed, dig into the science of weight loss. “Eat less and exercise” is, sadly, less important than things like “Were your parents overweight” and “What is the breakdown of your gut bacteria” and a whole host of other things.

      I’ve gotten the distinct impression, reading on the topic, that your weight is far more out of your control than you want to believe. (Which is depressing. If you’re fat, that means there’s very little you can do to change it. If you’re skinny, it means you aren’t some paragon of health — and whatever your diet is won’t help someone else).

      I mean when you read that the outcomes of lap-band procedures has more to do with your gut bacteria specifics than how closely you followed your diet, I mean good lord. If basically reducing your food intake by 2/3rds and putting you on a restricted diet is less critical to the end result than what bacteria live in your gut…..

      My skinniest friend (who is quite skinny and also my age) lives — well, lived — on fried food and beer. Until his doctor pointed out his cholesterol levels and forced him to eat a bit better. I’d gain 30 pounds eating like him, and I’m more active than he is!

      Him being skinnier than me isn’t diet and isn’t exercise. What is it? I dunno. Genetics? Gut biome? Some weird body regulatory thing set when he was 8? No idea. I just know that the guy takes in more calories than me, despite weighing a lot less, and he is a total couch potato. And he’s a heck of a lot skinnier than me.

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  2. I theoretically have nothing against any dietary choice.

    But now, let me go totally off topic and rage against all the straw vegans who yell at me out of the blue if they so much as spot a slice of cheese on my plate, even going so far as to imaginarily burst into my home and berate me at the breakfast table, before the coffee is even ready.

    Why I was recently at a dinner party that I totally didn’t make up, at which a vegan with skinny jeans and a purse full of Greenpeace leaflets and I’m pretty sure small horns cunningly concealed by her hairdo, body checked a harmless butcher out of the kitchen door, rushed the stove, and soon had the hostess in tears because she had fried mushrooms in butter (that was the only non-vegan food at the whole party, a fact about which I am in no way resentful because I insist that I support freedom of dietary choice).

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    • The joke that always makes me giggle is a variant of this:

      Evil Terrorist: Before I kill you in service to my ideology, do you have any last words?

      Vegan: I’m a vegan.

      (Honestly, you can replace the “evil terrorist” line with pretty much anything. It can be a wedding and have the minister say “speak now or forever hold your peace”. It can be a board meeting and have the CEO give a speech about needing fresh ideas. It can be a 1980’s druglord film and the bad guy yells “say hello to my little friend”. It just hits me in the right spot.)

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    • When the entire “no animal products” at all become a thing in Western vegetarianism? Most vegetarian-leaning societies like India seemed undisturbed by dairy or non-meat animal products like honey consumption. Western vegetarianism followed a similar practice for decades than suddenly veganism became a thing. The distinction between vegetarian, meat no but animal products are fine, and vegan, no animal products, doesn’t even make much sense more. Vegan and vegetarian seems to be used interchangeably these days or rather nearly every one adopted the strictest practices.

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      • Did nearly everyone adopt veganism? Or are vegans just the ones one hears discuss their dietary restrictions, because vegetarians continue eating the nachos and frijoles but leaving the fried beef at potlucks, while only vegans and people with allergies have to ask after ingredients before they take the lentil soup?

        (I ask honestly – it does seem like I know a fair number of vegans, and of vegetarians, but not a lot of ex-vegetarian vegans. Also a few people who, upon learning there is a vegetarian or vegan in their midst, will wax obnoxiously lyrical about how awesome not only this roast beef is, but also the general greatness of beef in all its forms)

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      • Vegan and vegetarian seems to be used interchangeably these days or rather nearly every one adopted the strictest practices.

        This may be a local thing- I know many vegetarians, pescatarians and non-red-meat eaters, but only a couple vegans (and one is for medical reasons and would *love* to be able to eat more kinds of food). None of them conflate the term, though, and most non-vegetarians I know tend to make the opposite mistake- they don’t know what vegan means, and confuse it with ovo-lacto-vegetarian.

        For the couple of non-health-motivated vegans I know, they cite animal harm and environmentalism as their reasoning. If you’ve ever visited a conventional dairy or egg farm, you’d probably agree they have a point. (And one person I know is a vegan for health reasons.) Honey is another thing altogether, but none of the vegans I know avoid it.

        I am of the opinion that there is nothing wrong with eating animals and animal products, but I see no need to torture animals beforehand. I have the luxury to afford ethically raised meat, so that’s what I eat. It’s a personal decision, though, and I don’t begrudge others who choose otherwise.

        Also, I’m having a hard time believing Americans invented veganism, given what I know of Jainism.

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      • There aren’t that many vegans out there compared to vegetarians, but I don’t think there are any vegetarian fundamentalists, while vegan fundies, like Daesh, are VERY VERY loud about their religious beliefs (I don’t think PETA goes around beheading people, but I can fully believe that their board would be happier if they had an army and some territory to control.) Most vegetarians aren’t exposed to dairy & chicken farming, so they don’t get to see the unhappy side effects of dairy & eggs, and pescatarians have the perfectly reasonable attitude that most fish are almost as stupid as domestic cats, so they (fish, not cats) are acceptable food.

        But — thanks to PETA — https://xkcd.com/385/ applies to vegans too.

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  3. I was in the process of writing a post about a situation I’ve been following between the fitness and vegan communities on YouTube, with the focus primarily on a vegan YouTube channel run by some idiot kid, but the post got to the point where it became a 2,000 word-plus exercise in hippie er vegan punching. Given that I published a post that was sharply critical if not venomous towards the anti-GMO movement (and an occasional commenter / guest poster who has not been seen since), I felt that it wasn’t an appropriate subject for OT.

    The problem with the vegans, especially the more obnoxious ones online, and it’s the same problem I’ve found with the die-hard low-carb/keto/Paleo types, is that diet stops becoming a personal choice and becomes dogmatic to the point where people feel the need to spread the gospel to everyone and anyone. That in of itself can be a pain in the ass, but at the point where these advocates go beyond the strongest arguments (i.e. moral and ethical reasons) and fall into the realm of lies and pseudoscience, which is what happens when they start to argue how their diets are nutritionally superior, my bullshit detectors go off.

    It’s almost funny to watch Paleos and vegans fight it out when both of them make the same idiotic anti-evolutionary claims in support of their respective diets, with one saying humans haven’t adapted to eat meat and the other lactose, grains, legumes, etc.

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    • I see your problem – you read youtube comments.

      The set (people who comment on youtube) has intersections with pretty much every other largish set except maybe (Amish people). Trying to broadly apply to any set (S) conclusions drawn from observing the intersection of (S) with (people who comment on youtube) is a great way to support the contention that (S) consists entirely of boorish idiots.

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      • While I read the comments (some of them), my issue was the content of the channel itself and the blatant lies and misrepresentations that were being made. Granted, I can make the same claim for any number of fitness channels (Mike Chang’s Six Pack Shortcuts is beyond awful).

        It doesn’t seem like I made this clear above, but my issue is less with practicioners and more with the vocal, holier-than-thou activists. I’ve seen them on YouTube, but I know better than to directly deal with them there. However, I have had personal encounters. Sadly, they don’t involve horns or soy-protein-powered attempts to body check me away from a poor defenseless stick of butter.

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        • Ah, I see. The same could go for most things, couldn’t it? Vocal, holier-than-thou activists with a disregard for the truth are a widespread plague.

          I don’t know much veganism-focused advocacy video producers might diverge from any other focus area in their BS-to-accuracy ratio – paleo diet, clean energy generation, fossil fuel promotion, electoral reform, the-election-system-we-have-now-is-fine, marijuana legalization, marijuana criminalization, etc. etc.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if grand dietary theories in general, and veganism in particular, were somewhat worse-plagued with ranty truth-disregarders than the average.

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    • Dave: becoming a personal choice and becomes dogmatic to the point where people feel the need to spread the gospel to everyone and anyone.

      Personal Rule: If you are defending a lifestyle choice so hard you are now on the offensive, it’s probably a bad choice.

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  4. As a generally carnivorous person with some fairly close vegetarian/near-vegetarian/vegan friends, I hold a special place in my anti-heart for restaurateurs on the meat side and those on the veg side due to their refusal to compromise. Really, how hard would it be for a diner with 20-30 items on its menu to get some vegan/vegetarian options other than “salad”? (Or for a mostly vegetarian place to buy some burgers). I mean, this is money on the table here.

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    • There is a cost associated with developing a menu, from decision making about what to offer, in the printing of the menu, and the work to make sure cooks know how to prepare dishes, as well as making sure ingredients are on hand.

      If I run a restaurant & I see one or two vegans a month, how much money is really being left on the table versus the cost to explicitly cater to them?

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        • Sure, we can expect a pizza shop to hold the cheese, but expecting them to have fresh kale available as a topping is a bit much unless it’s a common request from their customer base.

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              • Most restaurants I know have at least one vegetarian item (often not vegan).

                But “call ahead” isn’t unreasonable. If that’s what you want someone to do, though, put it on your website and menu. Because that way they know. (I’d hate to nix a restaurant simply because their menu changes every week…)

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                • I recently returned from a long vacation. My fellow eaters were vegan and gluten intolerant (real celiac’s disease) and a rabid eater of almost anything (me).

                  Even given the language barrier, when someone called ahead, or we provided a note written in the local language, the gluten intolerant and the vegan rarely had a problem. Typically, the waiter would say “no” if someone queried if they could it that item. or less likely, he would check with the chef.

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      • There is also a second consideration, which is the effect one or more members can have on a group decision, and most restaurant choices are group decisions. If you’ve got four people deciding where to eat, a vegetarian/vegan may veto a restaurant for the whole group.

        (I’m that veto point with seafood- I don’t care for most of it. People like me are the reason there’s usually a token chicken or beef item on the menu at most seafood places. I’m not such an unreasonable ass that I won’t occasionally suffer mediocre chicken* if everyone else wants to eat them some crab cakes, but if there’s nothing? Well, then we’re probably all going somewhere else.)

        *True story, there’s a popular local seafood place that has exactly 2 non-seafood entrees on its extensive menu, and one of those is some seriously good ribs, which caught me completely by surprise. So now I not only don’t mind going there, I’ll suggest it, since I know the ribs are so good!

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        • gingergene: which is the effect one or more members can have on a group decision, and most restaurant choices are group decisions.

          Sure, but that falls within the same consideration – how much money is being left on the table versus the cost to formally develop a vegan friendly menu AND keep the ingredients on hand. If there is a strong vegan/vegetarian community in the area, even the steakhouses will offer something to cater to those members, but if there isn’t…

          Never been to Dublin, not sure on the demographics with regard to dietary choices. In the Puget Sound area, you’d be nuts to not have something, especially if you get a lot of foot traffic.

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