Vegetarianism – Part 2b

While writing part 3, I came across this article, “22 Reasons Not to Become a Vegetarian.” If you are interested in this topic please read it, but with a cynical eye. I did, and it bothered me.

The article didn’t bother me because it is anti-vegetarian, but because it is so misleading and cynically put together. There are lots of references, for sure, and I will be digging through some of them, but when you actually read how they are used, you will begin to realize that not one of them is used in a proper context. Once you see that, you will start to see a whole bunch of other misleading statements, unsupported claims, and inconsistent “arguments.” (I reads like a Tea Party article about politics.)

For example, the author switches back and forth between arguments against veganism and vegetarianism depending on what suits her point. She almost promotes vegetarianism in a third of it as she bashes veganism instead of vegetraianism. Most of her points are debunked, and she admits it many times, when you add dairy and eggs to a diet.

Another great example, is that she contests a claim with “References, please?” Then goes on to quote a whole bunch of studies. In her number 11 argument, she provides the references she is asking for, then some that seemingly dispute them. So there are studies for AND against the point? So its not conclusive then right?

If you read what she is contesting carefully you see that those points are written to state facts and offer vegetarian responses to the facts. They are very self-consistent. The author on the other hand tries to make universal claims about everything having to do with nutrition and diet. Oh, and I checked two of the studies referenced for this one. They study very specific cases (one involving only young males) to study the mechanisms of absorption, but the author makes wildly generalized comments about all foods and people to make her point. And what’s funny is that in the end she only disputes a vegan diet.

So why write this half post? To demonstrate how irrational otherwise smart and educated people get when they have an agenda or an emotional bias. There is nothing new in that, but with food we enter a complex social and personal space. Eating for humans is social. People almost uniformly prefer to eat with other people rather than alone (I’m not saying it’s universal, but the preference is pretty deep into our biology,) yet it is a very personal act. Nourishing our bodies is about individual satisfaction, cravings, and preferences. Hunger and taste are personal, and almost intimate feelings, yet eating is a public act that is wrapped up with every level of human society and culture. We all get into each others eating business no matter how personal it is. How, what, and with whom we eat is important and draws us into a strange place where we judge each other freely and intensely, even when there is no other reason to do so.

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