Perspectives of Grey: Dietary Choice

Old Time Fast Food

Recently on The Best of the Left Podcast, Jay! highlighted a piece by Citizen’s Radio regarding their veganism.  Since then, he has been beset with all sorts of emails and voice mail messages to the point that he will not even play them anymore on the show but has posted links to each message on his web page.

What got many people up in arms over what they said was that basically, you are not a good liberal if you eat meat and they will take you to task if you disagree with them.  They were making the ethical and moral argument regarding factory farming and stating unequivocally that they are in the right.  Which I suppose means that those of us who do eat meat are wrong and inferior to their higher ethical standards.  To that I can only say… fuck you!

If you’ve read my previous post regarding The Best of the Left, then you may recall I had mentioned Citizen’s Radio in that review (although I incorrectly called them Citizen’s United)… I am not a fan.  This argument puts me over the edge on that a bit.  What annoys me the most about them is that, although they are funny together and make for some good radio/podcasting, they are becoming an excellent mirror for an understanding of what it is about those of us on the left that so piss off people, not just on the right, but people who don’t wish to be judged and belittled for the choices we do make… which is why we are supposedly against the dogmatic right!  They can be self righteous, arrogant and take pride in the fact that they take their listeners to task and will call you out for not being a “good” progressive… and a “good” progressive must agree with them…. and I can’t abide by those standards.  There is nothing progressive about political bullying.

Allow me to divulge my take on dietary choices… eat whatever you feel you should be eating.  If you wish to be a vegan, more power to you.  If you wish to be a simple vegetarian, rock on.  Want to eat fish but no other meat?  Go for it.  You say you want to eat a bunch of crap that will make you fat and increase your risk for heart attack and stroke?  It’s your body my friend.

Me… I’m an omnivore.  I have both small and large intestines.  I have incisors, canines and molars designed to eat both plant and animal matter.  Could I stand to eat less meat and more veggies, certainly, but that wouldn’t be a problem because I love veggies and fruits.  Then again, I love swine and cow a great deal as well.  Do I purchase local and organic meats as much as possible?  Yep… but I’m fortunate to live in Marin County where that is possible.

Another aspect of my way of thinking regarding meat is rooted in human evolution… and if you know me, I can tie everything into evolution.  It was about two and a half million years ago when we went from Australopithecus to Homo… and the archaeological record happened to show us that brain enlargement coincided with meat eating and the first rudimentary stone tools.  Can biology really be denied?

I am also one of the few native Californians I’ve even known who has never played with the idea of becoming a vegetarian.  I know people who are vegans, vegetarians and those who despise fruits and veggies and seem to only eat meat and processed potatoes.  I know many vegetarians who switched back to eating meat… one of whom did so for health reasons.  She was falling extremely ill due to a condition of protein deficiency that she didn’t know about… and no amount of tofu could help her.

When I lived in Hawai’i, I had the pleasure of working with this great Irish guy.  He was a vegetarian who seems to exist exclusively on brown rice and red beans.  After many years on the islands, he had become very sensitive to how much shit he got from most people there (vegetarianism isn’t very popular with locals)… and one night we, a group of other co-workers and friends, went out for Thai food.  When I began taking some of the veggie dish he lashed out at me and got angry about us “carnivores” taking the only food he could eat.  Needless to say, I didn’t take kindly to being classified “carnivore”.  Like him, I too was sensitive to what were essentially judgments being made on my dietary choices having come from California… and San Francisco no less, and I came down on him with equal measure.  “I, sir, am an omnivore… I am not exclusive with what I eat as opposed to your oppressive diet!”  The end result was a better understanding of each others’ dilemmas.  He was used to being harassed for his choices; I was used to being harassed for mine.

Can the multiple views of dietary choice at least agree to disagree?  I realize that for those making the ethical arguments they believe they are saving lives… but we will not all agree with that.  If a religious person comes to your door to preach his or her belief system and you choose to not agree, does that make you a bad person?  Perhaps to the religious person’s perspective you are… is that right?  Who among us can really judge the other on what we ingest?

This last weekend I smoked a 5 ¾ lbs. pork shoulder in order to make pulled pork.  I nursed that grill for over seven hours and honestly took a picture of that huge hunk of pig about two hours in because of its color and (in my eyes) its beauty.   I was going to post the picture on Facebook… but decided against it.  Many of my FB “friends” are various levels of vegetarian and I thought the sight of cooking meat might offend them… I’m not sure I did the right thing.  I think I did… being considerate of others feelings can’t really be a bad thing… but if I’m concerned about being honest, is it right to censor myself because I’m afraid to be judged?  What was my real motivation?  Fear or respect?

Ultimately, my view is, eat what you believe to be the right thing for you.  I won’t judge your dietary choices, and I would appreciate you not judging mine.  And if you feel the need to send me any pamphlets and/or information regarding how horrible it is to eat meat… resist it.  It will only be recycled, or better yet… used to light the coals next weekend when I barbeque some ribs.

I think I need a salad,
Cornelius J. Blahg

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