Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pulled Pork Milkshakes and Flexitarianism

About 10 people read this each day, so I thought it was about time to start alienating a few of you.

So Mark Bittman tweeted a link to this article about flexitarianism.  I like Bittman, generally.  But this is bullshit.

Per the article*, a flexitarian is someone who either:
a: is a vegetarian, and then bends the rules occasionally to eat a bit of chicken or fish, or
b: is an omnivore who sometimes eats vegetarian or vegan.

I can see wanting a term for the group "a" people.  I know those people.  It's a stupid term, but ok, fine.  I've watched "vegetarians" pick the chicken out of chicken soup and keep eating.

But I think any interest in a term to describe the group "b" people is way over-simplifying the diets of omnivores**. Doesn't the omni part mean we eat all sorts of things?  This definition of flexitarian makes it sound like every meal for an omnivore would include a pot roast with a side of chicken, washed down with a pulled pork milkshake.  Unless that omnivore was doing something "weird" like not eating meat at one meal or another, and then we'd need to rename them, because everyone who eats meat is constantly eating meat.  That's all we do.  Chew meat.  It's like gum to us.  Bittman is paraphrased in the article with, "It isn't about choosing one diet over the other."  I get that "one diet" is No Meat, but the "other" isn't All Meat.  Theres a gap in the logic. 

People shouldn't eat a lot of meat - this is known.  But meat eaters shouldn't get a special medal and a new name for occasionally putting down the drumstick and picking up the mac and cheese.

Clearly, this rant wouldn't fly universally, as evidenced by things like the Meatless Mondays campaign.  If you need a Meatless Mondays "kit" to figure out how to make spaghetti and red sauce once a week and still have the energy to do whatever it is you do, you're coming from a different place than I am.

I acknowledge that all of my opinions and beliefs are shaped by my proximity to the coast.  Somehow, being near water makes people think differently than people who do not live near water.  And I've always lived near water.   

And even that small effort - one day a week without meat - gets resistance - even from people who live near water.  Maybe if it wasn't presented as a liberal campaign to take away your pork chop, and instead just "this is tofu, and sometimes, that's what's for dinner" it would be less of a battle.  Or, even veggie lasagna.  Black bean soup.  Pizza. There are a lot of fairly mainstream foods that aren't meats.

I don't track which days my meals have meat and which days they don't, and I'm fairly certain the bison bacon cheeseburger post comes from a Monday night dinner.  When I look back over about a month of posts on this blog, it's about 50/50, meatless v meaty.  If I ran in the sorts of circles where the idea of Meatless Mondays was mindblowing, I'd probably support the campaign.  It's just that I can't wrap my head around the people who find the idea of skipping meat one-seventh of the time to be revolutionary.  I've never been Catholic, but I know lots of people who were***, and skipping meat once a week was pretty much standard for them.

What I eat is by no means a model anyone else should follow.  I started this thing to tell you what I cook - and I imagine many people who are reading this have been exposed to some Bittman, some Pollan, some Nestle, or are otherwise interested in making food out of food.  That's my main interest, less of the jarred peanut sauce and more of the homemade bread.  

I'm not here to tell you what to eat.  It's cool if you eat three steaks a day, but you're not in some new class the one day you swap out your steak lunch for a veggie burger.

Email me if you're a flexitarian, or a Catholic, or Mark Bittman, or you're enjoying a pulled pork milkshake, or I've angered you in some other way.

* sure, most references to the term "flexitarian" mean the group "a" people, people who are mostly vegetarian.

** ok, I'm a giant hypocrite because of this post, but I wanted to be clear because what if some poor vegan/vegetarian person wanders over to this blog for some seitan and then the next day I make a pulled pork milkshake and she gets all upset?  We don't need that.

*** we call this the "passive aggressive past tense."  Also, I know that lots of Catholic families ate fish on Fridays, which is, and I'm coming from the non-Catholic perspective here - meat.  But lots of folks also ate spaghetti.

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