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Veganizing Anthony Bourdain
March 25, 2008 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Hezbollah-Tofu Renegades systematically vegetarianize recipes from antiveganist chef Anthony Bourdain, who wrote (in Kitchen Confidential): “Vegetarians, and their Hezobollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn.”

Bourdain continues (autobloggatio): “To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food.”

With his recipes veganized, does this make Bourdain all hat and no cattle, so to speak?
posted by joeclark (181 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Eat what you want to eat. Let others eat what they want to eat. I call this the two plate solution and it is the key to freedom and peace in the middle feast.
posted by srboisvert at 12:01 PM on March 25, 2008 [37 favorites]


I love their response to his quote. I still eat meat though.
posted by mrbill at 12:06 PM on March 25, 2008


"Anthony Bourdain, who wrote ... “Vegetarians, and their Hezobollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn.”"

As Gordon Ramsey (who also derides vegetarians) says, don't blame your tools. Any chef worth a damn can make great food without meat. (Not vegetarian, myself, but some of the best meals I've had were.)
posted by krinklyfig at 12:14 PM on March 25, 2008



With his recipes veganized, does this make Bourdain all hat and no cattle, so to speak?


I don't know, but it probably makes his recipes pretty flavorless.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:18 PM on March 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


I kid (kind of)
posted by Navelgazer at 12:18 PM on March 25, 2008


Surely with less people eating meat there is more for those who like it and with less need for intensive rearing methods, the quality increases?
posted by i_cola at 12:28 PM on March 25, 2008


So, they set out to prove him right? (About them being a persistent irritant, etc.)
posted by The World Famous at 12:31 PM on March 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Any chef worth a damn can make great food without meat.

Definitely true. It's also definitely true that any chef worth a damn can make a wider variety of even better food (because of the increased possibilities) with meat.
posted by Justinian at 12:34 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Great, yet another food blog that I'll check at least once a week. Just what I needed.
posted by slogger at 12:36 PM on March 25, 2008


Why would you want to vegetarianize a recipe that was meant to have meat in it? What’s the point of that? Wouldn’t it be much more effective to emphasize delicious vegan recipes? Even this stubborn meat-eater knows there are plenty of those.

“Hah! I just cooked a pot roast without a roast! That’ll show ‘em!”
posted by bondcliff at 12:36 PM on March 25, 2008


I don't know, but it probably makes his recipes pretty flavorless.

His recipes are pretty flavorless to begin with.

Anthony Bourdain is a professional Anthony Bourdain.
posted by solistrato at 12:37 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm confused about what their point is. So they can make vegitarian versions of his dishes, but why would he or anyone else care. How does this prove that meat is not tasty? All they proved is that veggies can be tasty and pretty too, which was not Bourdain's point or charge.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:39 PM on March 25, 2008


Two assholes don't make a nice person, as the old saying goes. Although the dishes look quite good.
posted by GuyZero at 12:41 PM on March 25, 2008


So they made inferior versions of his dishes, and that proves what exactly?

(Other then as The World Famous points out them being a persistent irritants)
posted by Jezztek at 12:42 PM on March 25, 2008


Why would you want to vegetarianize a recipe that was meant to have meat in it? What’s the point of that?

I guess if they don't do that, their cooking won't be special. Anthony Bourdain can cook plenty of dishes without meat, so if that's all they do, they're just chefs without a lot of range. It's this vain reaching that turns most people off to vegan cooking.

Sorbet is great. Tofutti sucks. Pasta with morels and olive oil is great. Spaghetti and mockballs are nasty. Tofu baked in peanut sauce is good. Tofu shaped like a weenie and stuffed in a bun is gross.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:43 PM on March 25, 2008 [12 favorites]


At least he didn't compare us to Hitler.

I have a dear, dear friend who is a major foodie, formally a chef. Like Bourdain, she tends to be very dismissive off anyone who chooses not to eat certain foods. When she was dating I got to hear play-by-plays of how her dates ordered, what they asked the waiter, etc. She would wonder if a guy who didn't like mushrooms was worth a second date. Not liking olives was a flat-out dealbreaker. As far as she's concerned, people with food allergies should suck it up, as it's probably all in their heads anyways. All in all, she's got a lot more opinions about what people should and should not eat than any vegetarian I know, and we're supposed to be the self-righteous busybodies.

She will, however, put her preferences aside and cook, without complaint or comment, amazing meals for her vegetarian friends, because one thing any chef worth a damn would never do is insult her guests.
posted by hydrophonic at 12:44 PM on March 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Sorbet is great. Tofutti sucks. Pasta with morels and olive oil is great. Spaghetti and mockballs are nasty. Tofu baked in peanut sauce is good. Tofu shaped like a weenie and stuffed in a bun is gross.

This.
posted by birdie birdington at 12:48 PM on March 25, 2008


So, they set out to prove him right? (About them being a persistent irritant, etc.)

Yes, but now they are being a persistent irritant by increasing the number of vegetarian recipes that people are aware of, instead of reducing the number of viable recipes by ruling out those containing meat. They're being irritating for a very opposite reason, and I applaud it. Anyone with a morality based around something so petty as maximizing the good sensations you get in your mouth as the stuff that keeps you moving passes through it for a few brief seconds deserves as many thorns in his side as space allows.
posted by invitapriore at 12:50 PM on March 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


WANT.

I love tofu and meat. So sorry vegans -- I'll use your recipes, but I can't promise that I won't do something crazy, like add cheese.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 12:53 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


When she was dating I got to hear play-by-plays of how her dates ordered, what they asked the waiter, etc. She would wonder if a guy who didn't like mushrooms was worth a second date.
This further backs up my belief that foodies suck all the life and enjoyment out of eating.
posted by deanc at 12:54 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I try not to eat too much food anyway, so I have plenty of room for alcohol.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:59 PM on March 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


This further backs up my belief that foodies suck all the life and enjoyment out of eating.

Extremists will suck the fun out of anything. You ever talk to an eighth grader who's just discovered Rush?
posted by bondcliff at 1:01 PM on March 25, 2008 [11 favorites]


Anthony Bourdain's own Les Halles cookbook is a pretty by-the-numbers traditional French bistro book. His recipes for, say, cassoulet, roast chicken or pot-au-feu are pretty much standard copies of traditional formulations little changed from those found in Patrica Wells' Bistro Cooking or The Gourmet Cookbook. The only difference, maybe, is that Bourdain includes recipes for heart, tongue and kidneys.

And I only say 'maybe' in that I don't have Bistro Cooking handy for reference, but I'm also pretty sure that Wells didn't shie away from the offal.

Bourdain has always struck me as being awesome in the way that Samuel L Jackson is/was awesome. Jackson is not a grand thespian, but he is entertaining and he takes pride in his ability to say 'motherfucker.' Jackson fills his roles with such gusto that you're just happy to watch him walk around a screen saying motherfucker in a varying array of cadences. The only tragedy with Jackson is that he thought that he could build an entire movie based on that one word.

In that same regard, and partially to paraphrase from his intro to the Les Halles cookbook. Cooking is not in Bourdain's blood. It is not his genius. Eating well is in his blood. Enjoying food in all of its stages (procurement, prep, consumption) is his trademark. To rag on Bourdain as being a mediocre chef misses the point of his bankability, and underlines why his big TV show is not a cooking show, but a travel show.

But if No Reservations continues its navel-gazing direction of being Anthony Bourdain and his favorite cronies (*ahem*VancouverEpisode*ahem*) then it's likely to become his Snakes On Plane too.
posted by bl1nk at 1:01 PM on March 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


I've been working on a year-long project to add meat to every recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook. Mostly I just sprinkle crumbled bacon on top of everything. I believe this proves something.
posted by turaho at 1:06 PM on March 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


I missed the part where Bourdain is a good chef. All I see is him smoking and drinking... surely smoking fucks up one's palete...
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:06 PM on March 25, 2008


His recipes are pretty flavorless to begin with.

I've cooked every recipe in his Les Halles cookbook. You're absolutely wrong, and I'm not sure it's from ignorance or malice.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 1:06 PM on March 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Les Halles sucks, at least for vegetarians. Not recommended at all. The wine list was disappointing as well.

Thanks for the veggie resource. Always looking for more ...
posted by mrgrimm at 1:17 PM on March 25, 2008


bondcliff: Extremists will suck the fun out of anything. You ever talk to an eighth grader who's just discovered Rush?


If you're talking about Rush Limbaugh, then your statement implies there was actually fun in him to be sucked out
(by an 8th grader? Filthy & Wrong on so many levels)


and if you're talking about RUSH, then WTF?


(and if you're talking about Rush, the band...I have no response to that.)
posted by mer2113 at 1:19 PM on March 25, 2008


In that same regard, and partially to paraphrase from his intro to the Les Halles cookbook. Cooking is not in Bourdain's blood. It is not his genius. Eating well is in his blood.

I couldn't agree more. Anyone who likens Bourdain to Thomas Keller or Judy Rodgers probably hasn't eaten at Les Halles. Les Halles is pretty straightforward bistro fare with a lot of traditional bistro preparations, not the haute cuisine one would find at a three-star Micheline restaurant. I don't recall Bourdain claiming himself to be of that level.
posted by slogger at 1:21 PM on March 25, 2008


And who didn't do rush in 8th grade?
posted by slogger at 1:23 PM on March 25, 2008


Anyone with a morality based around something so petty as maximizing the good sensations you get in your mouth as the stuff that keeps you moving passes through it for a few brief seconds deserves as many thorns in his side as space allows.

Wait, you think that eating good food is what his morality is based around? Or what any non-vegan's morality is based around?
posted by The World Famous at 1:24 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Slogger, do you mind if I submit that comment to WhiteWhine on your behalf?
posted by Bizurke at 1:26 PM on March 25, 2008


Wait, you think that eating good food is what his morality is based around?

He did say that "all I stand for" is "the pure enjoyment of food." Not sure if that counts as morality, but it certainly is a creed.
posted by goatdog at 1:30 PM on March 25, 2008


Mostly I just sprinkle crumbled bacon on top of everything. I believe this proves something.

You shouldn't cook?
posted by Panjandrum at 1:31 PM on March 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


And who didn't do rush in 8th grade?

I know I was all about Rush in 8th grade. I mean really, who could resist repeating his witty quips about Billary?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:33 PM on March 25, 2008


How do you veganize the breakfast tradition of frying your eggs after your bacon? How do you veganize the pool of delicious, sizzling bacon fat into which you crack those beautiful eggs? Bac-O flavored canola oil?
posted by crunch buttsteak at 1:35 PM on March 25, 2008


I can't tell these days who has the biggest chip on their shoulder, vegetarians or anti-veg foodies. Can we lock both of them in a dark room with nothing more than a crate of velveeta to fight over?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:41 PM on March 25, 2008


The band, mer2113. Consider yourself lucky if you managed to get through middle school without having a friend who won't shut the hell up about the deep lyrics and odd time signatures.

But I'm derailing the thread, the point of which is to settle the meat vs. vegan argument once and for all. I'm pretty sure meat is winning. After all, we have bacon on our side.
posted by bondcliff at 1:42 PM on March 25, 2008


Completely coincidentally, my gf and I (both vegan) were talking about Bourdain's extreme vegetarian-hatred just yesterday. I came down on the side that it was probably a perfectly natural reaction, really ... if a group of people say, "I hate [important aspects of the profession and practice you have enthusiastically devoted your life to], and all it stands for," your automatic first reaction is going to be, "What a bunch of assholes." Pretty much no matter what the group is or who you are. It takes an incredibly strong person, faced with a group like that, to mentally separate the irritating extremists from the larger majority of regular people, to objectively analyze their position and reasons and see if there are actually any points where you might find common ground, and to keep yourself from demonizing people who dislike and disagree with what you do that strongly. So while I might wish Bourdain had the emotional maturity to do that, most people don't, and I'm far from sure that I myself would in a similar situation, so it's hard for me to accuse him of anything other than being human.

My gf, on the other hand, came down more on the side that he was acting like a total dick. YMMV.
posted by kyrademon at 1:42 PM on March 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


and see if there are actually any points where you might find common ground, and to keep yourself from demonizing people who dislike and disagree with what you do that strongly. So while I might wish Bourdain had the emotional maturity to do that

Thing is, he does have that maturity. The haters toss out his "Hezbollah" comment all the time, but studiously ignore the great vegetarian meals he's had and raved about, both in his writing and on TV.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 1:47 PM on March 25, 2008


I've always gotten the sense that "vegetarian hating" is just part of the Bourdain spectacle.

On the other hand, they can have my foie gras when they pry it from my cold, dead, corn-stuffed fingers.
posted by Slothrup at 1:49 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ten pounds of inedita, maybe I'm being obtuse, but ... how is the fact that he enjoys some meat-free meals work as a counter to his stated hatred of vegetarians? Isn't that kind of like saying, "Sure, he called Catholic priests a bunch of ignorant sexless Nazis, but I happen to know that some nights he himself would rather read a book than have sex, so he does have the emotional maturity to find common ground with them." I mean, I really just don't see what case you're trying to make there.

(Not meant to be taken as a comment for or against the Catholic priesthood, vegetarianism, book reading, or sex.)
posted by kyrademon at 1:58 PM on March 25, 2008


Hmm, I wonder if Bourdain was employing a bit of hyperbole? Perhaps for dramatic zinger effect? 'Cause, like, if it were a comment on Metafilter, it sure would get a lot of favorites.

Particularly seeing as how his shtick is his curmudgeonly attitude, I think that folks who take his comments about vegetarians and vegans as a personal attack are being a little oversensitive.
posted by desuetude at 2:00 PM on March 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Wait, you think that eating good food is what his morality is based around?

Yes. He says it himself in so many words:

Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food.

Note the moral qualifications "good" and "decent," followed by "all I stand for."

I am sure he is exaggerating, but a significant number of vegetarians, maybe even most of them, are not vegetarians because they don't like how meat tastes. It is a choice that is based on moral considerations. That he considers vegetarianism to be despicable because they do not eat things that he thinks are tasty offers a significant insight into his own morality, even if it is not so extremely hedonistic as that quote would suggest.
posted by invitapriore at 2:04 PM on March 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


"I hate [important aspects of the profession and practice you have enthusiastically devoted your life to], and all it stands for," your automatic first reaction is going to be, "What a bunch of assholes."

What? That doesn't make sense. I don't direct any anger towards people who read all comics except those produced by Paws, Inc.

(By the way, turaho, The Sundays at Moosewood cookbook has this fucking awesome vegetarian pot-pie that I bet would be even better with some ground lamb in it.)
posted by Greg Nog at 2:08 PM on March 25, 2008


That he considers vegetarianism to be despicable because they do not eat things that he thinks are tasty offers a significant insight into his own morality, even if it is not so extremely hedonistic as that quote would suggest.

Anyone remember Dr. Hannibal Lecter?

NOM NOM NOM
posted by WalterMitty at 2:12 PM on March 25, 2008


Meh. He dislikes militant vegetarians for the same reason that Kimi Raikkonen or Lewis Hamilton would dislike people who incessantly tell them that they are bad people because they burn fossil fuels or suggest that they could go just as fast in a hybrid or electric car. Not that Bourdain is as good a chef as Raikkonen or Hamilton are drivers, but, you know.
posted by The World Famous at 2:18 PM on March 25, 2008


Particularly seeing as how his shtick is his curmudgeonly attitude, I think that folks who take his comments about vegetarians and vegans as a personal attack are being a little oversensitive.

And maybe, just maybe, people who are deriding the Hezbollah Tofu are not getting the joke?

Look, I'm a lifelong vegetarian. I also enjoy great food. This blog is a pretty great resource for cooking ideas, and for adapting recipes that I wouldn't otherwise look at.

And yet, once again, there are a bunch of fuckin' retarded comments from folks declaiming from the mountain about what I should or should not like. Tofutti's pretty great, frankly. So are the Trader Joe's veggie corndogs. Hell, I made some pretty great hashbrowns with the soyrizo from the Albertsons, and anyone claiming that fake meats can't be good hasn't had the tempeh bacon at Real Food Daily.

So, yeah, we get it: Folks on Metafilter sure hate them vegans. Could you just fuck off now and let me get back to reading cool recipes?
posted by klangklangston at 2:22 PM on March 25, 2008 [16 favorites]


Desuetude said it, so I won't bother to repeat it. He says that he hates vegetarians. One only needs to pay a little more attention to see that he doesn't.

I'm not sure if I want to wade into the morality of vegetarianism, but I liked that link in the other thread that shows that nearly as much animal mass is killed through the growing and harvesting of vegetables (ground mammals, birds, insects, etc.) as with the raising and slaughtering of meat. And the animals killed by the plows and threshers weren't raised specifically to be slaughtered, so arguably it is less moral to eat more veggies, from a prely death-of-animals standpoint.

This would, thus, make Bourdain less immoral than the vegetarians. If you buy that concept. I don't. But some do.

And most of the Moosewood recipes, yup, are better with added meat. If it's the Homespun Pot Pie you're taking about, Greg, I like it minus the mushrooms and with leftover dark meat chicken added.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 2:25 PM on March 25, 2008


Greg Nog -- I assume you're in the comics biz. You have no anger whatsoever for the people who think that any comic which implies that humans might at some point in their lives have sex should be banned and the artists imprisoned because comics are obviously meant for children and therefore this would corrupt young minds? How about just people who think comics are a stupid art form -- not an art form at all, really -- and only kids and weirdos read them as opposed to "real" arts and literature? You feeling a big urge to sit down with those people and see if maybe they have any valid points to their arguments? I'm not saying they do or they don't -- I'm saying the natural impulse is to assume they're a bunch of jerks.

The World Famous -- I'm not too fond of militant vegetarians either. If that's his problem, I rather wish he would say that, rather than calling me an "enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit" because he dislikes someone else. See what I said above re: inability to separate extremists from majority. I do understand that impulse, but that doesn't particularly mean I have to like it when I recognize it being applied.
posted by kyrademon at 2:29 PM on March 25, 2008


People are still quoting that vegetarian rant from Kitchen Confidential? He's said a lot more about vegetarian food since, a lot of it verging on apologetic with a lot of praise for good chefs.

Then again, if you go into a traditional French bistro restaurant and try to order stuff in a vegetarian style, you're going to get what's coming to you.
posted by mikeh at 2:32 PM on March 25, 2008


It is a choice that is based on moral considerations. That he considers vegetarianism to be despicable because they do not eat things that he thinks are tasty offers a significant insight into his own morality.

It offers significant insight into his priorities. Making statements that suggest that he doesn't particularly value the moral universe of a vegetarian doesn't offer any insight into Bourdain's morals at all. Hey, perhaps his consumption of animals as food has a moral basis, too, eh?

This is why people like Bourdain razz on vegetarians. Because faced with hyperbolic razzing, there's this persistent streak of self-righteousness about why a vegetarian's choices are made on a higher plane than the choices of others.

klangklangston, I liked the site. It's cute and looks like it has some good recipes.

/resists punning on morels.
posted by desuetude at 2:32 PM on March 25, 2008


I'm vegan and my guilty pleasure is Top Chef.

My wife and I always end up making something really fun after we watch because we are filled with cheffy delusions of grandeur.

Love what they are doing, anything that increases the number of recipes veggy folk can eat is a good thing. I much prefer the "Hey look veggy food is good and anyone can eat it" approach over the "Murder." approach. That's just me though.
posted by mincus at 2:41 PM on March 25, 2008


I'm not sure if I want to wade into the morality of vegetarianism, but I liked that link in the other thread that shows that nearly as much animal mass is killed through the growing and harvesting of vegetables (ground mammals, birds, insects, etc.) as with the raising and slaughtering of meat. And the animals killed by the plows and threshers weren't raised specifically to be slaughtered, so arguably it is less moral to eat more veggies, from a prely death-of-animals standpoint.

Do I have to debunk this spurious bullshit in every single thread that even tangentially mentions vegetarianism? I mean, it's kinda retarded on its face, and appeals to that "well, it's counter-intuitive, so it must be a zinger" cognitive laziness that shouldn't even show up outside of LGF.

You liked something that was stupid and wrong. Feel free to drop it.
posted by klangklangston at 2:42 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


mincus - I love Top Chef. :) The conversation about Bourdain actually started because we were chatting about it.
posted by kyrademon at 2:43 PM on March 25, 2008


And yet, once again, there are a bunch of fuckin' retarded comments from folks declaiming from the mountain about what I should or should not like. Tofutti's pretty great, frankly.

Hey, like what you like. My point was that many omnivores are put off when not-meat tries to stand in for meat (or meat-product). Again, I prefer when veganism occurs "naturally" like sorbet as opposed to in a mock-manner like Tofutti. I once lived in an apartment with a vegan baker who kept insisting that carob tastes just like chocolate. It didn't to me. I imagine there are recipes in which carob is allowed to be itself that I might like. I'm not sure.

If you like Tofutti, get down with your bad self. No fatwas here.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:44 PM on March 25, 2008


I feel like vegetarians have been caught in the merciless crossfire between Bourdain and vegans, much in the same way that agnostics are helplessly snared in the no-man's-land between fundies and atheists.

I'm pretty sure (from watching the show) that Bourdain has no interest in making a distinction between vegetarians and vegans, as his broad brush is much more fun to tar with. Same goes for the fundies.

THIS vegetarian LOVES me some stinky cheese. And appreciates the hell out of umame, even if I don't get to enjoy it like I should.
posted by Aquaman at 2:48 PM on March 25, 2008


I prefer when veganism occurs "naturally"

Bookhouse - Accidentally Vegan!
posted by mincus at 2:50 PM on March 25, 2008


Tofutti is awesome. But it doesn't taste like ice cream. The chocolate variety tastes like a Fudgsicle. And like Klangklangston, I totally love Soyrizo. I love real chorizo, too, but all the animal fat in it makes me sleepy. If I scramble Soyrizo and eggs together and wrap them in a tortilla, it comes awfully close--and I say this as an omnivore who still loves meat and sausage--like the real thing, and I don't need to nap for two hours afterward.

As far as vegetarian "burgers" go, on the other hand, I like the mixed vegetable or mushroom-flavored ones much more than the patties that come closer to an approximation of "meat."
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:57 PM on March 25, 2008


"I imagine there are recipes in which carob is allowed to be itself that I might like. I'm not sure."

Yeah, carob's not chocolate, just like chicory's not coffee. Carob has a more earthy, less fruit and flatter flavor to it, but that just means that you have to use it with complimentary flavors, rather than trying to make it the pure, main note.

But, frankly, I don't use it very often. It's kind of a pain in the ass to cook with, and I don't cook with much chocolate either, aside from moles.

Similarly, tofutti's good as tofutti, not as ice cream. I like ice cream. I eat ice cream. Sometimes I prefer the lighter, fluffier feel of tofutti, which is almost closer to the gelato that Trader Joe's sells (which isn't really gelato, but what can ya do?).
posted by klangklangston at 3:00 PM on March 25, 2008


Klangklangston,

amen on all your comments above sir. As a 17 year vegetarian (and 8 year vegan), the strange rationalizations that folks invent to either defend their dietary habits or try to be clever in pointing out that "well, your diet kills animals too so that makes what I do okay" as an argument is exhausting. A simple bit of critical thinking shows these types of things to be the domain of the lazy mind. It never ceases to amaze me that they have any legs whatsoever.

And, while I am NOT NOT NOT here to praise the vegan diet (love the site btw!), I would like someone on this thread to point out the militant vegan. For this strawman appears in every vegetarian thread as a justification why meat eaters are so abused or tired or whatever. Where is he/she? Really? Has anyone here yet said "meat eaters are EVIL!"? Nope. Nor do we THINK it (really, we dont. We wish you would eat less meat, or one meal a week without meat, but we generally mind our own business). I just find it fascinating (and a bit infuriating) that the bugbear of the militant vegetarian keeps rearing his head while no evidence seems forthcoming.

(and yes meat eaters, we know you know some guy who once gave you crap for eating meat. Try to man-up okay? Do you have any possible comprehension how difficult it is for a vegetarian? We get mocked DAILY (at least I do). Quit whining, go eat from the Ruth's Chris' trough, and just leave us alone okay? Our dietary habits are none of your concern.)
posted by Dantien at 3:09 PM on March 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


I always swing between laughter and anger when it is assumed that ALL vegans are vegangelical nutters who are intent on eating crap food, calling meat murder and trying to convert everyone. I am a vegan, raising my son as a vegan. My husband is an omnivore, but since he is an awesome guy, he cooks vegan at home. We eat awesome, fantastic food that all our friends rave about, including committed meat lovers. And that is going to achieve a heck of a lot more understanding about veganism than ranting at people.

BUT I think most people are missing the point of Hezbollah Tofu. We all know that Bourdain's comments were just Bourdain being extreme to get noticed, it is what he does. So Hezbollah Tofu is just being deliberately OTT to get noticed, but everyone is in on the joke.
posted by Megami at 3:18 PM on March 25, 2008


Megami, you beat me to it, I agree and shall continue...

What's this¿ Food Fight.///

Good for them, Hezbollah-Tofu. I think it's all about marketing and creating a niche. Pick a chef, they're all pretty much opinionated [males specifically] and poke a pin in him, see if the air don't wheeze out. Use inflamatory, sure to start something, words like Hamas or Hezbollah and voila.// you've made headlines and recognition. Add a badass truck driving Bubba and you've a recipe for success. Call out Bourdain an asshat [wait, isn't that so over] and cook using silken tofu...well the first few recipes I read there...not exactly the tofu so reviled by 'meat eaters' eh...
Using vegetable broth as a substitute for veal or beef stock, well... You're going to leave out the bones and marrow and call it What¿ Sorry, it won't taste the same, but you can call it vegetarian and sure it'll taste good, but something would be missing. If you've never cooked with meat, it may not taste so great to you. I think it's a generational thing and what you were fed at home.

I'm a Big Meat Eater, but I love my fried tofu stuffed with fish paste with a side of Chinese greens with lemon juice. Yum.

Chef Mike Smith served a silken tofu chocolate mousse to a bunch of firemen and after they ate it, told them what that mousse was made of...heh,heh.

"As Gordon Ramsey (who also derides vegetarians) says, don't blame your tools. Any chef worth a damn can make great food without meat."—krinklyfig

And I think Gordon Ramsey is great. He may take the mickey out of vegetarianism, but he spiffed up a totally vegetarian restaurant in Paris, run by a Scottish woman. Take that on, running a vegetarian restautrant in Paris.// He marketed it on the streets, opened it for brunch - cooked and served himself, parachuted in a young chef who was brill. But the owner was lazy and when he returned to see how it's going, Pops, the $$$$ supporter, closed it down. What an episode.

Chef Lynn Crawford would never call any of her chef's a 'Fucking Donkey', even for the ratings [I love them both].
posted by alicesshoe at 3:34 PM on March 25, 2008


I've met "militant" vegans, but as Dantien and Megami point out, they're pretty few and far between. More common, I've noticed, are the "martyr" vegans who, when asked where they'd like to go for lunch during some sort of group gathering, insist that "wherever" is fine, but then sit there sighing dramatically about how "there's nothing here I can eat." Well, yeah, that's why we wanted you to pick the restaurant, but if you'd rather be passive-aggressive than full, I guess that's your choice.

Seriously, though, most of the vegans, vegetarians, people on gluten-free diets, etc. I've run across are pretty laid back and willing to talk about their diets. After all, food is one of those things we al lhave in common, like our sex drives and the urge to bitch about our jobs.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:40 PM on March 25, 2008


man, my job sucks sometimes.

*pats infinitywaltz on the back*
posted by Dantien at 3:49 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I live several days a week at a vegetarian (and vegan) coop in Chicago. A few of the members eat meat once in a great while, but all the communal meals are vegetarian, and they are completely awesome.

So, I figured I'd start gradually removing meat from my diet.

I was doing great, no meat for lunch or dinner, but then it came time to rewrite breakfast and it was like my world kinda started to collapse.
I couldn't think straight and my cluster headaches (usually kept under control) started occurring two or three times per week until I reintroduced some portion of meat into my breakfast meal. Even if it's just one little sausage patty or a strip of bacon... a little ham on a piece of toast... or some turkey. Something. Fish works well, too. I can't stop eating meat permanently, the headaches make me crazy.

So, this has placed me in a rather strange ethical position. I find it kind of repulsive that an animal must die for me to have a proper breakfast and a happy day. But I've yet to find a replacement for meat (even a tiny portion of meat) that satisfies whatever need my body is expressing.

disclaimer: I'm not out there eating three pounds of steak a day. I'm talking about a very small portion for breakfast. really more of a... sample. an animal vitamin, if you will.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:58 PM on March 25, 2008


I swear, I don't identify myself as vegetarian because it almost always triggers a whole bunch of chip-on-the-shoulder speeches about why they eat meat, how they have meatless meals once a week, only eat chicken/seafood, was a vegetarian once in the past, could never be a vegetarian, and so on, and so forth. I've heard it all before, and I just don't care.

So, I'll just order what I order, and if the big trip is to a place that I don't like, politely decline.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:12 PM on March 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


I find it kind of repulsive that an animal must die for me to have a proper breakfast and a happy day.

See, this is the part I don't really understand. Why is it repulsive that an animal should die for a human to eat it? Is it repulsive that an animal should die for another animal to eat it? I am not big on blood and gore, and the slaughterhouse grosses me out as much as the next person, but the idea that humans have an ethical or moral duty not to kill animals to eat seems to me almost like a religious viewpoint that is based not on ancient scripture or alleged authoritative statements of a charismatic leader, but on the unscientific opinion of a trendy peer group.
posted by The World Famous at 4:24 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I should know better than to get involved (especially on preview), but I clearly don't.

For me, it's like Unicorn on the cob's sideblogged comment about rave culture. Good food tickles some very serious pleasure receptors way down deep in the primitive parts of my brain, and the same is true for a large fraction of my friends. If you've never been there, there's no way I can explain it to you. And it's definitely a social thing, too. There's no way it's a coincidence that I spend so much time with other foodies.

If pressed, I can come up with all sorts of more or less convincing argumentsrationalizations for why it's ok that I don't care whether the food is metabolically efficient, or cruel, or whatever, but the real point is that I just don't care. If it's delicious and it's reasonably unlikely to kill me, chances are surprisingly high that I'll eat it. I'll try not to waste it, and I'm willing to restrict the rate at which I murder a particular type of animal if that means I can get more of it later, but that's about it, and I refuse to be made to feel guilty about it.

Nobody who's happy playing mp3s through tiny ipod headphones is ever going to convince an audiophile that it's silly to spend all that money and effort on audio gear. In exactly the same way, nobody who would happily try to impersonate one food with another (regardless of which two foods are involved) will ever convince me that they know what's going on with food. It's certainly possible that there are people out there who enjoy good food as much as I do, but have renounced meat (or whatever else) on principle, and, if so, they're stronger than I am. My quarrel isn't with them.

But try to ban foie gras because it's mean, or decry tuna because it's (more or less) an apex predator and thus an inefficient use of biomass, and we've got a problem.
posted by MadDog Bob at 4:24 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do I have to debunk this

No, because, as I said, I don't buy it. Less anger, more reading every word that others write, please.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 4:35 PM on March 25, 2008


The World Famous,

Which animals? any animal? Where do you draw the line?
posted by Dantien at 4:38 PM on March 25, 2008


Veganized recipes = Sweded movies.
posted by iviken at 4:39 PM on March 25, 2008


Which animals? any animal? Where do you draw the line?

Which animals do I think it is morally acceptable for humans to eat? Any of them. I prefer to eat the ones that taste good and with which I did not have any emotional attachment before they were turned into food, but that's not a moral or ethical thing. There is certainly an emotional bond that keeps people in some cultures from eating their dog or their horse, and there is an aversion to eating animals that people think look gross or don't taste very good. But I really don't think that has anything to do with morality or ethics. I currently have no reason to believe that there is anything morally wrong with eating a horse (in fact, horse can be quite tasty), but I do understand the emotional reasons that horse lovers are outraged that horses are used for meat.

Is not the belief that it is immoral to eat animals in general or some animals specifically akin to a religious belief in some pretty significant ways? I mean, there's certainly no empirically provable or testable basis for it, is there?
posted by The World Famous at 4:47 PM on March 25, 2008


I think alot of non-religious vegetarians morally object for many reasons (I do) but empirically, we are troubled by people who say it's okay to eat any animal but not eat a human, as many animals have far higher reasoning powers than some humans. Usually, the line is drawn between humans and animals by most, when there is no real line. This is a Singerian argument of utility, which I dont subscribe to, but using the socratic method, I'd ask:

if horses are okay, are chimpanzees? how about porpoises? Apes? Coma Patients? Where do you draw the line and why?

(mind you, I'm not trying to change your mind, but you asked why...)

(also, people object to humans eating humans, but use the "animals eat animals in nature" argument. Either we are animals in nature or we, as humans, have evolved beyond that. If the former, eating each other should be morally acceptable (animals do it!). If the latter, we can't compare our actions morally to the actions of, say, a lion. )
posted by Dantien at 4:52 PM on March 25, 2008


I would be happy if this thread derailed into Top Chef talk. Seriously, what is the deal with the molecular gastronomy guys? Why are they always men, anyway?

Baby_Balrog, maybe you would feel better if you got ethically sourced meat? There are lots of resources here in Chicago, though I don't know where you'd be able to store it in a veg*n commune.

I have a condition that leads to insulin resistance, so my diet needs to contain a lot of protein. I try to get as much local meat as possible. I enjoy vegetarian food, too, but I can't base my diet on it.
posted by sugarfish at 4:53 PM on March 25, 2008


See, this is the part I don't really understand. Why is it repulsive that an animal should die for a human to eat it? Is it repulsive that an animal should die for another animal to eat it?

For me, the objections are of elegance and of compassion.

I believe that animals can suffer. I believe that animals do suffer when killed. I can recognize a gradient there, in that some agricultural regimes lead to more suffering than others, and I believe that some animals suffer more than others.

But, and this ties the elegance and the compassion, it is not necessary for me to cause this suffering in order to survive.

Why should I then cause this suffering? Because it brings me pleasure? That seems cruel. I'd prefer not to be cruel when I can avoid it.

As for animals, well, I believe that I'm more aware than most animals. So I don't hold them to the same ethical standards, much as I don't hold children or the developmentally disabled to those standards.

But hey, I'm also someone who likes to parallel park in one motion, and feels more and more annoyed at each step it takes. That's inelegant.
posted by klangklangston at 5:19 PM on March 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm waiting for Hezbollah-Tofurkey. Or Vegan Hamas, but if you take the 'ham' out of Hamas, and add the 'veg' prefix, you get Vegas.
posted by grounded at 5:23 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Is not the belief that it is immoral to eat animals in general or some animals specifically akin to a religious belief in some pretty significant ways? I mean, there's certainly no empirically provable or testable basis for it, is there?"

Is it morally wrong to torture people you don't like? To steal? To kill? To betray your lover? Prove it. Test it. Empirically.

What does that even mean? We're not talking about science. We're talking about ethics. You can't "empirically prove" ethics, because it's not a scientific theory. This does not mean you can't have rational or well-reasoned ethics, based on the logical conclusions and situational variations of your beliefs. Nor does it mean you can't come up with a reasonable basis for ethics (just as you can for religion) in basic concepts such as group cooperation, social contracts, utilitarianism, etc. But the basis of ethics is that certain things have value and meaning -- your life, other's lives, progress, comfort, people's feelings, ownership, happiness, etc., etc. How the heck do you "prove" those have value?

You can't. The universe doesn't give a rat's ass whether you live, or die, or are happy, or are cooperating with your group or are locked in a cell. Value and meaning are mental concepts imposed on the universe, not essential qualities that can be proved like a theorem. Which is not to say they're unimportant -- to me, they're tremendously important. But if you claim that vegetarianism is ludicrous because its ethical basis cannot be "proven", you're essentially saying the same thing about all human morality and ethics, because the same applies to them.

"the unscientific opinion of a trendy peer group"

And this -- really? That's the only reason you can think of? You really find it inconceivable that a person could, by reasoning from the basis of their own ethical system, decide that the lives of animals have enough value, from that person's point of view, that they could consider it ethically wrong to kill animals for the purpose of eating them in situations where survival is not dependent on doing so? You really can't comprehend, in a society where people love their pets, make animal torture illegal, and have taught some primates to speak sign language, that someone can't assign animal lives that value after careful thought and internal consideration?
posted by kyrademon at 5:31 PM on March 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


> For me, the objections are of elegance and of compassion.

Exactly. Jeez, I'm so going to steal that line the next time I'm embroiled (heh) in an interminable argument with nonvegetarians. (In India, the default term is vegetarian, all other are 'non-vegetarians')
posted by dhruva at 5:39 PM on March 25, 2008


Dantien, why draw a moral line based on "reasoning powers?" Why should that, morally, be part of the equation? Moreover, the idea that it is immoral to eat a human is also a belief that is, as far as I know, not empirically testable. Which is fine -- I believe that it is immoral to kill people, and I will readily admit that that belief (as well as many of my other unrelated beliefs) is not empirically falsifiable.

Where do you draw the line and why?

I draw the line at humans, for a variety of reasons. One reason is that logically, a line can be drawn between eating another animal and eating one's own species. I also have nonverifiable, nonfalsifiable moral, as well as nonfalsifiable religious beliefs, that lead me to believe that eating humans is morally wrong. And I think it is completely illogical to assert that humans are no different than animals, that one's own species should not take precedence over another, or that "higher reasoning powers" should play any part in the analysis.

Either we are animals in nature or we, as humans, have evolved beyond that. If the former, eating each other should be morally acceptable (animals do it!). If the latter, we can't compare our actions morally to the actions of, say, a lion.

I disagree. If the former (humans are just animals), then morality and ethics should not be considered at all. If the latter, what definition of "evolution" includes the idea that an animal can evolve to be something other than an animal?

I'm not saying that vegetarians are practicing a religion, or that, by being vegetarian, they are "religious." I'm just saying that the whole thing seems very hand-wavy, emotional, and similar to religion in the ways for which religion is often criticized. Because I don't have faith in it, I just don't buy into it. I think Klangklangston says it well, and I think I understand where you and he are coming from. But it is, I think, very faith-based, and I think it might be important to recognize that in order to avoid fighting between those with and those without the faith.
posted by The World Famous at 5:39 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would be happy if this thread derailed into Top Chef talk. Seriously, what is the deal with the molecular gastronomy guys? Why are they always men, anyway?

And can they not come up with a better name? Or a shorter one? They must have said "molecular gastronomy" a dozen times last episode.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:43 PM on March 25, 2008


You can't "empirically prove" ethics, because it's not a scientific theory. This does not mean you can't have rational or well-reasoned ethics, based on the logical conclusions and situational variations of your beliefs. Nor does it mean you can't come up with a reasonable basis for ethics (just as you can for religion) in basic concepts such as group cooperation, social contracts, utilitarianism, etc. But the basis of ethics is that certain things have value and meaning -- your life, other's lives, progress, comfort, people's feelings, ownership, happiness, etc., etc. How the heck do you "prove" those have value?

Yes, this is my point, actually. Did you read the part of my post that you quoted?

You really find it inconceivable that a person could, by reasoning from the basis of their own ethical system, decide that the lives of animals have enough value, from that person's point of view, that they could consider it ethically wrong to kill animals for the purpose of eating them in situations where survival is not dependent on doing so?


Not at all.

You really can't comprehend, in a society where people love their pets, make animal torture illegal, and have taught some primates to speak sign language, that someone can't assign animal lives that value after careful thought and internal consideration?

See, I don't think you actually read my post. I understand emotional attachment to pets, animals, etc. I think that it is perfectly reasonable to assign value to animal lives after though and internal consideration. In fact, as I noted in my post above, I do that, too, and for those reasons (not moral or ethical ones), I would probably hesitate to eat my own pet or one to whom I had an emotional attachment. I also understand that millions of people in this world make the leap from emotion to moral fiat, and I can understand the reasons why they do that.
posted by The World Famous at 5:44 PM on March 25, 2008


Then ... we have no argument, I have no idea why you were arguing points that no one disagrees with so vehemently, and I find it bizarre that you singled out vegetarianism as being the unscientific belief of a trendy peer group when you apparently consider the same label as being applicable to the whole of human morality. *Shrug* Have a nice day, I guess.
posted by kyrademon at 5:49 PM on March 25, 2008


I have no idea why you were arguing points that no one disagrees with so vehemently

I was never arguing. Not everything you read on the internet is an argument.

and I find it bizarre that you singled out vegetarianism

Well, it's a thread about vegetarians. Start a thread about Star Wars fanaticism, and maybe I'll pop in there, too.
posted by The World Famous at 5:54 PM on March 25, 2008


But it is, I think, very faith-based, and I think it might be important to recognize that in order to avoid fighting between those with and those without the faith.

Well, not really—my vegetarianism has little to do with questions that aren't empirically falsifiable. Are you arguing that animals don't suffer, or don't have the capacity for suffering? Because that's both falsifiable and false—ask your local SPCA. That I recognize that there are gradients does not mean that I'm arguing from a position of fundamental agnosticism.

Frankly, your moral philosophy seems more muddled than mine, and I think your willful embrace of your irrationality is coloring how you view others.
posted by klangklangston at 5:58 PM on March 25, 2008


Look ... I agree with your logic, but come on. Calling the single ethical belief under discussion "the unscientific opinion of a trendy peer group" is inflammatory language. You later backtracked and explained that you also thought that about all moral thought, but to fail to think that people would take that as a specific attack on vegetarianism prior to your bother to mention that is either disingenuous or shows a real lack of understanding of what it likely to be taken as argumentative.
posted by kyrademon at 6:01 PM on March 25, 2008


(Prior addressed to The World Famous)
posted by kyrademon at 6:02 PM on March 25, 2008


Part of my point is that vegetarianism is a faith that not all of us share, and that those who do have that faith and those who do not have that faith should recognize that fact and not fight about their faith.

Are you arguing that animals don't suffer, or don't have the capacity for suffering?

No. I'm not arguing at all. I'm pointing out in part that vegetarians who believe that eating animals is morally wrong are making a faith-based judgment that is somewhat akin to a religious belief, and that it's best not to fight about that sort of thing, because the fight goes nowhere.

Frankly, your moral philosophy seems more muddled than mine

Of course it does to you. If you thought that my moral philosophy was better than yours, you would convert. But what have I even said about my "moral philosophy," aside from the fact that it does not include the belief that it is immoral to eat animals?

and I think your willful embrace of your irrationality is coloring how you view others.


If that's another way of saying that you and I do not share the same faith, and that it is, therefore, futile to argue about it, then I wholeheartedly agree. You'll note that I attempted above to complement you on your earlier post. I have no quarrel with you. You have stated your position logically and eloquently, and I salute you for it, as well as for your parallel parking, which is certainly less muddled than mine.
posted by The World Famous at 6:06 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Calling the single ethical belief under discussion "the unscientific opinion of a trendy peer group" is inflammatory language.

Sorry if it seemed inflammatory. I have no doubt that my impression of vegetarians is colored by my own cultural experiences.
posted by The World Famous at 6:10 PM on March 25, 2008


I once lived in an apartment with a vegan baker who kept insisting that carob tastes just like chocolate. It didn't to me. I imagine there are recipes in which carob is allowed to be itself that I might like. I'm not sure.

I don't understand why chocolate is not vegan. Dark chocolate has no added milk. "Cocoa butter" is the natural fat produced by the cacao beans. Some people don't eat milk chocolate for other reasons -- they are lactose-intolerant, or want the very purest stuff, 85% cocoa. . .
posted by bad grammar at 6:37 PM on March 25, 2008


I'm vegan. I eat dark and bittersweet chocolate. No idea why someone wouldn't.

Mmmm. Chocolate.


The World Famous, I'm afraid I must disagree with your conclusions. Arguing about ethics - what is right, what is wrong, why, whether or not there are exceptions and what actions should be taken on that basis - is essential to the progress of civil society, spirituality, and personal action. While it can be frustrating to be in a debate where neither side is likely to convince the other, and logic proves a poor tool to sway emotion, that doesn't mean the debate is pointless. I made much the same argument that you making right now in an abortion/anti-abortion thread here on MeFi once, and I was told to my surprise that several people had changed their opinions somewhat or given the matter more thought because of the things that were said. I was surprised, and think I learned something from that about that kind of discussions.
posted by kyrademon at 6:47 PM on March 25, 2008


I agree, kyrademon. I also think that it is important and essential to the progress of civil society that religion not be taken off the table in civilized discussion. But whether the discussion is about Star Wars, abortion, religion, atheism, or vegetarians, I think it's a good idea to remember throughout the discussion that what is being discussed is often (though apparently not in the case of klangklangston) a matter of faith, and that discussing it isn't going to be as logical, emperical, or effortlessly civil as a discussion about whether tobacco causes cancer or whether the Higgs boson exists.
posted by The World Famous at 6:56 PM on March 25, 2008


Have any of the respondents ever read "Kitchen Confidential", or more importantly, cooked for a living?

Bourdain's original commentary wasn't actually about the morality or ethics of vegetarianism. It concerned a particular segment of rude, snooty New York eatery patrons who insisted on going to Les Halles and demanding vegetarian or otherwise altered versions of the dishes.

Never mind that that the menu posted by the door should have given them a clue. Add in the fact that a busy kitchen can't really provide customized dishes for every diner --- a little veal stock, butter, milk or egg product is going to sneak in everywhere, from the braised chard to the pommes frites. That's just the reality of the advance preparation and standardized technique which make restaurant service possible.

Chefs are concerned with flavor, presentation, technique, time and cost. It's their stock-in-trade, and every dish comes at the price of a lot of sweat and knowledge. Yet there's a peculiar segment of the dining public (by no means vegetarian or vegan only) who think the culinary world should revolve around their whimsical health theories, fad diets, notional allergies, self-dramatizing ethical stands, and spiteful self-righteous puritanism. These people were the inspiration for the "Hezbollah" comment. Bourdain, tongue firmly in cheek, riposted at intolerance with the exaggerated, weary venom of someone who's heard this dreck too often.

I'd carry a life-long grudge against vegetarian "foodies" if I had to deal with that kind of abuse, but fortunately, I was a pastry chef. Vegans I can handle (mmm, partially-hydrogenated paste, anyone?), but don't get me started about "fat-free", "sugar-free", "low-carb" and "gluten-free".

Just a suggestion --- don't be all narcissistic and whiny at the people who swing big knives for a living. Find and promote dining establishments that specialize in the food you want to eat, instead of taking your food jihad everywhere.
posted by patience_limited at 7:04 PM on March 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


Part of my point is that vegetarianism is a faith that not all of us share, and that those who do have that faith and those who do not have that faith should recognize that fact and not fight about their faith.

I understood that. Your point can describe some variations of vegetarianism, most obviously those variations predicated upon a religious belief, but does not describe mine. Therefore, your point is wrong.

No. I'm not arguing at all. I'm pointing out in part that vegetarians who believe that eating animals is morally wrong are making a faith-based judgment that is somewhat akin to a religious belief, and that it's best not to fight about that sort of thing, because the fight goes nowhere.

Well, except that there are moral arguments that have nothing to do with religion, like utilitarian arguments.

Of course it does to you. If you thought that my moral philosophy was better than yours, you would convert. But what have I even said about my "moral philosophy," aside from the fact that it does not include the belief that it is immoral to eat animals?

That you consider it wrong to eat humans, or that you argue that all moral valuations are inherently arational. Your argument valuing empiricism while eschewing it in your own behavior is muddled. This has nothing to do with it being preferable to mine, as an argument for cannibalism based on consent of the eaten is both internally consistent and not one I would readily adopt.

If that's another way of saying that you and I do not share the same faith, and that it is, therefore, futile to argue about it, then I wholeheartedly agree. You'll note that I attempted above to complement you on your earlier post. I have no quarrel with you.

I don't have a quarrel with you, but your argument is incorrect. Unless you mean to delve into solipsism, a blanket dismissal of vegetarianism as a "faith" is both odd and wrong.
posted by klangklangston at 7:09 PM on March 25, 2008


I think it's a good idea to remember throughout the discussion that what is being discussed is often (though apparently not in the case of klangklangston) a matter of faith, and that discussing it isn't going to be as logical, emperical, or effortlessly civil as a discussion about whether tobacco causes cancer or whether the Higgs boson exists.

Oh, damn. Shoulda previewed, huh?

If only it hadn't come before patience_limited's straw man bullshit.
posted by klangklangston at 7:14 PM on March 25, 2008


Your point can describe some variations of vegetarianism, most obviously those variations predicated upon a religious belief, but does not describe mine. Therefore, your point is wrong.

That does not follow. If I'm not trying to describe you, don't tell me I'm not describing you correctly.

Well, except that there are moral arguments that have nothing to do with religion, like utilitarian arguments.


Which is why I said "somewhat akin to."

Your argument valuing empiricism while eschewing it in your own behavior is muddled.

I do not argue valuing empiricism. I simply pointed out that vegetarians who act out of "moral" imperative are not being empiricists. Which, I assume, you agree with.

Unless you mean to delve into solipsism, a blanket dismissal of vegetarianism as a "faith" is both odd and wrong.

I agree. And that is why I do not make a blanket dismissal of all vegetarianism as a "faith."
posted by The World Famous at 7:15 PM on March 25, 2008


I'd like to chime in and posit a basis for vegetarianism that has nothing to do with animal rights and is in fact based on empirical fact. To me, it's the most compelling reason to be a vegetarian, given its practical ramifications: the amount of resources (water, fossil fuels, etc.) to produce a given amount of calories of any type of meat is anywhere from 20 to 50 times the amount required to produce plant-based foods.

Given the potential consequences of widespread vegetarianism (less energy expenditure, increased access to water, more food free to be distributed for human consumption), there are compelling reasons to consider it even if, controlling for these considerations, you have no qualms with eating meat.
posted by invitapriore at 7:32 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Have any of the respondents ever read "Kitchen Confidential", or more importantly, cooked for a living?

I have read the book a couple of times, and have worked both as wait staff at a few places and floor manager for a restaurant. So yes, I have dealt with both egotistical chefs (it's just food ffs) and ridiculous diners (asking for a rack of lamb, but with no pink, if you please). And as a vegan, if I go anywhere other than places I already know do vegan I ring and ask in advance. Most chefs see it as a challenge rather than a nuisance.

But, that doesn't deny the fact that Bourdain has made his rep by being a dick, and the site in the OP is a bit tongue in cheek.
posted by Megami at 7:35 PM on March 25, 2008


to clear up the question about chocolate and carob.

carob isn't always vegan. it can have milk, non-vegan sugar etc. (the sugar thing is a debate among vegans, some sugar is processed with bone char making it not vegan to some vegans, but other "vegans" eat it anyhow)

most dark chocolate is vegan. there is also vegan "milk" chocolate (a la Terra Nostra's rice milk chocolate bars, which are my favorite chocolate right now), and even vegan white chocolate (mmmmm).

the things that make chocolate not vegan are mostly milk and non-vegan sugar. it could also have something else that makes it non-vegan like caramel, honey, grasshoppers... you get the point.

when we are talking about the powdered stuff you put into cake batter, carob or chocolate, it is vegan.

some vegans like to eat "healthy" thus the carob. i'm not that into carob except for Goldie's mint carob bars that i will choose over chocolate sometimes.
posted by laminarial at 7:46 PM on March 25, 2008


it could also have something else that makes it non-vegan like caramel, honey, grasshoppers...
Really? Apart from the potential for non-vegan sugar, what risk is caramel running?
posted by MadDog Bob at 8:00 PM on March 25, 2008


Ummm... I guess your saying it's just caramelized sugar, but isn't caramel usually understood to be sugar, butter and cream?
posted by team lowkey at 8:47 PM on March 25, 2008


If only it hadn't come before patience_limited's straw man bullshit.

And what would that be? I don't think he wrote anything controversial in his single comment, much less "straw man bullshit". I'd go so far as to suggest that his comment was more fact than opinion.

Most chefs see it as a challenge rather than a nuisance.

My experience with chefs -- and it is significant -- suggests exactly the opposite, and I live in a town with a frankly huge number of vegetarians and vegans.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 8:54 PM on March 25, 2008


"And what would that be? I don't think he wrote anything controversial in his single comment, much less "straw man bullshit". I'd go so far as to suggest that his comment was more fact than opinion."

The same straw man that precipitated this entire discussion when Bourdain beat on it—that there is some mythical significant population which is ruining food through their petty demands, and that it has anything to do with vegetarianism or veganism.

There are a host of legitimate reasons for someone to, say, want something sugar-free or gluten free. Diabetes and allergies come to mind. If you're pissed off at someone inquiring about eating something that you want to sell them, you shouldn't be selling food.

If, on the other hand, you're pissed off about people doing so rudely, well, fucking say that then, and stop bitching about people whose eating habits may force you to consider the ingredients you use before you take their fucking money—it isn't vegetarians or people who can't eat sugar who are the cause of complaint, and acting as if they are is both dickish and an exaggeration of any legitimate argument against them.
posted by klangklangston at 9:40 PM on March 25, 2008


"My experience with chefs -- and it is significant -- suggests exactly the opposite, and I live in a town with a frankly huge number of vegetarians and vegans."

Fine. Let me know which ones they are beforehand, because the blunt fact is that most chefs can't make a good vegetarian meal, and I have no interest in going to restaurants where they're so talentless that they don't even consider it a worthwhile affair.
posted by klangklangston at 9:47 PM on March 25, 2008


There are a host of legitimate reasons for someone to, say, want something sugar-free or gluten free. Diabetes and allergies come to mind. If you're pissed off at someone inquiring about eating something that you want to sell them, you shouldn't be selling food.

If you know of a restaurant that is dedicated to eating food you can't or won't eat, you probably shouldn't go be eating there.
posted by aspo at 10:48 PM on March 25, 2008


The same straw man that precipitated this entire discussion when Bourdain beat on it—that there is some mythical significant population which is ruining food through their petty demands, and that it has anything to do with vegetarianism or veganism.

Again, please read more carefully. The writer states, very specifically (emphasis mine):
...Yet there's a peculiar segment of the dining public (by no means vegetarian or vegan only) who think the culinary world should...
He is not ascribing this phenomenon strictly to vegetarians. And you are living in an ever-lovin' dream world if you think that there isn't a significant population with special requests that need not be made at particular restaurants.

stop bitching about people whose eating habits may force you to consider the ingredients you use before you take their fucking money

Bourdain worked in -- and this is the salient point -- a French bistro-style restaurant that specialized in, with signs and advertisements and feature articles and every other manner of media -- in pieces of pig and duck and offal cooked and put on plates. It is not unreasonable for them to expect to deal solely with people who want what's on the menu. There are all sorts of places where you can get tempeh migas or a faux cassoulet. C'mon, now.

And "before you take their fucking money"? You pay after you order and eat. If I'm a chef with a specialty, I don't want your fucking money. Fergus Henderson doesn't want your fucking money. Martin Picard doesn't want your fucking money. And, yes, I'm talking about you, specifically, klangklangston, lifelong vegetarian. They do not. If you go into Au Pied de Cochon expecting that the chef should go off-menu to provide you with a meal that contains no meat, you deserve to be sorely disappointed.

Bourdain rails against this for precisely the kind of self-entitled bullshit attitude that you are projecting. You shouldn't expect the chef to go off-menu, whether your diet requires it or your ethics requires it or because you just feel like it. The simple act of asking is being rude, period.

This is not a strawman. To suggest otherwise sniffs of arrogance and/or ignorance.


Fine. Let me know which ones they are beforehand,


Actually, the way you've behaved in this thread, I'd kinda like to see you get a bad meal or two so that you'd have a real instead of imagined reason to be so pissy.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 10:49 PM on March 25, 2008


Grr, damnit why do I always miss editing screwups?
posted by aspo at 10:49 PM on March 25, 2008


Bourdain rails against this for precisely the kind of self-entitled bullshit attitude that you are projecting. You shouldn't expect the chef to go off-menu, whether your diet requires it or your ethics requires it or because you just feel like it. The simple act of asking is being rude, period.

I agree with you to a point. In that, if people go around with a 'self-entitled bullshit attitude' well then, they are going to get slapped. But why is asking rude? Either the chef will do something, or you will be told, no, we are not going to make a dish without meat in it, deal with it. The response you get might be considered rude, but asking is not.

That said, I am one of these people who would consider people thinking they can kill animals just because they might like the taste a bit of a 'self-entitled bullshit attitude', so what do I know :)
posted by Megami at 11:07 PM on March 25, 2008


But why is asking rude?

I'll break it down to a hypothetical:

A new restaurant opens in town, called "House of Pork". They advertise "All Pork, All the Time!". They have a neon sign in front that flashes "EVEN OUR FRIES HAVE PORK IN THEM!". Customers are handed a complimentary glass of bacon fat when they walk in.

It would be as rude for a vegetarian to ask for a green salad as it would be for me to walk into the local Indian vegetarian buffet and ask for half a tandoori chicken. I'd be very surprised if anyone in this thread would not consider it rude to ask for a meat serving at a vegetarian restaurant.

That said, I am one of these people who would consider people thinking they can kill animals just because they might like the taste a bit of a 'self-entitled bullshit attitude'

I'm one of those people who thinks that the least and most worthless single human has more value than every non-human life form that ever existed, in total, and that thinking otherwise is more than a bit of self-deception, but we can all agree to disagree.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 11:25 PM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I actually went to Les Halles a few months ago with a vegetarian. His suggestion, his dime (well, a business meal, but I didn't pay). He had the Gratin de Macaroni and bought a signed copy of Bourdain's book for his wife back home. I had a steak au poivre. While my editor's choices were slim (and a vegan would have been fucked), no hassles were had. Maybe there can be peace in this lifetime.

Actually, I think he liked the meal more than I did.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:43 PM on March 25, 2008


I actually went to Les Halles a few months ago with a vegetarian.

I should point out that the menu has changed in the five-plus (eight?) years since Bourdain worked there. The mac-n-cheese wasn't on the menu then.

Actually, I think he liked the meal more than I did.

I'm not surprised. They're doing twice as many covers now with the same number of staff and the same-sized kitchen; overall quality was bound to decline.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 11:55 PM on March 25, 2008


As a vegetarian "foodie" myself - well, not really a foodie, but someone who spends a disproportionate amount of time and money at fairly expensive restaurants - I agree with patience_limited. (btw, eponysterical, I guess)

You don't just go to a restaurant and demand something it's not clear they can provide. Well, you can, I guess, but that's just being a dick. However, most chefs are happy to accommodate your requests if made beforehand. In fact, if you want a great restaurant experience, go to a nice restaurant, but ask for a vegetarian tasting menu beforehand. A good chef will turn it into a fantastic experience, and you'll be the envy of the surrounding carnivores. I'll plug Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, VA here - the chef does a great job with this. But if you crap on the chef, he's going to crap on you.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:22 AM on March 26, 2008


I'm one of those people who thinks that the least and most worthless single human has more value than every non-human life form that ever existed

How is that a justification for causing unnecessary suffering? Just because humans have more value in your eyes, does that mean that nonhumans have no value?
posted by me & my monkey at 12:26 AM on March 26, 2008


klangklangston:Why should I then cause this suffering? Because it brings me pleasure? That seems cruel. I'd prefer not to be cruel when I can avoid it.

That's kind of ironic, given your predilection for hammering people verbally. Perhaps I'm unfair in making the observation, but in my mind you're one of the folks I think of first when I think of people who argue very aggressively about [fill in the blank here] on this site. But maybe it would be fair to say that that doesn't cause suffering per se, or count as cruelty, or that if it does, it is different in nature or degree from the kind of suffering that animals who are killed for food undergo.

Not that I want you to abjure it or anything: I quite enjoy your sledgehammery style of discourse, as long as you're not going after me!

Bourdain: "Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good vicious and decent primitive in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food the infantile unreflective pleasure-seeking impulse."

That's probably not a fair edit: I know next to nothing about this fellow other than recognizing his name and what people have said in this thread and others here. But I couldn't resist. The flip side of sophistication is decadence.

Anyway.

There's much to be said for the ethical stance of the vegetarian and the vegan, as there is much to be said for ascetics, for monks or nuns who renounce the worldly, for hermits in their caves, for everyone who refuses in whatever way they can to follow the ethical demands of their conscience, and cultivate a soul unstained by the compromises the world forces upon us.

But I also feel in some important way that some important part of what it means to be human can also be excised in the process. Not any good part, necessarily, I hasten to add, but it doesn't take a whole lot of looking around to realize that being human isn't all about being good. Without writing thousands of words about it, I'd say shorthand that it's about making choices with knowledge of the consequences of those choices.

So maybe, paradoxically, the conscious decision not to engage in behaviours that are human is something that makes one all the more human. Neato!

I'm one of those people who thinks that the least and most worthless single human has more value than every non-human life form that ever existed

It's interesting, because I tend to believe that most of the talk we expend on the 'sanctity of life', human or animal (or, I suppose, plant), is loud distracting feelgood chatter designed to distract us from the thought that all of the evidence, and all of our behaviour as a species, and all of the behaviour of creatures in the wild, points to the contrary.

But I have trouble reconciling that with a strong and totally irrational feeling that no, actually, life is... if not 'sacred', something that does and should naturally command our awe and wonder, and that taking it is plainly wrong.

And then I have trouble reconciling both of those with a deep misanthropy that's been growing in me over the decades, and trouble reconciling that in turn with a powerful love for individual people that I know and meet.

I dunno.

I eat meat.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:47 AM on March 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


However, most chefs are happy to accommodate your requests if made beforehand.

Yeah, but so rarely are special requests made ahead of time. When most meals have most of their prep done before service, asking for something made from scratch during the busiest time of the day is a Bad Idea.

How is that a justification for causing unnecessary suffering?

What does that have to do with what I wrote? I haven't justified causing unnecessary suffering. Animals can be raised and slaughtered, or hunted, without unnecessary suffering, and I prefer to (for example) buy free-range rather than battery chickens. But this is a preference; it is not a mandate.

Reducing animal suffering is a worthy goal, but increasing human happiness is, too; my happiness does trump an animal's suffering, so some suffering is acceptable. But this should not be controversial: we all agree that some suffering is acceptable. In fact, we all agree that some human suffering is an acceptable cost for personal happiness; for example, you are using a computer, the cost of which could have saved the life of someone who starved. This is no strawman; the chicken was already dead when I bought it, so I caused it no harm.

We all make decisions which increase human happiness at the cost of others' suffering. Just about all of us are fine with that. I am more explicit about it: I am all right with animals suffering and dying to feed us, and while reducing their suffering is laudable, it is not necessary.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 12:48 AM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


for everyone who refuses in whatever way they can to follow the ethical demands of their conscience

Er, damn it, that should read something like 'who insists in any way they can...'
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:49 AM on March 26, 2008


Vegans and vegetarians who remake meat-based recipes are completely missing the point of being vegans and vegetarians.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:06 AM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I haven't justified causing unnecessary suffering. Animals can be raised and slaughtered, or hunted, without unnecessary suffering

You have an odd definition of necessity. Since you can easily survive without meat, the consumption of meat is unnecessary, and any suffering arising from that consumption is unnecessary.

Now, frankly, despite my being a vegetarian for what I consider ethical reasons, I'm not all that interested in trying to convince others to do the same. It's just not worth the effort to me. And, since I'm not a vegan, I also cause unnecessary suffering by consuming dairy and egg products. And I wear leather belts and shoes. So I'm not going to say I'm some sort of moral exemplar. But I do acknowledge that I'm causing suffering for my own selfish reasons, and that this suffering is clearly unnecessary. I don't see what's controversial or questionable about acknowledging that.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:06 AM on March 26, 2008


my happiness does trump an animal's suffering

Why? Is this always the case? Does that justify Monty Burns's "See My Vest?" Why doesn't your happiness also trump the suffering of other people?
posted by me & my monkey at 1:08 AM on March 26, 2008


Vegans and vegetarians who remake meat-based recipes are completely missing the point of being vegans and vegetarians.

Bullshit. If you enjoy the taste of meat, but don't want to cause suffering, there's nothing wrong with mock meat. The only point they're missing is the one in your mind.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:10 AM on March 26, 2008


but it doesn't take a whole lot of looking around to realize that being human isn't all about being good

What kind of justification for behavior is that? You could excuse anything that way!
posted by me & my monkey at 1:11 AM on March 26, 2008


What kind of justification for behavior is that? You could excuse anything that way!

Yes, precisely. (Not sure if you're being ironic or not)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:20 AM on March 26, 2008


If you enjoy the taste of meat, but don't want to cause suffering, there's nothing wrong with mock meat.

I have a good metaphor to explain why this logic is broken, but it would offend 99% of the crowd here. Better to leave this one be.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:29 AM on March 26, 2008


Not sure if you're being ironic or not

Nope, just honest. What's the point of excusing one arguably bad behavior this way?
posted by me & my monkey at 1:31 AM on March 26, 2008


Blazecock, LET'S HAVE THAT METAPHOR.
posted by thedaniel at 1:48 AM on March 26, 2008


Since you can easily survive without meat

Actually, I cannot. Too many things that disagree with me.

the consumption of meat is unnecessary, and any suffering arising from that consumption is unnecessary.

Let's suppose that I could easily survive, though: I disagree. My happiness is necessary; therefore, some suffering is necessary since some of my happiness necessitates other suffering.

Why doesn't your happiness also trump the suffering of other people?

I made that point earlier; it does trump their suffering, and we all do things that maximize our happiness to the deteriment of other people. Every one of us. None of us are completely altruistic.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 1:49 AM on March 26, 2008


What's the point of excusing one arguably bad behavior this way?

I'm not even sure what you're talking about. Can you be more specific?

Anyway, I suggest you reread what I said, or at least what I gestured at because I didn't want to go into a long review of ethical philosophy in this thread. I am not 'excusing' any behaviour, nor am I condemning anything. I merely suggested, in shorthand, which I'll string out into a longer series of statements for you (*sigh*) that a) part of being human is consuming the flesh of animals, b) this may or may not be 'good' (by which one might mean variously ethical, moral, or something entirely different), c) but being human does not require one to be 'good', and d) that I have some thoughts in the direction of Sartre and his predecessors that it is actually 'choice' or a limited reading of the word 'freedom' that make us human selves, and then noticed with amusement that then e) by freely choosing to eschew the consumption of animal flesh, it could be suggested that one is both refusing to engage in a human behaviour and asserting (what might be) an essential activity that makes one a person.

Feel free to disagree with any of the weak assertions above, because I was really just doing a bit of idle philosophical noodling.

Which is the kind of thing that amuses me sometimes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:50 AM on March 26, 2008


But I do acknowledge that I'm causing suffering for my own selfish reasons, and that this suffering is clearly unnecessary. I don't see what's controversial or questionable about acknowledging that.

By the way, I do not disagree with what you're saying, and in fact spent 6 years as a vegetarian long ago, mostly for what I considered to be ethical reasons, but I think it's sometimes useful to examine some of the presuppositions we hold.

What do we mean by suffering in this context? Are we the cause of that suffering by eating meat (or wearing leather or whatever)? What do we mean by 'being the cause' of it? If we refer to death of the animal, couldn't it be argued that death is the absence of suffering? Do we apply the same criteria and judgment to, say a moose that lives a good and healthy life in the wild, and we shoot for food, which dies instantaneously? What do we mean by 'unnecessary'? If we were in a situation where the only food available to keep us alive was the flesh of some animals (say, rats in a prison), does the necessity of that killing (if we deem the extension of our own lives more valuable, or necessary) make it then allowable?

I don't know the answers to any of those questions, but I think they're possibly useful to ask.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:07 AM on March 26, 2008


I have a good metaphor to explain why this logic is broken, but it would offend 99% of the crowd here. Better to leave this one be.

Feel free to send it to me privately, but I think that's a huge cop-out.

I'm not even sure what you're talking about. Can you be more specific?

Making the statement that being human involves doing bad things is trivially true, but doesn't help us to avoid doing bad things in the future.

What do we mean by suffering in this context?

I think you can easily come to simple answers to these questions by imagining that the actions you describe are being done to you. If I shot you and mounted your head, beak and all, over my mantle, would your last dying thought be, "I'm leaving this vale of tears behind?"
posted by me & my monkey at 3:09 AM on March 26, 2008


I've recently become a vegan. I didn't eat a lot of meat beforehand or consume a lot of animal-based clothing, so the transition has been somewhat smooth. I miss eggs, though.

I think the line was drawn for me when I watched Earthlings and was shocked at the amount of unnecessary suffering that animals go through to get to my refrigerator. It bothers me to know that corners are being cut and prices are being unnaturally lowered at the cost of increased suffering to millions of animals. I don't think it's morally wrong to kill an animal to eat or to use for clothing, but I subscribe to a much more aboriginal look at things, I think, and the animal production industry isn't currently in line with that. You use everything you can from the animal and cause the least amount of damage you can.
posted by scabrous at 4:52 AM on March 26, 2008


Sorry. That link to Earthlings should be fixed.
posted by scabrous at 4:54 AM on March 26, 2008


I hope their recipes show better taste than their name.
posted by nicolin at 6:03 AM on March 26, 2008


I have a dim impression that T. Keller at the French Laundry does excellent veganist dishes on request. Does anyone have experience (or links; few seem easily found) in that regard?
posted by joeclark at 6:08 AM on March 26, 2008


Please don't say foodie, say epicure or gourmand. Foodie sounds ridiculous. Now excuse my while I go put on my footies.
posted by lyam at 6:15 AM on March 26, 2008


lyam, they sell "foodie" t-shirts at a local cafe here in Kzoo. It's completely obnoxious.
I, of course, only go there because it's the only place on the freaking planet where I can buy ginger chews and fresh minicakes. But I'm not, you know, a foodie or anything.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:31 AM on March 26, 2008


I think you can easily come to simple answers to these questions by imagining that the actions you describe are being done to you.

I ask you to reread again what I said off the get-go, followed by my Fisher-Price™ exegesis of it later. And I'm going to have to suggest that your comeback's glib and simplistic and spashily avoiding any attempt to answer difficult questions, and I don't think, as a consequence of your demonstrated will to avoid thinking about the meanings of the words that you're using, that I have any interest in engaging you any further. Thanks for playing.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:25 AM on March 26, 2008


Wow. Maybe we need a Meta thread on how to argue without insulting the other person?

Everyone, there are alot of rationalizations being tossed around in here that really have very little basis in reality (I object strongly to anyone who says my diet is based on faith, for example). Some of them are the "I eat meat cause I need protein" argument, the "my happiness > animal suffering" is another, as well as "discussing ethics is impossible because it's not empirical". In my opinion, the problem many veggies have with non-veggies is the greater level of hypocrisy evident in their dietary habits. For me, I came to be vegan because I saw that my eating habits didnt match my feelings about causing suffering. And the reams and reams of data compiled bore out my conclusion that eating animals is wasteful and does cause suffering (even "free range").

But what I want to say is that we should all examine our defensive reactions to this subject as a pathway for more reflection. Why do vegetarians create such vitrol here? Why does our diet somehow bother you enough to step in and argue something sounding like "vegetarians are wrong neener neener!"? No one is stopping you from eating meat. You are the majority in this world right now. It sounds like the current habit of religious fundamentalists claiming victimhood when an atheist openly discusses their views.

Enjoy your beef. I know I used to love beef when I was in teenager. I took the strong step to decide to align my actions with my morals. No one is asking anyone else to. But you should examine your beliefs (listed above) because the evidence doesn't always support you and I would think many of you intelligent folks would want the support.
posted by Dantien at 9:06 AM on March 26, 2008


Why do vegetarians create such vitrol here? Why does our diet somehow bother you enough to step in and argue something sounding like "vegetarians are wrong neener neener!"?

Because there are always vegetarians who claim that those who eat meat have lesser morals. As if this is a simple fact.
posted by desuetude at 10:11 AM on March 26, 2008


I object strongly to anyone who says my diet is based on faith, for example

Why?

In my opinion, the problem many veggies have with non-veggies is the greater level of hypocrisy evident in their dietary habits.

Normally I really get annoyed when someone is chastised for being "judgmental" (why isn't anyone chastised for judging someone in a positive way?). But come on.
posted by The World Famous at 10:25 AM on March 26, 2008


No one has claimed "lesser morals". The veggies in this thread have been defending themselves as I see it, not claiming any moral high ground. For me, I was talking, at most, about consistency in morals. But aside from all that, I dont see any veggie here claiming they are better or degrading the choices of meat eaters. What I see is meat eaters claiming we kill more animals, are militant or fundamentalist, etc. etc. Why the attack? Why such defensiveness? Quelle ridiculous n'est pas?
posted by Dantien at 10:31 AM on March 26, 2008


why? because I dont have faith. I based my decisions on rational thought and evidence. That's all.
posted by Dantien at 10:32 AM on March 26, 2008


Wow. Maybe we need a Meta thread on how to argue without insulting the other person?...there are alot of rationalizations being tossed around in here that really have very little basis in reality...the "my happiness > animal suffering" is another

Well, y'know, simply asserting that my thesis has very little basis in reality (it doesn't, and I've explained why pretty well, thank you) and labeling it as a "rationalization" (it isn't, and I've explained why pretty well, thank you) without backing it up is no more useful than being insulting. Less so, IMHO, because it's much easier to just ignore someone for being insulting than for being intellectualy dishonest.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 10:49 AM on March 26, 2008


What I see is meat eaters claiming we kill more animals

While I'm at it: no, you don't. Nobody made that claim; I mentioned that the subject had been brought up, and said, very clearly, "If you buy that concept. I don't. But some do".

This makes twice in the same thread that I've had to point those particular words: once to klangklangston and once to you. What's the deal? Is this some kind of nerve cluster for vegetarians? You get upset by it and stop reading? Bad, bad idea, both here and in real life.

In any case,"what [you] see" is suspect, as is your judgment based on "evidence", since you clearly ignore some evidence.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 10:56 AM on March 26, 2008


Whoa, I was gonna respond to kyrademon, but this thread has gotten way long. I think your comic-reader/vegan simile stopped making any sense when you responded to me, but that seems like more of a linguistic argument and people are getting hell of mad about ethics, so I'm just gonna slide on out, I think.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:14 AM on March 26, 2008


No one has claimed "lesser morals". The veggies in this thread have been defending themselves as I see it, not claiming any moral high ground. For me, I was talking, at most, about consistency in morals. But aside from all that, I dont see any veggie here claiming they are better or degrading the choices of meat eaters.

A brief overview:

Anyone with a morality based around something so petty as maximizing the good sensations you get in your mouth as the stuff that keeps you moving passes through it for a few brief seconds deserves as many thorns in his side as space allows.

I am sure he is exaggerating, but a significant number of vegetarians, maybe even most of them, are not vegetarians because they don't like how meat tastes. It is a choice that is based on moral considerations.

...a person could, by reasoning from the basis of their own ethical system, decide that the lives of animals have enough value, from that person's point of view, that they could consider it ethically wrong to kill animals for the purpose of eating them in situations where survival is not dependent on doing so? You really can't comprehend, in a society where people love their pets, make animal torture illegal, and have taught some primates to speak sign language, that someone can't assign animal lives that value after careful thought and internal consideration?

How is that a justification for causing unnecessary suffering? Just because humans have more value in your eyes, does that mean that nonhumans have no value?

Since you can easily survive without meat, the consumption of meat is unnecessary, and any suffering arising from that consumption is unnecessary.

In my opinion, the problem many veggies have with non-veggies is the greater level of hypocrisy evident in their dietary habits.

posted by desuetude at 12:07 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


desuetude,

Point out how those are indications of us saying morals are "lesser" as opposed to "different", "disagreeable" or even "wrong". In some of the above, we are asking questions (ex/ "How is that a justification for causing unnecessary suffering?"...) not making a claim that your (or whomever's) morals are lesser. I'm loathe to say this, but if you took, in most cases, honest inquiry or pointing our hypocrisy as some "my morals are above yours" statement, you are being WAY over defensive my friend.

Ten Pounds,

What evidence? What are you talking about? Most of your comment was noise (complaining about how I phrased or argued in my comment) but that last point...that I ignore evidence...well, I'd like to know what evidence you are claiming to have that I've ignored. Show me and please stop the poor trick of telling me what I do or do not ignore.
posted by Dantien at 12:31 PM on March 26, 2008


"our" should be "out". Sorry.
posted by Dantien at 12:32 PM on March 26, 2008


So, when you said that non-vegetarians have a "greater level of hypocrisy," you intended to imply that a "greater level of hypocrisy" is not necessarily a bad thing?
posted by The World Famous at 12:42 PM on March 26, 2008


I'm pointing out hypocrisy. Not commenting on the hierarchy of morals. You want to argue the claim I made about being hypocritical, sure! That's fine. But dont ascribe claims to me, or others, that aren't true. And I will take my own advice too if I've done that (unintentionally) thusfar.

I just want us to argue the merits of the discussion, not attack each other, make false claims, discuss "truths" that have no basis (like the commenter who said they have to eat meat to get enough protein...that's verifiably false). I LOVE these discussions so long as they remain civil and not emotional. What I see is defensiveness and attacking that is unnecessary and devaluing of one's claims (and avoiding the points). And again, I submit my own poor argumentation as as valid a candidate to my own comment above if I've been egregious in my claims.

I hold no thought that being vegetarian makes me morally superior to anyone. I do think, however, that the claim that an animal's suffering weighs less than my pleasure very troublesome and either a result of poor critical thinking or a worrisome attitude towards animals. But that's my opinion.

"Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: "Because the animals are like us." Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: "Because the animals are not like us." Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction." ~Charles R. Magel (i think this applies to the argument that it's okay to eat meat cause animals do it)

"God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages." ~Jacques Deval, Afin de vivre bel et bien
posted by Dantien at 12:54 PM on March 26, 2008


I hold no thought that being vegetarian makes me morally superior to anyone.

Look, you do hold the thought that being vegetarian makes you less hypocritical than everyone who is not a vegetarian, and to differentiate that from thinking you're morally superior is really splitting hairs.

"Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: "Because the animals are like us." Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: "Because the animals are not like us." Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction." ~Charles R. Magel

I absolutely do not buy that there are any vegetarians in the world who choose to be vegetarians because they're just that into logic and they can't stand anything in their life that could ever seem contradictory to anyone.

"God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages." ~Jacques Deval, Afin de vivre bel et bien


God also (allegedly) invented animals who eat the birds, so I'm not really sure Mr. Deval's argument carries much weight.
posted by The World Famous at 1:02 PM on March 26, 2008


"He is not ascribing this phenomenon strictly to vegetarians. And you are living in an ever-lovin' dream world if you think that there isn't a significant population with special requests that need not be made at particular restaurants."

Then why mention vegetarians? If the phenomenon has nothing to do with vegetarians, vegetarianism isn't salient—he's arguing against a different group, but using "vegetarians" instead.

Read with less self-serving bias.

"Bourdain rails against this for precisely the kind of self-entitled bullshit attitude that you are projecting. You shouldn't expect the chef to go off-menu, whether your diet requires it or your ethics requires it or because you just feel like it. The simple act of asking is being rude, period."

Oh, fuck that noise. My asking is an affront, but being called a terrorist isn't? I expect people in a service industry to be professional and polite, even if they decline to make the food.

And Bourdain did not say that his annoyance was toward people who expected him to go off-menu, he stated it as a blanket condemnation of all vegetarians, just as Patience decried those who would ask for something sugar-free.

I've been doing this a while, and I pretty well know what I can eat—I would call ahead to a Bourdain restaurant and ask if there were options, should I be invited by others to dine there (as I am unlikely to choose it for myself). The rudeness would be in treating this as some terrible burden.

"Actually, the way you've behaved in this thread, I'd kinda like to see you get a bad meal or two so that you'd have a real instead of imagined reason to be so pissy.

And the way you whine in this thread, I'd be happy to send those bad meals back to you and tell you that you're not a chef. Then you could have a real reason to act affronted, instead of the idiotic jeremiad you're carrying on now.

I'll break it down to a hypothetical:

A new restaurant opens in town, called "House of Pork". They advertise "All Pork, All the Time!". They have a neon sign in front that flashes "EVEN OUR FRIES HAVE PORK IN THEM!". Customers are handed a complimentary glass of bacon fat when they walk in.


When you have to invent situations in which it is offensive to ask that are so out of the bounds of reality, you may want to reconsider your argument. Or do Bourdain's restaurants have a sign that advises diners that even their forks are to be smeared with offal?

Hey, how about my hypothetical restaurant that exists to serve moon cuisine and doesn't list anything ever on any menu and the waiters all mumble, so you have to not only ask what's in everything but ask several times? Boy, that sure is rude, isn't it? But wait, on the moon, they have different etiquette so it's rude not to ask! These hypotheticals prove everything!

I should point out that the menu has changed in the five-plus (eight?) years since Bourdain worked there. The mac-n-cheese wasn't on the menu then.

Wow, it's almost like they decided that yeah, they did want some vegetarian money. And that was probably after years of people asking them if there was anything vegetarian on the menu, and if not, not spending their money there. Fucking duh.

Animals can be raised and slaughtered, or hunted, without unnecessary suffering, and I prefer to (for example) buy free-range rather than battery chickens.

Really? How? How is any suffering justified? You'll note that I'm not a vegan, so I've thought through my own dietary calculus. Instead, it sure seems like you're just asserting things that you'd like to believe—that there are these mythical cows that don't balk at the slaughterhouse. Or chickens that orgasm when their necks are snapped. Perhaps you've watched too many of those pork commercials where the animated pigs delight in cannibalism.

When vat-grown meat becomes viable, you can trot that out to less derision.

I grant that free-range is less ethically troubling than factory-farmed, but that still doesn't obviate the suffering.


That's kind of ironic, given your predilection for hammering people verbally. Perhaps I'm unfair in making the observation, but in my mind you're one of the folks I think of first when I think of people who argue very aggressively about [fill in the blank here] on this site. But maybe it would be fair to say that that doesn't cause suffering per se, or count as cruelty, or that if it does, it is different in nature or degree from the kind of suffering that animals who are killed for food undergo.


Like I said, it's a continuum. I try not to be cruel when dealing with people here, but that doesn't keep me from being angry or annoyed or carping or critical. Occasionally, I am cruel needlessly, and for that I try to apologize.

It's interesting, because I tend to believe that most of the talk we expend on the 'sanctity of life', human or animal (or, I suppose, plant), is loud distracting feelgood chatter designed to distract us from the thought that all of the evidence, and all of our behaviour as a species, and all of the behaviour of creatures in the wild, points to the contrary.

I tend to think that valuing human life because it's human life is superstitious. But I also value the lives of children less than those of adults, and have no real problem with abortion.

Yeah, but so rarely are special requests made ahead of time. When most meals have most of their prep done before service, asking for something made from scratch during the busiest time of the day is a Bad Idea.

Then say no. Again, you're complaining about something that has NOTHING TO DO WITH VEGETARIANISM. Which is why it's obnoxious.

"Reducing animal suffering is a worthy goal, but increasing human happiness is, too; my happiness does trump an animal's suffering, so some suffering is acceptable.

Why? Because it's your happiness and you have the ability to realize it? That's not a blanket justification, which you seem to be treating it as. Otherwise, enjoy your dogfighting.

But this should not be controversial: we all agree that some suffering is acceptable. In fact, we all agree that some human suffering is an acceptable cost for personal happiness; for example, you are using a computer, the cost of which could have saved the life of someone who starved.

That's a non-sequitor: The use of the computer is not directly related to starvation. Killing an animal to eat it is directly related to the suffering of the animal. And we do not all agree that some human suffering is an acceptable cost for personal happiness.

This is no strawman; the chicken was already dead when I bought it, so I caused it no harm.

No, it's not a strawman: it's retarded. Your purchasing of that animal directly correlates to the animal being killed. It is, by proxy, being killed for you. The rebuttal to your argument is the same as the argument for making receiving stolen property illegal.

Just about all of us are fine with that. I am more explicit about it: I am all right with animals suffering and dying to feed us, and while reducing their suffering is laudable, it is not necessary.

Fine. I disagree, and find your justifications both inconsistent and unconvincing. Why'd you come to a thread about vegetarian recipes again?

Vegans and vegetarians who remake meat-based recipes are completely missing the point of being vegans and vegetarians.

No, not really. The point of vegetarianism or veganism isn't to avoid the appearance of meat or the taste of meat, at least for me and for the vegetarians that I've talked to.

Actually, I cannot. Too many things that disagree with me.

*rolls eyes.* For those of you playing at home, please stamp your "Mysterious Ailment prevents my Vegetarianism" square on your bingo card.

Let's suppose that I could easily survive, though: I disagree. My happiness is necessary; therefore, some suffering is necessary since some of my happiness necessitates other suffering.

Your happiness is not at all necessary. And your happiness does not necessitate others suffering, unless you're a sadist.

I made that point earlier; it does trump their suffering, and we all do things that maximize our happiness to the deteriment of other people. Every one of us. None of us are completely altruistic.

God, you're the king of false dilemmas—complete altruism is not necessary to work to minimize suffering of others. Further, for most of us, the suffering of others is independent of the choices that we're making to maximize our happiness.

Perhaps the difficulty you're having is that you're describing the morality of a sociopath.

While I'm at it: no, you don't. Nobody made that claim; I mentioned that the subject had been brought up, and said, very clearly, "If you buy that concept. I don't. But some do".

Then why bring it up, except as a canard?

posted by klangklangston at 1:16 PM on March 26, 2008


Whups. There's a missed close-italics up there somewhere. Shoulda previewed.
posted by klangklangston at 1:17 PM on March 26, 2008


Point out how those are indications of us saying morals are "lesser" as opposed to "different", "disagreeable" or even "wrong".

This doesn't even make sense. "Lesser" is opposed to "disagreeable" or "wrong?"

Anyway. For example:

Anyone with a morality based around something so petty as maximizing the good sensations you get in your mouth as the stuff that keeps you moving passes through it for a few brief seconds deserves as many thorns in his side as space allows.

Petty. But in a good way? Deserving of thorns in side. But in a good way?

And I suppose you meant the good kind of hypocrisy, right?

I hold no thought that being vegetarian makes me morally superior to anyone. I do think, however, that the claim that an animal's suffering weighs less than my pleasure very troublesome and either a result of poor critical thinking or a worrisome attitude towards animals.

You don't think your vegetarianism makes you superior, you think that non-vegetarianism is the result of poor critical thinking or a worrisome attitude towards animals? Maybe you should just 'fess up that you think that your position is superior. That would be okay, really.
posted by desuetude at 1:39 PM on March 26, 2008


Look, you do hold the thought that being vegetarian makes you less hypocritical than everyone who is not a vegetarian, and to differentiate that from thinking you're morally superior is really splitting hairs.

Don't believe that just because the meat eaters in this thread have generally failed to advance a moral philosophy that is complete, consistent and compelling, that it is impossible to do so.

Examples of meat-eating justifications that I find more compelling than ones I've heard here:

—Cannibalism based on consent.
—Eating of culled deer. Where there is a legitimate primary reason to control a deer population, the best solution would seem to me to be to eat the flesh, lest it be wasted.
—Eating vat-grown meat (no considerations of cruelty).
—Practical considerations based on lack of sustainable agriculture (generally hunter-gatherer societies).
—Practical considerations based on the expense and scarcity of eating vegetarian in some cultures.
—Actual dietary concerns, especially as compounded by the cost of practical alternatives, though I am generally dubious of post-facto medical justifications.

Likewise, I generally find the eating of unfertilized eggs that have been laid by free range chickens to be without real problem, just like I don't find eating honey particularly troubling.

I'm not here to convert people, and I don't bear any real animus towards those who do eat meat. I am, however, continually annoyed at the Bourdains of the world, who see my diet as an affront to their delicate sensibilities.
posted by klangklangston at 1:40 PM on March 26, 2008


What evidence? What are you talking about? Most of your comment was noise

Yeah, I thought I could smell hypocrisy. That you have the gall to then claim that you are 'pointing out hypocrisy' is bewildering but unsurprising. You have fun with that.

Then why mention vegetarians?

Ask him, not me. But IMHO, listing one example from a collection does not imply that the example is the most important element of a set.

Read with less self-serving bias.

I only have a mote in my eye; you've got a plank, sir.

I expect people in a service industry to be professional and polite, even if they decline to make the food.

I'm confused. At what point was anyone talking about people in restaurants being rude to customers who ask for off-menu dishes?

And Bourdain did not say that his annoyance was toward people who expected him to go off-menu, he stated it as a blanket condemnation of all vegetarians

This may be the fourth or fifth time that someone's said this, but you know that his opinion of vegetarians and vegetarianism has changed since the Hezbollah comment, right? God knows that I've changed my mind about things in the last ten years. Hopefully people will judge me on my recent works and not my past.

idiotic jeremiad

I've tried my very best to treat you like an adult, and it is rapidly becoming clear that this is futile.

You are incapable of civil discourse. You are everything that is wrong with MetaFilter; that is, there is only one thing wrong with it, and it is you. Just add me to the list of people fed up with your shit, and consider the rest of this comment coloured appropriately.

When you have to invent situations in which it is offensive to ask that are so out of the bounds of reality, you may want to reconsider your argument.

By no means. I have invented a parallel situation to one that exists in our world in order to make a point to someone who did not understand.

I'll make it even easier, for you: would it be offensive for me to ask for a meat dish in a vegetarian restauarnt, even if I ordered it ahead of time?

Here, I'll answer for you: yes, it would.

Really? How? How is any suffering justified?

I think I explained this more than adequately. Maximizing human happiness is a worthy goal, as is decreasing suffering, animal or otherwise. We all, every one of us, without fail, seeks to increase our happiness even at the cost of the suffering of others. That we all do it means that it is either justified or that we don't need to justify it.

And, as an aside, why do you not treat all people with respect? You gain happiness from others' harm, yes? It's really more important to you to not kill a chicken than to treat your follow MeFites with respect regardless of whether you agree with them?

Really?

Really?

Instead, it sure seems like you're just asserting things that you'd like to believe—that there are these mythical cows that don't balk at the slaughterhouse.

I never asserted this and you are being less than honest with that kind of bullshit construction, and you know it. I need not continue, as you know you're wrong and will find no supporters here, so I need not convince them, either.

Why? Because it's your happiness and you have the ability to realize it?

Yes. This is not controversial; we ascribe more value to people and communities closer to us. I have more value than my extended family, which has more value than my community, and so on out in larger circles. My happiness trumps that of that of the chicken.

That's a non-sequitor: The use of the computer is not directly related to starvation. Killing an animal to eat it is directly related to the suffering of the animal.

T'isn't. The animal is already dead when I buy it; I have in no way caused its harm. It is, at best, indirect, just as your actions indirectly harm people in Mali. You know that you could save the life of a kid in Mali or Chad, but you choose to spend your money elsewhere. That's a conscious choice that you have made to indirectly harm another. No non sequitur at all.

It's retarded. Your purchasing of that animal directly correlates to the animal being killed.

Nope, it's indirect by any definition. You sure you're an editor?

But I'll play along, and give you another example, since you're much more interested in tearing apart examples than discussing the root issues. You own something made in Asia by child, slave, underpaid, enforced or prison labour. That you continue to buy those things (and you do) causes suffering directly, in a situation exactly analogous to me buying a dead chicken.

Why'd you come to a thread about vegetarian recipes again?

"I disagree with you and wish you'd go away because I really have no cogent response to what you've written."

Why'd you come to a thread about the most famous carnivore in North America?

*rolls eyes.* For those of you playing at home, please stamp your "Mysterious Ailment prevents my Vegetarianism" square on your bingo card.

Are you now accusing me of being a liar?

Way to have a fuckin' discussion.

Your happiness is not at all necessary.

My happiness is not only necessary, it is paramount. There is nothing, real or imagined, past or future, that trumps that for importance, to me. And yours, to you.

And your happiness does not necessitate others suffering, unless you're a sadist.

Or a consumer whose income is greater than the world average. Or someone who eats anything, vegetable or animal.

God, you're the king of false dilemmas—complete altruism is not necessary to work to minimize suffering of others.

Actually, yes, it is. Because unless you are completely altruistic, you can still decrease the suffering of others.

Perhaps the difficulty you're having is that you're describing the morality of a sociopath.

Amazingly ironic. I only see one person in here who has displayed any evidence of not giving a shit about anyone else, and it ain't me.

I guess I should be explicit: it's you. Only you.

Then why bring it up, except as a canard?

Because it's interesting, whether or not it's true. Providing information is not in and of itself a form of advocacy, and it especially is not when I state explicitly that I don't believe it. Is this really that difficult a concept?

Since you have almost certainly started replying before read my whole comment, I wanted to get my jab in here to let you know that whatever you wrote in response, I'm not going to read it. You're not worth the effort. Enjoy raging impotently against your betters -- that is, everyone.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 2:46 PM on March 26, 2008


Monsieur Klang,

The reason, I'm told, that vegetarianism somehow offends certain meat eaters is that our claim invalidates or conflicts with their internal reasoned discourse that they've manufactured to justify their taste buds. They, perhaps subconsciously, can't square the fact that they choose their temporary urge to taste something with the required cessation of an innocent life. So they revolt. This may or may not be true, but it is a curious behavior for some to get so ANGRY at people choosing not to kill or eat animals for food. Why the fuss?

THAT, desuetude, is me feeling my position is superior. Yup, I sure do! I just dont think my MORALS are superior. And believe me, I'm quite certain of this (3 years of graduate ethical philosophy study has beaten any hope of that out of me). My ethical framework, to which I subscribe, is not only well reasoned and thought out, but consistent, non-hypocritical, and pretty much complete (a few nagging problems to work out always hang around). I'll assume you dont wish, here, to go toe-to-toe with me on this. After all, claims about my beliefs or morals wont carry much weight when coming from a person who has never met me, knows nothing about me, etc etc.

And one final point (and then I'll shut up), starting a sentence with "I absolutely do not buy", if you mean this as you wrote it, perhaps makes you someone unwilling to consider an alternate viewpoint? You "absolutely" dont believe me? really? good luck with that attitude sir!

I can only wish I was so fundamental in my reasoning....
posted by Dantien at 2:51 PM on March 26, 2008


“You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

arguing that we all do things to cause others suffering does not invalidate the fact that when you buy meat, you reward the butcher, the slaughterhouse, etc. Some of us choose to LIMIT this.
posted by Dantien at 2:55 PM on March 26, 2008


My ethical framework, to which I subscribe, is not only well reasoned and thought out, but consistent, non-hypocritical, and pretty much complete

Humble, too.
posted by The World Famous at 3:11 PM on March 26, 2008


The reason, I'm told, that vegetarianism somehow offends certain meat eaters is that our claim invalidates or conflicts with their internal reasoned discourse that they've manufactured to justify their taste buds.

"No, you really do believe in God but refuse to admit it!"

That's lazy, arrogant and plain wrong all wrapped up in a neat little bouquet garni. If you've really had three years of graduate ethics (*snort*), try to get your money back.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 3:13 PM on March 26, 2008


starting a sentence with "I absolutely do not buy", if you mean this as you wrote it, perhaps makes you someone unwilling to consider an alternate viewpoint?

Not at all. I am quite willing to consider an alternate viewpoint, and I do all the time. A willingness to consider an alternate viewpoint does not mean that I cannot, having considered a viewpoint, conclude that it is disingenuous. If I said that I can fly like Superman, and you said that you don't buy it, does that mean that you are someone unwilling to consider an alternate viewpoint?

You "absolutely" dont believe me? really? good luck with that attitude sir!

What I "absolutely" do not believe is exactly what I wrote above, and what I will paste here:

"I absolutely do not buy that there are any vegetarians in the world who choose to be vegetarians because they're just that into logic and they can't stand anything in their life that could ever seem contradictory to anyone."

And I still do not buy it. If you are saying that you choose to be a vegetarian because you are just that into logic and you can't stand anything in your life that could ever seem contradictory to anyone, then no, I don't believe you. If you take that position, I happily consider that viewpoint and then dismiss it as dishonest.
posted by The World Famous at 3:19 PM on March 26, 2008


I'm not a sir. I didn't start any sentences with "I absolutely do not buy." I'm not angry, but congratulations, you've tired me out with your overblown, condescending attitude. I was unaware that we were merely exercising rhetorical fluency rather than communicating on a topic. Yes, yes, you're right. The words "position" and "morals" are not exact synonyms.
posted by desuetude at 3:20 PM on March 26, 2008


Oh, I forgot to sign with "peace out." And point out that my diet is generally about 70% vegetarian.
posted by desuetude at 3:28 PM on March 26, 2008


So, if I can attempt to sum up the arguments as they stand:

Side 1: Bourdain wasn't really talking about vegetarians, and anyway he's changed his opinions about vegetarians since then, and he was right to compare them to terrorists anyway because vegetarians are rude in restaurants, and furthermore vegetarians base their philosophy on faith, as does everyone, and think they are morally superior, as does everyone, so I don't have to pay attention to anything they say, or anything anyone else says for that matter, because only my happiness matters so if vegetarians were *really* against suffering they wouldn't be mean to me on the internet, so there!

Side 2: Vegetarians do not think they are morally superior, they just think that they are morally in the right and you are morally in the wrong, which is for some reason totally different, and your choice of words implies certain things you swear you did not mean to imply but maybe you'll admit you implied them if I harp on them enough, because since your opinion differs from mine your thinking must be muddled, inconsistent, and incomprehensible, for my vegetarianism is based solely on the shining light of pure reason and logic alone and has no basis whatsoever in emotion or opinion, QED!

Side 3: Hey! Tasty recipes!

I think I'm going to go with Side 3 at this point.
posted by kyrademon at 3:51 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am so with you on side 3, kyrademon.

So, I've been roasting sweet potato wedges with a mixture of lime juice, chipotle, and olive oil with a little salt. OMG. This beats that sticky-sweet orange mush into a...sticky-sweet orange mush.
posted by desuetude at 3:59 PM on March 26, 2008


I made a curry the other day, and was really pleased how it came out. Onions, potatoes, and tempeh, fried and then simmered in coconut milk curry, with sesame seeds and fresh basil added at the end. The tempeh proved to have a really nice texture.
posted by kyrademon at 4:04 PM on March 26, 2008


I had a really good baked potato the other day. It was a free range potato, so it's ok.
posted by The World Famous at 4:12 PM on March 26, 2008


I liked the idea where we derailed all this into a discussion of Top Chef, but no one was game.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:28 PM on March 26, 2008


Did you marinate the tempeh, or just simmer for a long time? A local kick-ass former-vegan chef makes an awesome grilled tempeh club, but I'm a little intimidated to work with the stuff at home.
posted by desuetude at 4:28 PM on March 26, 2008


Ask him, not me. But IMHO, listing one example from a collection does not imply that the example is the most important element of a set.

I did. Then you set about defending him. And adding elements to a set that are immaterial is stupid.

"I'm confused. At what point was anyone talking about people in restaurants being rude to customers who ask for off-menu dishes?"

You repeatedly cite these horrendous demands as a justification for rudeness from the chefs, Bourdain most notably.

This may be the fourth or fifth time that someone's said this, but you know that his opinion of vegetarians and vegetarianism has changed since the Hezbollah comment, right? God knows that I've changed my mind about things in the last ten years. Hopefully people will judge me on my recent works and not my past.

Then what's the problem with this blog pointing out that he was wrong? What's your beef, so to speak?

You are incapable of civil discourse. You are everything that is wrong with MetaFilter; that is, there is only one thing wrong with it, and it is you. Just add me to the list of people fed up with your shit, and consider the rest of this comment coloured appropriately.

And I roll my eyes again.

"I'll make it even easier, for you: would it be offensive for me to ask for a meat dish in a vegetarian restauarnt, even if I ordered it ahead of time?

Here, I'll answer for you: yes, it would."


Wow, it sure is easy to prove you're right if you answer your own questions.

Are you wrong? Yes, you are.

OH NO WE ARE AT AN IMPASSE!

Or, more to the point, it's not rude to ask, say, Real Food Daily, for a meat dish, or ask them if any of their dishes contain meat, even as they advertise that they're a vegan. They just explain that they don't serve any, in a friendly and helpful tone. I've seen it happen, and no one considers it rude. If someone were to demand meat, sure, that'd be rude. Otherwise, this rhetorical universe you've spun to justify your outrage is flatly bullshit. Sorry.

"But I'll play along, and give you another example, since you're much more interested in tearing apart examples than discussing the root issues. You own something made in Asia by child, slave, underpaid, enforced or prison labour. That you continue to buy those things (and you do) causes suffering directly, in a situation exactly analogous to me buying a dead chicken."

Really? I do? What? I try to avoid buying things that come from slave labor. Hell, I try to avoid buying things that come from countries with unfair labor practices. Do some things slip by? Sure. Are you trying to claim that you don't know meat practically requires suffering? That's bullshit.

Are you now accusing me of being a liar?

Way to have a fuckin' discussion.


Allow me to once again roll my eyes.

My happiness is not only necessary, it is paramount. There is nothing, real or imagined, past or future, that trumps that for importance, to me. And yours, to you.

Ah, I didn't realize that I was having this discussion with a toddler. Either that, or your definition of "happiness" is tautological.

Or a consumer whose income is greater than the world average. Or someone who eats anything, vegetable or animal.

Oh, bullshit. These are things that feel great to say, but are absolutely meaningless in any real sense. The idea that being a consumer with a greater than world-average (mean? median?) income necessitates your causing suffering is a non sequitor, and you have to make "suffering" so broad as to be encompassing every interaction in order to defend such a spurious statement.

"Actually, yes, it is. Because unless you are completely altruistic, you can still decrease the suffering of others."

I'm stuck here—either I take what you've written and try to parse it, when there's clearly something missing, or I guess based on what I think is missing (a negation in the second clause). So, based on the idea that you meant to make sense, I'm going to say that you can work in mutual self-interest with someone else and increase the happiness of both parties while still not abrogating your self-interest.

But I can say that, I've had sex.

"Amazingly ironic. I only see one person in here who has displayed any evidence of not giving a shit about anyone else, and it ain't me.

I guess I should be explicit: it's you. Only you.
"

Also, I smell and my mom dresses me funny. Did you have an actual rebuttal there?

"Because it's interesting, whether or not it's true. Providing information is not in and of itself a form of advocacy, and it especially is not when I state explicitly that I don't believe it. Is this really that difficult a concept?"

God says not to eat meat. Oh, I don't have any citations for that, and I don't buy it. God also said that your grasp of rhetoric is weak. Isn't that interesting, even if God didn't say it?

"Since you have almost certainly started replying before read my whole comment, I wanted to get my jab in here to let you know that whatever you wrote in response, I'm not going to read it. You're not worth the effort. Enjoy raging impotently against your betters -- that is, everyone."

Oooh! That showed me!
posted by klangklangston at 5:30 PM on March 26, 2008


"And I still do not buy it. If you are saying that you choose to be a vegetarian because you are just that into logic and you can't stand anything in your life that could ever seem contradictory to anyone, then no, I don't believe you. If you take that position, I happily consider that viewpoint and then dismiss it as dishonest."

That's fair. No one buys that. That's because it's a straw man. Though I will wager that there are philosophers who have become vegetarian because they see it as consistent with their overall philosophy. Peter Singer comes to mind.
posted by klangklangston at 5:35 PM on March 26, 2008


"I liked the idea where we derailed all this into a discussion of Top Chef, but no one was game."

That's because it hasn't been a very interesting season so far, drama-wise. The food looks pretty tight, though.

"Did you marinate the tempeh, or just simmer for a long time? A local kick-ass former-vegan chef makes an awesome grilled tempeh club, but I'm a little intimidated to work with the stuff at home.

I'm actually curious about this as well, since I've never had a good curry with tempeh, always with tofu.

And I've only ever had luck using tempeh in long-stewed stuff like chili and spaghetti sauce, or occasionally in grilled stuff like burgers. Anything else gives it that weird bitter flavor. I dunno what I'm doing wrong.
posted by klangklangston at 5:39 PM on March 26, 2008


I didn't marinate the tempeh, but I did let it simmer for a very long time, because I wanted to make sure the potatoes cooked through. So it was essentially long-stewed.

For grilling, I recommend using a bit of soy sauce while it's cooking. I find this helps improve the flavor a lot.
posted by kyrademon at 8:20 PM on March 26, 2008


So Bourdain believes "I hate you, because I eat meat, but you don't, and you don't think I should either?"

Assclown.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:08 AM on March 27, 2008


Bourdain the person's beliefs are actually unknown. Bourdain the "TV Personality's" beliefs are what are quoted and those beliefs have been justified by the nearly 200 comments all about TV Personality Bourdain on this website alone, not to mention the other websites that will go to great lengths to prove TV Personality Bourdain wrong!
posted by Pollomacho at 4:21 AM on March 27, 2008


Okay, kyrademon and others on Side 3, answer me this?

How do I get the tofu to have that amazing, slightly-crispy-on-the-outside, melty-liquid-cream-cheese-like-inside? A lot of sautéed or fried tofu that I get/see gotten in restaurants is clearly going for this effect, but missing the mark.
posted by desuetude at 9:10 AM on March 27, 2008


You use firm tofu, slice it into roughly inch cubes, and deep fry it in oil that's moderately hot until the outsides are golden brown.

If the oil's too hot, it gets too hard, if the oil's too cold, it just absorbs the oil.

Oh, and you want that to be as fresh as possible when you serve it, because the easiest way for restaurants to screw that up is to deep fry a bunch in advance and let it sit under heatlamps, which dries it out too much and makes it rubbery.
posted by klangklangston at 9:53 AM on March 27, 2008


Check out the Grit cookbook. They have a double-fry method of making their tofu that is flawless in my experience. Gets it crispy on the outside while NOT leaving it raw and mushy on the inside. Yummy!

And tempeh, if you slice it thin, sprinkle salt and the spice of your choice (i like garlic), and bake it at 400 for 10 minutes, its gets all nice and crispy and is perfect for dipping. I've never seen anyone not like that.
posted by Dantien at 11:05 AM on March 27, 2008


I would like someone on this thread to point out the militant vegan.

Do the people who starved their baby by feeding him mostly soy milk and apple juice count?
posted by AceRock at 3:57 PM on March 27, 2008


No. They belong to a different group known as "idiots", or possibly, if you believe those who have postulated that they actually killed their child intentionally, "murderers".
posted by kyrademon at 5:12 PM on March 27, 2008


I don't have a venn diagram to prove it, but I'm pretty sure the set of "militant vegans" and the set of "idiot" can intersect at some point to include the subset of "militant vegan idiots."
posted by The World Famous at 5:25 PM on March 27, 2008


Oh, man, that old Plank article? She's the type of person that I demand to see cites on every sentence, because she can't be bothered to let facts get in the way of a rant (like saying that traditional Indian vegetarians eat eggs, or that you can't get omega 3s aside from fish oil which, when compared to something like flax seed oil, is a higher risk for causing developmental disabilities).
posted by klangklangston at 5:36 PM on March 27, 2008


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