Stop meatposting
April 9, 2021 11:54 AM   Subscribe

Meatposting is word I made up just now. It refers to the practice of posting pictures of meat on social media with captions that glorify its consumption. ... meat is basically fossil fuels, except more delicious. It is a thing society uses every day but that is fueling a climate crisis causing massive human suffering, particularly among vulnerable populations. Climate-concerned meatposters forget this because meat culture is powerful. Independent climate journalist Emily Atkin writes about the damage done by memes and social media images that promote meat.

In America, we’re taught from a young age that the coolest thing in the world is to be a big man with a big car who eats big meat. This is part of our deeply embedded culture of petromasculinity. It’s why people still get weirdly furious when you suggest eating carrot hot dogs instead of regular hot dogs on the Fourth of July.

So I have great empathy for meatposters. I used to be one myself. If you scroll back far enough, my Instragram is a treasure trove of bleeding steaks, tender chops, and glistening loins. The pictures were all meals I made as acts of care for those I loved, particularly men. Of course I wanted to share them.

But eventually, as my climate reporting career went on, it no longer seemed ethical to actively encourage that behavior with enthusiastic social signaling. I stopped meatposting as an act of care for those I loved, and as an act of defiance against the powerful industry it benefited.
posted by Bella Donna (181 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
I feel the feels. Minimizing or at least decreasing meat consumption, individually and culturally, is a key component in climate change mitigation and climate change justice. Petromasculinity (linked from article) is pernicious. And the writer's friend is a mensch.
My friend, who is the most lovely and good-natured person ever, responded:

[Sees soapbox come out, checks surroundings and sees that there is a climate crisis, looks down at shirt glamorizing meat consumption, realizes is the bad guy, hangs head in shame].
posted by spamandkimchi at 12:21 PM on April 9, 2021 [7 favorites]


I recently read Resetting the Table: Straight Talk about the Food We Grow and Eat by Robert Paarlberg, a thoughtful if not persuasive defense of industrial agriculture, but the author is also horrified by the scale and rise of meat consumption and the climate change impacts:
Eighty-three percent of the Earth’s agricultural land is now being used to feed animals, even though they provide only 18 percent of total food calories... The consumption of red meat such as beef, lamb, and goat is projected to increase nearly 90 percent by 2050, a worrying trend because beef production emits twenty times more greenhouse gas compared to plant-based sources of edible protein such as beans, peas, or lentils. Globally, livestock production is responsible for 14 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. (p 205, Ch 8)
posted by spamandkimchi at 12:27 PM on April 9, 2021 [8 favorites]


Comments on the original post are a trashfire as you'd expect, bless Emily's heart for peacefully engaging with some of them. It's endlessly disappointing that any critique of meat (or cars!) meets with kneejerk defenses, or some insistence that we have to discuss this in private, friend-to-friend, not putting people on blast on the internet, despite meat (and cars!) being things that people tie to their identities and advertise about on all their platforms.
posted by tmcw at 12:27 PM on April 9, 2021 [8 favorites]


I believe it was Paul Virilio who famously said that the invention of meatposting was also the invention of meatpostshaming.
posted by gwint at 12:32 PM on April 9, 2021 [9 favorites]


We live in a society that makes it very difficult to live a totally climate-friendly life, and no one should be shamed for what they choose to fuel their body with.

...she says, proceeding to shame away. I guess you can eat meat as long as you do so furtively? And fuel your car in the dead of night, preferably with cash so you can't be tracked.

I believe that one should try to live one's life according to one's values, and that setting a good example can be meaningful. I also kind of expect that someday I'm going to end up an actual vegetarian for ethical reasons. But I do not get how anyone over the age of about 30 thinks that vast systemic problems are going to be solved by attacks on individual preferences. How about spending that energy on working to regulate those industries? If we forced people to internalize the costs of meat consumption, prices would undoubtedly go up, and consumption decline. Briefly making people feel bad about what they enjoy eating is not going to accomplish that. Not posting about meat being tasty doesn't even serve an educational purpose.
posted by praemunire at 12:33 PM on April 9, 2021 [110 favorites]


I've posted about CF Industries before, so won't belabor that point; there's some exceptions, like fisheries, and some caveats, like conventional vegetables that are still pretty petro heavy, but these don't take away from the main point that there's a social system that connects these behaviors, and that social system makes talking about policy change impossible.

Quoth the poet 'Eat Meat...."

But the main weakness to these articles, as critiques of social systems, which I support, is the lack of connection and writing about the US farm bill.

Most US americans couldn't connect their meat consumption with the Piney Point disaster in Florida (or all the other gypstack disasters, half of these gypstacks in the USA are collapsing, it seems)

But the fact that it's called "the farm bill" and not the "food bill" tells you a lot about US priorities for food production, just as a start
posted by eustatic at 12:34 PM on April 9, 2021 [9 favorites]


Meat eating environmental scientist chiming in here to mention that this article totally fails to discuss that before industrialization and the advent of the factory farm Indigenous people sustainably ate meat for millennia. Further, what about people struggling to afford food? Pretty sure a carrot dog doesn’t have as much protein as a hot dog made from meat...totally dismissive to assume everyone eating meat is doing it because they just don’t care about climate change. No one should glorify factory farming or overconsumption but this kind of one-dimensional view of meat eating is both inaccurate and harmful and I’m so over morally superior vegans. I mean, no one cares what you’re eating and I have kinda moved away from posting food photos to Instagram in general, even as a person who loves and appreciates all kinds of foods but this kind of virtue signaling is total bullshit. I would honestly have extremely choice words for the kind of insufferable “friend” who would message someone and make them feel bad for “meatposting”...ffs.
posted by sparringnarwhal at 12:34 PM on April 9, 2021 [79 favorites]


My politically progressive friends post stuff like this all the time. And I gotta be honest: I think it’s super cringey!

No. Sorry. I find this ridiculous. This blog post is super cringey - for example, wow that ridiculous text exchange (if I were the friend my response would have been more along the lines of "lol whatever").

I'm not even a giant rah rah meat person, nor am I some ardent fan of people posting pictures of meat (frankly - yeah it's stupid!), but I'm tired of the ongoing hyper-individualization and individual moralizing of every issue including climate change. Climate change is happening because of corporations, lack of regulation, and overall unfettered capitalism. It is not because a bunch of people are posting pics of the food they're eating which happens to be meat.

I simply don't see the point of this other than experiencing the thrill of creating moral transgressions out of thin air... totally not divisive or unproductive as the history of internet discourse has shown!

On preview: What praemunire said!
posted by windbox at 12:35 PM on April 9, 2021 [58 favorites]


This hit close to home. I'm in a group chat with a couple of buddies who send pictures anytime one of our smokers or grills lights up. To me, though, instead of glorifying meat we're trying to recapture the social feeling of being in each others' backyards with a cooler full of beer.

In my defense, I have posted far more photos of plugging in my electric-ish car than pumping gas.
posted by hwyengr at 12:35 PM on April 9, 2021 [7 favorites]


I guess you can eat meat as long as you do so furtively?

If I forwarded my mom's church friends (really kind people) to read this piece, they would agree that meat harms the environment, they'd stop sharing the WeChat meatposts, but not actually stop consuming meat that much.

The way I do it is to make a point of cooking vegetables for parties and potlucks. I research recipes and techniques as best I can and come up with something that impresses the vegetarians enough to remark on it.
posted by polymodus at 12:37 PM on April 9, 2021 [7 favorites]


We had meat before fossil fuels... a lot less though. More responsible agricultural practices would be good but they do make meat way way pricier, and then you just make it a thing only few can enjoy.

I'm fine with eating less meat, that makes it even more enjoyable when I do have meat, but it feels counterproductive to berate people about just about everything they do.

Let people enjoy meat there's a reason we're so happy when it happens, but lets politely get the message across that it has consequences.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 12:39 PM on April 9, 2021 [7 favorites]


Okay, here's the thing I don't get: the only way there's going to be structural change that makes meat less of a thing or less harmful or whatever is if there is a movement pushing for structural change. Nice arguments aren't going to do a damn thing. And how can there be a movement if people get upset when it is suggested that they reduce their meat consumption? I mean, it's all very well to say that it's hyperindividualizing to suggest that people reduce their personal meat consumption, but I'm not totally sure that we're going to be able to build a movement of people who are bacon fanatics pressuring governments to change meat production.

It's easy to say, "I shop at places that don't pay a living wage because that's my oniy option and I also organize in support of unionization and living wage laws" because after all we have no choice but to acquire food and clothing, but this meat business to me seems like an issue where individual choice and political action really are rather hard to separate.
posted by Frowner at 12:44 PM on April 9, 2021 [46 favorites]


I can't believe in the year of our lord 2021 we are still having the "personally choosing to eat meat: good or bad?" debate, the debate that the fossil fuel and industrial agriculture industry would HUGELY prefer we all have because the idea that each and every one of us individually are going to change our consuming behavior if only people just share less silly meat pics online is absolute fantasy. It's fantasy and it's not how mass change works.

What I am most mad about though is that this post has forced me to side with all of the unfunny "lol epic bacon!" douchebags but here I am.
posted by windbox at 12:46 PM on April 9, 2021 [48 favorites]


I started significantly lowering meat consumption during the pandemic and was happy to meet a lot of new vegetarian options upon returning to the supermarket and I don’t think this is the way to go. Our society is mostly made up of omnivores and telling them to hide their meat consumption on social media isn’t going to actually resolve that. Also why meat and not cars or vacation photos?
posted by Selena777 at 12:46 PM on April 9, 2021 [3 favorites]


Sometimes I wonder what people's reaction would be if things like eating meat or driving gas powered cars were new ideas. Surely people would look at them and think "what a wasteful thing, who would do that?" and they would never catch on. Then I think about Bitcoin, frequent flyers, and people buying gas-powered sports cars today and realize that no, environmental damage is just too remote for many people to prioritize.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:49 PM on April 9, 2021 [13 favorites]


Folks seem interested in the systematic angles, so I figure it's useful to drop links to the two brilliant Sarahs: Sarah Mock and Sarah Taber, both of whom have written A+ material about the intersection of ag & environmentalism.

I don't think that meatposting is foodposting. I don't see the level of instagrams of salads or cookies or ice cream or cheese or cookies or anything else similarly delicious. Everything has some cultural valence, and meat has (imho) more than the other things: it's a symbol of manliness in right-wing circles, a wave at hedonism for others, stupid internet memes (bacon!), a sense of status (grass-fed!) for the Pollan set.

It's really hard to see meatposting as not a form of signaling.
posted by tmcw at 12:50 PM on April 9, 2021 [15 favorites]


How does the cost of legume protein compare to hot dog protein?

Not sure about legumes, but I can be eating a tasty hot dog about 300 seconds after I finish typing this sentence, so the time cost of hot dog protein is extremely low.
posted by sideshow at 1:02 PM on April 9, 2021 [7 favorites]


It's really hard to see meatposting as not a form of signaling.

It's pretty easy actually! One just has to stop making the deliberate decision to view it that way, and then go join a political organization that is dedicated to organizing and fighting climate change rather than engaging in fruitless, purely aesthetic culture-warring.
posted by windbox at 1:07 PM on April 9, 2021 [31 favorites]


Right-wingers get a huge amount of mileage out of portraying anyone left of them as the Fun Police. (Wasn't it Kamala that Trump accused of wanting to ban hamburgers?) These Fun Police are largely coded female. And because being right-wing is being anti-climate action, society may well come to an ugly end because of people who didn't want to be told what to do by a girl and people who listen to girls. There's a certain kind of person who cannot stand anyone who seems to "think they're better than us," and they are capable of any amount of publicly expressed spite against the work of such people (cf: Trump, Brexit).

What I'm saying is, this essay was both understandable, correct, and counterproductive. I've been a vegetarian for most of my life, and in the South, too. I have privately suffered through the People Eating Tasty Animals joke more times than I can say. The thing to do is not to shame other people's relationship with food, but have a good time with your own, so that other people get curious and want to try it. The structural change in meat-eating has to come from above.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:13 PM on April 9, 2021 [25 favorites]


The benefits of never getting on instagram keep adding up for me. I am trying to remember the last time I saw somebody post a pic of meat they were eating, but I am way more likely to see salads, desserts, or fancy breads. Because they look pretty. Meat's appeal is mostly in the smell when cooked.

I would have to stalk my friends pretty hard to find a pic to meatshame them for.
posted by emjaybee at 1:15 PM on April 9, 2021 [7 favorites]


How does the cost of legume protein compare to hot dog protein?

Around here the soy/plant sausage are more expensive than the pork sausage.. but sausage aren't a great example, there's a lot of transformation going on in there. For equivalent proteins content, lentils/beans are much cheaper than pork.

I'm a yoda-meater myself, do it or do not, there is no try.

If thing isn't meat it's ok, let's not try to mascarade soy or lentils as meat, there are other tasty non-meat things to put in delicious toasted buns.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 1:15 PM on April 9, 2021 [2 favorites]


Wonder what the author thinks of people posting their fishing or hunting harvests. If I had a social media to post on, that is surely one thing I would not post because of the same misguided social-media-as-proxy-culture-war logic on display in this piece.
posted by bradbane at 1:21 PM on April 9, 2021 [2 favorites]


“How does the cost of legume protein compare to hot dog protein?“ There’s this habit people have when talking food where the excesses of the middle class are blamed on the poor and rendered exempt from criticism or modification. Acquiring and taking photos of large outlays of meat appears to be a pretty clearly middle class thing outside of rural areas, and I assumed the writer was talking to middle class and up people about their consumption habits.
posted by Selena777 at 1:22 PM on April 9, 2021 [5 favorites]


how can there be a movement if people get upset when it is suggested that they reduce their meat consumption?

I mean, yes: we are facing the very real fact that, as with driving, making the correct societal choices to fight climate change, etc., will end up cutting into activities that many people find pleasurable. I don't think it does any good to pretend otherwise, honestly, as sometimes people tend to do.

At the same time, I am very much in favor of cost internalization for both driving and meat-eating, but it's not because I'm ashamed of or loathe either. If it could be costless, I'd tell people to nosh and drive freely. But it's not, and yet people find value in both activities. Reduction of "consumption" of both is thus going to have to be the result of governmentally-imposed regulation forcing people to bear their actual costs, and if it isn't, it's going to be the result of societal collapse. In these contexts, shame is...fairly irrelevant. Providing good alternatives, on the other hand, may help move the needle. It's a lot easier for me in NYC to almost completely eschew car travel than it is for my mom in Midwest State. It rarely feels like a burden at all (at least in normal times!).
posted by praemunire at 1:23 PM on April 9, 2021 [11 favorites]


The article discusses/critiques the glorification of meat-eating, not the act of eating meat, and while that may seem like shaming to some in here, I felt the author did a good job of distinguishing the reality that there is no innocence in 21st century consumption with, let's not pretend our choices are innocent.
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:25 PM on April 9, 2021 [20 favorites]


The article discusses/critiques the glorification of meat-eating, not the act of eating meat, and while that may seem like shaming to some in here

"You can do it, as long as you do it in secret and without demonstrating any pleasure in it" is a form of shaming.
posted by praemunire at 1:28 PM on April 9, 2021 [9 favorites]


I thought the article hit home well. And I'm a meat eater. The picture she shared wasn't even about a particular meal. It was specifically about sharing an ambition to eat more meat! And, I don't think it's contestable that sharing that ambition is a distinctly cultural phenomenon. We don't routinely share pictures of huge rolls of dental floss along with an ambition to floss more regularly, and most of us would be more likely to list that as an explicit ambition.

I think this post is starting at the reasonable edges of a cultural phenomenon, suggesting no more than that you could consider cutting back on the glorification of meat eating as a first step towards a future most of us recognize we need to achieve, where we all collectively do in fact eat far less factory farmed meat.

In the comments there is also an honest acknowledgement that it is specifically modern factory farm meat practices that are the issue here. But that's going pretty far into #notallmeat.
posted by meinvt at 1:33 PM on April 9, 2021 [9 favorites]


let's not try to mascarade soy or lentils as meat, there are other tasty non-meat things to put in delicious toasted buns.

I definitely agree that all of the "it's meat but plants!" stuff is on a spectrum from pointless to positively revolting.

But as pointed out above, a hot dog (or a chicken nugget, or a burger), whether meat or faux-meat, can be prepared easily and quickly and even often by a young child. Lentils (shudder) take all fuckin' day and then in the end you're still eating lentils. It just isn't going to catch on en masse unless:
1. we have to do it or die of starvation.
2. society changes so drastically that everyone has time for tons of leisurely food prep
3. ??? somehow lentils start to taste good???

So the cost that applies to average person trying to work 60 hours a week and feed their kid something is the cost differential of a soy hot dog vs a pork hot dog.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:34 PM on April 9, 2021 [4 favorites]


Discussions like this remind me of the haydays of Hufu.
posted by mfoight at 1:35 PM on April 9, 2021


Food pictures should be like dick pics, available upon request but not flashed publicly indiscriminately.
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:49 PM on April 9, 2021 [3 favorites]


It is only now that solar is actually cheaper than alternatives that we are seeing mass takeup and it will be similar with meat. Let's take away all those factory farming subsidies, and see substitutes / lab grown / whatever come down in price to be competitive. The change will come but not while it takes huge personal effort, cost, and education.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:49 PM on April 9, 2021 [10 favorites]


There was a post on here a few months ago about obesity, the medical establishment and the futility of diets and it’s interesting to think about the shame, fear and guilt attached to weight, in the same universe as shame, fear and guilt attached to meat consumption.

In many parts of the U.S. being thin is seen as being moral, disciplined and controlled, and the most popular way to do that is the low-carb diet, with all of its offshoots - Paleo, keto, etc. What do most people eat when they’re following that diet? Meat. Lots and lots of meat. No grains, no starchy veggies, those are baaaaad. Basically the fewest calories you can possibly consume. (Especially if you’re a woman and trying to follow an arbitrary calorie limit, omitted to avoid triggers, that does not take exercise, build or height into account.) Meat makes you feel full and helps you cut calories. If you’re constantly dieting your life is boring anyway because all you do is think about food and how hungry you are. So some of the meat-bragging about bacon, steak, etc. is a way to signal your devotion to this “virtuous” lifestyle, and can stand in for the personality you lost when you started calorie counting.

Many women I’ve talked to who, like me, are former dieters, still feel scared of grains and many veggies. Especially since calorie restriction often pushes dieters into binge eating disorder where they can’t control themselves around high-caloric foods. If we’re going to move away from meat consumption as a culture we’ll need to deal with fatphobia and the section of the diet and medical industry that peddles fear of grains and starches.
posted by rogerroger at 1:51 PM on April 9, 2021 [21 favorites]


But as pointed out above, a hot dog (or a chicken nugget, or a burger), whether meat or faux-meat, can be prepared easily and quickly and even often by a young child. Lentils (shudder) take all fuckin' day and then in the end you're still eating lentils. It just isn't going to catch on en masse unless:
1. we have to do it or die of starvation.
2. society changes so drastically that everyone has time for tons of leisurely food prep
3. ??? somehow lentils start to taste good???


I do agree it takes a lot more time to turn lentils into something good than to prepare a hotdog... I do manage to overcomplicate a burger and its actually not that fast when I do it, but for most people its a quick thing too.

We don't have an amazing western tradition of cooking beans/lentils into something amazing and it usually requires more ingredients/time to add to the very ordinary taste of lentils... indian cooking fares much better at this for example.

I also have no illusions this will happen btw.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 1:54 PM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]


Look, if I can't post pics of this ridiculously expensive steak I bought at Alexander's what the point of having all this money? /s
posted by pwnguin at 1:54 PM on April 9, 2021


It’s why people still get weirdly furious when you suggest eating carrot hot dogs instead of regular hot dogs on the Fourth of July.


maybe they don't feel like being bugs bunny
posted by pyramid termite at 1:58 PM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]


RogerRoger, these new low-no carb diets are a backlash themselves to years of ornish style diets where high meat consumption was discouraged (especially red meat and pork) and vegetables were suggested for dieters, especially women who were encouraged to see the resulting perpetual hunger as a sign of virtue.
posted by Selena777 at 2:01 PM on April 9, 2021 [5 favorites]


The meat = petromasculinity thing seems really narrow-minded and counterproductive. Most of the people in the world who eat meat aren't out here wearing American flag tank tops, idolizing bacon, and rolling coal. Addressing meat consumption on that level feels like it plays into exhausting macho US meat eater vs. soyboy tropes, and really, why would we do that when we could just...not?

My Instagram isn't full of glistening steaks. When I think of the meat-eaters in my life, the first people who come to mind are women, since they were largely the cooks in my Italian-American family. I can picture my grandmother tilting an oil-filled frying pan that she had just used to brown meatballs and whispering, "look at all that flavor." I remember the two-hour long, addling, raised-voice argument I had with that same grandmother when I, as a vegetarian teenager, did not want to eat a turkey burger. She genuinely thought I was starving myself to death, and insisted, repeatedly, that turkey isn't meat, as if entire neighborhoods in Staten Island were being terrorized by large feathered vegetables.

The main reason I'm not vegetarian right now is that I've had iron-deficiency anemia for going on two years now, and it has been knocking me on my ass. Iron supplements have been running my gastrointestinal system ragged, so I get kind of frustrated whenever someone comes along with, "just eat beans" or "look at all these expensive, highly-processed, soy-based foods that cook like animal products but don't have anything resembling the same nutritional profile!" It's cool if that works for you, but it isn't helpful to insist that will work for everyone.

We should, by all means, try to reduce meat consumption and produce it in less destructive ways. Shaming people for Instagram food photos and playing into shitty gender tropes doesn't seem like a productive way to have that conversation or get it done.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:06 PM on April 9, 2021 [28 favorites]


How does the cost of legume protein compare to hot dog protein?

As a mom on the ground trying to minimize meat consumption in a household that includes someone eating low-carb due to diabetes, I can tell you exactly: $1.99 for twelve chicken hotdogs, $4.99/5.49 for 8 tofu dogs.

So the cost that applies to average person trying to work 60 hours a week and feed their kid something is the cost differential of a soy hot dog vs a pork hot dog.

This is somewhat true in our culture but I will say that my kids were raised on lentils (mujadara especially, it was a staple in their lunch thermoses in the Before Times) and one of their most-requested meals is non-vegan Cheesy Beans.* But it does take a lot of time and energy when you're transitioning your habits, and swimming against the tide.

I have many stories on the ground. I fed my oldest only soy dogs, chickpeas for snacks, etc. and one day he kind of cuddled up and whispered "I don't want to hurt your feelings but the hot dogs at Luke's are so much better, can you get that kind?" That would be beef, sweet child of mine.

Pre-pandemic I banned beef from our house. During Covid we've agreed to the occasional actual burger served. I eat vegan before 6 except for milk in my coffee, but my household includes two low-carb adherents so our evening meal is a flex. I tend to do okay on a vegetarian diet. On a vegan diet sometimes I start getting into a craving cycle. Two people in my house do not do well on a vegetarian diet and that is up to them.

Usually there's a lot of vegetables, a legume dish the low-carb people avoid, and a meat dish I avoid, and my kids pick from the bunch. I kind of think this is the way forward for most people, just less and less and less until one day it's banned from public like smoking.

I think the lesson I have here is that we are generally making incremental progress and my kids understand that beef is to the planet as cotton candy is to their bodies. We have it rarely and it should be treated as an infrequent thing.

*Non-vegan cheesy beans:

- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1/2 onion
- 1-3 gloves of garlic depending on your taste
- dollop of olive oil
- thyme or rosemary if desired
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 cans or equivalent of white kidney or navy beans, drained
- as little cheese as you can get away with

Chop onions and sautee until translucent in the oil. Add garlic, minced, and cook about 30-45 seconds more. Then, and this is critical, saute the tomato paste for 30-45 seconds so that it caramelizes just a tad. Then add the water, add the beans, add the herbs if using, simmer until it thickens a bit (about 10 minutes); add cheese to the top and melt.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:07 PM on April 9, 2021 [21 favorites]


Meatposting isn't always connected to right-wing ideology or a social dominance orientation, or at least it wasn't initially. There was a lot of artisanal-carnivore hipsterism a decade ago which seemed to be partly the result of vegetarianism becoming mainstream and not obscurely cool any more, and thus being really particular about meat in the ways people are about, say, coffee or craft beer, becoming the next big underground thing. There was an undertone of masculinity to this, but it seemed to be like the quasi-ironic echo of obsolete models of masculinity that hipster culture was awash in, in its thrift-shop work shirts and sailor-tattoo iconography and facial hair.

It was a more innocent time; before the founder of Vice Magazine formed a fascist terror group, before a Canadian academic combined trophic carnivorism, anti-feminism and the (scientifically debunked) notion of the alpha male into a lucrative ideology to sell to rudderless young men, before publicly eating a non-vegan burger was effectively rolling coal and/or proclaiming “damn right, other living beings should suffer for my pleasure because I'm worth it”.
posted by acb at 2:24 PM on April 9, 2021 [4 favorites]


I mean, personally I don't have any dog in the "meatposting" fight. My friends are not more enthusiastic about meat than about any other food, and I don't follow strangers on social media because I cannot for the life of me see the point. In the Before Times I did plenty of food posting from restaurants because I wanted people to know about and go to these restaurants; if those posts were somehow disproportionately "meaty" it certainly wasn't some kind of edible rolling coal.

But being what I tend to think of as a "recovering vegetarian," I used to take considerable joy and delight in pretty much every meat I ate (the eating meat is still a thing; all of my ability to feel joy and delight died last year). I can see where the impulse to share it exists even apart from any particular culture signifying.

(Nowadays I don't bother cooking anything at all, even to the level of a microwaved hot dog, because why bother. And nobody instagrams their 3rd bowl of dry cheerios for the day.)

In short I feel like the FPP is not incorrect per se but it's a bit of an NYT trend piece, where someone's particular Very Online niche did a thing and they didn't poke their head up to see whether it's actually anything at all. But it's a short and thin article and really more of a thought prompt than anything I suppose.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:25 PM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]


Nice arguments aren't going to do a damn thing. And how can there be a movement if people get upset when it is suggested that they reduce their meat consumption?

The same way you build up a movement to reduce car use: by focusing on the large-scale environmental issues created by cars, the value of public transit, etc instead of trying to shame each individual car owner as a piece of shit if they don't change their personal behavior. And, in fact, there already is widespread and growing support for large-scale regulatory measures regarding the auto industry as a result of years of exactly this kind of large-scale focus.

but this meat business to me seems like an issue where individual choice and political action really are rather hard to separate.

But they're absolutely not. Whether or not someone chooses to eat a burger has no bearing at all on whether they might support large-scale structural changes like improved environmental regulations for meat producers, tariffs on meat, etc. Telling them they're awful human beings for eating that burger accomplishes nothing, focusing on getting their support for larger measures does, and their personal habits will eventually be influenced by the effects of the large-scale measures.

Or to focus on another area, do people simply love having items manufactured in China and shipped across the world? Or is that a result of state-level choices regarding things like treaties on shipping costs and tariffs? Will telling someone they're terrible for buying an item made in China be an effective way to change this system?
posted by star gentle uterus at 2:30 PM on April 9, 2021 [8 favorites]


This all reminds me of something I once read about labor activists in Myanmar (I think it was from Naomi Klein but Google isn't finding it) where the author recounts talking to the activists and being shocked that they were wearing shoes/clothing from the companies that they were protesting against. The activists responded that this was a collective fight, not an individual one, and that their individual purchasing choices wouldn't make any difference in their lives, but building a labor movement strong enough to regulate those companies would.
posted by star gentle uterus at 2:37 PM on April 9, 2021 [16 favorites]


Eh, I'll agree with the author that there is a certain weird tendency in some circles to be all rah-rah meat in a way you don't see for other food, but it's not really that common; I've only encountered it in a couple of work environments, my other acquaintance circles meat just shows up as a general part of posting pictures of stuff you cooked/baked/had at a restaurant. So it feels like yet another one of those "let's focus on some minor performative thing that won't really be effective about climate change" pointless guilt-fests.
posted by tavella at 2:41 PM on April 9, 2021 [6 favorites]


There's a few things going on:

1) Meat can be sustainable. Vegetarian foods can be unsustainable. There's nothing inherent about this.

2) Meat is way, way undercosted, being both subsidized and then having no externalities costed into the price.

3) There are people in the world who want to see complete abolition of meat, rather than a reduction to sustainability, and those people have dominated the conversation and/or poisoned the well.

If meat is understood to be a "sometimes" thing and appreciated as a part of a meal or a special treat, this seems to be a mindset that'll be a lot easier to shift to than to shame people for enjoying meat. It's also a lot more in line with respecting indigenous cultures.

The "artisanal carnivore" that acb mentions above is an example of a more-sustainable mindset toward meat than, say, giant steaks or hot dog eating contests.
posted by explosion at 2:45 PM on April 9, 2021 [20 favorites]


it takes a lot more time to turn lentils into something good than to prepare a hotdog.

Which points out one of the systemic things that could be has been halfway fixed -- hotdogs aren't comparable to lentils, pork scraps are comparable to lentils. Plenty of hassle to turn offcuts into smooth and tasty sausage. But there's a *lot* of history in the US making pork products at industrial scale. The lentil equivalent is, say, a Tasty Bite pouch, or lentil falafa or such.

Here my other half remarks that hotdogs are cheap in the US because of ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE military-industrial research and development, spun off into cheap food. Cf. Combat Ready Kitchen. Now, the first time we had a tasty bite, it was because we'd been looking for vegetarian MREs for earthquake supplies, so that makes sense.

But the oddity is that Tasty Bite, and veggie prepared meals generally, are so much more expensive than cheap hotdogs even though the latter require cold chain. I don't know how to figure out why their costs are not proportional to the necessary net primary productivity, frex. ( Though explosion has just posted some pointers!)
posted by clew at 2:48 PM on April 9, 2021 [5 favorites]


meat is basically fossil fuels, except more delicious.

Everything is fossil fuels because everything requires energy and cheap, abundant energy for the last couple of centuries has been fossil fuels. Industrial farming of crops? You're eating fossil fuels. How else do we get the raw amount of nitrates required to fuel industrial levels of farming? We break hydrocarbons to get hydrogen and then squeeze it onto nitrogen to make ammonia. Without it the planet would be an unfarmable mess (worse than we've already made it) within a generation.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:51 PM on April 9, 2021 [9 favorites]


Not really? The whole thing about rolling coal is specially back-engineering your vehicle to be extra polluting, even though it makes it more expensive. Eating meat is just part of the normal diet for many people. Jordan Peterson's... thing... might be close, though, eating a less pleasant diet for performative reasons.
posted by tavella at 3:16 PM on April 9, 2021 [9 favorites]


One can be performatively any-diet in harmful ways. That includes the folks who are performative meat-eaters (harm caused is at the intersection of environmental and misogynist), performatively vegan (one common variant causes harm in areas intersecting with classism and promotion of eating disorders), etc. Neither of these may be The Most Pressing Or Important World Problem, but we can talk about not the most pressing problems too.
posted by eviemath at 3:21 PM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]


Utterly totally do not get why people send pictures of food. (actually clicked on this link assuming it would be about porn selfies so there is a lot I apparently do not get). An amazing cake that a person decorated, that I get, even if it's actually droopy and grade school assignment level. Sad and embarrassing, but ok then. But cooked meat? Just do not get. Don't actually look too closely at the food I'm eating, no flecks of glass or metal, ok, good, tv or the meal partner are so much more interesting to look at. A quick glance to avoid slicing a finger, makes sense, do people stare at each layer? Wow, look at that slice, so uniform, the grain of the cooked flesh, not going to eat this, we'll preserve it for our grandchildren.
posted by sammyo at 3:44 PM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]


An opinion for your consideration: claiming that expressing concern about performative meat consumption is classist yet comparing hot dogs to lentils (in I guess a fancy Western preparation and not the various convenience packs you can get in an Indian grocery store if you live in a community that has one?) instead of to canned baked beans (across the Northern US, at least), canned refried beans (anywhere in the US, but a greater selection of cheap and convenient bean options along these lines would also be available in a budget grocery store anywhere with a large enough Latino population), beans and rice (across Southern US), quick dried falafel mix (anywhere that has a large enough Middle Eastern population), etc. belies a certain lack of familiarity with the relevant subject material to be making that claim.

Yeah, the agricultural subsidy structure in the US has resulted in a lot of low cost meat byproduct convenience foods since the middle of the last century. But part of why folks who live in impoverished communities in food deserts eat lots of cheap low quality meat product foods is because the even cheaper and also quick to make but healthier and/or consisting of less meat byproduct foods literally aren't available (yet another part of how it's expensive to be poor). And the many poor folks in communities that aren't complete food deserts do have cheaper and equally quick to assemble options than hot dogs.
posted by eviemath at 3:48 PM on April 9, 2021 [8 favorites]


Mrs Molerats coined the word "stunt food" in our house to describe ridiculous food restaurants advertise that are clearly more about "I want people to see me eating/making this ridiculous item" rather than the actual food, and this intersects with meat and masculinity a ton - pretty much all of Arby's campaigns, the Baconator, Turducken, etc. One could argue that some meat might be sustainably farmed and eaten, but the "stunt meats" being widely sold for $5... all of that is so wasteful and disrespectful of animals.
posted by nakedmolerats at 3:59 PM on April 9, 2021 [4 favorites]


Utterly totally do not get why people send pictures of food.

Food & hospitality is a very common cultural signifier. "Companion" derives from "one you share bread with". Many languages have phrases & sayings about food & trust, the importance of sharing it, etc.

So, particularly in a pandemic, is it that absurd that people might want to say "This is what I'm eating, I wish I could be eating it with you but this is the next closest thing"?

Why do people send pictures of themself? Yes, it's a face, there's a lot of them around. Wow, look at that face, so symmetrical, we'll preserve this for grandchildren.
posted by CrystalDave at 4:03 PM on April 9, 2021 [18 favorites]


Honestly none of the comparisons are real great? The argument was that veggie hotdogs are more expensive than meat hot dogs, but that regular lentils are cheaper than meat hotdogs. Which is all correct but it's kind of apples to oranges.

But my argument wasn't that it's classist to be concerned about performative meat consumption at all. My argument had zero to do with performative meat consumption whatsoever and was merely an observation on ordinary meat consumption.

It was just that when someone wants a hotdog, they likely want A HOTDOG, or at any rate something close to it. And if the choices are "inexpensive meat hotdog that tastes good" vs "expensive fake meat hotdog that tastes bad" most people are going to go with the former. "Labor intensive/completely different thing" doesn't even make the cut.

If the fake shitty hotdog was substantially cheaper, the reasoning might shift. If the fake hotdog were less shitty, again, reasoning might shift.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:05 PM on April 9, 2021 [6 favorites]


But cooked meat? Just do not get. [...] Wow, look at that slice, so uniform, the grain of the cooked flesh, not going to eat this, we'll preserve it for our grandchildren.

I dunno—I think that if you're going to eat meat, better that it be the main event than some sort of sideshow. In a slightly-more-ideal world, the only beef you could get would be wagyu-grade, meant to be enjoyed as a something approaching a culinary delicacy, like modern lobster or langoustine. And it would probably cost about as much, if you internalized all the costs and made the production ethical.

I see a lot of Instagram and Snapchat posts of meat because a bunch of my friends all simultaneously bought/built sous vide cookers during the pandemic for Various Reasons, and the easiest (and one of the most satisfying, IMO) things to cook sous vide are steaks. Done right, you end up with a done-ness that's almost impossibly uniform while still having a browned outside; something that's nearly impossible to do traditionally on a home grill. So yeah, the first time you use that, there's probably going to be a bunch of "yo people check this out" posts of steaks.

Now if we wanted to talk about something that's both disgusting and disrespectful to the ingredients, we could discuss hot dog eating challenges. Ooof. Just no.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:11 PM on April 9, 2021 [3 favorites]


Beef protein is more expensive than other sources in terms of money and carbon emissions and requires massive amounts of deforestation each year to keep up with the global demand.

Sure, but it's not more expensive to the consumer, and that is the point. If you want people to eat more vegetables, subsidize them. Right now I can get a pound of asparagus at the same price of a pound of beef steak, and one, especially with the fat, will fill me up and keep me going, while the other one is going to leave me still hungry. The "meatier" vegetables or meat substitutes currently cost more than meat and largely taste worse than meat - in some cases deliberately, because they're often designed for vegans who find actual meat taste distasteful now.

If you want people to eat alternative foods, make them cheaper than beef currently costs, tastier, and more widely available at every store and I guarantee you people will switch because of their interests. Don't shame people for making rational choices given the situation they live in.
posted by corb at 4:13 PM on April 9, 2021 [16 favorites]


Beef protein is more expensive than other sources in terms of money and carbon emissions and requires massive amounts of deforestation each year to keep up with the global demand.

And if people were eating beef *because* it was more destructive to the environment then rolling coal would be a good comparison. Most people are eating beef because they like beef. It's just a bad metaphor. Not to mention you slid quietly along from your initial "red meat" to the narrow land of beef; red meat includes quite a wide variety of environmental footprints.
posted by tavella at 4:16 PM on April 9, 2021 [2 favorites]


I'm literally going through Mind of Chef and one thing the professionals really expressed frustration about was the poor quality of most produce. They had gotten used to working in Parisian kitchens where the vegetables and fruits for restaurants were just incredible, and after the young chefs left to start their own restaurants elsewhere, they realized the magic difference was in the level of agricultural product they were able to obtain. One of the young Michelin-aspiring chefs literally temporarily quit cooking, because of this.

Of course that's an extreme example. But what inspires me about that narrative is that there's this huge potential gap in produce quality that could be met, for such greater good. And Alice Waters has been an advocate of this. Take beans for instance: I was absolutely floored by the beans I bought once while visiting Seattle, they were heirloom beans by Rancho Gordo. Across the border, I can't order these for a decent price online, and I don't think anyone sells them. I have to use regular supermarket dry beans, but they're not the same.
posted by polymodus at 4:21 PM on April 9, 2021 [2 favorites]


If you want people to eat more vegetables, subsidize them.

Or just de-subsidize meat. The meat industry gets all sorts of subsidies, tax breaks, land grants, etc. Start chipping away at that, and start making them actually take care of their waste, or at least paying for it if someone else has to do it. Make meat cost what it actually should cost and people will eat less of it.
posted by star gentle uterus at 4:58 PM on April 9, 2021 [22 favorites]


I was under the impression that vegetables were subsidized already.
posted by Selena777 at 5:02 PM on April 9, 2021


Fresh produce is not subsidized nearly as much as, for example, the corn used to create corn syrup.

The reason why corn syrup is in everything in the US is because it's super cheap due to subsidies.
posted by explosion at 5:06 PM on April 9, 2021 [6 favorites]


So it's analogous to the people who roll coal because they like it and think it looks cool instead of the people who do it to own the libs.

Soooo... a unicorn, then? Sometimes you just have to take the L, dude, when you pick a bad metaphor.
posted by tavella at 5:12 PM on April 9, 2021 [4 favorites]


I have largely eliminated my meat consumption for two reasons. One of them is that I could. We have the money to spend on food, and a girlfriend who is an expert in vegetarian alternatives, so the opportunity existed and the transition was easy.
Once I realized that I had the option, I made the switch for the second reason. This second reason is "personal". It's personal because I have learned that some people Really Don't Like It when I mention it.
posted by tigrrrlily at 5:16 PM on April 9, 2021 [2 favorites]


Amusingly, the red meat I eat most often I am reasonably sure has the lowest carbon footprint of just about anything I eat, certainly any meat: wild deer shot on my dad's property, personally butchered and packaged on site by him, and brought along to family gatherings. But I don't get snotty about people who buy beef from supermarkets because they want a steak or stirfry.
posted by tavella at 5:18 PM on April 9, 2021 [4 favorites]


I feel like "eating plants is taking public transport" is a good example of an oversimplification that won't get us to where we need to be.

I can only speak to the US, but over half of our fruits and a third of our vegetables are now imported, so they absolutely come with a carbon footprint. That's not to mention that we're overdrafting our aquifers and fertilizing fields with nitrogen derived from increasing natural gas extraction. We need to change what we're subsidizing and growing, and how we're growing, transporting, storing, and eating it. It's a big complex problem that isn't well served by oversimplification or tying it to some kind of us-vs.-them identity/culture war.

And to the people who don't get why someone would want to follow people they don't know on social media or post photos of food, to each their own. I get a kick out of watching artists and craftspeople make things, and New York Nico's fundraiser involving goofy, adorable video dating posts made my day. I'm not much for food posts, but cooking is hard, so I can appreciate when someone is proud of something they made, wants to show gratitude for something that was made for them, or wants people to be able to fire up their mirror neurons and share in a pleasant experience. Let people like things.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:43 PM on April 9, 2021 [14 favorites]


I'm late to chime in here but I must add this: I am another low carb eater. But I don't eat red meat anymore mostly due to all those cows meet bulldogs videos on YouTube. I just can't. Cows are such sweet natured creatures. And sentient, to boot. Eating beef -- pork, lamb and mutton, too -- has become like eating whale, dolphin or octopus to me now. It is simply unthinkable. All the same, I refuse to condemn or shame anyone for what they eat. From decades of being on the receiving end of dietary moral grandstanders, I am so sick of people who do.
posted by y2karl at 6:02 PM on April 9, 2021 [8 favorites]


I'm personally dead tired of efforts to shift the burden and blame for our climate catastrophe onto individual consumer choices. It's not up to us to change things, and our meatposts are not to blame. This has to be solved at a national and global scale through policy changes (like raising the price of meat far beyond its market rate, subsidizing plant-based diets).

I'm vegan 5 out of 7 days a week, and I'll meatpost all I damn please. I'll also use single use plastics when it suits me, and i'll drive my car and fly in an airplane. I even fail to recycle some recyclables. Because it's not up to me! My choices won't change anything, and neither will yours, so long as the overall economy is structured in a way that encourages the continued release of carbon into the atmosphere. And I also won't be made to feel personal guilt about these choices.

There's nothing I can do and anything I might do won't matter.
posted by dis_integration at 6:02 PM on April 9, 2021 [15 favorites]


We’re not going to get the political coalition to make meat pay its own costs while it’s this glamorous and identity-forming, though. They aren’t separate, what people get likes for and what they vote for.
posted by clew at 6:10 PM on April 9, 2021 [7 favorites]


If soy is 1 petro unit to produce, chicken is about 2. Pork 3-5. Beef 8-11.

It's all fuel. Tractors don't run on anything else. Synthetic fertilizers don't derive from other sources. Transport to market is overwhelmingly petrofuel based.

There are absolutely better choices that people can make but we shouldn't kid ourselves over how food is produced.

Water usage is probably a worse issue anyway.
posted by bonehead at 6:25 PM on April 9, 2021 [4 favorites]


This is like talking about how someone shouldn't post their Hawaiian shirt thrift haul because it might make boogaloo boys feel cool.

Sure you can personally find meat displays tacky, but the comparison- filling your tank, is similarly mundane. And as a non-car person I can tell you how excruciatingly annoying living in a car designed world and how ridiculous it is to ask people to wander around feeling vaguely guilty they commute to work by car.

Maybe she meant it is as bizarre to document your meat as it would something so mundane, but hey, cheese toast blogging us not a new concept.

Don't use social media if conspicuous consumption displays upset you- wedding parties themselves aren't exactly bastions of thrift and ecological awareness. As everyone has pointed out, this is complaining that the personal has to fix the problem and... it won't.

We just spent about a year mostly not flying, not eating out and working from home. Retail crashed as shopping declined. A significant number of the personal consumption choices we could make that allegedly harm the planet in a significant way stopped... and it made really no difference. This is just part of the same tired story.
posted by Phalene at 6:27 PM on April 9, 2021 [5 favorites]


I thought reports said that the cessation of activity did make a difference, it’s just that our society isn’t built for us to survive that way economically and psychologically.
posted by Selena777 at 6:43 PM on April 9, 2021 [2 favorites]


> Meat eating environmental scientist chiming in here to mention that this article totally fails to discuss that before industrialization and the advent of the factory farm Indigenous people sustainably ate meat for millennia.

Perhaps, although there's also evidence that they ate meat unsustainably. (The mammoth may have been hunted to extinction.)
posted by nosewings at 6:59 PM on April 9, 2021 [3 favorites]


And to the people who don't get why someone would want to follow people they don't know on social media or post photos of food... Let people like things.

I don't care who people follow on their social media, I was just saying that I have no personal exposure to "meatposting" so I don't have a strong personal investment in whether or not it takes place (e.g., I don't feel like this article is attacking my friends or trying to take the fun out of my feed; likewise I don't have a sense of how much this is an actual THING vs. a real microphenomenon).
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:22 PM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]


We’re not going to get the political coalition to make meat pay its own costs while it’s this glamorous and identity-forming, though. They aren’t separate, what people get likes for and what they vote for.

I think your sense that most far-reaching political change is effected by changes in voter sentiment is just not accurate. It's nice to have, but it's not what gets things done. People wouldn't even have known how to vote for the CFPB/Dodd-Frank, nor would they ever have thought it was cool.
posted by praemunire at 7:37 PM on April 9, 2021 [2 favorites]


Shopping didn’t decline in the rich world, so much as go online and get (I hate this phrase) k-shaped. The rich fraction of the rich world bought private copies of all the equipment they’d been sharing in gyms and restaurants, to start with.
posted by clew at 7:43 PM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]


Perhaps, although there's also evidence that they ate meat unsustainably. (The mammoth may have been hunted to extinction.)

Sustainable is different with 100 million total humans than 7 billion, though... I tend to think that palm oil is an amazing crop, which becomes harmful when it's grown as a primary oil source for the entire global economy. Eventually, nothing happens in moderation.
posted by kaibutsu at 7:55 PM on April 9, 2021 [4 favorites]


Maybe if we only shared ASCII art of meat it would be less appealing? This juicy piece of rib-eye for example?

/---------\
|...........|
|.O......./
|........./
|......../
|......./
|-----/
posted by nfalkner at 8:22 PM on April 9, 2021 [3 favorites]


In the vein of positive reinforcement, YouTube just showed me nytimes' new foodie video of a cheongfun shop, Chinese steamed rice sheets made from rice that they mill daily.
posted by polymodus at 8:36 PM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]


I can’t help but be extremely literal about these things.

A plain Oscar Meyer hot dog is about 7g of protein, the same as about a 3rd of a can of black beans, or an ounce of dry black beans, or an ounce of dry lentils.

The hot dog costs 20 cents. The canned black beans are 23 cents. The dry black beans are nine cents. The dry lentils are 16 cents but I’m guessing you could find a better deal. The veggie hot dogs are 62 cents each.

1.2 oz of New York strip also gets you about 7 grams of protein and that’ll run you 60 cents in the family pack.

That is all. Thank you.
posted by chrchr at 8:41 PM on April 9, 2021 [5 favorites]


We just spent about a year mostly not flying, not eating out and working from home.

And lots of people have been upset with celebrities posting travel photos during the past year, or photos of their super comfortable vast yards, yachts, private islands where they can take all of their friends after everyone isolates for the proper period, etc. This is perhaps a good comparison, actually. Because does it actually make a difference that, say, Ted Cruz takes his family on vacation to Mexico in the middle of both a pandemic and a weather-related disaster in Texas? Technically, no. But it does impact feelings of social cohesion and whether people are willing to make small sacrifices for the greater good out if a sense that we're facing something together, or whether they feel like suckers for doing everything their told while a bunch of other people are flaunting the rules and recommendations with no personal consequences.

Yeah general cultural sentiment around meat eating isn't sufficient on its own for structural change. Wearing masks isn't sufficient on its own for stopping an airborne pandemic. Neither are vaccines sufficient on their own, nor distancing, etc. Each is only a piece of the solution. But ignoring a piece of the solution because it's not a complete panacea is ... well, it's, as I understand it, highly ingrained in the Western, particularly Christian tradition, closely tied to the phenomenon of people feeling attacked in their personal choices whenever someone else simply lives their life based on different choices around personal values, the phenomenon of white fragility, male fragility (bringing us back around to the one particularly performative meat-eating subculture and it's macho, patriarchal overtones), etc.

Yeah, eating less meat won't, all on its own, fix our environmental problems. But it helps to eat less meat. I certainly don't expect large numbers of people to go entirely against their cultural values and start thinking that meat is shameful to consume. But it helps to push back on cultural values that many of us have received that put meat in a particularly valued position above other protein sources or other types of food (and maybe you haven't ever consciously encountered that, but I sure as heck have - both the really overt macho Me Man Me Only Eat Meat form, and the much more subtle unquestioned cultural values creating structural difficulties for outsiders despite lack of conscious malice or intention on anyone's part variety). There's a middle ground that can be carved out between venerating meat consumption or shaming it. Though this is related to some pretty deep cultural values, so even that middle ground is going to feel uncomfortable for many folks.

For myself, I stared eating vegetarian many years ago, when I moved to a more rural area and bought my first car, as sort of a partial offset. I knew that the larger issue with greenhouses gases came from systemic issues; I read a thing from the Union of Concerned Scientists that emphasized that, and noted that most of our individual consumption choices even collectively wouldn't make much difference in atmospheric greenhouse gases. But that there were three things that we could control individually that do, collectively, add up to something significant: 1 insulating homes properly (not under my control at the time as a renter), 2 drive a more fuel efficient car (going from primarily human powered with some public transportation to driving a car at all was a negative step for me here), and a more distant 3 eat vegetarian (and ideally locally and in-season, but the vegetarian recommendation was presented as not the complete answer but at least an easy basis for making food consumption choices that would actually add up to making a difference if people collectively moved in this direction). So I was not under any illusions that going vegetarian (which I had been kind of working toward for a couple years before that anyway, slowly building up my collection of good, easy everyday vegetarian meals that I could make) was going to offset getting a car, or that only my own individual action was going to make a significant difference all on its individual own. But my example and respectful discussions I've had with friends and family has moved a wider number of people to reducing their meat consumption - and enabled conversations (which have led to others' actions in part) about taking the more impactful local steps of better home and public building insulation and driving more fuel efficient vehicles, and about what can be done collectively to change systems that are more major contributors to climate chamge.

I also live in a location where I have easy access to local meat, from animals raised in very sustainable conditions. So in my particular case, it wouldn't actually make an appreciable difference to my actual contributions to global carbon output if I did eat a moderate amount of local meat products. But my example of eating vegetarian (again, respectfully of others' diets) has been the source of the wider impacts that I've had in this area - me eating moderate amounts of locally sourced, sustainably raised meat would not have had an effect on others around me, because it would not have helped chip away at the extra cultural value placed on meat above other foods among my circles of acquaintances(*). And without questioning and moderating that value level, people around me who have slowly begun to eat less meat or made other changes in their lives that will, collectively, add up to something relevant would not have done so.

I don't think anyone has gone fully vegetarian because of me, and I have no illusions that any if this is sufficient on its own to halt climate change. The fact that I'm not Superman and can't solve this complex global problem entirely on my own is no reason, in my view, to not do my piece that I can do, however. Blockading a pipeline doesn't feel like something I can do right now, even though arguable it would likely be more impactful. But being an example to help people around me change some habits and cultural values for which a collective change will have some impact is doable for me. And what I do read from scientists knowledgeable in this area is that if we can make a society wide, collective change to eating less meat, then that will also be one of the many pieces that will add up to the systemic and global changes that we need. Coming back around to the article, so you don't have to avoid having meat in any of your food photos ever. But maybe make a conscious choice to put less focus on meat? That would have to be tied to having the entire meal that you are photographing having less of a focus on meat, maybe more dishes where meat is mixed in amongst other ingredients, or where the portions on a plate are balanced between a meat item and other meal components rather than being entirely meat or focused on meat as a centerpiece. Or take photos of the meat grilling in your summer BBQ because that's one of the activities that you did, but also take photos of the salad assembly, or shucking the corn cobs, or setting the picnic table, etc., so that the grilling photos don't have a particular pride of place or greater importance than the other activities. In other words, consider keeping an eye out for what balance your food-related photos present. As a side benefit, your friends with a variety of dietary differences (not just vegetarian) will feel more welcomed and included at your table, because you'll end up with more diverse, inclusive food photos in general.

(* For me, this was a conscious choice about opting out of some aspects of some of the classist and patriarchal cultural values in the culture I live in, as well. But that's a whole 'nother FPP topic.)
posted by eviemath at 9:01 PM on April 9, 2021 [14 favorites]


If you can’t see the image, I signaled that I was about to step onto a soapbox. Then I said I thought publicly flaunting meat consumption was “like flaunting filling up your car’s gas tank and being like “hell yeah gas!”

Seems to me this is more like posting a picture of yourself at Yosemite Valley, because you enjoy the natural park and it's a highlight you want to share. Everyone knows you presumably got there via fossil fuel powered transport, but it's a few steps downstream.

I think in practice meat, like long distance travel, needs to become rarer, more expensive and accepted as a luxury. But none of that is inconsistent with talking about it when you treat yourself to a nice steak or visit Paris.
posted by mark k at 9:57 PM on April 9, 2021 [5 favorites]


Also, for those who didn't rtfa and are getting really defensive, it defines "meatposting" as
Meatposting is word I made up just now. It refers to the practice of posting pictures of meat on social media with captions that glorify its consumption. Like, a picture of a grill top covered in hot dogs on the 4th of July with the caption “HELL YEAH AMERICA!!” Or a picture of a salami-filled charcuterie board captioned “ALL THE MEAT!!”
Like, you know how when a group of Proud Boys pose with glasses of milk, that has a political meaning that a photo of your kid's lunch that happens to have a glass of milk for beverage doesn't? The author appears to be defining meatposting to be the meat equivalent of that, not just any food photo that happens to include meat, among other things. The friend she quotes the conversation with posted a photo of a Viking meat ship, with meat-glorifying caption. The photo is in the article, you can go look at it. It's a very elaborate construction that clearly (in particular with the Viking reference and the current cultural role or interpretation that tends to have) only exists to make a point that it is MEAT and macho - like, someone spent hours on the presentation, not just cooking the meat involved to attain optimal flavor. And even then, she goes out of her way to say, "My friend, to be clear, is not the bad guy." and to talk about the cultural and political influence of the meat producing subsector of the agricultural lobby.

In particular, a whole section of the essay is devoted to expanding upon this:
Meatposting is free PR for a high-polluting industry

My annoyance with meatposting is not about the fact that individuals choose to eat meat. We live in a society that makes it very difficult to live a totally climate-friendly life, and no one should be shamed for what they choose to fuel their body with.

My annoyance with meatposting is about the fact that it unnecessarily glorifies one of the most climate-polluting industries in America. Not only that, it glorifies an industry working tirelessly to prevent regulations that would reign in their pollution.

“It is astounding, the level of fear and pushback from the meat industry on our efforts to address the very real, substantial climate impacts of meat production,” Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of the food and agriculture program at Friends of the Earth, told InsideClimate. “They don’t want to cede an inch on climate change.”

The fossil fuel industry has to rely on sophisticated PR teams to distract the public from their climate misdeeds, and to give them social license to operate. The meat industry has meatposters to do some of that work for free. And unlike the fossil fuel industry, the meat industry gets social media love from all over the political spectrum: not just conservatives and climate deniers. They don’t have to worry about social license to operate. You give it to them every time you post a picture of your plate.
I don't get the sense that she's complaining here about, eg. any my local farms that use various livestock biodynamically and occasionally post photos of cuts of meat from a butchered animal. Or people's BBQ meat photos with captions that discuss the ethical and more sustainable sourcing of the meat.
posted by eviemath at 10:12 PM on April 9, 2021 [8 favorites]


I think part of the disconnect is that I can’t remember ever seeing meatposting in the sense she’s talking about. I suspect it’s common among a specific social set that I don’t interact with a ton on social media.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:27 PM on April 9, 2021 [3 favorites]


But ignoring a piece of the solution because it's not a complete panacea is ... well, it's, as I understand it, highly ingrained in the Western, particularly Christian tradition

You’ve got this precisely backwards: nothing is more in line with the Western Christian tradition than making a structural, societal problem into a matter of personal moral choices (and, therefore, failings).
posted by star gentle uterus at 10:36 PM on April 9, 2021 [3 favorites]


The author appears to be defining meatposting to be the meat equivalent of that, not just any food photo that happens to include meat, among other things [. . . ] The photo is in the article, you can go look at it

I did rtfa and the other photo, the one that's not a Viking ship, is just some sliced deli meats. And she describes herself as a former meatposter ("my Instragram is a treasure trove of bleeding steaks, tender chops, and glistening loins.") Normal meals made to eat. Which she's including in the category of posting she stopped making, because she thinks it's wrong, and other people should stop too.
posted by mark k at 11:29 PM on April 9, 2021 [1 favorite]


I did read the article. It is possible for someone to disclaim doing something they're actually doing, especially when they sense vaguely it won't be popular.

Shaming people for their pleasurable activities just doesn't work as a long-term strategy for change. I refer you to the recent FPP on purity culture. You don't have to think that eating meat is shameful to recognize its unsustainability. I don't think there's anything shameful about Percocet use, but I don't spend my weekends taking it recreationally because I know it will not end well.
posted by praemunire at 12:11 AM on April 10, 2021 [2 favorites]


Something I'm embarrassed about from my youth is that I didn't vote in an election until I was 24. I told myself that my vote wouldn't make a difference, and it wasn't worth the effort. And of course, even in hindsight, voting wouldn't have determined any elections. But I've come to realize that democracy is something I deeply value, and voting isn't about the production of an election defining vote. It's about engaging with democracy, and by extension engaging those around you.

Climate scientists tell us that industrialized meat is playing an outsized role in climate change, we know that the meat industry is morally bankrupt, and also that industrialized meat production is cruel and evil. So we should all engage in the dismantling of the meat industry. Now if I had to vote every day, I'd probably take breaks too, and the difference between eating meat once a week versus never is minimal. But as individuals we need to act together to dismantle industrial meat production. That's what matters here. Emily's post is not about individual meat consumption, it's about not doing PR for the meat industry so that we can better work toward dismantling it.

It would be good if we could have more nuance in these debates than shame vs. no shame. I'm a vegetarian who chooses not to own a car. I also have an international life that necessitates excessive flying, and long ago gave up trying to resist the convenience of Amazon. I have a weird love of airports, and it is indeed sometimes thrilling getting a big pile of stuff from Amazon. Both of these things are also kind of bad though, and I definitely wouldn't celebrate airports or stacks of Amazon boxes through social media. And if people tell me my personal choices around these things are problematic I can deal with that, because they are, and I'm happy to engage with people who might show me how to make better choices. I agree that overt shaming is bad, but there has to be room to discuss these things as well, especially when there are important overarching facts (i.e. meat industry bad) that we agree on.
posted by Alex404 at 12:14 AM on April 10, 2021 [16 favorites]


It is true that the vast majority of red meat consumed is really bad for the environment.

And in a minority of cases, as pointed out, it isn't necessarily true that meat has to be less sustainable than vegetables, especially for water scarce parts of the world like Australia. Animal meat is actually quite water efficient, only requiring 5.5 liters of water to produce a serve of lamb, compared to 124 liters of water to produce a cup of rice. Almonds, a common vegan milk replacement, costs 3,448 litres per kg. Indigenous cultures like the Masai rely almost entirely on meat and animal products because of water scarcity.

Kangaroo red meat is probably great for the environment. 0 liters of water and zero carbon footprint because... they haven't been domesticated, everything we eat is culled from wild stock to prevent overpopulation. I also love the taste but it's an acquired one for sure.

In theory they could be the key to sustainable meat eating: they are soft footed, so they don't damage the soil the way other livestock does, and they don't produce methane that causes massive global warming the way cows and sheep do. There is almost no visible fat in kangaroo steak - around 2% fat. About 3 million of them are culled per year to keep the population in the 25 to 50 million range, often more are culled than there is demand for meat.

(animal domestication takes hundreds or even thousands of year, but I'm sure some scientists could do it a bit quicker if they tried...)
posted by xdvesper at 1:20 AM on April 10, 2021 [1 favorite]


That viking ship of meat in the photo was for a wedding celebration. Those slices of prosciutto/serrano are paper thin. Assuming several dozen people were at this wedding, that's a perfectly reasonable amount of meat per person — especially in the context of a once-in-a-lifetime event in this couple's life.

An office I used to work at would ask everyone to separate their waste for recycling. At the end of the day, the cleaning service would take it downstairs and throw it all in a big bin: the waste company hired by the office didn't do waste speration anyway. So why were we asked to separate our waste? Because it was 'the right thing to do.' Throwing organics in with the plastics was seen as a big no-no.

There's no nuance in criticizing people without looking at the bigger picture. Image isn't everything.
posted by romanb at 3:55 AM on April 10, 2021 [5 favorites]


why meat and not cars or vacation photos?

...so meatposting is like a subreddit of shameposting?
posted by fairmettle at 4:18 AM on April 10, 2021


3. ??? somehow lentils start to taste good???

This is the sort of comment that makes me pity the average Mefite, who has not known the full wonders of Indian cooking. Literal billions of people eat delicious vegetarian meals (yes, mostly lentil-based) every day. Not all Indians are vegetarian, but the subcontinent is living proof that vegetables and lentils are not the tasteless bland afterthought of the WASP world.

Now that everyone and their grandmother owns an Instant Pot, cooking lentils isn't some day-long task of slaving in front of a simmering stove, either. In the pre-IP era, my mother (who worked full-time outside the home) used to make dal regularly using her stovetop pressure cooker. Fifteen minutes, maybe? Then another 5 or so to turn the cooked dal into varan aka tadka dal. Bada bing bada boom, dinner on the table in half an hour.

Trader Joe's even used to even sell a parcooked lentil pack that was microwaveable; I used that a lot in my first apartment after college, although now I don't live near TJ so who knows if they still sell it. As others have mentioned, rice and beans is even cheaper and more available in the average grocery (except make sure you add a bell pepper, or have an orange for dessert, to get in some vitamin C).

Making vegetables taste good is no harder than making meat taste good (roast 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew!), and your bowels will thank you.

One thing I do wonder about is whether climate change is going to affect the distribution of the lone star tick, which carries the alpha-gal allergy (aka mammalian meat allergy). It's already widespread across the eastern US, and according to this article: "The general pattern of spread of the investigated ticks so far is an increase in both latitude and altitude, matching the general trend to warmer autumn and winter....Future ensemble predictions for 2061–2080 forecasted minimum changes in the western range limit of the tick, with a northward expansion of suitable climate into the Upper Midwest and Western Pennsylvania. Results also pointed to a range contraction along parts of the Gulf coast and the lower Mississippi River valley."

No quicker way to get people to stop eating meat than to make them violently allergic!
posted by basalganglia at 6:02 AM on April 10, 2021 [21 favorites]


I just want to say everything Alex404 just said over again, because that's me basically, that's how I feel too, but they said it better than I could.

None of us are living perfect lives, let's celebrate the ways people are trying to help instead of celebrating the greed that is destined to destroy us. But let us never forget that we can all do better and be open ourselves to ways to be better.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 6:28 AM on April 10, 2021 [2 favorites]


Eating meat is not in itself a danger to the planet. Eating factory farmed meat in huge amounts is a danger to the planet. If we can move on from eating meat as the "main" to eating meat as a treat that is a minor element in a whole meal, we will have accomplished a lot. And for most of us, that is exactly how our great grandparents ate, so it's not a huge deal.
Some people have a huge emotional attachment to the culture of excessive meat eating that became widespread in the US during the 20th century, and spread to the rest of the West. Some have constructed weird diets out of that attachment. I don't think shaming is going to change those people's perspective. Some of them seem to be struggling with all sorts of pain in their lives. In my own family the older meat eaters have been more convinced by being served delicious vegetable dishes than by shame.

In the US and a few other countries, the problem is entirely different, as one can see in this thread and many other threads about food. Many people, maybe even a majority in these countries, have no idea how to cook a tasty and nourishing meal that is vegetable based, and restaurant food is heavily meat-based. Eating vegetables cooked from scratch has become an elite signifier. As basalganglia says, it isn't like that everywhere. It isn't a law of nature.

People work long hours everywhere in the world, but many of them still manage to cook dinner from scratch. And part of that has to do with government policy. Here, you can't sell or let out an apartment that doesn't have a decent kitchen. There are decent grocery stores everywhere, in part because of regulations. Some countries have subsidies for basic foodstuffs. We don't, but the EU makes sure that there will never be a shortage of grain or dairy products and that keeps prices low. Also, everyone gets a minimum wage, so take-out is not as relatively cheap as in the US.
posted by mumimor at 7:01 AM on April 10, 2021 [5 favorites]


Not sure about legumes, but I can be eating a tasty hot dog about 300 seconds after I finish typing this sentence, so the time cost of hot dog protein is extremely low.

You know there are canned beans, right? And canned bean soups if that's too boring for you or you don't want to take the 30 seconds to add some spices to the beans?

If canned beans are too expensive, you can cook dried beans and freeze them, which is what I do.
posted by FencingGal at 7:49 AM on April 10, 2021 [6 favorites]


>>>No quicker way to get people to stop eating meat than to make them violently allergic!

Awesome. Something to celebrate. Looking forward to my imminent death since I'm also allergic to lentils and beans.
posted by skye.dancer at 8:08 AM on April 10, 2021 [2 favorites]


I just want to reiterate that the essay is not calling for shaming meat eating, it's calling for not venerating or glorifying meat eating.
posted by eviemath at 8:10 AM on April 10, 2021 [8 favorites]


Looking forward to my imminent death since I'm also allergic to lentils and beans.

I feel like it cannot be said enough that not everyone can eat beans, whether from allergy or in some cases medical diets. If you can’t eat beans, non-meat proteins are absolutely extremely expensive. And most manufactured non meat proteins rely heavily on carbs, which also can’t be eaten on certain diets, many of which are not “fads” but like...recommended by people’s doctors so they don’t die.
posted by corb at 8:52 AM on April 10, 2021 [6 favorites]


Meat or fish can be necessary for some people, and we need to recognize that. For all of my life I have struggled with iron deficiency that will not be cured through medication, only diet (mmm, spinach!) But most of us need less protein than we think we do. Less than 100 grams a day is fine. And less than 100 grams a day, where some days it is an egg, or a piece of fish or shellfish*, or even game from an invasive species is not what causes climate change. Don't be a zealot, be mindful.

*In another thread there is a reminder that we need to eat a lot of sea urchins in order to preserve the kelp habitats. Think about it.
Here, we also need to eat all of the Pacific oysters, since this is not the Pacific Ocean, and that is a bit overwhelming.
posted by mumimor at 9:02 AM on April 10, 2021 [2 favorites]


No quicker way to get people to stop eating meat than to make them violently allergic!

It works! A lot of us just switch to poultry though.
posted by Not A Thing at 9:03 AM on April 10, 2021 [3 favorites]


(It seems absurd to say that someone who doesn't think lentils are good can't ever have eaten Indian cooking? Or like, A Vegetable at all? I have Indian takeout like 3 times a month, I just think lentils are always the absolute least interesting part of it.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:13 AM on April 10, 2021 [1 favorite]


Right, but the point of the OP is not that people shouldn't eat meat, or even that they should post Instagram pictures of their delicious meals that include meat. She's talking about posts that celebrate meat for being meat, which is a fairly specific thing, I think.

I've recently decided to try switching to an almost-all-plant-based diet. (I'm not calling myself a vegan because I'm not an ethical vegan, and also because I don't plan to be very strict about it.) And I have not been particularly bothered by social media posts glorifying stuff that I'm mostly not planning to eat anymore. I have been kind of inspired by Instagram accounts that post pictures of delicious plant-based food. (Most vegan social media is a total nightmare, with tons of gross wellness-culture-adjacent stuff and lots of all-or-nothing rhetoric, but there are some Instagram accounts that are just "look at this yummy lunch I made," and I like those.) So I personally am less interested in telling people not to glorify bad stuff and more interested in thanking people for glorifying good stuff. I also am not sure why one would single out meatposting, rather than, say, international-travel-posting.

So basically, I am not sure that I agree with the premise, although that may just be that I'm mostly insulated from the "meat, fuck yeah" corners of Instagram.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:16 AM on April 10, 2021 [1 favorite]


not everyone can eat beans, whether from allergy or in some cases medical diets

Sure. But that's not a reason to give a free pass to the factory farming practices that enable "meat culture" and its very specific performative masculinity that the essay is calling out. Until the late 20th century in America, and still to this day around the world, meat was/is a sometimes food -- Sunday roast rather than the Subway diet. And was probably higher quality, too.

If those who can eat vegetarian were able to switch to a low-meat or no-meat diet (which requires a systemic/policy/culture shift, not just individual privileged choice), that would dramatically reduce the demand to produce MOAR MEAT and thus have a huge environmental impact.

(On preview: We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese, you need to find a better Indian restaurant!)
posted by basalganglia at 9:16 AM on April 10, 2021 [8 favorites]


Lol I live a mile away from my city's Little India, home to (googles) 35 separate restaurants. Lack of good Indian restaurants is not the problem. There will just never be a time when I would rather eat a lentil dish than literally anything else that they serve.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:28 AM on April 10, 2021


We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese , my daughter is very tired of Indian dals for reasons, but she is not at all tired of using lentils in other ways. This is a good example.
Anyway, in my view, it's not a hotdogs or lentils endgame. My family prefers my vegetarian version of lasagna where I substitute eggplant for meat. Turkish food, or Southern Italian food are 75-80% veg-based and interesting and easy to cook. Japanese food in Japan can be very veg-strong, though I find it difficult to find the recipes online. The same with Korean tradition. And of course Mexican food.
But even traditions one imagines are meat based can look quite different when you look closer. I was in Prague before 1990, and every restaurant we went to served an explosion of protein, because that was the fancy thing and our Western money was endlessly valuable. In a few days we felt ill and exhausted and went to a student cafeteria, where it turned out that the meat was served with 3/4 potatoes and vegetables, which made a lot more sense nutritionally and economically.
posted by mumimor at 9:30 AM on April 10, 2021 [2 favorites]


I mean I'm not here to forbid vegetarianism, I was a vegetarian for 12 years! I don't hate vegetables! I probably only eat meat 2 days a week. I just want people to recognize the difference in a person's life context between a hotdog (30 seconds, 0 ingredients, 0 knowledge required) a dal (20 minutes, infinite potential ingredients, knowledge required), and a freaking eggplant lasagna.

They're not the same! And yes, the US is an epic disaster, and everything about us is bad, and if we were different people who lived elsewhere we'd all be perfect scratch-cookers with no desire ever to eat a meat and get excited about it, but man, we have so extremely little here to ever be happy about on any level. Just let people post about their fucking sandwiches.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:36 AM on April 10, 2021 [8 favorites]


They're not the same! And yes, the US is an epic disaster, and everything about us is bad, and if we were different people who lived elsewhere we'd all be perfect scratch-cookers with no desire ever to eat a meat and get excited about it, but man, we have so extremely little here to ever be happy about on any level. Just let people post about their fucking sandwiches.

You get all the hugs from me. We all are where we are
posted by mumimor at 9:39 AM on April 10, 2021 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry I posted the picture of the short ribs I cooked early in the pandemic to Instagram. I rarely eat red meat, but I spent six hours on them and the process was complicated and they were delicious.

Again, apologies.
posted by thivaia at 9:44 AM on April 10, 2021 [3 favorites]


thivaia, did your caption of your photo say something like, "MEAT, F YEAH!"? Or was it more "Hey look, this thing I spent six hours on turned out very well and I'm proud of myself!" If the latter, the essay isn't talking about you.

This feels like people who can't distinguish between compliments and catcalling. I have Facebook friends who post their elaborate meal creations that they put a lot of work into, that involve or sometimes even center meat. And I have Facebook friends who post meat photos simply because it is meat, and they are doing a different sort of cultural signalling. There is as clear a difference between the two as there is between compliments and catcalling.
posted by eviemath at 9:51 AM on April 10, 2021 [8 favorites]


A thought, and this is a middle class thing, do you think that the college experience in the US contributes to the lack of cooking skills?
When I was in the US, it was forbidden to have a hotplate or rice cooker in the dorm, and the common room on our floor had no cooking appliances.
In Denmark, our common room was a huge kitchen, with all the appliances, and we could save a lot of money by cooking together or on our own rather than eating at the cafeteria.
So in my personal experience, university was a time where I learnt a lot about home economy. Also, the diversity at my hall meant I learnt other ways of cooking. For many people, when they get their own first home, the situation is completely different, and doesn't really lend it self to home cooking. Our first apartment was so cold, and cheap, we ate out most of the time. And in our first real central heated home, we went all in with the suburban lifestyle (though we did cook from scratch most of the time since now we had learnt it).
posted by mumimor at 9:53 AM on April 10, 2021 [2 favorites]


hotdog (30 seconds, 0 ingredients, 0 knowledge required)

I mean, tbh, these zero ingredient hotdogs sound pretty echo friendly. Hopefully the packaging isn't too excessive.

One of the, I dunno, most unexpectedly awesome things that ever happened to me was a two week stay with a friend and his extended indian family in new Jersey when I was in undergrad. I picked up a bunch of cooking idioms from hanging out with my friend's grandma that I've now been making good use of for what, fifteen years?

So, yeah, I'm very happy with a good daal. I feel (like many soupy dishes) that it tends to be best as part of a meal, rather than the main deal. But ymmv, of course.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:54 AM on April 10, 2021 [1 favorite]


If not into dal, perhaps try mujadara?
posted by Ahmad Khani at 9:59 AM on April 10, 2021


I feel like we should maybe not get into trying to convince someone who doesn't like lentils to like lentils? There's an argument to be made that in some places (including, eg., my part of rural Canada?!) you can get prepared lentils that are of a similar cost level and prep time as hot dogs. There's another (related but different) argument to be made that lentils are not the only possible replacement for hot dogs, especially in the cheap and convenient proteins category. We can make those argument without telling someone who doesn't happen to like lentils that maybe they just haven't tried the right lentils. Eg. I don't like red kidney beans. I've tried them in cuisines from many different cultures, with many different seasoning combinations. I like other beans. I simply don't like the flavor of red kidney beans.
posted by eviemath at 10:06 AM on April 10, 2021 [6 favorites]


A thought, and this is a middle class thing, do you think that the college experience in the US contributes to the lack of cooking skills?

Maybe? But every college I've had experience with (my own, both of my children, and my friend's children) had lovely kitchens in the common areas of their dorms, and most, if not all, college students I am familiar with, moved off campus as soon as they could because it ends up being way cheaper and you're not stuck with a meal plan you don't use anyway (minus, of course, the colleges that don't allow any students to live off-campus, but those generally put upper classmen into apartment-like dorms, with kitchens in every suite).

The answer, like everything, is complicated. Lots of people don't like cooking. That's fine. Lots of people don't have time to cook, what with their four part-time jobs. Lots of people don't have time to cook, what with their kids having places they need to be (lessons, sports, etc.). Lots of people don't have time to cook because their hobbies are an incredibly large part of their lives and taking an hour or more each day to prep and cook a meal isn't something they prioritize. And I'll say it again: lots of people don't like to cook. And that doesn't even get into the facts that some people are scared to try new things, some people have sensory issues that restrict what they are willing or able to eat, some people are okay with eating just a few things and never varying that, some people are forced into very restricted diets because of medical issues.

It's. Complicated. Food, for many, many people, is complicated. Everyone should recognize that and give others some grace and understanding.
posted by cooker girl at 10:07 AM on April 10, 2021 [6 favorites]


Or, like, I could just eat what I eat? Why does "let people like what they like" only go in one direction always.

Lentils only entered the conversation because some of the pricey burger-substitutes and hotdog-substitutes are made of them, and it was pointed out that in that form, the "cheap" protein is actually the more expensive one.

For many people, when they get their own first home, the situation is completely different, and doesn't really lend it self to home cooking. Our first apartment was so cold, and cheap, we ate out most of the time.

I mean, for me, it was my own first home, second home, third home, fourth home, fifth home, seventh home (sixth was OK) and now eighth. I've only had one kitchen with any counters. I have almost always lived alone, a situation for which no US grocery stores are designed, in tiny apartments, with no realistic way to store the bazillion tupperwares required by batch cooking. I no longer even own a pot with a lid, much less a pressure cooker. Because I move too much, and the more you own the more you have to pay to move.

Now, a perpetually single and childless urban-dweller who never makes a decent wage and moves every two years is probably not "representative" of US households, but there were families with children in most of the buildings where I have lived, so they were up against a lot of the same factors I'm sure.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:10 AM on April 10, 2021 [2 favorites]


That viking ship of meat in the photo was for a wedding celebration.

The Viking meat ship photo was not from her friend's wedding, though. It was from some other random wedding, and her friend had reposted it with a comment indicating that he viewed it as an aspirational goal, with "MEAT SHIP" literally in all caps as a focus in his post.
posted by eviemath at 10:10 AM on April 10, 2021 [1 favorite]


Do people consume more meat because of meatposting?
Is there a distinction between meatposting and vegan food posting?
Vegans tend to run with the moral superiority angle as justification, so self-critique is often lacking, and outside critique shunned.
Here the uselessness of the article should be apparent, if you post pics of meat in 2021, you either don’t care what vegans think, or maybe even revel in their discomfort.
While sweaty testosterone types are not the only ones tired of vegans misbehavior, they are the only ones that like engaging, so the discourse is between the snooty and the stupid.
The moral superiority fixation needs to be addressed. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen vegans overstep social norms for their cause, so I feel that some of them found the cause as a gateway to such overstepping.
I’m surrounded by people that have been dealt various cards in life, and honestly there is something very amiss when the most vocal minority is rich kids who chose to not eat meat.
And each of these infractions harms a pretty good cause.
And half the vegans I know seem to agree, and are in this weird position of having to answer for the rest. Which is certainly unfair, especially if the lifestyle transition was hard.
Some of this is just social media realities. Unfiltered hoard voices that become these monsters in our heads. The “othering” that everyone does, especially in the face of a group that vocally rejects you at every turn. So you don’t want to please the monster, but the monster can never be better, the mind creates the meta-characters for each group and discards what does not fit the pattern.
I’m puzzled by all of this, and I have no answers. Maybe I skip meat for a bit again, soon.
posted by svenni at 10:22 AM on April 10, 2021 [1 favorite]


Do people consume more meat because of meatposting?

Yes. The essay links to more info about petromasculinity, and numerous other sociological or anthropological studies have noted that people do consume more meat when it is held up as an aspirational cultural value, with increased meat consumption being a privilege awarded to higher status individuals (male heads of household, rich business leaders, or other patriarchs, in most of the extant examples).

Same as catcalling contributes to overall cultural trends that permit more sexual violence.

This is only a non-obvious question if one is conflating what the author dubs meatposting with any meat consumption, in the way that people sometimes conflate catcalling with compliments. The more interesting question is: what are the cultural and structural factors that influence people to make that false conflation?
posted by eviemath at 10:32 AM on April 10, 2021 [9 favorites]


For what it's worth, I don't see any evidence at all that the author of the piece is a vegan or advocates for veganism. She's a climate journalist. She clarifies in the comments that she doesn't object to meat but thinks that factory farming is unsustainable.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:36 AM on April 10, 2021 [2 favorites]


She's talking about posts that celebrate meat for being meat, which is a fairly specific thing, I think.

Again, she specifically singles herself out for older posts that were just juicy steaks or savory pork chops. This seems to me completely analogous to someone posting short ribs they spent six hours cooking.

She's also telling any conservative who posts that picture of a BBQ with hot dogs and "USA!" that the post is not about them.

I think this is some of the disconnect--she mostly talks about things that are more or less explicitly rah-rah-meat-macho-manly-good. For some people that means the article is limited to criticizing these posts, but I'm looking at the other stuff she does mention and thinking she's actually just collapsing these things I think are different.

I definitely wouldn't celebrate airports or stacks of Amazon boxes through social media

Would you celebrate what's in the boxes though? That's my other issue with the article--it conflates celebrating the pleasure-bring experience with celebrating the production. It's not like posting pictures of Amazon boxes or tanking up your car.

If this were a direct post about "we should eat less meat" I either wouldn't comment, or would add one of my stock responses (which include things like "This is obviously true" or "I'm excited about research into cultured and lab grown meats".)

But I'm really having trouble reading this without seeing some version of "don't enjoy eating meat," which is a really different sentiment and a more challenging one.

I think the piece itself is more Oster ruminating on her current reactions and isn't really meant to be a super tight argument. There are a lot of conflicting sentiments in it which we've ended up picking over.
posted by mark k at 10:42 AM on April 10, 2021 [3 favorites]


She's talking about posts that celebrate meat for being meat, which is a fairly specific thing, I think

I think also, and this is why I have a really hard time seeing this as anything other than poorshaming, which is why I'm perhaps so upset about this, that a lot of the 'Look at this meat I am feeding my family' posts that I at least see are from my family or other immigrant families that had to eat absolute crap when they came here through poverty, and it's not 'meat reinforces patriarchy', it's 'at last I can feed my family as they wish to be fed, see this bountiful turkey/rack of ribs/pig or goat on a spit, everyone can eat until they are full to bursting, how glorious it is to have plenty and not be going around all day with an uncomfortable empty feeling in your belly.' The 'aspiration' is to have your family be fat and happy and never have to worry about starving to death, not to be somehow cool.
posted by corb at 10:49 AM on April 10, 2021 [4 favorites]


To anyone who cares about the environment, human and animal rights: name a food item, any food item, and I'm pretty sure someone here will be able to tell you why it is absolutely not acceptable to post a photo of it anywhere.

Not just in the "bad but not as bad as the other food" sense, but in the absolute "you are immoral if you consume this food" sense.

Meat, avocados, rice, wheat, vanilla, chocolate, organic agave syrup, oat milk, cow milk, lentils ... nobody wins in this food fight.
posted by romanb at 11:11 AM on April 10, 2021 [6 favorites]


...labor activists in Myanmar (I think it was from Naomi Klein but Google isn't finding it) where the author recounts talking to the activists and being shocked that they were wearing shoes/clothing from the companies that they were protesting against. (star gentle uterus, some distance upthread)

I have that one in my bookmarks! Naomi Klein, The Nation, 2015:
So one thing I found slightly jarring was that some of these same workers wore clothing festooned with knockoff trademarks of the very multinationals that were responsible for these conditions: Disney characters or Nike check marks. At one point, I asked a local labor organizer about this. Wasn’t it strange—a contradiction?

It took a very long time for him to understand the question. When he finally did, he looked at me like I was nuts. You see, for him and his colleagues, individual consumption wasn’t considered to be in the realm of politics at all. Power rested not in what you did as one person, but what you did as many people, as one part of a large, organized, and focused movement. For him, this meant organizing workers to go on strike for better conditions, and eventually it meant winning the right to unionize. What you ate for lunch or happened to be wearing was of absolutely no concern whatsoever.
posted by What is E. T. short for? at 11:22 AM on April 10, 2021 [6 favorites]


To summarize her position:

"Hey, my fellow meat-eating friends who care about climate change, posting pictures whose only purpose is to say 'Hell yeah, meat!' is doing free PR for a high-polluting industry".

I don't know how the cost of hotdogs comes into it.
posted by team lowkey at 11:28 AM on April 10, 2021 [11 favorites]


A beef hot dog comes from the animal whose production is being discussed as contributing hugely to climate change for a lot of reasons - destruction of natural habitat to farm it, feed practices, waste issues, and methane (I think, whichever has the produce.) It’s emblematic because hot dogs are cheap and *everywhere* -curbside, gas stations, kids parties, sports arenas, etc.

Lentils are somehow the vegetarian shorthand for legume (technically they are a pulse) probably because they don’t need to be pre soaked.

That’s why these are the go-tos for a short handed discussion of food culture.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:35 AM on April 10, 2021


I have several problems with the ways we talk about reducing meat eating through "structural change" and structural change alone.

First, no one really seems to have an idea where the political oomph for structural change about meat production is going to come from. In the US, we have achieved very, very moderate positive structural change over the years through mass organizing (8 hour day, certain civil rights changes, etc), when war has destroyed massive swathes of capital, when there has been conflict between different sectors of wealth and through economic disaster, usually combined with organizing and rioting.

Second, we're definitely talking about people eating less meat. Unless it's vat-grown, it is not environmentally sustainable for most people to eat substantial amounts of meat most days. I feel like "we need structural change" is used to hand-wave away the many, many reasons why telling people to eat less meat is unpopular, whether that "telling" comes in the form of environmental regulation, taxes, price controls or actually literally saying "eat less meat". There is no way to conceal that eating less meat is a necessary environmental measure and that's going to be politically very difficult.

Third, meat-eating isn't like car-driving or amazon-shopping. No one says, "I can't wait for Christmas because then I can push the little buy button on amazon a whole bunch, it's so fun" or "I wish I could drive an extra hundred miles every week". Owning a special car may be fun, shopping may be fun - but commuting isn't fun and one-click online shopping may be convenient but it's also confusing, dishonest, involves lots of returns/misdeliveries/stolen packages, etc. Whereas meat tastes good to most people and it is an integral flavor base for a lot of dishes. We could change society so that commutes were shorter and it was easier to buy things locally and people wouldn't yearn for long commutes and constant package delivery, but it takes a lot more cultural changes to get people to "I am happy with the clearer, plainer taste of this meatless soup than I was with the richer but muddier flavors of the meat version".

For these reasons, I think that cultural changes around the meaning of meat are in fact important to establish the constituency for cultural change.
posted by Frowner at 11:49 AM on April 10, 2021 [18 favorites]


Focusing on sharing images as an issue is an interesting one, and one that's sticking with me a bit more.
Like, I get the math behind it. But to look by comparison with other big-carbon-ticket items, I can't help but wonder if, per above, this is the author picking the item they'd have the least trouble complying with.

• Plane flights & road trips are individual-behavior offenders, people like to post photos of vacations & family visits, and there's a "Big X" industry that definitely benefits from people glamorizing travel. So by the premise offered forth, we should shun travel pictures & avoid talking about vacations as good things.

• Pets, definitely. Pets consume a *lot* of meat in the US. There's a large industry around glamorizing pet ownership. And yet she feels unashamed of ending the article with a picture of her dog?

• Children/families, definitely. I'm not about to go all "we need to encourage voluntary human extinction" here, but at the point that we're opening up retooling cultural associations to this extent there's no reason this should be any more immune to comparison. That kid's an entire lifetime of CO2 emissions/consumption you're flaunting there!

To wit, there is no ethical enthusiastic social signaling under capitalism.
posted by CrystalDave at 11:55 AM on April 10, 2021 [6 favorites]


Hot dogs are known to be a collection of odds and ends from multiple animals. They can be beef but the cheap kind are usually not pure beef. As much complaining about veggie hotdogs as I see here, hot dogs are not exactly a connoisseur’s meat and can be more easily replicated than others IMO because the texture is machine processed and the taste is pretty strongly of sodium. I feel like lentils are not typical fare as much as archetypical in the US, although I’m very glad someone mentioned daal. The vegetarians you know are probably just eating beans.
posted by Selena777 at 12:05 PM on April 10, 2021 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this a niche thing that occurred to her and she shared it with a clever name. It's not trying to solve all the problems. It's mainly this: if you agree that the meat industry as it exists is problematic, don't contribute to glorifying the meat industry. It's something you can easily do to help change the culture; don't actively engage in it.
posted by team lowkey at 12:09 PM on April 10, 2021 [6 favorites]


I think the thing I object to is that her point of view is joyless. The image she posts is of a creative buffet with a tiny amount of meat, most of the food is vegetable and cheese. And it is fun! Yet she shames her friend. In fact, taking that image as the point of departure, she could have said the opposite: look at how much fun can be had with just 300 grams of prosciutto, instead of 10 kgs of meat.
Also, if people limited their meat intake to festive events, there would be no problem.
If we want to change food culture, and I do, we need to make the alternatives as attractive and aspirational and fun as the viking ship with prosciutto sails. And we can do that.
posted by mumimor at 12:32 PM on April 10, 2021 [7 favorites]


I can't help but wonder if, per above, this is the author picking the item they'd have the least trouble complying with.

According to what the author says in the essay, the author picked the item that happened to be on their mind at the time they sat down to write a blog post, because of an interaction they had just had with a friend over the friend's Instagram post.
posted by eviemath at 12:33 PM on April 10, 2021 [2 favorites]


Apologies on pushing lentils—wasn’t my intention. I do like to pump up mujadara whenever possible, though...
posted by Ahmad Khani at 12:33 PM on April 10, 2021 [4 favorites]


I just want to reiterate that the essay is not calling for shaming meat eating, it's calling for not venerating or glorifying meat eating.

If I posted some enthusiastic comment about [x] and got a DM from a friend, "hey :) :) :), just a gentle reminder :) :) :) that x is destroying the planet and we should never promote it!!!!", I sure would feel shamed. Or at least that someone had attempted to shame me, not even for eating meat, but for liking the idea of eating meat in public.

There's this super-super-super disingenuous style that some younger activists deploy these days to try to disguise from themselves that they're exerting social pressure or being socially aggressive (because they're still stuck in "conflict inherently = abuse," I think). It's unworthy of grown folks.
posted by praemunire at 2:37 PM on April 10, 2021 [14 favorites]


I've enjoyed reading food writer Alicia's Kennedy's perspective on food systems, capitalism, climate change and eating less meat/dairy:

"People like to say, “It’s the government’s problem! They need to regulate the fossil fuel and industrial food industries.” Yes. Do you see that happening anytime soon? This is a serious question, and I would like someone to tell me I’m wrong— that they’re on it up in D.C. But if the United States government decided to end subsidies totaling $38 billion per year, and meat and dairy were priced responsibly, with the labor, animal welfare, and ecological impact accounted for, would people say, “Okay,” and eat less meat and dairy, or would they riot at the supermarkets? I believe it’s the latter. The impacts of the broad U.S. diet are a cultural problem as well as a political one, and it needs to be discussed on both levels. That those who choose to give up animal products—whether as a vegan or at a “plant-based” scale—are the odd ones out is a cultural issue."

During the pandemic I started to eat a lot less meat, mostly because of worker treatment at processing plants. It's hard to get excited about cheap chicken thighs knowing the human cost of producing them. I knew this even before COVID, but the outbreaks at processing plants where management blamed the immigrant workers were a tipping point for me.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:21 PM on April 10, 2021 [17 favorites]


Between the absolute sentience and sweetness of bovines and the intelligence of porcines, I'd love to fucking shame each and every one of you who can't go a week without bacon or burgers or whatever hot dogs are made of.

Sorry to be a downer, you know? I understand that no one's perfect, but if all y'all who say that it's a systemic problem would start working for systemic change, that would be great. You know what the cattle and hog lobbies are like in the Midwest and Southern states? You know that chicken processing plants in the South and Midwest LOCK PEOPLE IN against the fire code to make sure no one's stealing chicken or chicken guts? Because that's how greedy those folk are. Hog farms won't even figure out how to raise hogs without flooding surrounding communities with waste during every bad storm. Workplace injuries in slaughterhouses are legion. But boy oh boy, that meat industry is profitable, and they know how to hire lobbyists.

Good luck getting the U.S. Congress to bite those hands that feed them.

It takes individual choices -- that consumers started buying hybrid and electric cars -- to get us moving on federal regulations. To make Congress believe that voting for those regulations won't piss off voters. And Trump II could change the weak sauce regulation of fossil fuels tomorrow.

Meat is a literal shitshow. I know about Big Ag and Big Soy and all those things, but maybe in choosing against factory meat we start on reforming the whole food industry in a way people can afford.

I'm lucky enough to enjoy both lentils (prepared variously) and fake meats of many varieties. As others have pointed out, most of the world sustains itself without bacon and burgers. I bet you can, too.
posted by allthinky at 7:43 PM on April 10, 2021 [10 favorites]


if all y'all who say that it's a systemic problem would start working for systemic change, that would be great.

See, I appreciate this honesty. However, I'm sorry if you only hang out with low-quality, bullshitting people, but some of us actually do do our best to bring about the changes we support in society. (I'm assuming your general experience is why you don't know that, since I know you don't know me, and probably not most of the people posting here.)
posted by praemunire at 8:49 PM on April 10, 2021 [4 favorites]


I may be wrong here, but I don't see the "individual choices don't matter" argument applied to anything BUT not eating meat on MetaFilter. For me, people who say they like meat and will continue to eat it for that reason alone despite the environmental consequences and the suffering of animals are at least being honest. A single Burger King franchise now sells 34,000 Impossible Whoppers a day. That is impressive, and Burger King would never have started carrying the Impossible Whopper if individuals hadn't decided to at least seriously cut down on meat consumption.

I just reread Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals, and he asks who would have thought that individuals deciding to sit at segregated lunch counters would have sparked a revolution. (NOT comparing the courage of those people to not eating meat, but their choosing to individually sit in those seats sure as hell mattered.)

Here's a more complete argument on why individual dietary choices matter.
posted by FencingGal at 5:36 AM on April 11, 2021 [11 favorites]


...but some arguing in this thread I wonder if are approaching this whole thing from a morality/ethics angle rather than a net carbon harm reduction perspective.

¿Por que no los dos?
posted by Alex404 at 5:53 AM on April 11, 2021


Deciding to have kids or not, cat/dog people, airline travel choices, car ownership, choice of immigration destination, deciding to come out of the closet or not... I could list 20 or 100 decisions people have argued it is okay to make whichever choice works best for you and it won't matter at all.

Maybe not 100, but overall, you're right. I stand corrected.
posted by FencingGal at 6:56 AM on April 11, 2021


I will never understand the "vegans are condescending and smug" argument. Have you ever met a Steak Bro? These people want the possibility of delicious vegetarian food to be ridiculed and mocked and hidden away from the public culture, and babble on with disproven nonsense about "complete proteins" that was cooked up by the USDA marketing folks in the 70s. They'll act like they'll just...die if they don't get animal flesh in every. single. meal.

People actually left my wedding banquet to go to a steak house, because they were offended that we created a spread so everyone could fill their plates. I'm done with that kind of joyless absolutism of artificial masculinity. Those people are no longer friends because of their tiresome endless MEAT MEAT MEAT proselytising.

How do you tell if someone has an irrational dislike of vegans? Oh don't worry: theeeeeeeey'll tell yoooooouuuu!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 7:03 AM on April 11, 2021 [19 favorites]


It’s pretty consistent with the “no ethical choices under capitalism” idea, but what is the plan to deal with the fact that the average American would totally lose their shit if the systemic changes did take place that significantly raised the price and/or increased the scarcity of meat for the sake of the environment and mount a backlash against whoever was or could be depicted as politically responsible?
posted by Selena777 at 7:06 AM on April 11, 2021 [3 favorites]


The vegans I know are the nicest people you could meet, and they don't preach at anyone. But I've seen them berated by weird ass meatposters multiple times.
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:52 AM on April 11, 2021 [9 favorites]


The EU has regulated agriculture for 30+ years to ensure better food safety and also less environmental damage. It is not near perfect, at all, but I think the incremental change is helping to let people accept it in their own time. I did a little piece of writing on butter 30 years ago, and at the time in Denmark, sustainably produced butter was a niche product from tiny dairies, that one could only buy in specialist stores. Now it accounts for about 40 % of the local market, and it is distributed by the big organisations to every single supermarket and corner store. Even the "traditional" dairy products are a lot more regulated than in the US, in terms of animal welfare, waste management and sustainable production.
We need to speed up the proces, and it is probably easier in Europe than in the US for many reasons, but it doesn't seem impossible to imagine a managed reconstruction of agriculture.
As far as I know, China is also working on this, not least since the SARS epidemic made it clear that unmanaged food production poses a real risk. And now we all know that...

Obviously, consumer preferences mean a lot for how fast and how impactful a change can be. But if you want to change consumer preferences, the carrot might be more efficient than the stick. My grandparents were very emotionally attached to the promise of industrial agriculture, as someone their age often were. But they were won over by the far better taste, specially with dairy products, poultry and some vegetables. Chefs and food critics played a part in introducing the public to better food choices back then 30 years ago, and gradually the options are spreading out from the elite to the wider public, including vegetable based recipes in magazines and local papers and a lot of choice at the supermarkets.
posted by mumimor at 7:59 AM on April 11, 2021 [5 favorites]


Deciding to have kids or not

I mostly see the argument that having kids does add carbon load and does matter as an individual choice, but that there are significant human rights issues with government regulation or laws around who can have kids or how many kids that strongly outweigh the environmental concerns? So we instead promote policies that subtly and gradually shift the culture away from having lots of kids. And we seem to be able to understand that opposing cultural messaging that says you're unworthy if you don't have kids doesn't necessarily mean shaming people who do have kids - that is, we seem to understand that, while individual people don't always strike this balance, there is a middle ground there.

cat/dog people

This is one where the cumulative choices aren't actually making that large of a difference for carbon emissions.

airline travel choices

Really? I have never heard the argument that individual choices don't matter when it comes to airline travel.

car ownership

We seem to be able to clearly understand on Metafilter that there is a difference between driving a Prius versus rolling coal, and that condemnation of the latter isn't shaming of the former. This is actually another great comparison relevant to the discussion in this thread.

choice of immigration destination, deciding to come out of the closet or not

See also: human rights issues vastly outweighing environmental or other issues.

In the second case, the comparison that is relevant to the present discussion is that we have no difficulty understanding that opposition to "don't ask don't tell" policies is not the same as shaming people who are still in the closet.

(On the larger issue of whether individual choices matter, as Harvey Milk noted and subsequent experience has shown, the accumulation of many lgbtq people's bravery in coming out has absolutely mattered in changing culture and subsequently in gaining legal and other structural changes. As we saw with the Trump administration and still currently with assaults on trans rights at the state level, those structural changes can quickly be rolled back with a shift in the cultural balance, and cultural change has clearly preceded and led to structural change in this area. I don't often see people arguing the opposite?

The online "own voices" situation is a recent reminder, among many similar examples, that promoting individuals being publicly and visibly out can roll over into shaming people who are not able to do so in harmful ways. Absolutely no argument there. However, we still seem to be able to understand that there is a distinction that can be made (even if sometimes we're bad at it in practice) between that sort of promotion of coming out to the detriment of people who are not able to, versus opposition to messaging that encourages staying closeted (don't ask don't tell, or religious groups that say that it's okay to be gay so long as you never actually have a same sex romantic or sexual relationship and never talk about it with anyone).)
posted by eviemath at 8:22 AM on April 11, 2021 [3 favorites]


Perhaps I misunderstood your point, floam? I, personally, have not seen it argued that individual choices don't matter in the cases you discussed. (Which is not to say that it doesn't happen, or that it hasn't happened in my presence and I just haven't noticed. It seems that some commenters in this thread also haven't seen or noticed the sort of social media posts advocating a particular culture around meat consumption that the posted essay discusses, and it would be foolishly over-confident of me to assume that there aren't some topics where I have a similar either lack of experience or blind spot.)

I did go off in a different direction and try to discuss some of the examples you brought up in relation my own, different point that was not your point. I'm sorry for not more clearly acknowledging that, in doing so, I wasn't trying to argue against your particular point or tie my point to your point. That was a bit confusing and sloppy on my part.
posted by eviemath at 9:34 AM on April 11, 2021


From Annie Lowrey in The Atlantic: The conservation nonprofit Rare analyzed a sweeping set of climate-change mitigation strategies in 2019. It found that getting households to recycle, switch to LED lighting and hybrid vehicles, and add rooftop solar systems would save less than half the carbon emissions combined than would reducing food waste and adopting a plant-based diet.

...when you’re at the store, there is one dietary change to consider that beats all others in terms of its climate impact. It is not eating locally or seasonally. It is not eating organic or fair-trade. It is not eating unprocessed foods or avoiding big-box and fast-food retailers. It is eating less meat. Roughly three-quarters of the world’s farmland is used to pasture livestock or raise crops to feed that livestock. That contributes to deforestation, destroys the planet’s natural carbon sinks, erodes the planet’s biodiversity, and uses up fresh water.

The main, mooing offender is beef. Cattle are responsible for roughly two-thirds of the livestock sector’s greenhouse-gas emissions, while beef and dairy products are responsible for about one-tenth of global emissions overall. Gram for gram, beef produces roughly eight times more greenhouse-gas emissions than farmed fish or poultry, 12 times more than eggs, 25 times more than tofu, and even more compared with pulses, nuts, root vegetables, bananas, potatoes, bread, or maize.

Beef is so bad for two reasons, Michael Clark, a scholar of food systems and health at the University of Oxford, explained to me. The first is that it takes a lot of inputs to produce beef as an output: about 20 kilograms of corn and soy protein to produce one kilogram of beef, he said. The second is that cows produce methane as they digest their food. “Other types of animals don’t do that,” he said. “And methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.”

Trading your rib eyes and cheesesteaks for lentils and tofu is one of the best things you can do as a consumer for the environment; if all Americans did, the country would be roughly halfway to hitting its Paris Agreement targets. Still, the all-or-nothing way the choice is often presented is a mistake. There is enormous acreage between the Atkins diet, or even the meat-heavy diet of the average American, and full-on veganism, which remains a niche lifestyle choice that few follow for long. Better all Americans cut meat consumption by 40 percent than 3 percent of Americans cut it out completely. Experts encourage taking small, meaningful steps to reduce your meat consumption, and trying to find some joy in doing it. Participate in Meatless Monday; try learning to cook dishes from a plant-heavy cuisine you like; offer a vegetarian option at work events; opt for dishes where meat plays a supporting, rather than leading, role.


Most humans are good at black and white thinking. I sure the hell am. But we don't have to make it an all-or-nothing deal. I liked TFA because it had not occurred to me that choosing to post yummy-looking pics of red meat on social media is shilling, however inadvertently, for Big Agriculture and Big Meat. I'm glad the author pointed that out. People can do what they like but it can be useful to consider the potential unintended consequences of such behaviour. Like, there's a reason that tobacco companies did product placement in movies all those years. But it's totes cool if you or your friends wanna keep meatposting.

Please note: All the humans I know have a limited number of spoons; if the central idea seems ridiculous to you or if you don't have the energy to deal with it, or you think the argument was poorly made, okay! I expected the discussion about this post to be lively, and I much appreciate all the comments.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:54 AM on April 12, 2021 [12 favorites]


I don't think anyone here is saying people should consume more meat, or that it's not an important topic – it is! This isn't a community of rah-rah meat-bro's (I hope).

Mostly I see people saying, hey, posting or re-posting a photo of meat is not at all free advertising for industrial meat. Or: shaming people for consuming meat isn't helping.

Making a display out of food – including meat – is a long-standing tradition in many cultures around the world. Whether it's a Vietnamese New Years feast or an American wedding.

Yet I think those making these points are being talked down to as if they're ignorant or that they're not capable of understanding how the environmental damage caused by wheat production compares to that caused by poultry.
posted by romanb at 5:29 AM on April 12, 2021 [5 favorites]


Yes, less about individual choices and more about policy, both in meat production and agriculture. It's easier to shame meat eaters, but those shamers should also be shaming vegans if their desired result is waking people up with the same stick.

One of the greatest threats to the quality and health of Great Lakes and its tributaries is excess fertilizers from irresponsible agricultural practices in the American and Canadian midwest. Soybeans and corn crops are the biggest players. Fun fact: In 2019, Ohio farmers harvested 4.27 million acres of soybeans, which resulted in a production of more than 209 million bushels of the crop. Soybeans brought the state $2.4 billion in annual cash receipts. Excessive fertilization from irresponsible agricultural practices is decimating the Great Lakes, especially Lake Erie. Toxic algae blooms from over nutrification create unsafe drinking water for millions of people, and also create oxygen vacant zones that negatively impact fish populations.

Shaming aside, it does take individuals to be involved in eradication of poor policies:

Governments at federal, state and provincial, and local levels as well as citizens worked together to install pollution controls and substantially reduce the algal blooms, voluntary bans on phosphorus detergent began in the 1990s. Bold action solved the problem in the past and bold action is needed now. Many new research studies and reports address the issue of nutrient pollution, but this should not delay stakeholders from performing early measures to reduce their share of nutrient runoff.
posted by waving at 6:22 AM on April 12, 2021 [2 favorites]


Fun fact: In 2019, Ohio farmers harvested 4.27 million acres of soybeans, which resulted in a production of more than 209 million bushels of the crop. Soybeans brought the state $2.4 billion in annual cash receipts.

Is this supposed to make eating tofu look bad? Per the USDA, 70% of soybeans produced in the US go to feed livestock. This problem is not caused by vegetarians eating soy. And because meat production is so inefficient, if people switched from meat to tofu, that would still be a lot fewer soybeans.
posted by FencingGal at 6:57 AM on April 12, 2021 [9 favorites]


Nice try, waving, but FencingGal is right -- the great majority of mass agriculture in the U.S. and elsewhere goes to feed livestock.

Eat less meat. Celebrate meat less.

Sorry if you feel shamed; doing something clearly harmful for no good reason tends to have that effect.
posted by allthinky at 7:33 AM on April 12, 2021 [2 favorites]


I don't think that's what waving is trying to say, and is pretty much a perfect example of what romanb was describing in this thread.

Do people really think that posting fewer pictures of steak is the most effective way of protesting corn subsidies?
posted by sagc at 7:47 AM on April 12, 2021 [2 favorites]


Great, allthinky, get hostile at me personally. FencingGal may be right about soybeans going to feed stock, but you both missed my point entirely. There is nothing in my comment that is trying to "make Tofu look bad" or is hostile to anyone, let alone other commenters here. It was a post meant to shed light on the environmental impact of agriculture on the Great Lakes. and how people and policy are instrumental in chage.
posted by waving at 9:12 AM on April 12, 2021 [3 favorites]


Mod note: Alright folks, attacking each other is never Ok. Please review our Community Guidelines and be considerate and respectful.
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 9:22 AM on April 12, 2021 [2 favorites]


Sorry if I missed your point waving. Even if you didn't mean it that way, it's possible other people would have seen that as a criticism of eating soy. I think a lot of people (not saying you) try to convince themselves that eating a vegetarian/vegan diet is actually worse for the planet (see all the publicity given to almond milk's water usage, while dairy is much more environmentally devastating). And I think a lot of that comes from just not wanting to give up reduce meat consumption - which I get. It took me years to give up animal products - I believed it was wrong for me to consume them long before I stopped doing so (I'm also motivated by animal rights, so I can't feel it's OK to eat a small amount).

I live near the Great Lakes and agree this is all very concerning. I still maintain that reducing meat consumption on an individual basis would help - for all the reasons in the article I cited previously.
posted by FencingGal at 11:17 AM on April 12, 2021 [3 favorites]


I would like to reiterate, again, that the fpp link and most of us commenting in support of it in this thread are making a distinction between posting photos that happen to contain meat, and "meatposting". One of the distinctions, as the author states directly, lies in the caption. To quote the first two sentences (emphasis added, for clarity),
Meatposting is word I made up just now. It refers to the practice of posting pictures of meat on social media with captions that glorify its consumption.
Does your caption include "MEAT" in all caps? It's probably meatposting. Does your caption focus on the effort that went into making the food pictured, the social benefits of sharing it with friends or family, or similar? Probably not meatposting. Is your caption something like "Bringing home the BACON!!!1!"? Probably meatposting. Is your caption something like "Feeling grateful for the abundance life has brought us <3"? Probably not meatposting. (Additional context clues and photo specifics obviously come into play as well in all of the above examples.)

I'm not the best at remembering names, but to the best of my recollection, everyone in this thread has no trouble understanding that "hey baby" can be catcalling in one context or loving in another context.

Our social media posts, like our in-person speech, have social context, including the context provided by captions of photos we post. Sometimes we don't think a whole lot about that context, and end up shilling for big ag for free. The author is saying that she doesn't believe that the latter aligns with the values of caring about mitigating climate change.
posted by eviemath at 4:59 PM on April 12, 2021 [9 favorites]


brb, meatcute

(no, no, I'll pick them up, it's fine)
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 6:28 PM on April 12, 2021


I think it's pretty clear, myself, which posts are glorifying meat in a macho, braggy way and which aren't.
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:34 AM on April 14, 2021 [2 favorites]


Mod note: Quick reminder, please: Let’s stop using the word lame.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:57 AM on April 14, 2021 [4 favorites]


eviemath's post does a great job of differentiating. There could be borderline cases, but it doesn't seem that hard to me.
posted by FencingGal at 6:44 AM on April 14, 2021


It's easy to agree with something if you already agree with something [choir: meet preacher].

From that starting point, logic flows beautifully. You ask yourself: how could anyone not see how reasonable and nuanced this point is?

Agreement should come at the full dosage. How could one find flaws in an already perfect argument? Blasphemy.
posted by romanb at 7:39 AM on April 14, 2021


Seriously. I feel like "This is a good burger" would be OK, but "This is a GOOD BURGER!!" wouldn't, and that seems like it underlines just how much of a personal thing this is.

And if we're going to discuss photographs which feature meat in such critical depth, why not just spend our time commenting negatively on every Instagram post that has an artifact of the modern world? This can't be the most destructive behaviour people are glorifying.
posted by sagc at 7:53 AM on April 14, 2021 [3 favorites]


Because in this post, we're discussing the article, which is about meatposting, or people engaging in something I'm sure most of us have seen - macho, braggy comments about how amazing and important meat eating is, a glorification of meat only because it is meat. We are not discussing everything in the modern world that is problematic.
posted by tiny frying pan at 9:51 AM on April 14, 2021 [7 favorites]


Making a display out of food – including meat – is a long-standing tradition in many cultures around the world. Whether it's a Vietnamese New Years feast or an American wedding.

Sure, but this is not happening in a vacuum. Since post-WWII America culture has spread across the world. McDonald's and KFC and other fast food restaurants are very popular overseas. And it's not only fast food. I've lived in the US for most of my life, and I've seen more Tony Roma's in other countries than here in the US.

And, yes, displaying meat is traditionally a symbol prosperity and bountifulness across many cultures, but it's also true that American businesses have altered that symbol and portrayed it's own products as part of that image, especially to sell to people in other countries. And this is true for American food manufacturers and food businesses too.

So, I don't think it's bad to question traditions, how they come to be, and how they have changed over the years.
posted by FJT at 11:04 AM on April 14, 2021 [3 favorites]


So a photo and a silly caption of a traditional festive meal that involves meat is a no-go because a US-based corporation sells and promotes the consumption of meat?

First we were given McDonald's ... Then our traditions shamed because McDonald's exists? Ouch. Double ouch.

Why not regulate the meat industry instead (which a lot of people have been saying here)? It would be more direct, and there's a positive side effect of less finger pointing at each other.
posted by romanb at 5:12 AM on April 15, 2021 [1 favorite]


It is highly non-obvious to me that working to shift cultural values around meat consumption is necessarily mutually exclusive to working to change policy. Could folks making this argument perhaps point me toward some supporting evidence or research?
posted by eviemath at 5:44 AM on April 15, 2021 [2 favorites]


I, also, ultimately want structural change. In this case, we're talking about, among other things, ending very lucrative subsidies from the US government to an industry that has very deep pockets and spends a lot on lobbying, advertising, and campaign contributions. Are there examples (that could serve as templates / roadmaps) for how to make that happen without cultural change that either (a) makes it more politically costly for politicians / political parties in the US to continue doing what the large campaign donor prefers, or (b) affects the bottom line of the large campaign donor so that they no longer have the same outsized financial influence over federal US politics? Eg. tighter regulations on tobacco products and advertising in the US came after cultural change that led to smoking being less of an aspirational ideal. I see the goal of ending meat industry subsidies, stopping the offloading of industry products in school meal programs across the US, adding regulations on paid advertising of industrial scale meat products, and enforcing health and labor standards within the meat industry as being similar to the fight to regulate the tobacco industry. Or as being similar to how cultural change around how we view casual everyday sexual harassment has preceded improved labor standards and enforcement in that area. But if there's another pathway that I'm not thinking of, I'd be happy to hear the details.
posted by eviemath at 6:29 AM on April 15, 2021 [3 favorites]


Those are loaded questions, considering those examples. I mean, if you consider something to be so immoral/sinful/harmful/criminal then it'll be difficult to find common ground with the majority who have a different opinion.

A more fitting analogy would be prohibition (and the puritan pressure that lead up to it) as an answer to alcoholism. Yes, overconsumption is bad for you and the people around you (pretty much everyone would agree to that). Yes, binging is unhealthy.

But! As a private individual it's OK to have more of something (sugar, champagne, meat) once in a while (birthday, wedding, harvest festival, etc.). It's OK and good to have a celebration and perfectly fine to express excitement for a celebration and the things you'll eat there (whether prosciutto or carrots).
posted by romanb at 5:15 AM on April 16, 2021 [1 favorite]


How is prohibition a more fitting analogy for how to achieve regulations on an industry that discourage but don't prohibit consumption? Apart from the different regulatory goals, prohibition was also a case of a regulatory change that happened because of a cultural shift, not the other way around. So it doesn't answer my question about how to achieve regulatory change that goes against the interests of a large donor without first some cultural change.
posted by eviemath at 6:02 AM on April 16, 2021 [1 favorite]


I mentioned prohibition (and the puritan pressure that lead up to it).
posted by romanb at 6:23 AM on April 16, 2021


Yes, exactly. So (a) being prohibition rather than non-prohibitive regulation, it's not an example with the same goals as I'm asking about; and (b) it doesn't answer my question about if there are any examples of regulatory change against an industry with deep pockets that wasn't first preceded by cultural change.
posted by eviemath at 7:04 AM on April 16, 2021


My point is that culture change can sometimes be a loud minority holding pitch forks. That's why prohibition didn't work. It looked like cultural change to true believers and they won some battles, but, in the end, nobody wanted it.

In other words: it's not that social pressure doesn't work, it's that it can be wrong.
posted by romanb at 9:41 AM on April 16, 2021


Ok, thanks for clarifying. That's not really cultural change though, is it? Just social pressure without actual cultural change? Are we agreeing that the prohibition example is a point against the efficacy of top-down imposition of regulatory changes in the absence of more widespread cultural change?
posted by eviemath at 9:54 AM on April 16, 2021


Reading this discussion, I came to think of something. Europe is far ahead of the US when it comes to sustainable and ethical agriculture. It's not even close to good, let alone best practice, but there are fewer steps up the ladder compared to the US. And part of that is that rather large areas of European farmland were protected and subsidized for cultural reasons* when Big Ag arrived. Not only the well known French and Italian vineyards and cheese producers, but also the Alpine farm culture, and reindeer herding in the North. So when the Green movement began in the 1970s, they weren't speaking into a void, they had natural allies at the political level, and on the other side of the political spectrum as well as their own.
I guess that supports the idea that cultural context is important. And I wonder how it will play out in countries and regions where industrial agriculture is still a limited part of the total agricultural production. Like how some countries went directly from no modern technology to cellphones without going through all the stages of communication technology.

*some places, it was not just about culture. During the Cold War, governments close to the East block did not like big empty spaces. So the Sami and the Alpine farmers were not only there to preserve an ancient culture, but also to mark a territorial claim.
posted by mumimor at 10:36 AM on April 16, 2021 [2 favorites]


Comparisons to drinking and smoking elide a key difference: In those cases the products were the bad thing. If that's your goal, you want smokers not to have cigarettes, and drinkers not to have alcohol. You aren't trying to get society to move to low tar cigarettes or synthetic liquor, you're trying to stop individuals. It's a big difference between that and meat eating (at least in the context of climate change.) The goal is stopping climate change; meat consumption is collateral damage.

Focusing on the actual problem--CO2 (and methane) emissions--has proven to be hard enough but it's not like those thing have strong grass roots support. In a theoretical world tackling those directly would cause the costs to trickle across the board and you'd see meat move from fast food staple to rarer luxury, without having to convince someone they don't actually like things they like. We don't live in a theoretical world so we'll have equity issues and IMO need harder caps, but I still suspect the production is by far the easier target.

it doesn't answer my question about if there are any examples of regulatory change against an industry with deep pockets that wasn't first preceded by cultural change.

Automobiles and airplanes are heavily regulated on safety issues, over the objections of deep pocketed industries, without losing their wide popularity among consumers. They've gone from death traps to incredibly safe (commercial airlines) or relatively safe (compared to my childhood, auto deaths are lower in absolute numbers and about half the per capita rate, despite much higher population and density.)

We haven't done enough on CO2 but that's a problem with us and across all industries. The consumer popularity hasn't rendered them immune from regulation when we've thought the underlying issue was important enough.
posted by mark k at 12:15 PM on April 16, 2021 [5 favorites]


There are low hanging fruits where widespread cultural change may not be necessary to impose regulatory changes. Off the top of my head, EU anti-roaming laws may be an example. Nobody needed to be convinced that it's a good idea, nor did anyone (who was not already a telcom billionaire) shed a tear when they weren't charged extra for an international call within the EU.
posted by romanb at 12:33 PM on April 16, 2021 [1 favorite]


One could argue that seemingly intentionally misunderstanding other posters is also muddying the waters and/or concern trolling.

We've also had two instances of actual meatposting trolling in this thread. And yet other posters such as myself have successfully differentiated between these and the posters who disagree on methods but are engaging in a good faith discussion. Are you saying I should not have done so, but should have refused to engage with your comments because of those posts?
posted by eviemath at 5:38 AM on April 18, 2021


It is highly non-obvious to me that working to shift cultural values around meat consumption is necessarily mutually exclusive to working to change policy. Could folks making this argument perhaps point me toward some supporting evidence or research?

So we know, from a lot of sociological research, that people tend to respond less culturally to feelings of shame, and more towards other motivating factors. That's why the vast majority of cultural success has not been on shame-based campaigns, but on motivating people to take different steps through a combination of offering the thing less, and making it more convenient not to do the thing.

Tobacco smoking is significantly down, and it's not significantly down because we as a society started yelling at smokers. It's because the taxes on cigarettes got higher, we started regulating advertisements of it more, we started changing the places in which people could smoke so that they did it less, we taught children in public health classes that it was bad and dangerous so they nagged their parents about it. What we did not do is individually follow and shame smokers.

If you genuinely want to shift cultural values around meat consumption, this tactic does not work, and in fact has been proven to be directly counterproductive to the change you want. When you attempt to shame people for something they enjoy, sociologists find that a good proportion of the time, they get angry and double down on it and work harder to propagate it. Even me, who is aware of this facet of human behavior, felt the impulse to eat a huge steak immediately upon reading this thread. The way that you change cultural values and behavior is to make it inconvenient and somewhat tactless and embarrassing.

So if you want people to eat less meat, it is immensely more effective to focus your efforts on restaurants, or taxation, or public health advisories, than it is to seek out individuals who are doing the thing you don't like and argue with them.
posted by corb at 1:07 PM on April 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


Maybe I've missed something, but I don't think anyone was saying not to use regulations, laws, and taxes to reduce meat consumption. I think what people are arguing whether individuals should take any other action besides those. Things like voluntarily eating less or no meat, and talking to other people about it (i.e., mentioning meatposting) seems to be what people are arguing about. I mean, all right, so I can see why people should not spend a huge amount of time doing those actions, but I also don't see it as counterproductive if someone can spend a little time doing that either. Both can be done and I think both can help, because even when regulations and laws exist, they are not perfect, not everywhere has great systems in place to carry those out, and things like black markets do exist.

And shame is counterproductive and can backfire, but y'know what else is actually going to also cause people to all turn into Ron Swanson's overnight and want to eat big slabs of steak and BBQ, at least in the US? As soon as the US federal government even whispers that maybe it is thinking of possibly passing a law to have people eat a little less meat. So, yeah, don't try to shame people, but don't think that not talking to people at all about it will somehow have us sidestep having to deal with that feeling.
posted by FJT at 2:55 PM on April 18, 2021 [2 favorites]


I follow my terrible Republican senators on Facebook, because I'm some kind of masochist, and one of them has spent the past week going off about "the Left's war on meat." She's sponsoring a bill to make it illegal to have meatless Mondays in Federal cafeterias, because clearly that's the most important issue facing Iowans right now. There currently are no Federal cafeterias that have meatless Mondays, but we need to guard against the hypothetical possibility, apparently. She's also encouraging us all to eat lots of bacon and pork chops to combat the Left's war on meat. (I don't now if there's some anti-Muslim or antisemitic dog-whistle involved in the pork-centeredness, but she definitely wants us all to eat lots of pig products.) So it's already happening, and I suspect it's only going to get worse, because meat-eating is exactly the kind of pointless, masculinity-tinged lifestyle thing that right-wingers love. They're going to own the libs by subsisting on a steady diet of bacon, and there's nothing the libs can do about it. They'll probably end up like Jordan Peterson, in a coma from trying to subsist on a carnivorous diet. But she also gets a ton of money from agribusiness, and my hunch is that her attempts to turn this into a culture war are partly because she wants her supporters to be emotionally invested in her attempts to protect meat and dairy producers from any effective regulation.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:58 PM on April 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


That sounds awful, AribitraryAndCapricious. Someone should send this article to Iowa senator Joni Ernst (R). Maybe it will persuade her to stop meatposting.
posted by chrchr at 8:26 PM on April 18, 2021


I mean, sick burn, but the author explicitly starts her post by saying that it’s aimed at political progressives and that conservatives don’t need to bother reading it because she doesn’t care what they do.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:00 PM on April 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


ArbitraryAndCapricious, I have for a while been thinking that there must be an exchange going on out there on the conservaweb, because I feel I can recognize ideas coming from Europe to the US and back. We have a group here now who mimik the Capitol raiders and who threatened to lynch our PM.
The one about meatless Mondays and pork is directly here from Denmark. Our now not so new government suggested two meatless days in government cafeterias in October, as part of a climate package, and were loudly shouted down.
The pork thing goes a few years back. Obviously, daycares and schools decide for themselves what to serve the children, and in some districts, it was cheaper and simpler to give all the children halal food than to give them a choice. So some municipal councils went in to actively forbid halal food because they are racist. I think this ended nowhere except for one town, because obviously it goes against the principles of free choice and local democracy, and also forcing people to eat pork would harm the Jews. The Christian daily paper went strongly against the suggestion.
That one town where they have enforced that there must always be pork in public cafeterias, houses the headquarters of the Danish pork processing industry, which is just one huge organisation (there are small independent butchers, but you have to find them yourself). I don't think the organisation itself would ever publicly or privately lobby against halal meat, but their employees might have opinions.

BTW, I think pork is used as a dogwhistle a lot among left wing racists here. I met it for the first time in 2004, when I was doing some community work, and was pretty shocked when a self-declared communist suggested we hold a pork-roast competition in our Muslim-majority neighborhood. The town where they have the halal-meat restriction is majority Social Democrat, though the proposal came from the far-right DF, who would be the ones bragging about it on the conservative web.
posted by mumimor at 12:22 AM on April 19, 2021 [2 favorites]


Oh, yeah, the Iowa GOP is definitely in cahoots with European right-wingers. The most famous example of that is Steve King's flirtation with the Austrian hard right, but I think it's more widespread than that. That's actually the best explanation I've heard for what's behind the baffling meatless Mondays bill. It's sort of funny that they're constantly citing American exceptionalism to explain why we can't have evil socialistic European things like universal healthcare, but they're fine borrowing dumb cafeteria-related moral panics from the effete Europeans.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:44 AM on April 19, 2021 [3 favorites]


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