Don't Tell Me What To Eat!

“Keep your food choices off my plate. It’s my choice to eat meat or not, so mind your own business!”

I wish I had a dime for every time I heard or read statements like this. Mostly I wish it were true – that other people’s consumption of animal products really was their own business. Unfortunately, the choice to eat animals is a lot like the choice to smoke. Those who smoke, do inflict harm on everyone and everything around them. They don’t do it with malicious intent, and for many years, people weren’t even aware that they were harming others. It’s good that we know now, I believe that many people are healthier for this knowledge.

Likewise, those who consume eggs, meat, and dairy are usually unaware of the harm they support. Not only to the 14 billion animals consumed annually in the US, but to free-living animals, who are displaced from their habitat by livestock and feed crops. Animal farming pollutes the air, and makes inefficient use of a finite supply of water and land that we all share. It requires yet more land for crops that feed all those billions of livestock animals – crops which are often genetically modified and/or laden with pesticides, creating an even larger toll on the environment and its inhabitants.

Additionally, swine flu & avian flu are both products of animal agriculture. Do I want a flu because other people like bacon or demand cheap chicken? No. Is it fair that I have to be worried about drug resistant e. coli in my sprouts and spinach, because of others’ taste for hamburger? Of course not.

I think if you look into what animal agribusiness is doing to everyone else, you will probably agree, it’s not actually a personal choice at all. Our choices are all connected, and it’s fair to believe that many people will be healthier for this knowledge too.

Who’s Telling Whom What to Eat?

Do you let clowns and talking cows tell you and your kids what to eat?

Face it, everyone is told what to eat every day, many times a day – and not by vegans. Watch TV for an hour – you’ll see at least 4 commercials telling you (and your children) what to eat. Commute a few miles to work, and there are billboards directing your appetite. In the 45 seconds or so it took us to walk through Costco’s electronics section today, we were told – on multiple large screen TVs, to eat pizza. On the way out, there were numerous signs for their ready made food – “Enjoy a beef hot dog!” and “Try our chicken!”

Furthermore, the government tells the whole nation what to eat. Since 1943, we have been told that the 4 food groups are “milk, meats, breads, and fruits & vegetables.” Most people were raised to believe that consuming animal products is necessary for good health – but that simply isn’t true.

No one seems to object to money-making entities telling them what to eat. And although many people question past and present government leaders, they rarely question the fact that we are being told to eat the most profitable, subsidized, inefficient – and unhealthy – food possible. We are no longer subsidizing meat and dairy because people need them for nutrition – we are telling people to eat these products because they are overproduced and inexpensive, thanks to federal subsidies.

Indeed, my tax money makes your cow’s milk cheaper than my soy milk. Like 60% of Americans, I can’t consume lactose, even if I wanted to. I am also funding other activities I oppose, such as the trapping, killing, and rounding up of wild animals in order to graze cattle (which I don’t eat) on public lands, and protect the interests of livestock ranchers. Clearly, these uses of tax revenue are my business too – not just the business of whose who consume the products.

But let one vegan suggest a plant-based diet… and the fireworks begin. We are called bossy, self-righteous food nazis, who just want to take away everyone’s choices and tell them what to do. The truth is, we all have a responsibility to make choices that respect the other living beings on the planet – not to waste and destroy the finite resources that we all share.

For More Information:
Meat: Now It’s Not Personal
But like it or not, meat-eating is becoming a problem for everyone on the planet.
http://www.worldwatch.org/system/files/EP174A.pdf

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24 Responses to Don't Tell Me What To Eat!

  1. Whee! says:

    Simeon,

    Let them decide for you! Wouldn’t it be much easier just to let CB, BobBecker and Bill tell you what you are allowed to eat? You won’t even have to waste energy making a choice! I mean, isn’t that the essence of freedom and democracy? Oh wait a second… that’s the opposite…

    If I fart in my Chicago office it may cause a Tsunami in Japan. So can we please focus on the important issues and pass legislation to ban farting! CB, BobBecker and Bill, We need you TO SAVE US FROM OURSELVES!!! AND SAVE JAPAN!!!

  2. simeon says:

    so when it comes right down to it, I am pretty much just another mindless, rightless, freedomless robot for you totalitarian hippies to control. You say that what i eat effects everyone around me…you say what i smoke effects everyone around..you say what i drive effects everyone around me..you say where i set my thermostat effects everyone around me…i could go on and on…. dont you see?? your taking away the greatest part of this country…our personal rights and liberties….forget about it,. you ppl will never see and i feel that i am waisting my time….go ahead..name call….do whatever you flower children do….i have neither time no patience to deal with these insanities…

  3. Dan says:

    you have to be kidding me??? Leave me and what I choose to eat alone. I past by hundreds of billboards, I don’t go out an buy everything I see advertised. Maybe if you took time to teach your child how to balance eating right and exercise we wouldn’t have unhealthy children. The is a Free country, you want to be told how to eat go back to Nazi Germany! I make my own choice that effect me. Don’t give me a load of BS that says I am hurting everyone around me! You are a Nut!! My food poops on your food!!

  4. CB says:

    Mae, actually you’re right, they aren’t equal comparisons at all. Livestock farming does far more harm to everyone else than smoking. It wastes more resources, destroys more rain forest, creates more pollution, and harms more bodies than smoking ever did.

    Owain… yes let’s just eliminate the subsidies, and the glut of consuming meat and dairy will end on its own. Only the very privileged would be able to consume it at all, and since they are so wealthy, they won’t mind all the bypass surgeries, cholesterol medications, and diabetes care. That’s how it should be. As it stands, animal based food is cheaper and is foisted on the poor via food giveaways and school lunches. The connection between poverty, malnourished obesity (yes they co-exist), and lack of education is very troubling.

    PS – Take some time to surf this blog, I offer a lot of recipes – very few of them involve tofu. But if that’s what people want, then fear not – if we stop feeding all those soybeans to cattle and dairy cows, we’ll have more than enough to feed the whole world. Food for thought, since world hunger is at about a billion right now.

  5. Bill says:

    Mae. You totally missed the point completely.

  6. mae says:

    Really? You’re comparing eating meat to smoking? Not really an equal comparison.

    Plus, advertising is part of free speech, just like people can advertise their anti-rodeo campaigns, chik-fil-a can advertise their chicken.

  7. Bill says:

    Owain, Hey again!

    It costs more for a quart of soy milk than it does for a gallon of cows milk. Yet we feed soy to cows to make milk. The truth is that in a true free market the meat and dairy industry would fail. So they get subsidies. Subsidies I pay in taxes. Personally I think that taxing unprepared foods is immoral. But they do it to keep Big Farm afloat. Why? Because its “too big to fail”. like railroads and auto industries and banks. It is essentially corporate welfare, and there is your so-called ‘nanny-state’ at work. I really don’t care what you eat. I don’t care if you smoke dope. It’s not my problem until it effects me, right? (that’s sarcasm)

    I do not want to pay for it any more than I want to pay for someone’s abortion or even the bogus war on terror. But we are forced to because the damned lie is inculcated into society from the very pundits who are the cause of the problem. The government is owned by Big Farm/Pharm and Fuel. And I am pretty sure that most of our so-called representatives are in their pocket. Both conservative and liberal.

    I believe that.

  8. Owain says:

    gave above, not game. My index fingers must be dyslexic this morning (sigh)

  9. Owain says:

    The list I game, as I said, was endless, which implies that the items i game were not all inclusive. I assume I have a word limit in my entries, so I truncated the list. Fell free to append to it as you wish.

    The way I look at it, the society will not be impoverished, because the government will be taking less money in taxes, allowing people to spend more of their own money. If they are unhealthy, it will be because they do not spend that extra money in their pockets where they should, and they only have themselves to blame. I’m not responsible for people’s stupid decisions.

    If less money is sucked off at the Federal level, more money for education will be available locally, where it should be allocated, so the society will not be uneducated. Since obesity is an ever growing problem is all levels of society, the hunger you cite will probably not be a problem either.

    So much for the stawman brigade.

    I’d think you’d be happy to subsidize my consumption of mass quantities of meat and dairy. More tofu left over for you. Bon Apetite.

    At any rate, I figure it evens out. I suspect I subsidize programs you approve of with my taxes, and you subsidize t-bones for me.

    Welcome to the republic.

  10. CB says:

    Hi Owain… CB here again (Catherine, the author of this blog). Let me see if I understand you:

    “Personally, I’d like to end all sorts of government programs, to include welfare, health care, farm subsidies, education subsidies, endowments to the Arts that fund crap, PBS, goverment bailouts, cap and trade, … the list is endless.”

    You’ve conspicuously left out a reduction on military and civil service spending (hmmm….). So I’m guessing that you would like a society of impoverished, unhealthy, uneducated, and hungry people, except for those who work for the Monarchy and military being cared for – and those who are simply rich enough not to worry about it.

    I take it that you’ve never studied either economics or history enough to recognize the conditions that have led to just about every insurrection or revolution that has ever taken place. Somehow I’m just not seeing this as a good direction for the US.

    While PBS, public education, and programs that help the sick, uneducated, hungry, and elderly are beneficial to society… heavily subsidizing foods that are causing heart disease, obesity, and T2 diabetes are the opposite of beneficial, and only serve to fatten the coffers of pharmaceutical companies. There is a huge difference.

    Be all this as it may, I sent my kids to private schools, and am paying quite a lot for student loans and medical bills… so I’m actually not the one who is dependent on handouts and paychecks from the government. When you’re done using my money to pay for your meat and dairy, I’d love to see more of my own cash, pay for things that *I’d* like to eat.

  11. BobBecker says:

    Owain:

    OK. Point taken.

  12. Owain says:

    Bob, if you’ll read my last post, I blame the subsidies on every administration dating back to Roosevelt. Prior administrations and Congresses cannot deal with the problem, however. Only the current administation can, and at least until the next election that means the Obama Administration and the Democratically controlled Congress, as well as the those in the Republican minority.

  13. BobBecker says:

    Owain:

    Your stand on government subsidies is a defensible and consistent one. You’re blaming subsidies as a general government practice on the Obama administration is not. I remind you the Republican senate candidate in Utah, Mr. Lee, who likes to proclaim his opposition to all federal subsidies managed not to mention farm subsidies at all when he spoke recently to the Utah Farm Bureau federation. Nor did he mention federal subsidies for the delivery [at below market cost] of agricultural water in the arid west. Imagine that.

  14. Owain says:

    Bill, I was responding to CB’s canard that I enjoyed my government subsidies of the beef and dairy industries a little too much, so naturally, once he opened the door, a rebuttle regarding government subsidies in general was not uncalled for. If you dislike government subsidies of programs in one area, but welcome with open arms government subsidies that benefit you, that’s a bit disingenuous, don’t you think.

    As far as dragging Obama into the conversation, he IS the head of the current administration, isn’t he, along with the Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress, so who else am I going to blame? I know blaming George Bush is more fashionable, and his administration did perpetuate the current system, as every administration has also done, Democrat or Republican, all the way back to Roosevelt.

    Bush, however, is no longer in office, and Obama is, so if you want to condemn government subsidies, be it in agriculture or wherever, be honest about it, and condemn the current Obama Administration, because that is who is in charge at the moment.

  15. Bill says:

    Owain… interesting how you imply this has something to do with Obamas rhetoric. I don’t think you’re being realistic. Just defensive. The subsidies are like kickbacks for the industries which basically control our government. Do a little research. That’s all I think Ms Burt is really asking.

  16. Owain says:

    Wow, government is subsidizing all this. Is this part of Hope, or part of Change?

    Personally, I’d like to end all sorts of government programs, to include welfare, health care, farm subsidies, education subsidies, endowments to the Arts that fund crap, PBS, goverment bailouts, cap and trade, … the list is endless.

    I suppose all you whiners will go along with all that, won’t you? No? Perhaps you are a bit too dependent on big daddy Government yourself, CB.

    Glass houses.

  17. CB says:

    Bill – I forgot to mention anything about our increasing health care crises and how they’re connected to the typical American diet… probably just as well not to even get me started on that. If the nation had health, we would need considerably less medical care.

    Hey Brenda! Yes, every business needs to advertise, that’s true. But many food ads are literally telling people what to eat… where’s the moral outrage? I don’t understand why so many people think it’s ok to promote unhealthy food to make a buck, but not to promote healthy food to make the world a better place.

    Owain – So now that you’re all grown up and making your own food choices, I hope it means you’ll start paying full price for what you eat – and stop asking daddy government for subsidized prices on meat and dairy. That sounds equitable to me.

    Bob and laytonian – disclaimer: I love all my non-vegan friends. Thanks so much for your comments.

  18. laytonian says:

    Owain, if you clean up the mess your food makes, it’s a deal.

    Go sit outside a feedlot sometime, while eating a burger.

    (No, I’m not a vegan – but I try to be responsible)

  19. Bill says:

    Owain, wow. That was really deep. Who knew it was so simple. Maybe it is easier to just stick ones head in the sand. I mean, why should I care about the future? as long as I got God guns and government…(rolls eyes)

  20. Owain says:

    My parents used to tell me what to eat, and that was fine. I can decide for myself now. I need neither the Nanny State nor food scolds taking up where they left off.

    You decide what you want to eat, and I’ll decide what I want to eat. Seems like an equitable division of labor.

  21. BobBecker says:

    Brenda:

    Modern advertising is designed to create demand for a product, not simply to let people know something is for sale that they already want. A good deal of advertising is designed, and very cleverly, to convince you and me and millions of others that we not only want, we must have, something we didn’t know we wanted. So I don’t think it’s true to say advertising reflects what consumers want. Mostly, it’s the other way round. Not always, but mostly.

    [Disclaimer: I am not a vegan.]

  22. Bill says:

    The world of advertising is evil and those who are in it know that they have to manipulate people into believing they need stuff they dont want.

  23. Brenda says:

    its just advertising. they advertise for things that most people will want/eat. when the general population becomes vegan ( or even a decent amount of the population like 40% or something), then we will start getting barraged with ads for hummus and soy milk. lol. they are just trying to sell what people are eating.

  24. Bill says:

    It’s true. Billboards, TV, and radio. It’s everywhere. The sad part is people do not care. they even take offense if you point it out. What is worse is that the insurance companies they use to pay their doctor bills invest in these food corporations. and so do the pharmaceutical companies. Its a vicious cycle all geared towards making money. They don’t care about your health. They just want your money. You would think that in a place considered to be a sort of “Holy Land” that people would be wise to this. But, they aren’t. So much for the “Word of Wisdom”.

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