Warning: This post contains images and commentary potentially unsavory or offensive to vegetarians and vegans.
My most used cookbook has a provocative title–Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon.
I am not a diet pusher; I am a critic of diet pushing. I’ve long had an interest in diet and nutrition and like most Americans, by the age of 30 I’d heard it all said by the slogans of the diet dictocrats. Eat beef. Don’t eat beef. Eat eggs. Don’t eat eggs. Drink milk. Don’t drink milk. Watch your calories. No, watch your fats. Watch your sugar. No, watch your salt. No, make that sugar and salt. Caffeine causes cancer. Caffeine doesn’t cause cancer. Wine is good, or bad. Grains are good, or bad. I could go on for pages here, but I know you know what I’m talking about. Nutrition science is right up there with environmental science as being ever-changing and ever-controversial.
Currently the diet pushers are promoting vegetarianism and veganism. I say currently, though it goes back many decades, because it seems to be hitting a crescendo lately. As a case in point, a sociology professor demonstrates just how political diet can be, arguing in a recent article that eating meat perpetuates ‘hegemonic masculinity’ and ‘gender hegemony’.
“To study the link between masculinity and meat, DeLessio-Parson interviewed 23 vegetarians who live in Argentina to probe how they deal with their country’s “meat-centric” culture, finding that being vegetarian itself is a political act.”
“Refusing meat therefore presents opportunities, in each social interaction, for the [gender] binary to be called into question.”
My immediate thought, after laughing out loud, was: “So if meat represents ‘hegemonic masculinity’ does dairy represent ‘hegemonic femininity’?”
But jokes aside, what I find most interesting about the vegetarian/vegan phenomenon is that it has so deeply penetrated a few sectors of society where it seems to me to be terribly misplaced: libertarianism, anarchism, paganism, and even among homesteading/sustainability advocates.
I have no criticism to direct at these groups and individuals making their choices to enjoy whatever diet and lifestyle they wish. Many vegetarians and vegans choose this diet for valid ethical and health reasons and I applaud this conscious choice on their parts.
My issue is when, and why, and how, diet becomes a tool of politics. And especially, when those politics are propagandizing and peddling false information.
There are many others out there with this same concern besides Sally Fallon. Some other powerful players have also spent considerable time and research adding to the conversation, like Michael Pollan, Wenonah Hauter, Marion Nestle, Nina Teicholz, Joel Salatin, among many more.
The only thing I can add to the wealth of knowledge already out there is my personal experience and opinion living now very close to the land and our own food sources for many years: Veganism is antithetical to sustainable agriculture, permaculture, homesteading, and any other system or worldview where decentralization is a valued goal.
Here is why, in words and pictures.
Growing grains and legumes requires vast expanses of managed land that is kept free from predators and pests. Our fruits and vegetables require keeping out the vast and varied competition from deer, rabbits, squirrels, feral hogs, birds, rodents and insects of all sorts. Eating vegetables and grains does not equate to NOT killing animals. You’re simply killing/trapping/disrupting other wild creatures other than the omnivores do.
If it is not local, it is not sustainable. Pineapples from Hawaii, kiwis from Australia, grapes from Chile, grains from India–these are all great luxuries and it’s a treat to be able to enjoy them thanks to modern technology and transport. But anarchists and voluntaryists, pagans, homesteaders and all those who understand and recoil at the undue influence of Government power in our daily lives surely understand that without local control of sustainable food production the community, family and individual are forever at the mercy of a centralized system.
If it’s not local, if it’s not sustainable, it should be understood as the icing, not the cake. Leave the icing to Big Brother if you must, but certainly let’s get his hands out of the cake!
These skillsets have been lost and need to be reclaimed–it’s how we all got here, after all. Proper handling of a gun, knife, heavy carcass is skilled labor and if it’s men who are more capable and interested in handling these chores, praise be to the heavens, I say. This doesn’t mean every man must want to do these things, but it certainly means we should not be discouraging them with nonsense about meat as synonymous to a brutal patriarchy.
Vegetables, grains, fruits, most things that grow need good soil. Good soil is created with compost, manure and other fertilizing elements which, in the amount required for the large tracts of land required to produce grains efficiently, and in the absence of farm animals’ excrement, must be purchased, most likely from large corporations.
Cui bono, or, for whose benefit?
In the case of a truly sustainable setting there are many benefactors to a family’s pig slaughter: the dogs, the poultry, the vultures, the insects and the soil. Not to mention the human guests, of course.
In the case of a vegan diet? Big Ag benefits most of all. I know many vegans are well-meaning and will bristle at that comment, but this is just the plain truth. No small local farmer can compete with grain and vegetable prices of big ag. While it’s true they can’t compete with the meat prices either, in our case currently, and in most places without an ideal growing climate, pound per pound, meat is cheaper and easier to produce than vegetables or grains.
With the on-going geoengineering assault on the weather, I expect this will become more true in the immediate future. Even worse, I expect in less than a decade we will all be forced to grow vegetables indoors as the weather will become too unpredictable for even hobby and homestead gardeners to have reliable produce.
Not only do we get to enjoy the ribs, and the hams, and the bacon, oh my, but also the lard, the cracklins (aka chicharones or pork rinds), and the happy dogs when they get pork instead of poultry for a change.
Want to challenge the diet dictocrats? Want the politics off your plate? Don’t go vegan, go hyper-local!
Here’s a good place to start:
Best business idea I’ve seen all year, most impressive!