Why can’t we find a balance…?

…between vilifying and encouraging/enabling obesity?

…between vilifying and encouraging meat-eating??

…between vilifying and encouraging plant-based diets???

Why is it so hard for anti-vegetarian meatatarians and militant vegans to find some common ground?

Is our society so inured by bullying as to prefer that to simple dialogue?  Are we so fraught with internal guilt that we simply plug our ears like small children and sing “lalalala” rather than hear what the “other side” has to say?

A few small steps, a little listening, a little speaking…is it too much to ask?  Can we not simply explore options and encourage the exchange of knowledge without one side or the other feeling persecuted?

It is this article from the Huffington Post “Being Fat in America” by John Robbins which got me thinking about these questions.  It got me thinking about the polarity of this issue and how that polarity prevents progress.  It’s obvious from reading many of the comments that rather than pausing a moment to contemplate the article and engage in a productive discourse, it seemed to force people to jump to the defense of their own lifestyles and choices.  It is apparent that an issue which should be so basic and universal is instead so intensely personal as to be filled with complexity.

Really though, can’t we all take a step back..or a step out of our “every day shoes” and look at the larger picture?  The picture that includes not only nutrition and pleasure, but society, economics, environment, health care, etc….  And then start making decisions based upon what is really in our best interest…the interest of our children and their children, our neighbors, communities, and the world?

Really, what should be simpler than food?  To quote Michael Pollan (neither a carnivore, nor herbivore,  but an omnivore):    “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Extra Credit reading:

Unhappy Meals -by Michael Pollan
Published: January 28, 2007 in The New York Times

An Omnivore Defends Real Food-by Tara Parker-Pope
Published: January 17, 2008 in The New York Times

Where do you stand on the issue of food?  What makes this a complex issue for you??  And what can we do to encourage open, honest dialogue???


About Melissa's Meanderings

Interests: Green Living, The Environment, Animal Rights, Reading, Gardening, Home Improvement, Pets, Vegetarianism, Photography.
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22 Responses to Why can’t we find a balance…?

  1. Vixter2010 says:

    I wish I did eat better, I don’t get my 5 a day but our lifestyles play a part and don’t make it easy. I couldn’t give up meat I’m afraid though!

  2. Wendy S. says:

    I read that people who are considered “overweight” which is set by culture, etc…has more people discriminating and being prejudiced to them than any other “minority.” I don’t know that being obese needs to be considered a minority as it inflicts such shame and as you so wonderfully illustrated sets everyone back. Sigh…awareness and compassion needs to be our priority instead of polarizing each other and those who need it the most.

    • I question the term minority since statistically 2/3 of Americans at least are obese or overweight …and yes I agree that terming anyone a minority sets them apart rather than bridging the gaps…if only we didn’t feel the need to break ourselves off into so many sub groups…it counter productive to society.

  3. Oh I’m definitely going to check out that article. And the extra credit readings! I can’t seem to get enough of things like that 🙂

    I’m a vegetarian, because that’s what works for me, but I’m also careful not to push it on other people. I’m not sure what the right balance is though, you know?

  4. suzicate says:

    I do eat meat, but I also love my veggies. I have lots of friends who are vegetarian though, not vegan. We’re respectful of one another. The only time I’ve gotten annoyed was when someone I know claimed she was vegetarian because of animal cruelty…AND she was wearing leather (NOT pleather) shoes, belt, and carrying a leather purse. I found that hypocritical.

    • That certainly is hypocritical…I have no problem with people who make sacrifices in increments…or simply do whatever is comfortable to them…but you can’t be preaching unless your living up to your own standards.

  5. hipydeus says:

    Yes, you shouldn’t try to push people. If you want to convince someone who ate meat for 30 years it needs time. It works much better in a subtle way. A comment here a book recommendation there. Implant a seed in their heads. Give tips, and distribute a good and positive feeling. Vegetarians should appear cool, trendy, healthy and friendly and not frustrated (although i know how hard it is sometimes) And dont forget, having 50% vegetarians or 50% less meat consumption gives the same result. Always a good trick if you tell people it is ok to eat less first and then see if they can do the big step..:-)

  6. sweffling says:

    Good old compromise: mostly fruit and veg. but a little meat for those who need it, for whatever reason. Just as long as the animal welfare issues are first and foremost. Animals are NOT a crop.
    I have not read much on the subject of obesity but I gather a lot of modern convenience foods contains substances which are addictive. Could some of the friction come from the hostility that all addicts feel to those who suggest something else?

  7. Joss says:

    People get really weird and aggressive almost around their eating habits. especially if they know their habits are not healthy. I was often criticized and made fun of at work for my healthy ways until the day I asked “have any of you thought about what Skippy peanut butter really looks like?’ heh heh.
    I find thought, that in the last few years people generally speaking, are much more open to this topic and will ask questions. Doesn’t mean they are willing in changing their habits though!

    • I have noticed that as well…When I first became a vegetarian almost 20 years ago everyone got very aggressive. My family took it personally…as if I was turning by back on them just because I skipped the meatloaf and had seconds of carrots instead. Not it has become much more accepted…until you want to talk about it!

  8. Nicole says:

    This was really good!! I try to eat mostly veggies, but couldn’t live without the occasional cheeseburger so there goes all hope of my becoming a vegetarian. Ha, ha. 😉 I think it’s all about balance. But honestly, if someone wants to be vegan or vegetarian, I say “all the power to them.” I personally have no problem with eating meat, but if someone chooses not to, I wouldn’t come down on them. But when I ate meat one time in front of a vegan, she kept telling me that I was a murderer… Ugh! I think that both sides can be cruel to the other. (Same thing as people who are over-weight and thin. Both sides can be cruel). It just comes down to caring about people and realizing that we aren’t always going to agree on everything… and sometimes that’s okay! 🙂

    • I agree completely Nicole…if we care about each other we should be able to agree to disagree if we can’t meet in the middle. Calling someone a murderer not only shows a true lack of respect and kindness…but will do nothing but alienate a person from your cause.

  9. thesaltedtomato says:

    Hi Melissa,
    I LOVED this post. So much truth there. And not just applicable to food.

    I just found your blog through your subscription to my site. Thank you for visiting! I love your yearly book reading challenges- what a good idea. I should do the same.

    I look forward to reading more of YOU!

  10. Amen, sister! I can’t wait to come back this evening and read these articles. As a mom, I try to provide whole foods mostly and to teach thoughtful consumption BUT … it feels like every time I turn around I read or talk to someone who has different thoughts. Very confusing.
    I LOVE the Michael Pollan quote … I think that one’s going to go on my fridge!

    Thanks for the food for thought, (sorry, couldn’t help myself) 🙂

    • It definitely does get very confusing…all we can do is educate ourselves as best we can…make the choices we have to and then not stop to worry about what others are thinking or doing.

  11. Put so beautifully! You are such an elegant writer.
    This is a topic close to my heart. Too many times I’ve mentioned that I’m vegan, in passing, to a friend, colleague, or whoever, and I’ve gotten a rather blunt and almost offended response “I could never give up meat, I love it too much.”
    Never have I tried to push veganism, let alone vegetarianism, on anyone. I know that I have made the decision to live this way, and I also know that it’s not for everybody.
    I find it kind of funny that I can offend someone simply by telling them what I eat. What’s so offensive about someone eating lots of plants? It’s not like I’m force feeding anyone kale!
    On occasion, though, it opens up into a lovely conversation and I’m more than happy to answer any questions one may have, because undoubtedly someone who is not vegan will have many questions about it.

    • You made me laugh with your line about “force feeding kale” lol It’s so true though…how funny that people take offense when we simply describe our habits as if we were insulting theirs!

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