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February 09, 2005


The Birdwoman

Not that I think anyone here is chipping away at anyone else's self respect. Oh dear, I really am tired and incoherent this evening.

Hugo Schwyzer

You're absolutely right that "beauty culture" has begun to damage men's lives, Birdwoaman -- and you're not incoherent at all.



As the High Priest Chris Rock says...

"You can drive a car with your feet if you want to, but that does not make it a good [expletive deleted] idea"

Seriously - of course one can construct a diet sans meat and animal products upon which a human can survive, or even thrive - if designed well enough. I am not arguing that. I do argue that, for most people, veganism is pretty far down the to-do list vis-a-vis ways to "self improve". I would argue that learning to be civil to one another on a day-to-day basis - or quoting Bill and Ted - "Be Excellent to Eachother", would be one of many areas I would focus on before worrying about the animals.


OK, I more or less agree with your new version --that (as an empirical question) people aren't too worried about becoming vegans, and that treating other humans properly should be a higher priority. I just don't see the connection between that and your earlier claim that it's a matter of opinion that we need to be omnivorous.

Hugo Schwyzer

Well, souraaron, I have no trouble with being "most excellent" to each other! Still, I think it's a both/and situation -- becoming vegetarian-vegan-cruelty free in no way precludes one from improving one's human relationships!

La Lubu

Birdwoman: I've noticed that too---that plastic surgery is being marketed more aggressively towards men. And IMHO, that version of "equality" makes about as much sense as the increase in lung cancer for women via smoking....that's equality?! Bah!

souraaron: I am also an inveterate, unrepentant meat eater. I can dig a vegetarian meal every now and then (and I tend to eat more of them during Lent), but I still dig a grilled steak! I like what you said about mindfulness in eating in your earlier post; I'm also sold on the idea of eating "like your ancestors"....the idea that the food that has sustained your relations for thousands of years is probably going to be the easiest and most healthful for you to maintain, for both physical and cultural reasons ('cuz let's face it, part of eating is physical survival, the other part is social bonding and "comfort food").

With that said, I think Hugo's next post does a lot to explain the rationale a bit better.


“Thus, what I put in my mouth is an ethical issue.”

Ah, VDH, The Land Was everything, I think there is a larger ethical issue here other then conservation of food and the individual. How about the overproduction of food that is wasted, i.e. burnt or left to rot, and the consumers false images of how our food should look—perfect. The individual’s concern would be better focused on the distribution of food, being that those who haven’t food cannot control this factor. The health of those who have food, well it seems rather petty to be concern whether they are eating healthy when they have choices and bountiful information about those choices.

While I am on choices and thinking of what CMC had to say the other day about men and women having different strengths and weaknesses, why are strengths used against men and weaknesses of women a source of victimization. IF men as a whole are more apathetic towards glamour, body image, and the drive to be sexy, why should we carry some extra responsibilities? Writing in generalizations, sexy women don’t “go” for men that aren’t sexy and vice versa. There seems, in cases like this, to be an equality of effort. Most couples appear to be complementary. If the "beauty culture" is starting to damage men’s lives, then maybe our sisters need to focus on limiting the demand side of beauty and what it is to be sexy.

I don’t know and so will ask. That fact that women live longer then men, is this based solely on health issues? Does this include environmental related premature deaths i.e. suicide, violence, “daredevil” antics, increased wear and tear due to types of labor etc.


Hugo - true enough about not being either or. I can buy that.

Consider this, however. Is it possible to construct a vegan diet with materials that grow witin a 100 or so mile radius of where you live? This is one of those places where animal rights, as expressed by vegans, can contradict preserving the environment.

Now - if you live somewhere that grows lots of things, such as certain parts of California, that might work. I am sure you can get soybean products, most vegtables, and so forth, within such a radii of say, I dunno, Napa Valley. However, if you live in the plains of Montana, your choices in wintertime might be more limited if you want to both be vegan and subscribe to the principle of "eat locally" (something one would do to include the environmental costs of transport, or the human toll of third world working conditions, when making food choices).

That is the rub. Even seemingly "obvious" choices can become complex and debatable. I applaud your motive, Hugo. It comes from the right place. And you certainly seem educated about your decision to persue being a vegan. But you probably would admit that, in some cases, the morality of one path over another is far from clear.

Hugo Schwyzer

Indeed -- which is why I wrote what I did in the original post:

"Obviously, I'm not trying to prescribe one particular diet - just to make the case that our food choices need to be seen as moral decisions."

Ophelia Payne

How did Bill and Ted get in here?

Trish Wilson

I find the "infirm" comments interesting. I know people who suffer from severe depression and other psychiatric illnesses. In a sense, they have also been betrayed by their bodies, but it is not obvious in a physical way. Their brain chemistries betray them, and they feel immobilized. I'm aware that doctors say that regular exercise helps to alleviate depression, but when a depressed person feels so depleted, that person doesn't have the energy or desire to exercise. Plus, due to social stigma, people who suffer from psychiatric disorders are less likely to talk about it, get support, and get help.

I know that age is affecting my body. I'm going to be 45 next month, and my body started betraying me about two years ago. I was at one point where I could not walk without being hunched over. I couldn't put my shoes on, something I had taken for granted for decades. It turned out that the problem was that I had developed flat feet and an inflamed bursa in my right hip, and my physical therapist told me it was due to my aging. I was never particularly physically active. Ironically, I took dance classes in grade school and college to avoid "real" physical activity like playing team sports. I didn't realize that dance could be just as if not more grueling than team sports. I would have taken swimming if those classes were available. Swimming also uses every muscle in the body. As it turned out, I was getting more exercise than I bargained for, but it didn't feel like it. Now, that I'm older, I can see and feel my body breaking down. I can't just go outside for a long brisk walk anymore. Now, I have to warm up first or I'll regret it. It's an eye-opening experience.

Trish Wilson

Hugo: ""The link between calorie restriction and longevity is increasingly well-documented."

Souraaron: "So is the link between calorie restriction and feeling hungry most of the time. lol"

Hi, Souraaron. :) Isn't there also a link between calorie restriction and gaining weight? I remember reading that the body has a natural thermostat, and that when one restricts from a previously set caloric intake, the body reacts as if it is being starved, and burns fewer calories to make up for it. Eventually, the person who burns fewer calories may begin to gain weight.

I'm not a nutritionist, and I don't know much about this particular issue. I just remember reading that and wondering if it was accurate.

Trish Wilson

I'm another unapologetic carnivore. I love red meat. I probably eat too much of it. I balance it with vegetables and I don't drink soft drinks, but I'm loathe to give up my porterhouse steaks.


I'm an unashamed meat eater as well. Just started reading "Kitchen Confidential" and it's a tough one to put down.


I was a vegetarian for one year--I was living in a place where mad cow disease was becoming known, and salmonella outbreaks made the news rather frequently. My weight dropped like a ton of bricks--not good, as I was underweight anyway--and I started craving cheese, something I hated up until then.

I could probably be a vegetarian again except for the fact that I like bacon too much. And sushi. Yum.


Hi Trish - been awhile...

I think - though I can't confirm, that you are correct. I suspect that caloric restriction is like going on Atkins - in at least one important sense... if you slip - e.g. lack the discipline to stay on the diet after a few weeks - you very much risk messing with your metabolism and ending up net heavier.

Such would make sense intuitivley - your body gets used to surviving on less, and therefore, metabolism starts processing more calories. Which is fine until you screw up in your diet and start eating excess calories, at which time, due to the new metabolism you developed, you end up worse off (at least in terms of pure weight).

Trish Wilson

Oooh, Sheelz, bacon. Bacon is your friend. In my first job out of college I worked for a federal half-way house for convicted felons. The guys would become vegetarian for "religious reasons," but they would not give up bacon for breakfast. :D I had a friend who since moved to the West Coast who was a vegetarian. I "cured" her. LOL The day I got her to eat bacon, she was ruined. My husband and I had her eating all kinds of things she hadn't had in ages, and it changed her for life. She learned to once again appreciate beef in moderation. That I think is the key - moderation. Anything is good as long as it's balanced.

I admit it. I was bad. From what I hear, she still eats bacon, but she's trying to scale down the meat.

Trish Wilson

Souraaron, that's one criticism I've heard of Atkins and South Beach diets - they don't consider that if you slip just once your weight balloons. The caloric restrictions are too punitive and harsh on the human body. I've always been told that gentle moderation in changing diets is what matters.

When my husband and I went to our doctor, he recommended the South Beach diet to both of us. I was a bit worried about how restrictive it was, but I understood that it was only for the first couple of weeks. I saw a nutritionist when I was pregnant, and he recommended a similar diet to get me off of refined sugar, caffeine, and white flour. He also had me take injections of folic acid before physicians knew its connection to spinal bifida when folic acid is lacking in pregnant women. It wasn't an easy diet but I did it. To this day I don't crave soft drinks. I don't like them anymore.

I don't know if I could take a restrictive diet like that again. It's too harsh, and there seem to be too many problems with it. I think a less intensive approach works better.

Hugo Schwyzer

My primary concern with a diet is justice and sustainability -- my second, with my own health. All I am asking is that folks think of their food decisions as moral choices as well as personal preferences.


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