Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Guest Blog: The Modern American State of Vegans and Vegetarians

After a few months of radio silence, I come to you with something a little different.  I present to you my first guest blog, written by a friend of mine very interested in many things.  I can't think of a funny name for this person, so for now Guest Blogger is anonymous.  But you might be able to guess who it is.

On today's menu: the state of meat and those who eat it (or don't).

Enjoy. 


Firstly, allow me to go ahead and say that I am not a vegetarian, though I have been in the past (however I’ve never given up eggs, butter, and whole unpasteurized milk, meaning I have never been a vegan, probably not even for a day) for about a year. Meat is definitely on my menu these days, though in a very small ratio compared to veggies. While I feel that there is substantial reason to eat meat and little to no reason to not eat it (in a responsible way, of course), I will leave that soapbox unoccupied for now.  Much more important issues are at hand regarding modern conceptions of vegetables and vegetarians.

A recent news article in the New York Times was published about the hard knock lives of today’s vegans and vegetarians, with their main gripe being the unsatisfactory nature of meat and dairy replacement products. The cost and taste of such products are discouraging to them, and certainly factor into the likelihood of a person remaining on their “vegetarian” diet. Let me go ahead and tell you that, from a year’s worth of vegetarianism (with the occasional exception, of course), it is neither expensive, nor bland. In fact, cutting the (usually) substantial meat portion from your grocery bill and upping your intake of veggies is probably the most budget-friendly thing you can do, but this is where people get into trouble. Vegetarians today aren’t really eating “vegetables” anymore; they are eating insanely processed vegetable-based meat alternatives, which are costly and very unhealthy.

Here’s a quote that we will examine from the NY Times article (April 17th, 2012, page D6)…

“…even a box of Gardenburgers is 4$ - which doesn’t seem expensive, but when you compare it to the meat counterparts, it’s so much more” –Megan Salisbury

I can’t pass on the irony of her last name… Salisbury steak anyone?

But I digress… it’s more expensive to purchase gardenburgers because a team of scientists had to concoct this disgusting excuse for a meal and marketers had to find clever ways to sell it to unsuspecting and under-informed consumers. Check out the nutrition label on Morningstar Farms’ “Garden Veggie Patties”. You will be surprised to find eggs (definitely not vegan) textured vegetable protein (what sort of “garden” does that grow in?), and a good bit of soy (which we now know is unhealthy when processed, and vastly more beneficial in it’s traditionally prepared fermented forms).

Beef patties however (grass-fed and pastured, preferably), are comparably inexpensive because you only have to do three things to the beef to eat it as a burger: get it off of the cow, grind it, and grill it up.

I will say I have purchased gardenburgers before, and from experience, they are disgusting and horrifically expensive. Save yourself the trouble and buy some real vegetables instead.

The modern state of American vegans and vegetarians is that they are being sold a half-truth at a high price. The health benefits and morality of eating only vegetables is underscored while the actual implementation is perverted, obscured, and capitalized upon to the benefit of such “food” companies as Morningstar Farms and Turtle Island Foods (evil and unhealthy institutions, if you ask me), who prey upon the naivety of their customers.

Why must a newly christened vegetarian seek out costly and often unhealthy alternatives to meat and where does this notion come from? Is it some sort of cardinal sin in modern America to go for a period of time without some form of “burger” or “cheese”? If vegetarians (and people in general) committed themselves to eating and buying real food and not food products, they would…

1.      Spend much less money
2.      Be much more healthy and…
3.      Be “voting” with their dollars for higher quality food.

Before I would advocate any type of nutritional/dietary regimen, exercise routine, or other healthy habit I would say this first and foremost:

EAT REAL FOOD

This goes for anyone, vegetarian or otherwise, because it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. Put down the twizzlers and have some beets (nature’s candy), cut back the soda and just have some water or juice, forget the frozen “veggie”-burgers and have a salad. There are real vegetables to be had, and they are really good for you.


Here are some tips for you aspiring vegetarians.

1. Eat real vegetables.

I can’t stress this enough, and it’s so simple that it’s almost unreal. Real, fresh from-the-earth vegetables are remarkably healthy for you; they’re packed with micro-nutrients and are relatively lacking in any of the saturated fats or preservatives you should be afraid of.

2. Try a farmer’s market.

Here you’ll find all the local healthy eats that you could possibly want (provided that your farmer’s market is actually focused on selling food, and not touristy garbage). Support your local farmers and they’ll trade you in kind for desirably fresh and healthy vegetables.

3. Learn how to cook.

Simply put, by making your own meals you can know exactly what goes into them. When you buy packaged, frozen meals or weird meat alternatives (The Frankenstein-like “Chik’n”, for instance) you run the risk of ingesting undesirable preservatives or hidden ingredients that you hadn’t expected. Plus you’ll be a great entertainer and slightly more marriageable.

Good food is good for you.

3 comments:

  1. Excellent! Echoes how I feel about the origins of the food I eat.

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  2. anonymous ex-vegetarianApril 18, 2012 at 1:03 AM

    there are, of course, ways to make veggie "burgers" on your own, which are generally far healthier than the frozen stuff. which is something i'm way in favor of.

    but i think in general there's a tradeoff between convenience and health, and that applies no matter your dietary restrictions. frozen meat substitutes aren't the worst thing in the world (neither are saturated fats or preservatives, although both are obviously bad in too-high quantities), and if you can't cook 2-3 meals/day they at least provide an option. optimally mcdonald's would be replaced by a bunch of places that sell, like, dal makhani, but that's never going to happen.

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