posted on June 05, 2007 03:00
Let me ask you a simple question ? Do you think Elvis was a lesser artist because of the cheeseburgers ? Do you think Moby is a greater artist because of the lack of them. There is no link between Hitler's vegetarian and homicidal tendencies yet hardline vegans frequently attempt to link a vegetarian diet with a superior moral or ethical approach to life as outlined by books such as "Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating" by Eric Marcus and the selective use of quotes from a variety of religious texts on websites such as VeganForLife.Org. In popular music Sir Paul McCartney has helped to popularise vegetarianism and a number of well known musicians such as Morrissey, Peter Gabriel, Leonard Cohen, Prince, Martin Gore, Fiona Apple and Meatloaf (no sniggering at the back) have been spotlighted as celebrities who have eschewed meat, fish, chicken and dairy to various degrees.
Don't get me wrong, good diet is an essential part of good health, but when you have to take vitamin supplements as a substitute for the vitamins you are missing out on because of your chosen diet then I wonder whether people are being told the whole story. In fact, I was particularly concerned when one acquaintance of mine kept on insisting that the value of a vegetarian diet was highlighted in Morgan Spurlock's "SuperSize Me". I had seen the documentary a number of times and it was quite clear that Spurlock's ill health stemmed not from his meat intake during that month but because of the amount of sugar, salt, fats and food additives that he ingested on that diet. Although, after filming ended, his vegetarian girlfriend did put him on a diet to lose the weight and help him back to the good health he had previously enjoyed Spurlock never became vegetarian; his subsequent diet was monitored by a doctor and devised by his girlfriend who works as a professional chef and health counsellor. In fact he is quoted as saying, "There’s still nothing better than pork chops, ham and bacon. I just can’t resist the swine.”
I'll put my cards on the table. I am, like any person born in this world, naturally an omnivore and when I say that I mean that my mouth is full of teeth that are able to handle a wide variety of foodstuffs which my stomach is then able to digest. As far as I know, Lions are unable to eat vegetables and cows don't eat meat but mankind is neither solely a herbivore or a carnivore so, as far as I can see, vegetarianism/veganism is primarily an emotional or intellectual choice. There are, of course situations where people are unable to eat certain foods for health reasons but we are not talking about people who are eating under the direction and supervision of a doctor or dietician, we are talking about people who, in the absence of any medical impetus, have made a conscious, personal choice about what they eat, sometimes as a result of reading the opinions of a person such as a famous musician who is not themselves qualified to give dietary advice but yet have taken it upon themselves to tell others what to eat and why and, in the process has attached certain moral or philosophical values to that unqualified advice.
In our modern, post religious society I am amazed that people, who would protest loudly if someone was to quote religious scripture at them in an attempt to direct their sexual behaviour would then meekly accept quotations from the same religious texts when it came to their diet. If you reject what the Bible says about homosexuality or contraception why will you accept what it says about eating meat ? I am perfectly happy to accept Macca's advice on how to write a good song or even what kind of bass guitar to buy but why should I accept what he says about food when he is not a qualified doctor, dietician or chef. How can I be sure that Morrissey is correct when he sings, "And the flesh you so fancifully fry / Is not succulent, tasty or kind"?. Maybe he just doesn't know anyone who can cook. Why should I look to rock musicians for health tips in the first place when so many of them suffer from severe drug or alcohol problems?
As I said at the beginning, there is no link between Hitler's fondness for carrots and his masterminding of the Shoah and so, until there is a proven connection between diet and morality, I would like to remind those campaigning vegetarians out there that its rude to talk with your mouth full, especially when the topic is ethics. Eat what you like, but don't bore others with spurious reasons for why you eat what you do. More ...