Discussion topic: New poll shows vegans and vegetarians are still a national minority  »

Quality human Cord Jefferson wrote about the results of this Gallup poll for The Nation, conducted from July 9 to 12 of this year, on Americans who self-identify as vegetarians. Of the 1,014 people age 18 and over polled, not very many people self-identified as “vegetarian.”

Some of our assumptions are correct: It’s a liberal, single ladies’ game, the abstention from meat. But beyond that, I’m surprised: More older people than younger; less educated people than more. Weird, right?

And what about the vegans?

That 7 percent gap is a curious thing. Gallup says that those respondents “did not have an opinion” when asked if they were vegan. Are they they Mark Bittman, part-time vegans? Did they not understand the question?

I immediately wanted to know how the vegans responded to the vegetarian question; Gallup explains:

Vegans apparently view themselves as different from, rather than a subset of, vegetarians; most of the small number of respondents in the survey who said “yes” to the vegan question had said “no” to the vegetarian question.

Overall, Gallup’s stats look like this:

But if vegans are not calling themselves vegetarians, can we add the vegans to the vegetarians to get a 7 percent total of American adults who at least don’t eat meat? No; for starters, Gallup didn’t define “vegetarian” or “vegan” for this survey, so this could include, ugh, pescatarians, or other not-actually vegetarian “vegetarians.”

Jefferson concludes that

The new thing is to allow yourself to eat meat, but to make sure that it’s meat that is hormone free and hasn’t been factory farmed. I can’t say I agree with that decision, but I do like that it appears we are living in a time in which Americans are thinking more than ever about what they put into their bodies.

What do you think? How would you have responded to the poll? I wouldn’t call myself a vegetarian, but seeing that the total percentage doesn’t include vegans, I might.

U.S. meat consumption is decreasing, even without the help of those pushovers at the  USDA, which is wonderful. And yes, it’s great that people are satisfying their appetite for flesh with animals who weren’t raised in environment-destroying torture chambers. I just wish there were more of us. Ex-vegetarians who now eat “only free-range chickens” depress me.


Offal IS awful. So is every other part of the animal, Dan Barber!  »

Apparently there is a school of thought that acknowledges all the problems involved in animal agriculture: the ridiculous waste; the environmental holocaust; the abuses and tortures inflicted on farmed animals, and yet recoils at the thought of becoming vegetarian or vegan. It’s difficult to grasp the logic, except maybe that giving up meat is too “spartan,” strict, and ascetic—just no fun at all. Dan Barber seems to be one such, and his solution, as best we can understand it from this editorial in The Nation, is that we all just need to be eating less rib-eye and more tripe?

It’s understandable, maybe even commendable, that his message appears to encourage the use of the whole dead animal rather than leaving an obscene amount of waste after taking only the choicest cuts. But he never really makes a case for these assertions:

"We need radical thinking, but we don’t need a revolution. We don’t need an overthrow of capitalism. Nor do we need to become vegetarians. We need not become spartans. We’re just going to have to learn how to cook."

Comparing vegetarianism to something as radical as overthrowing capitalism is a ridiculous argument. Barber himself uses the words “morally and environmentally toxic” to describe the production of meat; by this same rationale, organic farming is radical socialism.

Eating meat isn’t something that we all just have to “man up” and get used to. It’s not good for you and certainly not the animal. Why do we encourage people to just get over it and do what it takes when there IS an alternative that’s so much better? Barber never explains why we “don’t all need to become vegetarians,” or why exactly that’s such anathema to him and his supposed readers.

Also, he never really explains what he means by how we need to “learn how to cook.” We can’t properly nourish ourselves without competently flaying a liver or stomach? If chefs and epicureans like Barber would put the same gusto into teaching people to cook fresh vegetables, legumes and grains, we’d be healthier and better for it. Why not invest money, time and effort into creating vibrant, beautiful dishes with fresh tomatoes, lentils, red potatoes, tofu? Tofu is a lot cheaper than most types of offal.*

People eat those parts of the animal because they’re foisted on them, not because they taste good or are nutritionally superior. They have to be covered with salt and spices to be palatable. You can force your palate to acclimate to them, but why not just accustom yourself to tempeh or quinoa? After all, you can get used to eating ANYTHING. (Trust me, I’ve learned to like Marmite.) Why expand your palate in the direction of universal carcass, and not the other, healthier alternative? People who initially balk at the thought of meat “missing” from their meals are doing themselves a disservice by not making an earnest effort to go the meatless route. This isn’t ideology, this is science**.

He also addresses this issue from an “America vs. the developing world” perspective, as if all of India and China sit down to our castoff tripe stew at every meal. But increasingly, our bad meat consumption habits have infected the rest of the world, and the taste for prime cuts of meat is associated with privilege and economic prosperity. It’s delusional to think these countries won’t direct their resources away from their offal-eating roots as they can afford it. Barber’s portrayal of “other cultures” seems a bit filtered by privilege: American culture as dynamic and those more entrenched peoples existing in some Romantic 19th Century Authenticity Land, as if their cuisines don’t evolve with globalization in the same way ours has.

Tsk tsk, Dan Barber. I imagine your disciples will now circle jerk over sweetbreads*** while they read this article but maybe for once someone will stand up and be all, “Bitch, you crazy!” Ah well, a pink dino can dream.

*And veganism is not some elitist thing that only those with access to Whole Foods and farmer’s markets can afford to venture into. I was a poor vegan on food stamps for several years; it can be done. And generally, when buying groceries and cooking for oneself, vegan is the cheapest option available.

**Why do you think giant bad guy corporate health insurers are begging people to “thrive” and please just eat a fresh vegetable once in a while SHIT YOU ALL ARE COSTING US HELLA MONEY.

***Sweetbreads. Has there ever been a more deceptive name? I mean, you think you’re sitting down to a delicious cinnamon roll and then BAM! Stuffed shit tubes! Man, it’s worse than internet dating. All I’m saying is, it’s a scary world out there.


Rocket Dog fundraiser!, cupcakes go boom, more urban chickens, famous writers tell you about food, and we are spoiled produce-cocktail-swillers in the Friday link-o-rama!  »

Rocket Dog Rescue Happy Hour fundraiser at Doc’s Clock! Be there tomorrow, Sept. 5th, from 4 to 8 p.m. at 2575 Mission St. (between 21st and 22nd): 50 percent of the bar and 100 percent of the proceeds from the silent auction (with fantastic prizes!) will benefit Rocket Dog Rescue. Doc’s Clock will also take donations for VetSOS.

Slate says, Watch out, cupcake-bakers, your business is a bubble on the verge of bursting! Author Daniel Gross briefly mentions that Babycakes “offers vegan cupcakes,” failing to note that it is also a “refined-sugar-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free…kosher” and organic bakery with a varied menu that includes savory baked goods. If Gross wants to conflate an entire specialty bakery with year-or-less-old, single-item stores with utterly generic product, he certainly may, but that is not the strongest way to make a point. At least, not to vegans. Presumably the fine ladies and gentlemen of Sticky Fingers Bakery, Sugar Beat Sweets, Sweet Avenue Bakeshop, Sweet Cakes Bakery, Violet Sweet Shoppe, Fat Bottom Bakery, and other purveyors of fine vegan baked goods would agree.

Ooh fancy, it’s The Nation's 2009 food issue! Possibly pertinent topics include: starting a community garden, farmers’ markets in Mississippi, and Alice Waters on school lunch reform. Those articles, and quite a few more, are presently available in full for free online, so best get to reading while you can, non-subscribers.

Let’s look at restaurant reviews in the Chronicle! This week, Michael Bauer spent $200 on “pancetta-wrapped rabbit” at Oliveto and did not enjoy it. My heart bleeds for you and your “disappointing” meal, Mr. Bauer. Some might say next time, lay off the animals, but you soldier on. This is what I want in a restaurant reviewer: dedication to duty. For the vegans, four sad paragraphs about Golden Era, in which the reviewer turns up her nose at the fake chicken. What kind of joyless soul does not enjoy Supreme Master’s fake chicken?

Pizzaiolo, you have some sick ideas about supper: "Diners will be able to wander over, Barolo in hand, to commune with the creatures that might contribute to their dinner." The "chef-owner" had a RISD-graduate-designed chicken coop built off of his restaurant to house his customers’ future meals/victims. I 100 percent want to vomit. This argument, that it makes you a better meat-eater when you "confront the reality" that your food used to be a thinking, feeling, living creature, it really burns. Yes, the disconnect between "antiseptic" packaged pieces of animals people buy from grocery stores and the actual animals those pieces came from is surreal and problematic; still, picking out the animal you want to have killed so you can eat it? How is that any better? That’s just on the acceptable side of bloodlust, and it’s revolting. If Pizzaiolo’s venture does anything, I hope it dissuades people from eating those chickens, when they’re forced to see the birds (theoretically) enjoying, you know, being alive, An apology to Pizzaiolo, we obviously didn’t read the article correctly! OUR SERIOUS BAD. It’s not vegan, but Pizzaiolo is taking a step to reduce their part in animal cruelty. What do Vegansaurus readers think of the backyard chicken trend?

Ethicurean takes a look at a potential federal bailout of the National Pork Producers Council, a.k.a Big Pork. Surprise: it’s industry-controlled, hypocritical, and a total violation of sensible business/economic practices! Ha ha ha oh meat industries, you rascals,* you.

The Vegan and Vegetarian Foundation created this lovely site called The Safety of Soya, to dispel the ridiculous myths and lies about soy that won’t seem to die—e.g., that “too much soy” will turn little heterosexual boys gay (Assuming they were heterosexual in the first place, that is).

The champion vegetable-eaters behind CSA Delivery blog made a minestrone soup to cure 1) the San Francisco summer blues and 2) a shameful craving for terrible food (in this case, minestrone soup from the Olive Garden, where not even the breadsticks are vegan). It looks like it was quite successful:

You know what Vegansaurus loves? Cocktails, are what we love. Lucky for us we live in one of the nation’s best cities for scrumptious, fancy drinks. Let us be grateful every day for these amazing bartenders who not only have amazing taste and imagination, but are so dedicated to their craft they grow fresh ingredients for the drinks they make you. Imagine that mojitonico with heirloom tomatoes picked that morning from a garden not five miles from the bar you’re sitting at. Now, die of bliss.

Bon Appétit knows its way around a backhanded compliment: Of Jeremy Fox’s wonderful Ubuntu the magazine says “the focus…is not on what is missing (namely, meat) but what is lusciously abundant,” and waxes rhapsodic about the restaurant’s vegetables for over 100 words. Nice to see your priorities are in order there, guys.

*no relation to super-commenter Rascal, Megan.

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