Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I'm with Colman -- meat is a dietary supplement, not a diet :-)

one thing that is difficult in dealing with this type of excessive consumer behaviour (heavy meat consumption, SUVs, vulgarisation of air travel, etc) is that in remonstrating with excess we run into deep resistance -- because excess is a signifier of wealth and power and therefore people like excessive behaviours.  excess is inherently desirable and fun.  so of course it's uphill work critiquing excess, even civilisation-threatening excess, because the critic is automatically stuck with being Anti-Fun.

excessive behaviours that are autopathic as well, are also excellent display mechanisms for youthful rebelliousness and masculine bravado, or (oh boy) both combined (thus the flippant celebration of hard liquor, cigarettes and red meat -- high risk, "daredevil," autopathic habits).  so we end up struggling with all kinds of desires and motivations, issues of ranking and self-image and competitiveness, that have nothing to do with actual food or the enjoyment of food.

for many people "cutting back on meat" is a signifier of poverty (or wartime rationing which they swore they would never have to endure again).  eating lots of meat every day gives a feeling of wealth, security, "good times," happiness, which all the facts and figures in the world don't make much of a dent in... even if the meat is lousy, tasteless, water-injected, doped with hormones, what have you, it still tickles ancient receptors in the Western wheat/beef cultural mindset.  and eating grotesque amounts of meat, now as in mediaeval times, is a signifier of both wealth and "hearty macho appetite", so we run into self-concepts of manliness and (inevitably) deep gender terror (vegetarians are sissies, real men eat meat and potatoes and hate vegetables, "who do you think you are, my mother," and so on).

all these gender and ranking associations make it very difficult to have rational discussions about the practicality and sustainability of different dietary choices.  in a way red meat consumption is (socially) a bit like rape or sexual harassment (prior, of course, to the incredibly enlightened times in which we now, ahem, are presumed to live);  critiquing it causes defensiveness, embarrassment, and uneasy jocularity, followed by anger and accusations of spoilsportism or puritanism if the criticism becomes too loud or serious.

I do occasionally eat salmon, but it's usually line caught and local.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 03:55:51 AM EST
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