Wednesday, October 01, 2008

In ironic twist, animal advocacy organization beats dead horse

You guys are going to love this Newsweek article by Karen Springen about "flexitarians". Are we still seriously having a debate about whether it would be good if everyone reduced their meat consumption? Well, no, actually, *we* aren't having that debate -- *we* concluded a long time ago that of course it would be a good thing. *PETA*, on the other hand (as well as VegNews, I might add, but I'm not gonna go there today), isn't so sure. Their spokesperson thinks that being a flexitarian is like "pouring a pint of gasoline down a drain." Um... how's that?

Fortunately in the end Springen seems to come down on the side of common sense, despite giving a disturbing amount of space (and the subtitle of the article) to the PETA side. But on the topic of that subtitle ("Advocates call it flexitarianism, but critics say being a little bit vegetarian is like being a little bit pregnant"), a commenter on the original Newsweek post rightly points out that the analogy to pregnancy completely misses the whole point of the "little bit pregnant" concept -- namely, that it is *literally* impossible to be a little bit pregnant -- it's not just impossible if you're some asshole from PETA and you assert that pregnancy has to be an all-or-nothing thing. Of course, we don't know if the PETA asshole is the one who brought up the pregnancy idea or if it was Springen or just some moron headline writer.

But we do know that Springen is an unthinking zombie in at least one respect, namely, FAT = BAD... WEIGHT LOSS = GOOD... ARTICLE ABOUT FOOD MUST FIND WAY TO WORK IN REFERENCES TO WEIGHT LOSS AND "OBESITY"... Not just any reference to "obesity", mind you, but even better: "globesity"! For those who haven't heard of "globesity" before, this is the idea of "obesity" as a worldwide epidemic. You know, like that super-scary "obesity epidemic" we've all heard about, but even scarier! Because it's global! Get it? Global + obesity = globesity! This charming concept is mentioned in the article as a topic in a forthcoming book by Mark Bittman, which apparently discusses "how our diet affects global warming and 'globesity'." Is Bittman (and/or Springen) actually putting "globesity" on a par with global warming as a problem facing the world? Wow. I mean, wow.

Before a troll lumbers over here to inform me that "obesity" is in fact a serious health problem and I am responsible for it because I am spreading all these lies about how it's OK to be fat, let me just say that I don't deny we have a serious worldwide problem with food production and distribution, such that a lot of people in developing countries who aren't starving still can't eat a healthy diet, and that no doubt leads to a whole ton of serious health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc. that are often what people have in mind when they refer to "obesity". But can we please, please just take fat out of it? Plenty of thin people have health problems caused or exacerbated by diet, and plenty of fat people don't have health problems at all and have a good diet. Guess what? There are even fat vegetarians. I know that's a shocker, so I'll just let that sink in for a second.

Got it? OK, good. Back to the PETA thing. I just want to say one last thing, which is that no good ever came out of a "purity" movement. I don't know if these PETA fucks truly believe that reducing meat consumption isn't something to work for or feel good about, but they sure sound convincing when they say it. I guess to them, the protection of animals from human exploitation is the very most important thing -- even more important than saving the planet from global warming (which, btw, is killing a lot of animals...). These are the same people who wring their hands over whether it is OK to eat honey since it exploits bees. They shouldn't be taken seriously. If you're a meat eater and you're thinking about reducing your meat intake, do it. If it helps to give yourself a label like "flexitarian" or even "vegetarian", do it. There are a lot more important things than taking what PETA considers to be the high road.


meg said...

I keep reading "Springen" as "Springsteen." It must be that "unthinking zombie" thing.

Jennifer said...

flexiterian? what type of word is that?!? it is just easier just to say that you are mainly vegan and go that route. I would have to agree though it would be easier to cut back on the meat stuffs and go the route of our ancestors of eating more fruit and veggies because they had to hunt for their meat and there was only a limited supply to last you for who knows how long before you kill the next deer/pig/bird/fish.

Anonymous said...

I like how the article says being vegetarian is a great way to lose weight and then mentions cheese pizza, peanut butter and jelly, and burritos. Like anyone could lose weight eating that crap!

Natalie said...

There are so many things wrong with PETA on so many levels, I don't even know where to begin.

I remember writing an angry letter to them years ago after seeing one of their billboards in an economically disadvantaged area of Cleveland. The billboard showed a little boy (apparently of Latino descent, by the way) about to munch into a big hamburger. The little boy's features were exaggerated so that he looked like a fat caricature of himself. The billboard's text was something like, "Meat: not the healthy option for your child."

Okay, so where do we start? The fact that if this kid got fat, he'd look like a carnival mirror image? Or that fat = not a healthy option? Or that, hey, brown people are the ones who need to learn about health!?! Or wait--my favorite--THIS WAS IN AN ECONOMICALLY DEPRESSED AREA. You've got a mom whose husband died of cancer after losing his LTV Steel benefits, and she's gotta choose between a pack of $3.00 ground beef for her kid or the organic, vegan shit she can't afford--so NOTHING AT ALL--I think it's reasonable to say the beef is the best option. I was totally fucking livid. It was insensitive and revealed PETA's lack of research into the demographics of their ad campaigns.