Vegetarians Are Not Only Interested in Health

Posted by Irresponsibility

sensory deprivation at its finest

It started off well, Tony Naylor’s Guardian blog about vegetarian restaurants. Yes, yes, I nodded, let’s recognise vegetarian food as its own taste experience, expand menus beyond gardenburgers and goats cheese salads. Then it went and spoiled it all by saying something stupid like

This conflation of vegetarianism with healthy eating just confirms every carnivore’s prejudices. Carnivores eat out of joy; vegetarians eat out of piety. Carnivores eat for excitement; vegetarians as a matter of ethical choice. Carnivores eat for sensory stimulation; vegetarian eat to stay healthy.

This paragraph doesn’t deserve just a dunce cap. It merits a bespoke three-piece suit cut from idiot cloth. For one thing, last time I checked both “carnivores” and vegetarians eat primarily to stay alive. What’s with using the word “carnivore” anyway? Is Naylor talking about humans or wolves for chrissake? Then there are the delightfully broad brushstrokes. Carnivores eat for excitement! Because nothing shouts “living on the edge” like dicing with E.coli down the kebab shop! Veggies, on the other hand, eat out of piety. Of course. I’m thinking about my immortal soul every time I sink my teeth into a piping slice of pizza, fresh from a wood-fired oven; or tuck into a bowl of spicy winter squash soup accompanied by hot, fresh bread. He’s right about one thing, though. There is no comparison between the “sensory stimulation” of bit of processed ham slapped between two spongy slices of bread and a robust white bean casserole replete with onions, carrots, homegrown tomatoes and fresh herbs.

Maybe Mr Naylor has never been to a butcher shop, or a greengrocers. Otherwise he would have noted that meat cases are a monotonous array of red and bone-colour, while vegetable shops pop with dozens of shades of yellow, purple, red, green, gold, orange and pink. This rather undermines his not-very-clever argument about the sensory splendours of meat eating. His more urgent point, however, seems to be that it is awful and ludicrous to imagine eating “to stay healthy”. It might surprise Naylor to learn that some people are not solely attracted to food on the basis it furs up their arteries and pads out their thighs; that some prefer to not risk salmonella or mad cow with every forkful. Though given that “There are already more men [in Britain] who are obese than who are of a healthy weight” and experts predict 80% of men and 70% of women will be overweight by 2020 perhaps Naylor’s sneering disregard for health is shared by a large portion of the population.

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