Happy Halloween. Chareva and the girls are in Mexico, where the girls will be experiencing their first Day of the Dead celebration. They’ve been looking forward to that for weeks. I plan to celebrate Halloween by getting some work done and then watching Thursday Night Football. I don’t expect any trick-or-treaters to show up here. We’re too remote and the place is kind of scary-looking at night.
Speaking of scary, some kids who go trick-or-treating in North Dakota may be coming home with a nasty note from a local busybody. I saw this on the news last night, and today a reader sent me an article from the New York Daily News:
A North Dakota woman is taking it upon herself to school the parents of trick-or-treaters by denying Halloween candy to kids she feels are too chubby.
Instead, she says, she’ll give them a note informing parents their “obese” child should lay off the sugar.
So she isn’t refusing to hand out Halloween candy to all kids … just those she feels are “too chubby.” Thaaaaaaaaaat’s going to make for some interesting exchanges on the front porch.
“Trick or treat!”
“Uh … so what are you supposed to be, young man?”
“The Incredible Hulk!”
“Yes, but, uh … I can’t really tell how fat you are under that bulky costume. Would you mind taking it off so I can see if you’re chubby?”
As public schools in some states debate sending home “fat letters” to kids with high body mass indexes, “Cheryl,” of Fargo, N.D., sees nothing wrong with taking the controversial practice into her own hands.
Of course you don’t see anything wrong with your behavior, Cheryl. That’s the problem with idiots: their idiocy prevents them from recognizing when they’re being idiots. Let’s take a look at the letter Cheryl will handing out to kids she deems too fat:
Happy Halloween and Happy Holidays Neighbor!
You are probably wondering why your child has this note; have you ever heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”? I am disappointed in “the village” of Fargo Moorehead, West Fargo.
When people say “It takes a village to raise a child,” what they mean is that they think they have the right (if not the obligation!) to tell you how to raise your kid — because they know better than you, of course. In other words, it’s a favorite phrase among busybodies who don’t know how to mind their own @#$%ing business.
Your child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season.
Kids don’t get fat from eating Halloween candy once per year, you mental midget. My (thin and active) girls eat Halloween candy. But they don’t eat candy most of the year. Shaming and embarrassing the kids you deem too fat won’t make a bit of difference in how much they ultimately weigh. You may, however, send a few of them home in tears – which will give them a reason to tear into the candy and other comfort foods.
My hope is that you will step up as a parent and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits.
Way to lecture the parents, Cheryl. Good move. Because it’s not as if they know their kids are fat. But after being enlightened by you, I’m sure they’ll step up, put those kids on a diet, and thank you later for pushing them onto the correct path.
If you’re concerned about fat kids eating candy, Cheryl, then the proper course of action is to refuse to give out candy, period. Do like some other folks who think candy is bad and give out little trinkets instead. That way you’re not putting yourself in the position of deciding which kids are too fat and which ones aren’t.
And seriously, what if a fat kid and skinny kid show up together? Are you going to give one kid candy and the other kid your “helpful” letter? Do you have any idea how much grief you could cause a kid who gets that letter in front of his peers?
If you sent that letter home with one of my kids, I’d tell them, “Well, it’s called ‘trick or treat’ for a reason, and I don’t consider this letter much of a treat. Time for the tricks. You have my permission to go egg her house. In fact, I’ll go with you.”
That “village” may disappoint you, Cheryl … but only because you’re the village idiot.
The former president is now a devoted vegan, meaning no meat, fish or dairy products, and he has pursued a healthier way of life for more than three years. While I figured our lunch menu might be bland, that would be a small price to pay for private time with a world leader who is anything but.
As we enter a private room overlooking Manhattan’s busy Rockefeller Center, I’m struck with a dazzling kaleidoscope of a dozen delicious dishes: including roasted cauliflower and cherry tomatoes, spiced and herbed quinoa with green onions, shredded red beets in vinaigrette, garlicky hummus with raw vegetable batons, Asian-inspired snow pea salad, an assortment of fresh roasted nuts, plates of sliced melon and strawberries, and rich, toothsome gigante beans tossed with onions in extra-virgin olive oil.
Hmmm … toss in some salmon or grass-fed beef, that would almost be a whole-foods paleo diet. I think we’re getting a clue here as to why Clinton’s diet has improved his health – and it isn’t because he gave up meat.
Clinton traces his decision to change back to the morning in February 2010 when he woke up looking pale and feeling tired. His cardiologist quickly brought him into New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to insert a pair of stents. One of his veins had given out, a frequent complication following the quadruple-bypass surgery he had undergone in 2004.
Prodded into action, Clinton started by rereading Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, which urges a strict, low-fat, plant-based regimen, along with two books that were, if possible, even more militantly vegan: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, by Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., and The China Study, by Cornell biochemist T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. (When I suffered a heart attack in late November 2010, Clinton sent me all three books.)
As Denise Minger pointed out her AHS 2011 speech, what do Ornish, McDougall, Esselstyn and other big-name doctors promoting veganism as the cure for heart disease have in common? They have their patients give up sugar, white flour (and most other refined carbohydrates), processed vegetable oils, processed foods, smoking and alcohol. Oh, and meat and dairy products, too. They also prescribe lots and lots of fresh vegetables.
Then when their patients get better, they declare that they’ve proved meat causes heart disease. It’s not the meat, of course. It’s all the other junk the vegan doctors have their patients stop eating. Let’s keep reading:
He no longer craves steaks, but bread is a potential pitfall. “Heavily processed carbs, you really have to control that,” he says. When Caldwell Esselstyn spotted a picture of him on the Internet, eating a dinner roll at a banquet, the renowned doctor dispatched a sharply worded email message: “I’ll remind you one more time, I’ve treated a lot of vegans for heart disease.”
Excuse me?! Did I read that correctly? Let me copy and paste that last bit again and see if it was just my computer playing tricks on me.
When Caldwell Esselstyn spotted a picture of him on the Internet, eating a dinner roll at a banquet, the renowned doctor dispatched a sharply worded email message: “I’ll remind you one more time, I’ve treated a lot of vegans for heart disease.”
That can’t be right. Vegans don’t get heart disease. Just ask them. Meat and dairy products cause heart disease, and vegans don’t eat that stuff. Maybe if I just copy and paste the last sentence …
“I’ll remind you one more time, I’ve treated a lot of vegans for heart disease.”
Well, well, well … the famous vegan doctor doesn’t want Bill Clinton to eat a white-flour dinner roll because he’s treated a lot of vegans for heart disease. I can only conclude that the famous vegan doctor believes white flour can promote heart disease. But surely other heavy starches are fine. Let’s see how many of those Bill Clinton is consuming:
The former president has a tip for those who crave starchy food: “You can make whipped cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes, and it’s great.”
Uh … um … why would a vegan need to find a substitute for mashed potatoes? Potatoes are vegan, and it’s those evil non-vegan foods that cause weight gain and heart disease. Just ask the vegans. Thank goodness Clinton doesn’t eat, say, eggs or fish.
Once a week or so, he will have a helping of organic salmon or an omelet made with omega-3-fortified eggs, to maintain iron, zinc and muscle mass.
Uh … um … isn’t a vegan who eats salmon and eggs to maintain his muscle mass not actually a vegan? And why would anyone need to consume animal foods to maintain muscle mass? There are lots of muscled-up vegans in the world. Just ask the vegans. They can all name the same two or three vegan bodybuilders.
So what we’ve got is a formerly overweight president who eats a lot of vegetables, fruit, nuts and legumes, doesn’t consume white flour, recommends whipped cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, and eats salmon and eggs now and then to maintain his muscle mass.
And it’s giving up meat and dairy that made him healthier? I don’t think so.
Speaking of vegans, my buddy Dave Jaffe wrote a parody news story about animal-rights zealots on his Write Good! blog. Here’s a taste:
An animal welfare group responsible for spilling red paint on a butter cow sculpture at the Iowa State Fair is threatening to intensify their attacks until a fearful public shakes its head in annoyance and mutters, “Well, I never!”
“You have forced our hand and now butter must suffer!” read a news release from the Iowans for Animal Liberation that claimed responsibility for the vandalism. “Sorry! Enjoy the rest of the fair.”
More than two years ago, I wrote a post about Thomas Sowell’s book Intellectuals and Society. Although the book isn’t about nutrition, Sowell’s observations about how and why intellectuals embrace ideas certainly apply to nutrition policies dreamed up by government do-gooders. Here’s part of what I wrote back then:
Sowell has nothing against smart people, you understand. He’s one heck of a smart guy himself. As he points out in the book, intellectuals are fond of accusing people who oppose their pie-in-the-sky ideas of being “anti-intellectual,” when in fact the naysayers are often common-sense types who oppose basing policies on the latest intellectual fashions and prefer something resembling proof. It’s the attitude towards proof, says Sowell, that separates intellectuals from others who work in practical fields that also require high intelligence.
In intellectual circles, where the talent that Sowell refers to as “verbal virtuosity” is highly prized, new theories are often applauded merely for being bold, exciting, challenging, or exquisitely expressed. (And if the theory suggests intellectuals should be in charge of the rest of us, it will likely be hailed as all of the above.) Once a theory is adopted by a critical mass of intellectuals — thus becoming part of what Sowell calls “the vision of the anointed” — those who dare disagree will likely be scoffed at and dismissed … without a genuine debate centered around little annoyances like proof and evidence.
Intelligent people in practical fields, however, must rely on proof. If an engineer proposes a new theory on structural integrity, it doesn’t matter if the theory is bold, exciting, or exquisitely expressed … if the bridge falls down, the engineer’s career is toast. I was once hired to re-design the security module of a large database program because the previous programmer’s module ended up shutting down the entire system. Nobody cared how bold his design was or how eloquently he could explain why it should have worked. It didn’t work. Period. End of story. Bring on the next programmer.
As Sowell explains, if intellectuals were limited to dazzling each other with their ideas at cocktail parties and in university classrooms, they’d merely be annoying. Unfortunately, intellectuals often dazzle government officials too. Now we have a dangerous combination: people who don’t believe their ideas should be subject to proof getting together with people who have the power of compulsion. The end result is worthless (or worse) legislation based on theories that haven’t actually been tested.
Educating people on the number of calories they should eat may not help them make better choices.
A new study published July 18 in the American Journal of Public Health showed that providing people with calorie guidelines did not help them make better food choices, even when calorie counts for each item were available on the menu.
Several states and cities in the U.S. require that chain restaurants reveal calorie information for their items. Congress has already passed legislation to develop a national calorie labeling system in order to aid health care reform.
However, previous studies have shown that listing calories hasn’t exactly helped Americans trim down their waistlines.
You mean a bunch of legislators jumped in and passed a law without bothering to wait for evidence that the law would provide any benefits? Well, I am shocked. To quote Senator McGovern, a senator doesn’t the luxury of waiting for every last shred of evidence to come in. Or any evidence at all, apparently.
People don’t eat less when you shove calorie counts in their faces. That’s exactly what I predicted when intellectuals and government do-gooders started pushing calorie counts as a tool to stop the rise in obesity. They apparently believe fat people are automatons who mindlessly go around eating too much. Shove a calorie count in their faces, and by gosh, they’ll say to themselves, “Whoa! I had no idea I was scarfing down so many calories! Give me the salad, please.”
That belief is, of course, utter hogwash. When I was filming the street-interview scenes for Fat Head, I showed dozens of people a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, large fries and a large Coke, then asked them to guess how many calories were in the meal. Some guessed about right, but most people guessed too high. Almost nobody guessed too low. People who order calorie-laden meals know they’re ordering calorie-laden meals, no matter what the intellectuals think.
But for the sake of argument, let’s suppose that when people are confronted with calorie counts, they eat less at McDonald’s and other restaurants. Would that lead to a reduction in the obesity rate? Nope. Research has shown that the number of calories people consume over the course of a week is remarkably consistent. When people eat large meals, they compensate by eating smaller meals later. When they skip meals, they make up the difference over the next day or so.
In other words, how much they eat is driven by the complex relationship between appetite, energy balance and hormonal signals described by Dr. William Lagakos in The poor, misunderstood calorie. Informing people (whether they want to be informed or not) that their McDonald’s meal is 1,000 calories won’t make a bit of difference in how much weight they ultimately gain or lose.
Back to the article:
It hasn’t helped that fast food and restaurant food still remain calorie-laden. A 14-year study showed that fast food restaurants have only made minimal improvements to the nutritional value of their items, and 25 percent of Americans eat fast food two or more times a week.
Allow me to engage in the logical thinking the reporter didn’t: If 25 percent of Americans eat fast food two or more times per week, that means 75 percent of Americans don’t eat fast food two or more times per week. So the sentence It hasn’t helped that fast food and restaurant food still remain calorie-laden makes no sense. Fast-food restaurants are not the reason a majority of Americans are (by government standards) overweight.
“The general inability of calorie labeling to result in an overall reduction in the number of calories consumed has already been pretty widely shown,” study author Julie Downs, an associate research professor of social and decision sciences in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, said to HealthDay. “So that’s nothing new. But in the face of that, there has been the growing thought that perhaps the problem is that people don’t know how to use the information without some framework, some guidance.”
I see. Since we believe people are generally stupid, we’ve now decided just showing them calorie counts isn’t enough. We also have to teach them how many calories they should consume in a day. That must be right, because it’s the kind of bold, exciting idea that appeals to intellectuals. Let’s see how it works out in practice:
To see if teaching people how many calories they should eat would help, 1,094 consumers aged 18 and older at two New York McDonald’s locations were provided information on recommended calorie intake before they ordered.
A third of the customers were given a flyer that said women and men should limit their calorie consumption to 2,000 and 2,400 calories per day respectively; another third got a flyer saying a single meal should contain between 650 and 800 calories; and a third were not given any information at all.
After they ordered, researchers looked at the customers’ food receipts and had them fill out a post-meal survey.The researchers discovered that giving people calorie guidelines did not make a significant difference in how they read and used the calorie listings on menus. In fact, people who were given calorie guidelines ate 49 more calories on average than those who did not get guidelines at all.
Head. Bang. On. Desk.
So even if we coach people on how many calories they should (ahem) consume before confronting them with calorie counts, they still don’t eat less. And yet the geniuses in Congress will nonetheless march ahead with a law requiring calorie counts on restaurant menus. Businesses will pass the cost of compliance onto the consumers, and taxpayers will likely end up supporting new employees in some federal agency whose job will be to enforce compliance with a law that won’t accomplish anything.
Proof? Nawww. We The Anointed don’t need no stinkin’ proof before we impose our ideas on you. Proof is for engineers and software programmers, not intellectuals and government officials.
A friend of mine sent a link to this video, which is supposed to (I think) promote veganism. I say supposed to and (I think) because if I wanted to produce a video that made vegans look like idiots, this might be it. My immediate reaction was along the lines of “If these people think this is an effective promo for veganism, their brains are seriously deficient in fatty acids.”
I mean, what’s the takeaway message here? That cows are perverted and creepy, so we shouldn’t drink their milk?
Quick, somebody get the nine-year-old media hero and her mom on the phone. Turns out that despite ads featuring cartoon characters and other means of “tricking” kids into eating at McDonald’s, very few of the total calories youngsters consume come from sodas and french fries consumed in fast-food restaurants.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that people of all ages consume a lot of junk they buy in grocery stores – which is a point I’ve made several times. The same people who like to heap blame on the fast-food industry are curiously silent about all the boxes of Cocoa Puffs and bags of potato chips sold in grocery stores.
In a study I read awhile back, researchers compared eating habits in areas with lots of fast-food restaurants and areas with almost no fast-food restaurants. They found virtually no difference in how much sugar and other carbage people consume. All that changes is where the sugar addicts go for their fix. Blaming a McDonald’s restaurant for the sugar addicts who live nearby is like blaming a tavern for the local alcoholics. Yes, sodas are cheap at McDonald’s … but if you want to see really cheap sodas, visit a Kroger. (Then write a thank-you letter to the USDA for subsidizing corn and thus corn syrup.)
But I digress.
The figures about where Americans get their calories come from a new study published in Nutrition Journal. Let’s look at some quotes about that study from an online article:
A new analysis of where Americans are getting their calories from has thrown up some surprising results, with the percentage of energy derived from so-called ‘junk-food’ such as soda, burgers and fries from fast-food chains proving to be somewhat lower than is often claimed.
Energy intakes of US children and adults by food purchase location and by specific food source, published in Nutrition Journal, is “the first-ever study of dietary energy intakes by age group, food purchase location and by specific food source”, claim its authors: Dr Adam Drewnowski and Dr Colin D Rehm from the University of Washington, Seattle.
As all foods consumed by participants in the government-run National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) are now color coded by location of purchase (eg. store, quick-service restaurant/pizza (QSR), full-service restaurant (FSR), school/workplace cafe, vending machine etc), it is possible to determine much more accurately where our calories are coming from, they explain.
The NHANES data is based on 24-hour recall. I’m not a big fan of food questionnaires that ask people to remember what they ate for the past year or more, but I think most of us can recall what we ate yesterday. The study’s authors note that people tend to under-report their junk-food intake, but I’m guessing that applies equally to fast-food junk and store-bought junk. So let’s assume for the sake of argument that the figures are reasonably accurate when it comes to food eaten out vs. food eaten at home.
Contrary to popular belief, restaurant-sourced pizza, burgers, chicken and French fries accounted for less energy than store-sourced breads, grain-based desserts, pasta and soft drinks. For example, for adolescents in the 12-19y age group, QSR pizza accounted for 3.9% of total energy, whereas QSR French fried potatoes accounted for 1.7%. Interestingly, QSR sugar sweetened beverages provided 1.0-1.4% of dietary energy depending on age, whereas store-sourced beverages provided four times that.
So we’re looking at young people getting maybe 3% of their total calories from fast-food sodas and fries. Toss in the burgers and we’re up to about 5%. That would no doubt be a surprise to Roger Ebert and other people who believed Morgan Spurlock fingered the obesity-epidemic culprit in Super Size Me.
Fast-food consumption was highest among teens at about 17.5% of total calories. But teens still consumed nearly two-thirds of their calories at home, as did people in other age groups. But look at what they consume:
The top sources of energy for 6-11year-olds were grain-based desserts such as cakes, cookies, pies, pastries and donuts (6.9% of energy) and yeast breads (6.4% of energy). Those two food sources were among the top energy sources across all age groups.
Among adolescents, the top energy sources were soda, energy and sports drinks (8.2% of calories); pizza (7.2%); yeast breads (6.3%), and chicken and chicken mixed dishes (6.2%). Burgers contributed just 2% of energy and fries 2.7%.
Adults aged 20-50 derived 6.8% of energy from soda, energy and sports drinks; 6% from chicken and chicken mixed dishes; and 6.1% from yeast breads. 5.5% of energy came from grain-based desserts and 5.3% from alcoholic beverages.
Sounds like rather a lot of carbage. The online version of the study includes some tables, so I took the data for ages 12-19 and popped it into Excel. Then I marked the foods I consider carbage (sodas and energy drinks, pizza, pasta, fries, chips, donuts, cereals, breads, desserts and candy) and ran the numbers on those.
If the NHANES data is accurate, the nation’s teens are getting 47% of their calories from carbage — but only 9% of their total calories come from carbage consumed in fast-food restaurants. Just over 32% of their total calories come from carbage they consume at home. The remaining 6% of carbage-calories comes from full-service restaurants and “other” … whatever that means.
The same calculations for kids in the 6-11 group show that they consume slightly more carbage (49% of total calories) than their older siblings, but just 5.8% of their total calories come from fast-food carbage. So I have to conclude that cartoon characters, Happy Meals and other “tricks” aren’t the reason kids get fat. Kids consume five to six times more carbage at home than they do at fast-food restaurants. Hannah’s mom is going to have to start writing speeches the little media hero can deliver at grocery-industry conventions.
The online article about the study also notes that while Hizzoner Mayor Bloomberg exempted grocery stores from his large-soda ban, that’s where people buy the vast majority of their soda. There’s nothing I love more than a regulation that’s both onerous and ineffective.
Asked to comment on this interpretation of his data, co-author Dr Adam Drewnowski told FoodNavigator-USA: “Francis Collins and Griffin Rodgers (the director of the NIH and the NIDDK respectively) wrote in JAMA last year that faced with the obesity epidemic, public health authorities took whatever action they could, without necessarily waiting for data to arrive.
Government officials jumping in with recommendations and regulations without waiting for data to support their actions? Well, I am shocked.
Since working full-time, taking on side projects, blogging, hanging out with the family and writing a book doesn’t keep me busy enough, I thought maybe I’d start a new web site called ExLowCarbers.com. The idea would be to “out” any traitors to the cause. Visitors to the site could, say, click a state on a map of the U.S. and see names and descriptions of ex-low-carbers who live there. Then, of course, the angry visitors find the traitors in cyberspace and shame them. I’ll even add the first listing myself: my buddy Richard Nikoley in California.
If that sounds like an incredibly stupid idea, it’s only because it’s incredibly stupid idea. Since I’m not a nutcase, I don’t get upset if Richard does some experimenting and finds that a higher-carb diet works better for him. More power to him. He also doesn’t get upset that I’ve found a low-carb, starch-free diet works best for me.
If only everyone were so sane. A couple of days ago, the aforementioned Richard Nikoley tweeted (in his characteristic colorful language) a link to a site that “outs” ex-vegans. The banner reads:
Vegan Sellout List
Calling Ex-Vegans Out By Name
Visitors are invited to submit information about ex-vegans to add to the list. Out of curiosity, I read some listings:
Chris Kresser: Vegan turned paleo guy. Runs a website about paleo topics. Now eats pure murder.
Bob Harper, former star on The Biggest Loser: This TV star felt his body was craving something. So like most weak-willed people, he went for the cheese. Oh but he loves his dog. Really. Hates cows, but his dog…
Naw, Bob probably just pretends those cows are Jillian Michaels before plunging a knife into them.
Angelo Orozco: Used to be vegan, but started eating meat when he opened his own Crossfit gym.
Hmmm … so it seems people become ex-vegans when they discover paleo works better for them, or start craving animal products, or open a gym and want to be strong. Those sound like people who are listening to their bodies instead of adhering to dogma.
Actually, if Chris Kresser is on the list, I’d kind of like to be there too. I wonder how long you have to be a vegan to sell out? During my vegetarian days, I went all-vegan for about a month. (I still have nightmares about the vegan cheesecake I tried to eat before throwing it away.) Perhaps I can report myself and get listed.
Here are some quotes from the Our Mission page:
Our mission to is provide an outlet for the unbalanced rage of the creator. It was either that or go take an axe to the meat aisle in my local Kroger.
Okay, I made that one up. Here are the real quotes:
If you’re no longer vegan, you’re going on the list.
Boy, I bet that scares ‘em silly. I wonder if the FBI could be persuaded to expand the witness protection program to include people on the ex-vegan list. I’m picturing ex-vegans and ex-mobsters playing poker together in an undisclosed location somewhere in Nebraska. (They’d be eating pastrami sandwiches, naturally.)
The spirits of the billions murdered have risen to deliver: The Vegan Sellout List – an online directory of those who have regressed from moral consistency to moral depravity.
If you believe the spirits of dead animals rose up and helped create your site, I’d suggest you eat a couple of eggs. Your brain is seriously deficient in cholesterol.
The Vegan Sellout List is our answer to the epidemic of vegan sellouts – those who are aware of the suffering caused by meat, dairy, egg, fur, and leather production, yet choose to look away while the animals suffer.
Look away? Nope. I look right at my chickens when I collect their eggs. Sometimes I yell, “Look! I’m taking away your children!” I’ll look right at them when they stop laying eggs and end up in the soup pot. I looked right at the raccoon that killed their hen-house mates — that’s how you aim a rifle, after all.
Selling out veganism is a trend on the upswing, bringing with it swarms of haughty, nose-turning carnists uttering nonsensical buzzwords re: veganism being “privileged”, or “trendy”, critiquing themselves into ethical degeneracy and paleo-terrorism.
Uh, wait a minute … if veganism is everything the vegan zealots say it is (the key to superior health, etc.), why the heck would abandoning veganism be a “trend on the upswing”? Perhaps it’s because a lot of people try being vegans and then say to themselves, “Man, I feel like @#$%! I’m ordering a steak!”
To those who have regressed from veganism, yet display symptoms of a soul not fully blackened to it’s core, we ask you to remind yourself why you were what you were.
Boy, wouldn’t whoever wrote that be a fun person to hang around with? I’m reminded of a joke:
Q: How many vegans does it take to change a light bulb?
A: That’s NOT FUNNY, you @#$%ing MURDERER!!!
Now, before all you non-preachy vegetarians with a good sense of humor go diving into the comments section to set me straight, allow me to beat you to it: yes, I know you’re not all like that. In a post awhile back, I wrote about a vegan I knew in Los Angeles who not only wasn’t preachy, her live-in boyfriend ate meat – just not in the house. He ordered bacon when I joined them for breakfast at a restaurant.
But if you’re honest, you have to admit that the vegan/vegetarian crowd (especially the vegan crowd) has more than its share of humorless zealots. Look what happened when a restaurant chain dared to make a joke in one of it commercials:
Are vegetarians humorless? It’s the question being asked this week after a Red Robin television ad offended herbivores by touting its 24 types of burgers and then noting, with an implied eye roll and mock whisper, “We even have a Gardenburger—just in case your teenage daughter is going through a phase.”
The commercial, part of a new campaign ad series, aired for about a week before being rotated out, as was planned from the start. But it prompted outrage among activists and on social media outlets, with a slew of horrified vegetarians taking the eatery to task for its condescending approach.
Horrified? Seriously? Let’s suppose the Red Robin commercial had ended with “We even have a double burger wrapped in lettuce – just in case your middle-aged husband is going through a ‘caveman’ phase.” Can you imagine Mark Sisson, or Robb Wolf, or Loren Cordain, or Jimmy Moore becoming outraged over that remark? I’m pretty sure they’d chuckle. I know I would.
“Though I applaud any fast food chain that offers a veggie burger, and I hope that more do, the idea that not eating animals is reserved solely for teenage girls going through a phase is obviously meant to insult both vegans and girls,” Jasmin Singer, executive director of Our Hen House, a New York-based multimedia vegan activism organization, told Yahoo! Shine.
There’s the difference again: I don’t believe there are any paleo activism organizations.
As for Red Robin promoting the stereotype that vegans tend to be teenage girls, gee, I wonder if there’s a reason for that stereotype? If we only we had some statistics …
Oh, wait – we do. According to this vegan website, 78% of the vegans in the U.S. are female, and 69% became a vegan by the age of 24. People didn’t come up with the notion that vegans tend to be young and female out of thin air. As a comedian, I can assure you that if Red Robin’s little joke didn’t have the ring of truth to it, it wouldn’t be funny.
Of course, if years of veganism caused your funny bone to wither away …
“My husband and I used to get your Gardenburger—but after your insulting ad, you have lost our business,” wrote one woman on the restaurant’s Facebook page, echoing the comments of an ever-growing slew of others. “I will never visit your restaurant again.”
One again, try to imagine me responding like that if Red Robin had made a joke about middle-aged men going through a “caveman” phase.
But can’t vegetarians just loosen up and realize it’s all in good fun?
Don’t be silly. See my joke above.
It was a question tackled by animal advocate and vegan blogger Katrina Donovan Fleming in a June 11 essay, “Just a Joke: Confessions of a ‘Humorless Vegan,’” on Our Hen House.
“Exclusionary humor and its acerbic aftertaste are nothing new, of course. Think of all the jokes that are based in racism. The dumb blond jokes. Antigay jokes. This type of humor is a not-so-subtle way of communicating to one’s companions: ‘We’re better,’” she observes.
Yes, I can see why you take these things so seriously. I remember the shameful period in our nation’s history when vegetarians weren’t allowed to drink from public fountains and had to ride in the back of the bus.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it at least twice: some people are only happy when they’re offended. It makes them feel important, especially if they can also convince themselves they’re being persecuted.
PETA cites “the unequaled meat-free chicken steak, followed closely by the unique and delicious vegetarian pit-beef barbecue. Other tantalizing cruelty-free treats include faux beef steak, a veggie dog, a black-bean burger, a vegetarian burrito, and calcium-rich hummus and pretzels. The fresh salads and fruit cups are perfect for fans looking for lighter fare.”
Meat-free chicken, barbecue, steaks and hot dogs. Interesting choices.
Note to the angry little pissant who created ExVegans.com: here’s why selling out on veganism is a “trend on the upswing”: nobody ever walked into a barbecue joint to order a rack of ribs and said, “By the way, can you make those things taste just like tofu?”