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March 3, 2006

Veggie question
Posted by Teresa at 12:16 AM * 262 comments

Can vegans eat food that has chalk in it?

Comments on Veggie question:
#1 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 12:23 AM:

Umm, can humans eat food that has chalk in it?

Chalk, the other white... stuff.

#2 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 12:42 AM:

One of the things that makes me crazy about organic labelling definitions is the label on bags of sand in the nursery. Who knew that sand was organic? In my memory it's the very definition of inorganic.

(Yes, they probably mean it has no pesticides on it, and I hope they mean it has the salt washed off, but they should say that.)

#3 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 12:43 AM:

Google says yes, strangely enough...I don't know, I think it would taste too much like antacid.

#4 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 01:07 AM:

Monty Python's "Spam" springs instantly to mind.

Why vegans as opposed to non-vegans?

#5 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 01:27 AM:

I assume you mean because it's composed, ultimately, of teeny dead animals? Aside from the more general question of who would want to eat chalk or food containing it, I would guess the answer for most would be "sure, why not?"

My logic for this is that most vegans fall into one of two groups:

  • morally conscious people who've taken a carefully reasoned position to minimize harm to semi-sentient beings such as animals, at some nuisance to themselves, and
  • horribly undereducated, anti-scientific, pseudo-hippy flakes

The former would recognize that the lives and deaths of microscopic animals millions of years ago have no bearing on their ethical choices today, while the latter would be all like "No way! Chalk is like a rock or something, it's not like, made by bees!" Thus, no problem.

#6 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 01:29 AM:

Hmmm. Chalk is made of the remains of little shelled creatures. Is chalk kosher?

#7 ::: Andy ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 01:33 AM:

Because it was made by animals (teeny little aquatic ones-foraminifera and such), making it an animal product, for all that it's millions of years old. (On those grounds, I'd say yes--the organism that made it died of natural causes and was not exploited--but that's just my guess).

#8 ::: Andy ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 01:44 AM:

Eric: I think so, since it's millions of years old and is made of inorganic matter, so its link with shellfish would be rather tenuous. (That raises the question of whether the microscopic chalk-forming organisms are treif--are they, or is there some sort of 'infinitesimal creature exemption'?)

#9 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 01:54 AM:

It's questions like this that make me love coming here.

I had a former co-worker at Earth Island Institute tell me one day that I should eat salmon instead of beef because it was lower on the food chain.

Can complete, strict vegans eat plants? Very few vegetables are grown, harvested and shipped without causing animal deaths. And sometimes, as in the case of leaf miners in organic spinach, the animal is cooked alive!!!threeinbasetwo! Unless you eat only raw foods. In which case you're eating them alive.

#10 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 02:32 AM:

I got curious about the vegan-ness of soy yogurt and actually found some folks asserting that the cultures render the product not acceptable, but most seem to think it's OK. So chalk (yum!) would probably be OK too.

What about bread and beer? Oh, those poor little yeasties!

I once made a joke in a cafe about the problem with the vegan cookies was picking out all the little bits of vegan, and horribly offended the barista. I hate to stereotype, but I've met more than a few really thin-skinned, defensive vegans.

I can completely understand being a vegetarian, and I can even understand banishing eggs. Dairy seems more of a stretch. Then again, I'm pretty much unafraid of eating things that are being eaten by other, apparently healthy people are eating. I'm also reminded of the vegan lion from the popples episode of Futurama.

#11 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 02:46 AM:

Whales eat krill. Do vegans think they're too good to eat whale-food?

#12 ::: Zak ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 02:46 AM:

The really interesting question: if we could vat-grow human flesh with no (or effectively very little) cost to other lifeforms, would vegans eat it?

#13 ::: Mari ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 04:19 AM:

There's always the rumored fruititarian -- one who refuses to live by killing plants. Such a person may eat wheat (dead before they harvest) and apples (the tree is still alive) but not carrots or cabbage. Never met a fruititarian in the wild, though.

#14 ::: Anna ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 04:20 AM:

"Dairy seems more of a stretch"

Larry I'm a vegetarian and dairy's actually the dodgiest of the animal products I still eat.

Cause from my understanding cows need to calve to start producing milk. There's a 50% chance that they'll produce a bull calf which (as with any non-productive animal on a farm) will just about certainly be put down.

So yeah from an ethical perspective I really should be giving up milk as well as animals are deliberately killed to produce it(unfortunately I don't believe I have the will power for this yet).

#15 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 05:05 AM:

"I'd say yes--the organism that made it died of natural causes and was not exploited--but that's just my guess"

Unless of course an evil mad scientist from our time went back in time in order to start the process of life amongst the primordial ooze in order to generate the chalk necessary for his disgusting dietary needs.

I bet none of you thought about that did ya?!

shame, I say.

#16 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 05:13 AM:

if we could vat-grow human flesh with no (or effectively very little) cost to other lifeforms, would vegans eat it?

"Soylent Green is people!"
"Oh, good, I was worried it might contain dairy products."

Is honey OK? After all, as far as I recall, the bees aren't killed in the process- at worst they are temporarily stupefied by smoke when the combs are extracted.

#17 ::: Keith Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 05:14 AM:

Can vegans eat Venus flytraps?

#18 ::: Keith Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 05:18 AM:

Years ago, I ate Thanksgiving dinner at the house of a vegetarian friend. We had what I referred to as "... and all the fixings". At one point her father (who was goodnaturedly skeptical about the whole thing) asked for the salt. There was none on the table. I said, "What, vegetarians don't eat minerals either?"

#19 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 05:21 AM:

Depends how strict they are. I'm a vegan, and I'd be okay with it, but I also eat white sugar, which stricter vegans wouldn't, as it's refined using charcoal, i.e. animal bones.

But then, there's gelatine in disk drives, and in camera film, and most vegans still use those. The medication I'm on is only available in gelatine capsules. I take it, but if there were tablets I'd ask for those instead. It's an imperfect world.

Larry Brennan: yes, horribly thin-skinned, some of them. I think it comes being guilted into one's dietary choice instead of making it freely. I like your joke. It reminds me of the one item in the Buddhist vegetarian supermarket that really weirded me out, the tins of vegetarian intestines.

Zak: how would it taste? I'd prefer vat-grown beef or chicken, myself. But not everyone's a vegan for ethical reasons. Lots of people cut out dairy, eggs and meat for their health. The added protein might not agree with them.

#20 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 05:26 AM:

The ex-vegan across the room woke up long enough to say, It's like the Jews put it. If at any stage it's passed through a form an animal wouldn't eat, it's fine.

So driving your car to the shop to buy (organic, cruelty-free) vegetables doesn't make it non-vegan. (Animals died to bring this meal to you, but it was long enough ago not to count.)

#21 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 05:42 AM:

I once made a joke in a cafe about the problem with the vegan cookies was picking out all the little bits of vegan, and horribly offended the barista. I hate to stereotype, but I've met more than a few really thin-skinned, defensive vegans.

I'm just enjoying the mental image of picking out all the little bits of vegan from the cookies. The vegans I've all known personally have made it a complete non-issue, although I got some "I want to have your babies" comments from one after making her a vegan chocolate cake that tasted as good as an egg-and-butter one, if not better.

#22 ::: Greg Gerrand ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 06:23 AM:

Cause from my understanding cows need to calve to start producing milk. There's a 50% chance that they'll produce a bull calf which... will just about certainly be put down.

Right about the calving. The bull calves aren't "put down". Well, not on the dairy farms I've known. They are sold - for pet food, I've always assumed.

#23 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 07:34 AM:

My sister's a vegan, and typically pretty strict (and do you know how expensive vegan boots can be? ;P). However, she's started eating honey (and, logically, drinking mead) again after making sure that the beekeeper's treat their bees, well, nicely I guess? We live in a rather rural area and my mom happens to know a lot of beekeepers personally. My sister and I visited some of them (I for research, she out of sheer curiosity) and asked them all sorts of questions. Turns out the particular type of bee our European plants rely upon for pollination would be extinct if it wasn't for beekeepers: there's apparently some sort of parasite the bees can't fight on their own which has spread widely. So, basically, the beekeepers are keeping certain types of bees alive. My sister liked that a lot, and decided that in THAT case, she could eat the honey. (Also, the beekeeper explained to us a number of advantages in the sugar-water that they give to bees instead of their honey to carry them through the winter, but I forgot exactly what those advantages were. My research focussed more on the bees' dance and whether or not they could communicate things like "Bandits at the gate to the manzzzzion, mazzzzzter") (turns out they can't)

#24 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 07:38 AM:

I'm vegan. I would have no moral problems eating chalk. It deeply, deeply offends me on an aesthetic, culinary level, however.

Larry Brennan: Much of the defensiveness comes from being constantly subjected to other people's mocking opinions or pseudo-scientific lectures about your "weird" diet, when it's none of their damned business. Some charming people will actually go so far as to sneak animal products into your food to make some kind of bizarre point. It can be hard to tell when a joke is just a joke and when it's the start of something more.

#25 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 07:50 AM:

okay, I'm going to show my ignorance here.
I thought charcoal was made from slow-cooking plant matter so that almost all that was left was carbon? Getting charcoal from animals seems inefficent, since the fats and bones don't burn cleanly leading to hardened gunk instead of highly flammable charcoal.

I also thought that once you got a cow lactating, you could perpeutate that indefinitely so long as you kept milking it. (Sensory feedback loop from milking -> oxytocin production -> milk letdown).

I am facinated and amused at the thought of chalk being treyf. I remember learning in 8th grade that the beautiful marble altar at the cathedral was made of compressed dead animal bones, and thinking how very odd that was.

#26 ::: Tom S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 08:12 AM:

Andy asks "That raises the question of whether the microscopic chalk-forming organisms are treif--are they, or is there some sort of 'infinitesimal creature exemption'?"

Depends on who you ask, apparently. The Central Rabbinical Council has ruled that Orthodox Jews should use filters to remove copepods -- tiny crustaceans -- in the New York City water supply.

http://www.uswaternews.com/archives/arcquality/4orthjews6.html

#27 ::: Max ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 08:33 AM:

Question for vegan Roman Catholics:

Is trans-substantiation vegan?

#28 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 08:36 AM:

I know of vegans who think that honey is not OK, because--no matter how well they're treated--the bees are being "exploited". These same people occasionally claim that one shouldn't keep pets.

Kinda reminds me of a terribly 70s "anthropology" book that Carnegie Library used to have. All about how we ought to all move to the coasts and set up small communities; keeping of any animals should be banned, along with farming on a larger-than-family scale; boys (yes, just boys) should learn to hunt for meat...it was great stuff.

#29 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 08:51 AM:

Larry Brennan: I would guess a toss-up between "horribly thin-skinned" and "that's the fifteenth time I've heard the joke today, go home!"

I get the cannibalism jokes directed at me less often than most vegetarians I know, since people seem to sense that I'll just roll my eyes and make some cheerful pointed comments right back. (The problem with most vegetarian ribbing* of omnivores, I think, is that it's based around the ideas that "meat is disgusting" or "meat is unhealthy" and not only does the truth of these ideas vary from person to person, but they make the vegetarian attempting the joke sound like someone's mother. I generally stick to stories about anthropologists being served fried maggots, and usually manage to convince my detractors that what one eats is a cultural and personal matter, among other things, under the premise that if it were a machismo contest, I would not be the sole loser.)


*The pun may or may not be intended by the author of this comment. Is it intended by the reader?

#30 ::: Daniel H. Alvarez ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 09:13 AM:

/delurk

Human: The other, other white meat!

Apparently -- and this is total hearsay. I have no direct confirmation of this in any way (and I'll stick to that in court) -- cooked human looks, smells and tastes very similar to pork. "Long pig" is a euphemism for roast human.

Mmmmmm. Human bacon!

/relurk

#31 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 09:25 AM:

Bearing in mind that I'm not a dairy farmer, not even a farmer any more...

Bull calves can be castrated and reared for beef. But the beef from dairy breeds of cattle is reckoned to be a lower quality. This can lead to it not being worth raising bull calves for beef, making them worthless.

The cow's lactation cannot be maintained indefinitely.

#32 ::: Morgil Pimeestara ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 09:40 AM:

Why do non-veggies ask such stupid questions? Is it because eating meat rots the brain?

#33 ::: Charlz ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 09:42 AM:

Cause from my understanding cows need to calve to start producing milk. There's a 50% chance that they'll produce a bull calf which... will just about certainly be put down.

Right about the calving. The bull calves aren't "put down". Well, not on the dairy farms I've known. They are sold - for pet food, I've always assumed.

Silly non-meat eaters ;) the baby bulls either remain a bull and go on to foster future generations or they become steers (Rocky Mountain oysters anyone?), go to a 'grow-out' type operation and become steaks, yum!

;)

#34 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:00 AM:

Why do non-veggies ask such stupid questions?

Why is that a stupid question? I thought it was a perfectly fascinating question.

#35 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:07 AM:

See also vegetarians re: rennet.

I'm neither vegan nor vegetarian, but I respect a person who, having adopted a principle, takes it seriously enough to wrestle with questions like this.

It will be interesting to see if a sort of vegan Talmud evolves out of the ongoing discussions of these issues.

Re: the milk issue--might sheep's milk be more acceptable, as the male lambs would be used to grow wool rather than slaughtered?

And I'd like to recommend this cookbook for its Vegan Chocolate Death Cake, which I have happily consumed at the restaurant on many occasions.

For those who, like me, follow their dentition and eat omnivorously, I'd like to recommend the book All Flesh is Grass by Gene Logsdon as a glimpse of a better way to go about meat production.

#36 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:08 AM:

Joe Haldeman informed me, in one of his SF-writing classes, that burning human flesh smells like pork. Since he was an explosives export in the Vietnam War, I assumed he has some personal experience in the matter, although I didn't ask.

I once asked an Orthodox rabbi why white sugar is kosher, since (as mentioned above in this thread) bone-derived charcoal is used to refine it. The rabbi urged me not to repeat this question too loudly, lest I incite a panic among those with more piety than sense. (I assume the real answer has something to do with that "a dog wouldn't eat it, therefore it's no longer food" rule.)

#37 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:08 AM:

Why do non-veggies ask such stupid questions?

It's because everyone's fascinated by arbitrary codes of behaviour - vegetarianism, halal, kosher, etiquette, criminal law - and wants to figure out the edge cases. There's a little bit of yeshiva bucher in all of us.

(That was a really unfortunate way to put it, given this thread is about, inter alia, cannibalism.)

(A rabbinical student tried to argue with me about dietary restrictions once. I ate his liver with chopped onions and a fine Manischiewitz. F-f-f-f.)

#38 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:16 AM:

I've seen chalk listed as an ingredient in, if I recall correctly, some brands of commercially canned tomatoes. A thickener, perhaps? I've always wondered why it was there, and felt dubious about buying them.

#39 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:21 AM:

I guess it really depends on how "far" the elements have to be from passing through an animal form. Anything you eat is going to contain atoms that at one time were part of an animal.

#40 ::: Emily Cartier ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:28 AM:

Bull calves are also likely to be turned into veal. Yum. Veal :D

#41 ::: Ulysses N. Owen ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:29 AM:

On the treif issue, there was an interesting story Harry Turtledove put out -- I forget the title -- about a genetically engineered pig that, due to its hooves (hocks?) being smooth rather than cloven, was no longer treif.

I've heard elsewhere that pigs are also treif due to diet, not merely form, so I don't know how well this would hold up, but it was interesting.

#42 ::: carwinrpc ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:32 AM:

As a chef with many, many years experience both in the kitchen and with various sects of vegetarians, I have a few observations. If you are a vegetarian and you come into my dining room, and ask for a meal made solely of vegetable products, I am more than happy to do anything reasonable to comply. The operative word here is reasonable--among the reasons thatI do what I do for a living is that I like making people happy. I don't do it so that I can be put through hoops, as vegans eating in my dining room have often assumed they have a right to do. By the way, anyone who would try to sneak animal product into a vegatarian meal is mentally ill--if you don't want to do it, say so.

I put a great deal of effort into writing a menu. Why would anyone come to a restaurant that does that and then ask them to do something else? Something they obviously don't specialize in. I have always wondered what the reaction would be if I went into a vegan restaurant and asked for a piece of meat.

If vegans want to eat as vegans, I am all for it. It would strike me as inconsistent, however, if they drove cars, ate vegetables grown in large factory farms, wore clothes made with natural fibers that required pesticides(good bye linen and cotton. Silk too since they kill the larvae.) Lived in a house made of wood since it destroys habitat--you can see where I'm going. If the answer is that this is just a gestural effort--make your gesture somewhere else.

#43 ::: Nathan Williams ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:34 AM:

Canned tomatoes often have calcium chloride (not chalk, which is calcium carbonate) added to keep them firm.

#44 ::: Ulysses N. Owen ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:36 AM:

And on the subject of meat-eaters stupid questions:

1) Asking questions is never ... okay, rarely ... stupid.

2) Carnivores ask "stupid" questions about vegan dietary habits for the same reason Christians ask stupid questions about kosher laws, or permanent civilians ask military (and former military) types stupid questions about what war, battle, and the military is really like: Because they are wise enough to know what they don't know; and smart enough to try to reduce the general ignorance that usually results in friction among the uninformed.

#45 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:39 AM:

Huh, I could swear I'd seen it somewhere. Maybe it wasn't canned tomatoes. Maybe I'm just imagining it! (Wouldn't be the first time that's happened.)

#46 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:42 AM:

U.N. Owen: Actually, the Turtledove story was a about a pig that chewed its cud. It is the fact that pigs have cloven hooves but do not chew the cud that makes them treyf.

#47 ::: Ulysses N. Owen ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:45 AM:

Fragano:

Thanks!

Obviously I either misremebered the text or focused on the wrong detail in reading it.

#48 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 11:15 AM:

Ulysses: just so you know, there is now, and has been for at least 100 years as a distinct breed, a non-cloven-hoofed pig called the mulefoot hog.

This would, as Fragano points out, make it even LESS kosher, as what you're looking for is "parts the hoof and chews the cud". Giraffes make for an interesting case, as they do indeed have cloven hooves and chew the cud. The length of their necks, however, makes it impractical to perform kosher slaughter correctly; moreover there is not a continuous tradition of giraffe consumption by Jews. (You can google "giraffe kosher" for more info on this topic than anyone wants.)

#49 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 11:31 AM:

For cannibalistically inclined vegans, there's always Hufu, the healthy human flesh alternative.

Re: transsubstantiation, eating the consecrated host is not cannibalism, so I'd assume that it's also not carnivorism [ok, probably not a real word]. I don't remember what that exact reason is that it's not cannibalism, but they made a big point of explaining it back in my Catholic school days.

#50 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 11:38 AM:

Eve: ... I got some "I want to have your babies" comments from one after making her a vegan chocolate cake that tasted as good as an egg-and-butter one, if not better.

Was she making the same joke, suggesting that your babies would taste as good as the cake? (Were you?)

I'm fine with the cannibalism part of these jokes, but I'm never sure whether the question of whether <ethnic> cuisine is made with real <ethnic> (e.g., Irish stew, Neapolitan ice cream) comes out of my paleface arrogance. At any rate, it's pretty trite.

#51 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 11:45 AM:

I spent a couple of years of my childhood growing up next to a dairy farm; they raised all of their surplus calves as veal.

Veal is not a big moneymaker for dairy farmers (Mr. Polk wanted more heifers, and counted it a good year when they outnumbered the bull calves). I understand that with modern herd techniques, the numbers of bull calves born on most dairy farms is going down--most farms use artificial insemination these days, and semen can be sex-sorted via centrifuge.

I wonder if this makes dairy production more vegan as a result?

#52 ::: Ed Gaillard ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 11:57 AM:

ajay writes:

There's a little bit of yeshiva bucher in all of us.

(That was a really unfortunate way to put it, given this thread is about, inter alia, cannibalism.)

"Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig!"

#53 ::: Andy ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 12:21 PM:

Ulysses: the story is called 'The R-Strain' (r as in ruminant). It's in the collection _Departures_.

#54 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 12:25 PM:

Husband used to be vegan; this is before we met. I just IMed this question and I got back:

"CHALK? EW!"

As for why vegans are so thin-skinned, I used to think it was because they weren't getting enough calories to sustain being nice. Now that there are such things as Tofutti Cuties tho' (damn they are addictive), I have no idea.

Re: vegetarian Thanksgiving: be thankful you never had Tofurkey. We did that once. ONCE. Now it's butternut squash ravioli with roasted garlic and a sage cream sauce.

#55 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 12:43 PM:

Veal, yes. The problem with raising dairy steers for beef is that they're not bred to fatten as efficiently and so will grade lower at slaughter unless held longer on feed, which lowers the profit margin one way or the other.

A few years ago, anyway, there was some interest in switching to what's known as "hair sheep" to specialize in lamb because the price of wool was so low that shearing didn't pay for itself. I haven't heard anything about it lately but that may be related either to an actual change or to my place in the information food chain these days.

#56 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 12:54 PM:

Just a note that I have a really close friend who's vegetarian, mostly for health reasons. If we eat out, we always go somewhere veggie friendly (usualy Indian, Thai or a veggie specialty place) and I seldom order meat dishes so we can share.

He's a cheese freak, though so he manages to look past animal rennet and recoginzes that he's probably eaten fish sauce and lard unsuspectingly as well.

It's an imperfect world. And yes, anyone who knowingly sneaks meat products into food intended for a vegetarian should be horse-whipped. (With a plant-fiber whip.)

#57 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 12:58 PM:

Argh.

I really hate the term "veggie."

Besides being vague (it is used to refer to vegetables and vegetarians), it is too damn cutesy for my taste.

I have the same problem with pet owners who say that their cat "pottied" on the carpet, or that little Snookum's potty training (meaning, taking dumps on the lawn, not in a pot) is coming along just fine.

#58 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 01:00 PM:

Mary Dell: Re: transsubstantiation, eating the consecrated host is not cannibalism, so I'd assume that it's also not carnivorism [ok, probably not a real word][*]. I don't remember what that exact reason is that it's not cannibalism, but they made a big point of explaining it back in my Catholic school days.

Just as my pagan friends make a big point of having a religion that doesn't practice ritual cannibalism. Anyway, if it's not cannibalism, it's theophagy--is that any more moral?

Another take is that the god is nourished by the sacrament, so the communicant is the one being eaten. I'm not worthy, I'm not food, and I'm not going.

----------------
[*] carnivory is in the OED. So is carnivoracity, but only as a 1730 nonce by Pope.

#59 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 01:26 PM:

Re: vegetarian Thanksgiving: be thankful you never had Tofurkey. We did that once. ONCE. Now it's butternut squash ravioli with roasted garlic and a sage cream sauce.

If God wanted people to eat fake meat, He wouldn't have given us beans or eggplant.

#60 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 01:34 PM:

The problem with raising dairy steers for beef

There are breeds with both dairy and beef strains (shorthorns are the first coming to mind; my grandfather had a dairy with milking shorthorns). I've heard that dairy cows may end up becoming ground beef; the cows apparently are only milk producers for five or so years in the big-dairy world.

#61 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 01:41 PM:

The real genius of Tofurky is the Tofurky Jurky fake-jerky "wishstix" that comes with the "Tofurky feast". When vegans can participate in even a pseudo-wishbone-ritual, we are all one.

Me? I'm an ovo-lacto-pesco-carno-vegetarian.

#62 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 01:54 PM:

Gah. Tofurkey is some nasty stuff. As is Wheat Meat, Chicken-Style--worst molé experiment ever. But we had really good luck one year with a Quorn "roast" that I put in the oven per the carton directions, but basted with herbs-in-olive-oil. Since then, I've become really fond of Quorn's stuff. Wish I could find it, rather than Satan's Chicken (aka Morningstar Farms), at my regular supermarket.

My mother is of the "keeping pets is cruel" way of thinking--I'd never encountered the notion until she dropped it on me (she still eats meat, though--clearly I will never understand). I still don't really see it that way; domestication seems to my mind like a contractual thing, between us and plants, as well as us and animals.

#63 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 02:00 PM:

I also eat white sugar, which stricter vegans wouldn't, as it's refined using charcoal, i.e. animal bones.

At one point before I decided it was Dumb And I Would Starve Anyway, I thought about post-apocalyptic blacksmithing. Which would require, in the absence of nearby coal, large amounts of charcoal. I was pretty sure you made it out of wood. And, apparently, mostly you do.

Wikipedia says that animal charcoal, or "bone black" is in fact usable for decolorizing sugar, it says that mostly they use something else these days.

And today I learned something.

#64 ::: Beth Meacham ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 02:03 PM:

People who ask questions about the vegan-ness of food in a non-vegan restaurant are often there because they are eating out with a non-vegan friend.

I was once out with a vegan friend who explained carefully to our waiter that she was vegan and did not eat any animal products at all. She carefully ordered from the menu, asking the waiter about preparation to be sure what kind of fats were being used in what appeared to be vegan side dishes.

When the food came, it was all covered in cheese. No where on the menu did it say that the food (broiled tomatos, sauted spinach, and french fries) would be covered in cheese. We sent the food back multiple times, and everything that came out of the kitchen had cheese on it. The manager finally came over, and professed extreme confusion as to why someone would order the food if they didn't want cheese. arrrgh.


#65 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 02:10 PM:

What kind of restaurant was it, Beth?

(I'm picturing a place on the edge of a mall parking lot called The Minnesota Velveeta Kitchen.)

#66 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 02:28 PM:

I'm a Wiccan (that's a species of Pagan) and I've been a vegetarian since 1978. An ovo-lacto-vegetarian. I generally ignore the question of rennet. I take gelcap pills when nothing else is available.

I am not vegetarian for fluffy-bunny reasons. I think fluffy-bunny vegetarians are silly. Humans kill other creatures in order that we may live. That's part of being human; deal with it. People who think it's "wrong to kill" can come to me when they've learned to photosynthesize! And what, pray tell, gives a chicken more of a right to live than a broccoli plant, which has approximately the same level of sentience?

I've written before, here and elsewhere, that if I had to choose between an ancient tree and a cute little kitten, I'd kill the kitten without hesitation (but not, of course, without guilt).

As for RCC "cannibalism," the way I've had it explained to me, the host becomes the DIVINE body (this is the 'host' as in 'of a parasite' or 'of a Guest', not as in 'a multitude of the heavenly'), and the wine the DIVINE blood. Jesus was 100% human AND 100% divine, remember; it's one of their Mysteries. (This explanation strikes me as nonsense, though: He said "this is My body, broken for you." The divine body was never broken, was it? That was the human body. So I think it doesn't hold up; but that's the explanation I've heard.)

In any case, it's certainly theophagy. I see nothing at all immoral about theophagy. (Especially in the case of Christianity, where the deity specifically directed them to "do this in remembrance of me." Can't be immoral if the deity gives informed consent...with extreme prejudice, as it were!) Of course, I'd bloody well (npi) better not see anything wrong with theophagy, since as a Radical Pantheist that would leave me with nothing, whatsoever, that I could eat. Not even sand.

We practice theophagy explicitly and literally. One could argue that it's even more literal than the way the RCC does it, since there's no miracle involved; the bread is The God before the wheat is even harvested. And it's literally and materially His body we consume. If we form bread into the likeness of a man with antlers, before tearing Him up in a maenad frenzy and devouring Him, that's only to make it more obvious to our deeper mind that that's what we're doing.

These days I'm a vegetarian for two reasons. The minor reason is that when I get small amounts of meat by accident (the last one was in early 2001; bits of prosciutto mixed in with the bits of tomato skin in a pasta dish), I tend to vomit and have other signs of severe digestive distress.

The major reason is that when I consult my inner voice, and consider, say, tuna, it says NO WAY. Eating meat outright is geas to me. So count me as vegetarian "for religious reasons," I guess.

#67 ::: Ayse Sercan ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 02:43 PM:

I had a friend in college who was a fruititarian. She ended up dropping out to spend a year in a mental hospital and was never seen or heard of since. It was a form of obsessive compulsiveness, I think. She nearly died from it, because of the crazy rules she had made for what she could and could not eat.

I find vegetarians in general to have a very poor sense of humour about vegetarianism with people who they think are not vegetarians. As I spent many years being a mostly stealth vegetarian (I didn't see why anybody needed to know my criteria for what I ate unless they were cooking it), I got a lot of it. The best was when somebody chewed me out for eating a vegetarian meal with them "because you're just patronizing me."

I also find non-vegetarians to be very defensive about vegetarianism, especially in situations where they are eating a lot of meat (barbeque restaurants). As if I care what you eat.

I think we need to spend less time looking at each other's plates and judging them and more time eating.

#68 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 03:02 PM:

I think we need to spend less time looking at each other's plates and judging them and more time eating.

Hear hear!

Now please pass the carrots.

#69 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 03:10 PM:

Xopher: A small point: Jesus said "This is my body, which is given for you." Both the divine and human bodies were given. OTOH, the host is broken after it's consecrated, which is probably significant of something-or-other.

#70 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 03:15 PM:

May depend on the church. I've definitely heard 'broken for you' at All Saints Episcopal. I'm not sure if that's a difference in theology or just phrasing.

#71 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 03:26 PM:

I think we need to spend less time looking at each other's plates and judging them and more time eating.
Ayse, I agree. I'm probably the polar opposite of a vegan, since I low-carb. But I don't talk about it much since I notice non-low carbers do get defensive. They make comments like "I couldn't possibly live without bread/potatoes/rice/whatever." Or they attack ("your kidneys will fall out", "your cholesterol will sky-rocket.", etc). And really, who needs contentious conversion while eating?

#72 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 03:28 PM:

conversion
conversation.
sorry.

#73 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 03:29 PM:

Then they're...not following the rules I've been taught. I'll stop now, except to say that I'm squicked in the original sense of the word.

#74 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 03:34 PM:

At the masses I've attended the priest has always said "This is My Body, which has been given up for you."

I hear Pope Benedict wants a new translation of the mass done anyway, so maybe it will change again.

#75 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 03:36 PM:

There are breeds with both dairy and beef strains (shorthorns are the first coming to mind; my grandfather had a dairy with milking shorthorns). I've heard that dairy cows may end up becoming ground beef; the cows apparently are only milk producers for five or so years in the big-dairy world.

All this is true. There are actual dual-purpose breeds; my grandfather had Devons, but before I was old enough to know anything about it they had graded over to Herefords because they offered more efficient beef production.

However, while I forget the numbers (one could Google American Livestock Breeds Conservancy), virtually all dairy cattle world-wide are the exceedingly single-purpose Holstein-Friesian ("a legal way to water the milk" as Richard Lewontin put it). And the eventual fate of dairy cows is a question apart from how bull calves are dealt with.

In the interests of full disclosure, it's also possible to cross-breed beef sires on Holstein dams, which are larger-framed and calve more easily--but in those circumstances a) there are no replacement dairy heifers, everything goes to beef; and b) some at least of the cow's milk production is diverted to get the calf on a good start to growing.

#76 ::: Marna ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 03:42 PM:

Ayse: too right.

My husband (hereafter Ian) prefers a vegetarian diet and is healthiest (physically and ethically) on one.

I'm a carnivore, and healthiest (physically) that way, at least partly because I have a peanut allergy. You cannot manage a peanut allergy and exclude meat, eggs and dairy (three large categories which fairly reliably are NOT prepared with or near nuts) and have any sort of a life, not when you need a lot of protein and have trouble eating enough food as it is.

... as you can probably imagine, we've had every sort of food joke there is, and a few long ethical discussions/debates/fights.

Somebody mentioned the gestural issue, and that's very real. We want to be doing things that actually make a difference or why bother? And I TOTALLY get the chalk question. If you ignore all the little shit, you end up undercutting your larger choices.

Our current compromise is that we buy halves directly from local ethical and organic farmers; there's part of a sheep and part of a pig in the freezer right now, and that's our meat.

I buy less organic food to buy more local food.

Decisions, decisions... but in the end I'd rather eat SW Ontario produce all winter and agitate to make conditions safer and better for the workers in a place I control and buy CSA in the summer than have impeccably organic produce trucked in from all over.

Also, the best vegan chocolate cake I have ever had comes from of all things the I Hate To Cook Book. She calls it Cockeyed Cake, and it is wonderful.

The last con I went to, the restaurant was full of peanutty desserts and things. I ended up quietly eating pot roast and plain salad, very specially done for me by the wonderful cook, and nobody said a WORD, bless them.

I'll cheerfully talk about food all day, but I hate doing it over dinner. :)

#77 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 03:45 PM:

For what it's worth, the King James version has (I Cor. 11.24):

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

I've always heard variants of that in Catholic masses as well, and I think it must be in the standard Eucharistic portion of the service (as I used to follow along as a kid, and I reckon I would have noticed). But I don't know what the Greek says. In any case, as a vegetarian and lapsed Catholic, I have never had any problem with theophagy.

As for chalk, isn't it a standard component of ordinary antacid tablets? I'm pretty sure I've eaten it. But can chalk be digested? Does it count if not? Possibly the theophagy works in the same way, or perhaps all those eucharistic hosts have enabled me to become partially divine.

And when it comes to rennet: well, I eat cheese, but I feel vaguely guilty about it.

#78 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 03:48 PM:

One theory I read [1] about why vegetarians/nonvegetarians get so up in arms about these things is that food is a strong component of acceptance, in nearly every culture.

In my youth, I didn't drink wine, beer, coffee, or tea. Some people get VERY uncomfortable when they offer you a drink [2] and you say "no thanks." It's part of the hospitality process. Likewise, sitting down to a meal together is important, in some way, in almost every culture [3]. "Breaking bread", for instance.

So the idea is, when someone rejects your food they are rejecting your society [in the micro OR macro view.] It may be a universally recognized thing, like facial expressions- after all, rounding off, all humans have always been hungry all the time.

Hmm. I wonder if that's why pretty much every date involves eating?

[1] Possibly an issue of Granta?
[2] Any sort of drink. They calmed down when I accepted water.
[3] For this factoid, I have only the article for support.

#79 ::: Charlie "Hannibal" Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 03:48 PM:

Syllogism time:

A vegetarian is someone who eats vegetables.

I am a humanitarian.

...

#80 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 03:49 PM:

Oops, I take that back. The Eucharistic rites that I can find online all have "given for you", so evidently I'm misremembering. Sorry.

What I think I have in my head is the hymn:

This is my body, broken for you
Bringing you wholeness, making you free
Take it and eat it, and when you do
Do it in love for me.

We certainly sang *that* in Catholic mass.

#81 ::: Anna ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 03:52 PM:

"Right about the calving. The bull calves aren't "put down". Well, not on the dairy farms I've known. They are sold - for pet food, I've always assumed."

I know that I'm just not sure what you guys call bobby calves (also my friend lives on a goat farm and they really do kill most of their bucks as soon as they're born, mostly for dog tucker).

#82 ::: Hamadryad ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 03:58 PM:

if we could vat-grow human flesh with no (or effectively very little) cost to other lifeforms, would vegans eat it?

If it were grown in a vat instead of being taken from humans, would it be human flesh? Does its chemical composition determine its humanness, or its source?

#83 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 04:03 PM:

cows need to calve to start producing milk. There's a 50% chance that they'll produce a bull calf which (as with any non-productive animal on a farm) will just about certainly be put down.

Huh what? A quick google got me this primer for basic bovine info.

Greg

"You city folk! You spend 50 weeks a year getting knots in your rope, then you think two weeks up here will straighten it out."

#84 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 04:08 PM:

first four paragraphs, anyway...

#85 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 04:11 PM:

The Words of Institution in the older Western and Eastern liturgies are not derived from the Gospel texts, but have independent traditions stretching back to the first century, so exact agreement between the words as given in the Synoptics or in I Corinthians will not be found. The relation is, in fact, the other way: the Synoptic versions are probably affected by the liturgical use of the institution narrative.

Some post-Reformation rites draw directly on one form or another of scriptural text. Thus the Anglican "Prayer of Consecration" is directly influenced by the form in Paul.

The Gregorian Canon, normative in the West, has only "Hoc est enim corpus meum" for the bread/body, with no expansion of the form "which is...". The form for the blood has "qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur", "which is shed for you and for many".

#86 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 04:11 PM:

The only proper way to eat chalk is with a very yellow cheese product the way god and Wal-Mart intended. It is completely moral if you are a dominant member of the carnivorous christian food chain. It's in the bible.

#87 ::: Marna ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 04:14 PM:

Sandy: My very favourite anthropologist in the wide wide world, Marie Francoise Guedon, once said flatly in class: "People are animals that share their food." [1]

Since she avoids cross-cultural generalisations like the plague usually, I sat up very straight and began to pay very close attention indeed.

[1] She wasn't restricting that to 'humans', I do not think. Some animals share their food. Oddly, we don't eat most of them. Unconscious recognition?

And I, too, twitch uncontrollably until my guests accept some form of food or drink. I shall remember about water.

#88 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 04:28 PM:

Re. the taste of human flesh:

"It was so nearly like good, fully developed veal that I think no person with a palate of ordinary, normal sensitiveness could distinguish it from veal. It was mild, good meat with no other sharply defined or highly characteristic taste such as for instance, goat, high game, and pork have."

--William Bueller Seabrook, journalist. In 1931, after having been surreptitiously served mere ape by a group of suspicious Africans, he resolved the issue once and for all by obtaining a portion of fresh cadaver from a hospital near the Sorbonne in Paris.

#89 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 05:04 PM:

Charlie Stross wrote:

Syllogism time:

A vegetarian is someone who eats vegetables.

I am a humanitarian.

...

... You eat humanitables?

#90 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 05:05 PM:

Is it me, or is this a case where we could actually produce vat-grown chalk as an exact substitute for organic chalk?

#91 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 05:33 PM:

Marna, who are the "we"? I worked for someone who had been a Navy spook, who said that there were restaurants in Spain he was certain served cat. I had a coworker from China who had grown up eating meat that included dog and considers it a tasty food.

There's a breed of dog in Korea bred as people food. Etc.

#92 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 05:44 PM:

Clifton: I think you mean semi-sapient.

Animals are certainly sentient.

Plants are semi-sentient(as they react to stimuli).

#93 ::: Crosius ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 05:45 PM:

Consecrated bread is not cannibalism because it's bread. No matter what some sects "believe" about it (ie. transubstantiation), it's still bread. Faith doesn't suspend chemistry. Symbolism isn't reality.

If I make a baby-shaped cookie and moan, "mmm, that's good baby!" while I eat it, even if I believe what I'm saying, it's still a cookie.

#94 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 05:47 PM:

Anna: the bull calf will be sold to a cattle farmer, who will castrate it, and slaughter it for meat, so it won't be put down, out of hand (or at least not right away, depending on how one defines, "out of hand.").

(The things I learn being in a house with two large animal science students).

#95 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 06:09 PM:

Marna: What about other legumes? India has lots of vegetarians who eat no peanuts.

Lentils (all the varities of dal) soy, mung, peas, pinto, kidney... the list of beans is huge.

On a different note, one of my favorite menu errors was in a Thai place in the San Fernando Valley, the Sanamluang Cafe. "Steamed Vegetarians over Rice."

Dairy cattle do make the best hamburger. The age (5-7 years) and (for those which get pasturage) extra excercise, make them far more flavorful.

There are still (though small) herds of things like Ayreshire, and Dutch Belted, and Swiss Brown, etc., which are used more for cheese and ice cream (having a higher butterfat then the Holseins and Jersey which produce milk so copiusly).

On a different note again, I spent, That Tuesday, helping to milk the cows at the LA County Fair (which was closed) because what the hell did they care that people were blowing up buildings in New York.

#96 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 06:11 PM:

Somewhere in Lynn Pan's Sons of the Yellow Emperor, there's a discussion of the Chinese coolies who were brought to Cuba to work the sugar plantations, as well as a quote from one man (via either the subsequent hearings or despairing graffiti from their barracks; I don't recall which at the mo) that after they were worked to death, their bones would be mixed with animals' to be burned into charcoal for refining sugar, and so no trace or memory could ever be returned to their home villages to show what had become of them.

On a happier(?) note, iirc it's been occasionally proposed that human placentas would be morally acceptable for vegetarians to eat. Whether they're culinarily acceptable is an entirely different question. Also, I've definitely seen "vegan silk" somewhere that's said to be harvested from cocoons that were allowed to hatch, though it looks a lot slubbier because of all the joins between short broken segments, which must be a pain to unwind.

#97 ::: hp ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 06:36 PM:

Re: vegetarian diets

I'm always bewildered by those who must analyze another's diet and pass judgement. When it comes to food, I listen to my body. Sometimes, it says NO MEAT!!! and doesn't want it for weeks at a time. This was most extreme during weeks 8-16 of pregnancy: my body didn't just have no interest in meat, but I threw up foods that even just contained meat juices/flavoring. Luckily, it was quite happy with vegetarian sources of protein and I shifted to those until the revulsion passed (well, it still hasn't completely passed, although I've had some meat longings in the past two weeks). Though I had to ignore those all around me who were perfectly horrified that a pregnant woman would chose to give up meat.

When throwing larger parties, I always try to have a protein-heavy vegetarian dish prepared without any immediate cross-contamination (I don't have a separate set of knives/cutting boards/pots, but everything used to prepare the dish is well-washed beforehand and the preparation takes place in a separate area of the kitchen than any meat prep). Most meat-eaters will eat a vegetarian dish as a side dish without a complaint (or notice), and most vegetarians are happy that there's something that they can eat as a main dish. I just try to keep the dish carefully separated from any meat dishes so that spoons, etc don't accidently get used for both types.

#98 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 06:38 PM:

Crosius, the question is whether Roman Catholics, who believe in literal transubstantiation as a matter of doctrine, necessarily have to believe they're being cannibals. I don't think they really ARE cannibals; the question is whether they believe it.

mayakda, I'm a low-carb vegetarian. Wanna talk about "how do you live" conversations?

#99 ::: jrocheste ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 06:51 PM:

Way, waaayy up the thread, someone said:

(I assume the real answer has something to do with that "a dog wouldn't eat it, therefore it's no longer food" rule.)

Having known a beagle that ate feces, plastic CDs, garden hoses, cardboard boxes, an entire garbage can, light bulbs, and big blobs of road tar -- with predictable effects on the fecal products the next morning -- this gives me real pause.

#100 ::: jrocheste ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 07:02 PM:

And I thought I'd add these guys to the pie, so to speak:
Breatharianism

The leader claims to have lived for 20 years on Prana, light and air alone. Unless she's green and leafy, I somehow doubt this.

#101 ::: Crosius ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 07:13 PM:

Xopher :
Clearly, Catholics (and other sects that believe in transub.) do not consider themselves cannibals, because they condemn the practice of cannibalism, but not the eucharist.

Also, the rest of the world does not consider eating bread wafers cannibalism.

So everyone should be in agreement: hosts!=cannibalism.

Which happens to be correct, because bread!=human flesh.

If there are any Christians out there who do believe they are cannibals, they are crazy (or more crazy, depending on your view of christianity).

If there are any non-Christians out the who do believe Christians are cannibals, then they'd have to at least credit the "miracle" of transub. as a real phenomena - which would be tantamount to recognizing the power of the christian god, which is pretty irrational for a non-christian.

#102 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 07:25 PM:

Faith doesn't suspend chemistry.

But it can move mountains...

Although I suppose that is not much more than mere manipulation of the Newtonian world. Now if it could change mountains into chocolate mousse, that really *would* be a faith worth having.

#103 ::: DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 08:47 PM:

On a different note, one of my favorite menu errors was in a Thai place in the San Fernando Valley, the Sanamluang Cafe. "Steamed Vegetarians over Rice."

Cambridge, MA, 1980: "Human Baby Shrimp".

#104 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 09:16 PM:

Way upthread:

I guess it really depends on how "far" the elements have to be from passing through an animal form. Anything you eat is going to contain atoms that at one time were part of an animal.

No kidding. Plants are not vegetarians.

Vegetarian silk is raw silk or silk noil, for which the silkworms are allowed to escape from the cocoons. It has a nice texture which I prefer to the smoother silks. It is readily available; lots of new silkworms will be needed, after all, I guess.

#105 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 09:31 PM:

Faith does not suspend chemistry.

Nor does transubstantiation, which is the position that although the accidents of the bread and wine remain the same, the substance becomes the substance of the body and blood of Christ. The idea of the chemistry changing would be transaccidentation, which has been occasionally asserted as a miracle (mainly in the Middle Ages -- visions of the host changing into a little baby) but which is certainly not a normal theological position on the eucharist.

The substance/accident distinction is not one which applies to modern science, but a category distinction within Aristotelian and Scholastic philosophy (much as science restricts itself to efficient causation only, leaving formal, material, and final causes to the philosophers).

The mediaeval discussions of the real presence certainly push the idea of the eucharist fairly close to a specialized form of ritual cannibalism -- "the boody flesh our only food", as Eliot puts it in East Coker. I'm not sure that it shouldn't be considered a form of ritual cannibalism.

#106 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 09:59 PM:

I describe myself as a ritual cannibal.

Part of this is for shock value, part of it is the rearing, in which there were great amounts of discussion (in catechism, and in bull sessions with fellow students; prior to first communion, and confirmation) about the nature of the transubstantiation.

My mother was told she couldn't chew the host, as that was defiling the body, and flesh of Christ. She had to let it dissolve on her tongue and swallow it.

I have heard people declaim (and some of them people I would think to know better, in that they were nuns, or catechists, charged with teaching the ignorant) that once the host/wine was in the stomach it was converted to actual flesh and blood, which could be revealed in an autopsy (though experimental bulemia was described as a sin, and a lack of faith/heretical testing of God).

I may not think of myself as an actual cannibal, but certainly as a ritual one.

And I don't think that makes me crazy (but then, I wouldn't).

TK

#107 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:35 PM:

DonBoy, I'm soooo glad I didn't have a mouthful of fluid when I was reading down this thread. (even though just about everyone know i have a splashproof keyboard, my new laptop is fairly in range too...).And ghu knows I've seen worse. Especially in Chinese restaurants, for some strange reason.

#108 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 10:54 PM:

"Dairy cattle do make the best hamburger. The age (5-7 years) and (for those which get pasturage) extra excercise, make them far more flavorful.

There are still (though small) herds of things like Ayreshire, and Dutch Belted, and Swiss Brown, etc., which are used more for cheese and ice cream (having a higher butterfat then the Holseins and Jersey which produce milk so copiously)."

My grandpa raised Ayreshires, and we used to be able to buy tubs of Ayreshire butter locally too. Best thing I've EVER had on bread.
And the best hamburger I ever had came from a dairy cow.

#109 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 11:32 PM:

All this talk about the variation of milk by breed of cattle makes me wonder if this is why dairy products in Europe taste so much better. I've always thought it was pasture-feeding and less processing.

#110 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 11:38 PM:

Not all vegetarians are "crunchy" hippie stereotypes. Seventh-Day Adventists are vegetarians. My father, who is Asian-American, grew up in a SDA family in California and attended SDA schools. Unfortunately, at this time (1950s) most of the SDAs in this area were white-bread Anglo-Saxons. He still tells horror stories of the food at his college. Meals were heavy on meat substitutes made from TVP (textured vegetable protein). He developed an aversion to "beige food" and couldn't wait to get home.

Since he also became an atheist (no, I don't think it was just because of the food; he is a biologist) I've had no opportunity to see if SDA food has improved.

#111 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 11:53 PM:

the Holseins and Jersey which produce milk so copiously

Well, not to be picky, but the Jersey produces relatively small quantities of especially rich milk; the Guernsey used to be popular because it offered intermediate quantity and butterfat.

I would suggest a Slow Food site as a start for sources on detailed treatment of the interaction between breed and environment, but the underlying notion is that terroir is just as real for other foodstuffs as it is for wine.

#112 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2006, 11:54 PM:

There was also a Japanese ascetic tradition of an entirely tree-based diet; I can't find my book refs at the mo, but there's an overview here. In the mildest (and long-term sustainable) form, cultivated grains and vegetables were eliminated, allowing only foraged leaves and nuts/seeds. In the more intensive form, as part of a process of literal, intentional self-mummification, this would narrow down to pine needles and bark, culminating with drinking toxic sap.

Strangely, this gives me a craving for maple syrup.

#113 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 12:06 AM:

cmk - Perhaps terroir plays a role, but in the US, most milk is produced locally yet it tastes the same from Maine to San Deigo and from Seattle to Miami. Even organic milk.

Julie L - I'm reminded of the old jokes about Euell Gibbons (sp?) and the eating of bark, twigs and leaves.

#114 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 12:11 AM:

I think you have to break the chalk before you eat it, too.

#115 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 12:17 AM:

Even organic milk.

Well, for an extreme example, back in the day, cattle used to graze on wild onions in the spring, with unfortunate consequences for the milk. Carotene was low in winter feed, and butter would be pale. Nowadays rations are pretty much uniform, even if organic, and despite the California cheese commercials, few commercial dairy cows have access to pasture. Local and seasonal variation are ironed out.

But I did invoke the interaction of breed with environment--not suggesting that it doesn't exist.

#116 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 12:20 AM:

I'm not a Catholic, but if I was I think I'd take comfort in the knowledge that Jesus freely offered his body and blood, and moreover instructed his disciples to continue in rememberance of him. This is not true of most animals.

To continue the discussion about how cranky people get about other people questioning their diet, I've heard that particular one many, many times, and I've noticed a difference in the questioners' tone.

Some people are genuinely curious or fascinated, and I can understand that. I feel the same way about kosher cooking. But some other people very clearly seem to be asking the question with the intention of catching one out, and that's really annoying.

I don't try to convert people to veganism, so what's it to them if my diet's inconsistent or even outright hypocritical? It suits me, and I'm the one eating it.

#117 ::: Lauralee ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 12:27 AM:

candle said: "And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

I've always heard variants of that in Catholic masses as well, and I think it must be in the standard Eucharistic portion of the service (as I used to follow along as a kid, and I reckon I would have noticed). But I don't know what the Greek says."

That's a reasonable translation, though the Greek doesn't take as many words to say it. The verb that's being translated as "break" is eklasen, and it's really the only appropriate meaning in this context. It can mean a few other things in different contexts, but "give" is not one of them.

#118 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 08:09 AM:

Turtledove may have been inspired by the brief flurry of stories some years ago about the babirusa, an wild pig from ~Indonesia that has a multi-chamber stomach (brief Googling finds claims of both 2 and 3 chambers, not as many as cows (4) but more than standard pigs). One conclusion at the time was that they might be kosher in a few million years, but the current version doesn't actually chew the cud.

While digging for this, I found a page on Zootorah which contradicts above comments on giraffes, saying that we know exactly how to slaughter them but they're too expensive.

Going back to the original topic, a story some years ago about a large local gelatin plant (owned by General Foods, so it was a major supplier for Jell-o(tm)) said that their product had been declared kosher regardless of the original source of the protein or process of getting it because it had been so heavily processed as to remove any treyf taint. IANAR, but it seems to me the same could apply to chalk.

#119 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 08:20 AM:

"Vegetarian silk" is sometimes used for rayon, aka "art silk." Raw silk is silk that hasn't had the sericin washed off. The silk thread made from cocoons that have been killed (i.e. boiled) is called "filament silk," and I'm pretty sure it's mostly used in embroidery--it certainly costs more than other kinds of thread. Thread made from hatched cocoons is called "spun silk." Finally, "tussah silk" or "wild silk" is made from a different breed of worms, and it's a different color and texture. Or so I've heard; I've never stitched with it, and I've only seen it in knitting catalogues. (Here endeth the pedantry.)

#120 ::: teep ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 10:30 AM:

I live in rural Pennsylvania, where there are a fair number of dairy farmers, medium-sized (more than 300 head) to small (2 cows, for single-family use). From personal observation, bull dairy-breed calves are sold for veal if they're small enough (many holstein calves are born larger than is preferred for veal purposes.) or sold for a fairly minimal amount of money (less than a hundred dollars) to someone who wants to raise a backyard cow for eating.

As was mentioned above, dairy-bred bull calves do not fatten as efficiently and quickly as beef-bred calves. However, for the backyard producer who just wants something to raise for about a year and then make it into burger, this is not a major problem. Efficiency isn't that big of a deal and bull calves do taste good when they get big enough.

Dairy cows need to give birth every year to produce the best volume of milk. Your normal dairy cow gives milk for approximately ten months out of a year. She is "dry" (not-milking) for the rest of the time. Gestation for domesticated cows is nine months and virtually all dairy cows are artificially inseminated. Very few farmers keep their own bulls on site because bulls are dangerous, aggressive, and limit you to one strain of genetics. It's cheaper, easier, and more useful to shop for rated bulls through a service like Sire Power or ABS. Rated bulls have their results on crossing with cows, as well as pictures of their get, in a catalog-style shopping experience. You order what you want and the bull man comes and knocks up your cows with straws of semen you have picked out of a catalog. Seriously. That's how it works, last I checked.

Dairy cows do not last particularly long in production environments, maybe until they're about eight or so. Good-quality cows can produce up to a hundred pounds of milk a day (when just freshened -- the amount of milk produced drops gradually the longer it's been since the cow calved) and lifetime totals for a *very* good cow can exceed a hundred thousand pounds of milk.

There's a class at our county fair in each dairy breed for hundred thousand pound cows -- these are mature dairy cows who have worked hard and been very profitable and not blown udders or anything. They represent the height of the dairy industry for usability, endurance, and continued production, living examples of what farmers are aiming for. As yet, BGH has not made a significant impact in the 100K lb classes, but I'll keep an eye out for developments on that front.

Dairy cows who have outlived their usefulness as members of a producing herd (usually because they do not get pregnant anymore but also because they have suffered a career-ending injury like a blown udder or because they no longer produce enough milk to meet the farm's standards of productivity) are sold for slaughter.

Even pet cows kept for single family use and hand-milked are not maintained once they fail to settle. They are slaughtered and eaten, though sometimes not by the family that owned them. My friend's cow Chocolate (jersey cow, really a good, even-tempered sort) was slaughtered and the meat *traded* to another family for the meat of *their* elderly non-breeding cow so that nobody had to eat a known pet cow.

You get friendly with pet dairy cows -- they need to be milked (probably by hand, if you only have two cows) twice a day for ten months out of the year. You spend time with them. You keep them around for ten years or so. Since they get handled, they're reasonably sane and generally pleasant citizens. It's hard to eat them, but if they couldn't have worked a trading situation (something they did mostly because the kids were still young and didn't want to eat Chocolate), they would have eaten her themselves.

Cows are for eating. That's what happens to them. There is no sense in throwing away upwards of five hundred pounds of humanely-raised, tasty grass-fed cow meat. That would be wasteful.

#121 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 11:32 AM:

[coming to this late, so have been reading a whole lot at once]

It's interesting how dietary choices can vary between personal philosophy, determined/obstinate sectarianism, health needs, and less comprehensive forms of decision including how stuff tastes to the individual. I'm a "health needs" type in my avoidance of milk fats and walnuts; a mix of "personal philosophy" and healthy eater (sorta kinda) in my preference for the less sentient animals: chicken, turkey, the occasional fish, but not beef or pork; and a "how it tastes to me" type in my loathing for cucumber and love of coffee yogurt.

Food sectarianism makes me uneasy just as other forms of sectarianism do -- taking a book of rules (from the Seventies, the pre-Christian era, whatever) as Holy Writ, and sometimes requiring tortured logic to answer "Can I eat this?" But that's just the cringing agnostic in me.

If the Church of the Great Cucumber (whose body died for our sins) ever takes over, I'm in serious trouble!

#122 ::: Jeff Lipton ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 12:54 PM:

When I first saw "Breatharian", I immediately flahed on GB Shaw's extrapolation on vegetarianism. I guess someone took him seriously!

#123 ::: Marna ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 01:43 PM:

Paula: This is true. But actually, neither cats nor dogs routinely share their food.

Terry: It's true. There are lots of non-peanut legumes.

And also, not true, because of modern food preparation methods.

In Theory, I can eat most legumes. In practice, I can't eat most processed vegetarian or vegan food, and if I purchase bulk food it needs to be something washable, because invariably there's several bins of peanuts, peanut butter, etc, and the scoops do tend to get contaminated.

And legumes require preparation. Often quote a lot of it.

I could eat a balaced vegetarian diet if I were willing and able to a) eat at home almost exclusively, and avoid long trips or pack all my travel food ahead of time (tricky across borders) b) spend really quite a lot of my time on food prep, and c) eat rather more volume than I generally do eat.

I've done it, for a year. It's doable, but I wasn't really healthy and I had to obsess a lot.

#124 ::: Anna ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 03:05 PM:

Terry- Here I believe dairy cows are mostly Friesian and Jersey, neither of which is usually used as beef stock. Which means they mostly get sold off as bobby calves and shipped off to the meatworks.

Weirdly I picked up most of this stuff as a small kid from reading Footrot Flats comics(sort of like Peanuts but with flyblown ewes).

#125 ::: BDan ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 05:26 PM:

carwinrpc wrote:

If vegans want to eat as vegans, I am all for it. It would strike me as inconsistent, however, if they drove cars, ate vegetables grown in large factory farms, wore clothes made with natural fibers that required pesticides(good bye linen and cotton. Silk too since they kill the larvae.) Lived in a house made of wood since it destroys habitat--you can see where I'm going. If the answer is that this is just a gestural effort--make your gesture somewhere else.

I'm not sure why perfect consistency is required. I'm a vegetarian primarily for environmental reasons; I also don't drive a car, power my apartment with electricity generated by wind power, and recycle or reuse as much as I can. But this doesn't mean that I have to have zero impact on the environment — not only would that be impossible, but the things I do will still have an effect. If I buy two bottles of soda, and recycle one while throwing the other away, that's still better than throwing them both away. Similarly, I try to be relatively frugal in terms of the money I spend, but this doesn't mean that I never spend a dime, nor even that I always spend the absolute minimum that I could.

Many (but not all) of the vegans I know are vegan for reasons of being against animal cruelty, and I applaud them for that, because it does make a difference. I know other people who eat meat, but only do so on rare occasions, and I applaud them as well, because they are still making a difference, even if it's not as big.

#126 ::: Maureen McHugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 07:15 PM:

I think I ask vegetarians and vegans questions for a couple of reasons. One is that I felt it important to confront the whole question of my responsibility for my actions. I also worry about driving a car and living in a big house in the suburbs and not fomenting revolution. As a friend of mine who is vegetarian says, we all have to find where we draw the line.

I am not comfortable with my eating decisions, and I examine them a lot. I admire people who eat morally. (I had a student who was vegan, and it wasn't for health reasons. He was trying to find a way to live with commercialism/consumerism. He got so tired of people who thought he was a health freak that he took up smoking organic cigarettes. Fortunately, he couldn't get them regularly.) I admire vegetarians and I've tried to go that way and failed. So I feel vaguely defensive. I also like to cook for people and in an ideal world, no one would ever come to my house and go away hungry. There are levels of kosher I can't reach, although luckily large groups of students from very conservative yeshivas have never descended on me. But vegan is relatively easy to cook for, once I know. So I ask. And I ask what it means.

#127 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 07:19 PM:

teep, when I was young, we bought a calf and paid the farmer to keep it until it was big enough to kill. We went to see it every week and ended up doing what apparently most of the calf-owners did -- traded our meat for the meat of another cow so we weren't eating "our" cow.

#128 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 10:52 PM:

I have several cats. They are obligate carnivores; any attempt to feed them a vegetarian diet would constitute cruelty to them. Other animals must die so that mine can remain happy and healthy.

I am an omnivore. I don't absolutely need meat in my diet to remain happy and healthy, but I sure do like it. I am also descended from a lineage of primates who were probably part-time predators long before they were anything verging on human - see the predatory behavior of our cousins the chimps.

That being said, I do most of my hunting at Kroger's. My grandparents were farmers who knew the animals they ate. The rooster that scarred my father's face was next day's chicken stew (OK, so that bird had it coming to him by my grandmother's lights.). I don't know if I could kill and eat an animal I'd raised.

We are also the only predators on the planet who are capable of empathizing with our prey, as far as I know (No, I don't absolutely know that a chimp or a dolphin can't. Haven't seen any evidence that they do.). The prey that we keep under our control, our livestock, should be kept under humane conditions because their suffering is our fault. We don't all agree on what humane conditions are.

OK, it's late, I'm rambling a bit. I'm not quarrelling with anyone's food choices.

Teresa's original question was/is funny to me though.

#129 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 11:00 PM:

I realized I didn't declare my "allegiance" upstream. I describe myself as "largely vegetarian", meaning I mostly try to eat food with no meat content but I am not rigid about it. Occasionally I'll just go ahead and eat something with meat at a restaurant, usually fish or occasionally chicken, if I'm really craving something with meat. I've been a strict vegetarian for years in the past, when I was much more serious about my Buddhist practise, then gradually went back to eating meat.

Most of my motivation is ethical - I can see some killing being necessary to live, but the number of animals one kills to make up a meat diet, and the level of torture that I have read happens to live animals in the current meat production system is difficult for me to live with. The health benefits are a bonus. I'm not more rigid about it because I've gotten less rigid or confident in my ethical conclusions as I got older. Maureen McHugh summed it up nicely - if I were really trying to live by a strict ethical code of minimizing harm, I'd have no car, and be living a very spartan life while trying to bring about world change. I can't live like that full-time.

My wife and eldest daughter are both strict vegetarians, for different reasons. My wife gradually realized she was a vegetarian early in her 20s, after she figured out that she just hated eating anything that contained meat. For her it's a pure gut reaction to the taste, texture, or just knowledge that something contains meat. My daughter became a vegetarian for ethical reasons early in her teens, when she got her own pet kitten and started thinking through her attitude to animals and how she would feel were someone to eat her cat. She ended up concluding that it did not feel right to her to kill animals for food.

None of us have any problem "exploiting" animals, so we eat eggs and dairy.

All-in-all, cooking for a vegetarian (or two) makes it easiest to just never keep or cook meat at home.

#130 ::: Greg Gerrand ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 11:15 PM:

Silly non-meat eaters ;) the baby bulls either remain a bull... or they become steers... go to a 'grow-out' type operation and become steaks

Actually, I spent the first 25 years of my life on a dairy farm. We milked friesians and jerseys, neither of which are all that efficient as steers - as has been pointed out above.

Very few "traditional" style farms keep bulls these days, leading to a monoculture where single bulls father (through ai) thousands upon thousands of calves throughout countries.

Organic farms are far more likely to keep dairy cattle as steers, and less likely to be involved in "grow-out" operations, which I'm reading as feed lots (though may be mistaken, I'm from Australia).

#131 ::: Greg Gerrand ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 11:21 PM:

Ahh... here we go:
http://www.rspcavic.org/news_info/bobby_calves.htm

"Dairy farmers sell off their male calves and female calves not suitable for future breeding, as bobby calves from four days old. These calves are either collected from the farm and taken directly to the abattoir to be slaughtered the next day, or the farmer may take them to a local sale yards."

Pet food not mentioned - either veal, or filler for smallgoods.

#132 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2006, 11:28 PM:

I had relatives who were dairy farmers, who had a tame bull, which could even be ridden as a riding animal (as opposed to rodeo bull riding... had a coworker when I was in the Air Force in Colorado Springs who was a rancher and who rode broncos for fun, but he thought that bull riders were just plain crazy).

#133 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 12:33 AM:

Paula, in college I had a girlfriend who liked bullriders and athletes and pretty much told me that if their brains were as big as their balls, they would not pursue that line of employment.

#134 ::: Sebastien Bailard ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 01:27 AM:

Hmmm... I was happy with myself for finally realizing the bit about hospitality and sharing of food, than read Sandy B.'s excellent explanation. Sharing of food is something that defines us as members of the group that shares food. It must be tied fairly deeply to our evolutionary psychology; if we didn't share food, we'd be a bunch of hermetic misanthropes, like orangutans.

One thing to consider: Hungry folk are easily annoyed, and don't like being teased or cross-examined.

#135 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 09:14 AM:

Don't chimps share food? I think they even have a strict system for distributing meat, which they seem to prize.

Re: Eating meat: Yeah, I do. I'm anemic, and I need all the iron I can get. Besides, I like it. I generally don't eat lamb or veal now, though. I don't HAVE to, it seems wasteful and potentially cruel, and I have a soft spot for warm baby critters.
("Generally"=If I'm a guest and someone serves it to me, I won't raise Cain, but I won't make it for myself.)

#136 ::: shane ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 09:23 AM:

Sandy B: 'Likewise, sitting down to a meal together is important, in some way, in almost every culture [3]. "Breaking bread", for instance.'

Nice. Same-but-opposite-ly, Bishop Spong suggests that Leviticus is a 'survival document' for an overrun culture to keep its identity, and one 'feature' of all the harsh food laws was to prevent jews bonding with members of the wider culture. If they can't cook for you you won't eat with them; If you don't eat with them you won't bond with them. You'll always be a separate people.

#137 ::: Michelle K ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 09:31 AM:

Regarding sharing food and people not drinking soda or alcohol (or whatever), I simply rattle off every beverage in my house, from beer to hot tea to organic milk to water. That way if someone has a special dietary need, they don't have to ask for something special.

Plus it's a good memory exercise, trying to dredge up the contents of my refrigerator and cabinets.

(I usually don't drink soda, because I'd rather save my empty calories for dessert. [Dessert: something sweet containing butter and/or chocolate and/or cream and/or bourbon. (If you're going to eat dessert, the eat dessert.)])

#138 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 10:26 AM:

I'm an obligate omnivore; I could not survive on a purely vegetarian diet. (Somewhat sub-standard digestive system at this point in my life.)

That said, I don't want to survive on a vegetarian diet. It's never even occurred to me as a desireable thing.

I'm a farm kid; I've eaten bacon from pigs that I fed and held as piglets for their shots and to have their tusks clipped, I've eaten beef from the calves I scritched between the ears, and -- I think, this was awhile ago -- lamb from one I'd bottle fed.

If we didn't mean to eat them, why'd we feed them?

Here and now, I buy meat from one specific butcher shop that can tell me the farm this particular cut came from, even when it's not the "organic farming" beef. I would never, ever suggest buying meat from a supermarket, and have myself gone hungry in preference to doing that.

The supposed moral superiority of a vegetarian diet strikes me as monumentally dubious; in terms of obliterating ecosystems and ecological diversity, farming is farming. It doesn't make any difference obvious to me if the creatures that lived there are gone because they've been eaten or exterminated uneaten by grain farmers.

If you want to argue that eating low on the food chain is necessarily healthier, you run into the small problem that plants protected by a sophont apex predator are not low on the food chain. Not only are ecosystem obliterated to make room for those plants, chemical cycles are re-arranged for the intended benefit of those plants, or at least the price thereof. It's not a simple set of questions.

"Life" and "food" are synonyms.

Being a vegetarian because you feel better that way makes perfect sense to me; being a vegetarian because it is more ecologically sound is probably false to fact. Being a vegetarian because you can't stand the thought of killing your meals is to ignore the worm as your only emperor for diet.

#139 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 11:23 AM:

I am boggled by the idea that someone would think I was "condescending" to them by sharing a vegetarian meal. I've happily shared vegetarian meals with vegetarian friends, and in fact a vegan meal with a friend who is vegan for health reasons--the easy way to do vegan in New York is to find a decent Chinese restaurant, and by sharing we each got three tasty things, and if we hadn't shared I'd have had less variety.

Of course, I moderately often have vegetarian meals (usually with dairy) because what happens to appeal to me at that point is vegetarian--my favorite pasta dish at a particular Italian restaurant, for example, or a big bowl of oatmeal. And I assume that vegetarians believe that they are eating a healthy and tasty diet--if they can and will eat it for years, surely it's reasonable for me to eat it for one meal, just as I won't starve if I visit a friend who keeps a kosher home.

#140 ::: Nell Lancaster ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 03:06 PM:

Someone needs to produce a cite for charcoal being made from anything except wood or other plant matter.

#141 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 03:08 PM:

AKICIF - Is it not true that more or less all B12 is ultimately traceable to animals even if microorganisms?

If yeast doesn't count as animal then perhaps by some analogy other small things won't? I recall be kind to yeast beasties as the prescription for making better bread.

It is certainly true that many third world vegeterian diets are sufficiently contaminated by insect parts to furnish micronutrients - cf. the same nominal diet is sufficient in India and produces deficiency diseases in England.

Wonder what the obligation to filter is or ought to be?

#143 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 03:44 PM:

Wikipedia's article on bone char.

#144 ::: Joe Rybicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 04:09 PM:

This question brings to mind something I've always wondered about Buddhism. My understanding is that Buddhism (or at least the Tibetan variety) claims that all life is sacred, and moreover, that all life is -equally- sacred. ("That mosquito could have been your grandmother!")

Considering how many microscopic creatures (e.g. germs, bacteria, viruses) we large animals obliterate just by walking around, eating, breathing...wouldn't a Buddhist be obliged to kill himself?

Follow-up question: Would the resulting karma be positive or negative?

Discuss.

#145 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 05:40 PM:

Joe Rybicki: about 20 years ago I said to my martial arts instructor, who is a Buddhist: "Sensei, I don't think I am a very good martial artist; even to defend myself or someone I love, I don't think I could kill." He sat silently for a moment, and then said, "You kill every time you breathe. You kill every step you take. The important thing for a warrior is to be aware -- to be awake -- to know it."

I have spent a lot of hours meditating on that, believe me. Death is intimately a part of life; every morsel of organic life carries the seed of its own death within it. "He not busy being born is busy dying." Death is also sacred. For Buddhists, death is part of the natural way, to be neither courted nor feared. For Christians, death itself has been hallowed.

But I think you were not really serious in your question... :-)

#146 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 06:40 PM:

I grew up in the Ring of Fire and meat is a condiment for me. In my normal day, the bulk of my protein comes from skim milk and a couple of chunks of chicken in soup. However, once a year or so, I crave red meat and then I go to a steakhouse. I usually have the salad, potato and a few bites of the meat and then bring the rest of the meat home for sandwiches for a few days.

It would be difficult for me to be completely vegetarian because beans are on the gout exclusion diet and I'd never get enough protein.

I'm also anemic, but I take iron pills. Medicare Part D doesn't cover any kind of iron pills (only iron shots) so I'm paying close to full-price for them. There's got to be a lot more gimpy and old folks who need iron and would rather not have shots.

#147 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 06:45 PM:

Joe: There's an even more ancient religion with some greater problems living in the world, though many of the principles & beliefs seem very worthy.

Compassion to all fellow living beings is central to Jain belief. A Jain is expected to follow the principle of non-violence in all his/her thoughts, words and deeds, towards all living creatures. This involves being strictly vegetarian. There are some Jains who wear masks over their mouths and noses to avoid any possibility of breathing in tiny insects. Ascetics carefully sweep the ground before them to avoid walking on tiny creatures, and the 'sky-clad' abjure clothing. The tenets of Jainism are thought to have influenced Buddhist practice.

#148 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 07:43 PM:

Terry Karney :

I have heard people declaim (and some of them people I would think to know better, in that they were nuns, or catechists, charged with teaching the ignorant) that once the host/wine was in the stomach it was converted to actual flesh and blood, which could be revealed in an autopsy (though experimental bulemia was described as a sin, and a lack of faith/heretical testing of God).

In the late 60's the Procedure Manual for the Good Samaritan Hospital run by the Sisters of St. Francis in Kearney, Ne. mandated that if someone threw up within a certain time frame of receiving communion, the emesis must be saved and conveyed to a priest for appropriate disposal. I was an aide there, then. I also don't remember anyone actually hauling vomit to a priest. I'll add some additional comment here so as not to end on that unsavory note.

#149 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 09:47 PM:

Clarke: yeast are fungi (saccharomyces {cerevisiae, uvarum, ...}). When I took basic bio 38 years ago, there were only two kingdoms and fungi were in plants, not animals; we're up to at least five now, and IIRC fungi are on their own. So yeast (however much Papazian et al speak of "yeast beasties") aren't anywhere near animals even if they can't photosynthesize.

Anna: Weirdly I picked up most of this stuff as a small kid from reading Footrot Flats comics(sort of like Peanuts but with flyblown ewes).

That's not quite as stretched as saying "Little Annie Fannie" is "Little Orphan Annie" with underwear, but it's definitely an understatement; by U.S. film standards, FF would be probably be PG-13 (not even PG -- too frank about what the wowsers don't want their little darlings to hear about).

#150 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 11:28 PM:

I had a job interview at a slaughterhouse once. Another candidate and I were given a tour; we saw almost all of the process, with the exception of the actual slaughter. We saw live steers going up a ramp, then the newly killed beasts hanging fom the first of many conveyors as they went into the disassembly line. The first sight of them hanging provoked pity for the poor dead critters, even though I've never had any close personal acquaintance with cattle.

A funny thing happened once they were skinned, gutted, and sans heads and hooves. A switch flipped in my head; they were no longer poor critters but large chunks of raw meat. I like meat. I really like rare beef. I got hungry.

For a variety of reasons, I was glad not to get the job. Since I have always been a town dweller rather than a farmer, this is the only close look I've had at the process by which the meat gets to my plate. My comment about likely having difficulty killing and eating an animal I might have raised reflects the emotions involved rather than any moral qualms.

#151 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 11:31 PM:

My source on nonplant charcoal was Wikipedia. I am aware that "you gain no points for quoting a source you can edit yourself." [1]

[1] Yes, this is an actual quote. Not from Wikipedia, though.

#152 ::: BDan ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2006, 11:38 PM:

Graydon wrote:

The supposed moral superiority of a vegetarian diet strikes me as monumentally dubious; in terms of obliterating ecosystems and ecological diversity, farming is farming. It doesn't make any difference obvious to me if the creatures that lived there are gone because they've been eaten or exterminated uneaten by grain farmers.

The amount of farming is still important, though. It takes much, much less grain to feed a human directly than it does to feed an animal which is then slaughtered to feed a human. If enough people were vegetarian, the amount of land under cultivation could be reduced by a huge amount. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_vegetarianism for more information.

#153 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 12:51 AM:

I'm coming in late, so have comments to several people at once.

CHip says:
Turtledove may have been inspired by the brief flurry of stories some years ago about the babirusa, an wild pig from ~Indonesia that has a multi-chamber stomach (brief Googling finds claims of both 2 and 3 chambers, not as many as cows (4) but more than standard pigs). One conclusion at the time was that they might be kosher in a few million years, but the current version doesn't actually chew the cud.

When Turtledove published "The R Strain" in Analog, someone wrote in about the babirusa, and Turtledove replied that he hadn't known about it -- he had just looked at his morning bacon ("I am not a very observant Jew") and thought "What if?".

Jeff Lipton wrote:
When I first saw "Breatharian", I immediately flahed on GB Shaw's extrapolation on vegetarianism. I guess someone took him seriously!

Actually, there's mention of the Breatharians in Charles Mackay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, so they predate Shaw.

Now, on to the question of Christ's body:

In Matthew and Mark, Jesus just says, "Take, this is my body." The bit about "...which is given..." shows up in 1 Corinthians, and the King James Version does say "this is my body, which is broken for you".

According to greekbible.com, however, the original Greek doesn't have that. They give the Greek verse as:
kai eucharistesas eklasen kai eipen, Touto mou estin to soma to hyper humon: Touto poiete eis ten emen anamnesin.

(Tried to do that in Greek letters at first, but they didn't come through right.)

Here's a literal translation, word by word. Stuff in () is directly from the words, stuff in [] is interpolation.
(and) (having-given-thanks) (he broke) [it] (and) (he said), (this) (of me) (is) (the) (body) (which) [is] (for / intended for) (you, pl.): (this) (do) (towards) (the) (my) (remembrance).

Slightly more freely on the last bit: "This is my body which is for you: do this in my remembrance."

Yes, "to" can mean both "the" and "which". Greek is weird sometimes.

#154 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 01:55 AM:

Carol Kimball,

...if someone threw up within a certain time frame of receiving communion, the emesis must be saved and conveyed to a priest for appropriate disposal.

This will be to prevent it being washed into the sewer system. Most Catholic churches, according to a priest friend of mine, have a sink in them whose drainpipe is not connected to anything, but just goes straight into the ground. It's used for washing out Communion vessels, and would probably be the appropriate place for such vomit.

That has nothing to do with whether the Eucharist transforms into real flesh in the stomach, but is because the substance itself, until digested, is precious. Someone washing out Communion vessels without access to such a sink is supposed rinse them thoroughly first and drink the rinsing water.

Within the theology in question. As I understand it.

#155 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 01:56 AM:

I love the discussions here, though I can't offer much about the pet-to-meat conversion except in the context of dissections. The invertebrate dissections I've done haven't been too bad-- they switch pretty easily to fun deconstruction toys-- but the rat had a little trouble. Then that same switch flipped in my head and it ceased to be a rat, like my brother's rat Zeus, and became a thing to be prodded and learned from.
One of the signs you're a bio major is that you get hungry during dissections.

Also, copepods in the water supply? So I could take some tap water and grow my own crustaceans?

#156 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 08:39 AM:

Julie: The "vegetarian silk" is indeed from cocoons that have been allowed to hatch, but they don't try to unwind them; instead, the cocoons are pulled out flat and stacked, 10 or 20 in a stack, and spun like wool. Spun silk has many of the fiber's good properties, but it's neither as strong nor as lusterous as filament, which is what you get if you steam the coccoons and unwind them. But spun silk doesn't have to be slubby anymore than spun wool does.

Like TexAnne says, there's also tussah or wild silk, which doesn't come from the silkworm Bombyx mori. It's generally more amber in color and a little rougher, and usually spun rather than filament.

#157 ::: Patrick Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 01:19 PM:

I had forgotten the ritual of washing out communion vessels so that nothing gets added to the sewer system.

About a dozen years ago I converted out of Catholicism (into Episcopalianism, which I have described as Catholic light), but I still remembered the mass we used.

Eucharistic Prayer II of the English translation of the Roman Missal. And I got this from: http://catholic-resources.org/ChurchDocs/EP.htm

Before he was given up to death, a death he freely accepted, Jesus took bread, and gave you thanks. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples and said:
Take this, all of you, and eat it:
This is my body which will be given up for you.

I didn't see anything in there about his body being broken.

I. Corinthians 11:23-26, in translation from the NET Bible, which is a surprisingly good translation, (http://www.bible.org/netbible/) says:

11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, 11:24 and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 11:25 In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me." 11:26 For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

#158 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 02:06 PM:

BDan --

Why are you feeding the meat animal grain?

This isn't required; it's not even an obvious net win economically. And yes, I know it's widespread current practice. Lots of widespread current farming practice is startlingly foolish except from the point of view of the entity sitting on the distribution channel.

You can raise tasty cattle quite handily on grass, or ranch elk on land that won't grow any food crops at all, or feed pigs on restarant scraps; where meat animals plug into the food chain is much more variable than the feedlot cattle model.

The other core problem -- aside from dubious food web accounting -- ecological vegetarianism has is that it's fundamentally an argument that the solution to the problem is negative sum; trade off quality of life for an ecological fix. Heck, do it in a way that is historically associated with maintaining tech-limit human populations of severely choice-limited laborers.

This strikes me as an approach neither practical nor correct when considering ecological problems.

#159 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 02:22 PM:

Vegetarianism isn't a negative sum solution, unless you hate vegetables (or really, really like meat). You should find a better way of arguing, Graydon, than to simply insult your opponent's preferences.

#160 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 02:34 PM:

Re the handling of eucharistic vessels:

A basin with a pipe connecting to the soil rather than the sewers is a piscina. Chalices are first rinsed with water, which is drunk by the minister in question (the priest at Low Mass or Sung Mass; in the old days a subdeacon at High Mass). It is then rinsed again with water which is drained into the piscina. It may then be washed with soap, but no water touching a eucharistic vessel which has been used should ever go into the sewers; it can be committed to the earth directly rather than through a piscina, however. Old purificators should be burned.

On the words of institution:

The "broken for you" in the AV and some other locations comes from the version in the Textus Receptus, i.e. Erasmus' Greek Tetsament which was used as the basis of the AV translation. It has "to hyper hymon klomenon", with the "klomenon" ("broken") not in other texts. I don't have a critical edition with me to see what other MSS reflect this variant, but it's clearly been excluded from the best text currently established. (It almost certainly reflects cross-contamination from a liturgical tradition.) Jeremias clearly considers the simple "hyper hymon" to be the best text in his attempt to reconstruct the original form.

The Canon of the Ambrosian Rite, which may be slightly older than that of the Gregorian Rite, has "quod pro vobis confringetur", and is quoted in that form relatively early; the old Gregorian Roman Canon has no "qui" phrase at all; the modern version (Missal 1970) of the Gregorian Canon has "quod pro vobis tradetur", which reflects Mozarabic use. Eastern rites also hyave differing variants of the "for" qualifier, including the "broken" and "given" forms.

(Googling on "qui pridie", by the way brings up a large number of rather, um, eccentric sedevacantist sites.)

There has been constant interaction between liturgical and non-liturgical variants of these texts since the first century. (The synoptics themselves show influence of liturgical tradition on their presentation of the Last Supper). From a historical point of view all have the support of tradition in different areas and can be taken as reflecting the theology of the Church. From a purely historical perspective, my guess is the simple "hyper hymon" over the bread with a more elaborate form over the wine because of the asymmetry in the rest of the context around the two words in the original setting.

#161 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 02:36 PM:

Why are you feeding the meat animal grain?

In many parts of the world, grass isn't available year-round. You can of course make hay - but then you need twice as much grassland to support one animal - the grass it's eating now, and the grass it will eat in the winter.

#162 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 02:54 PM:

Carrie: that approach to dealing with hatched silk does make more sense. Wrt tussah, I've seen it invoked as the original "Imperial yellow" silk restricted by sumptuary laws, though an alternative explanation I've seen is regular silk dyed with saffron; I have no idea which one would be more plausible...? The Japanese kurenai is probably not at all relevant to this context, but fun to link anyway; it really does look like a rather shocking pink, comparable to aniline mauve.)

#163 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 03:26 PM:

Julie: whoa. Also, does "kurenai" have anything to do with "kurenai-kai," which I've seen in embroidery contexts?

#164 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 04:17 PM:

According to unesco, farmers use an average 5,000 liters of water to produce a single kilogram of rice. (about 3000 gallons per pound).

Unesco says that there is technology available that will allow a farmer to use only 1,500 to 2,000 liters of water per kilogram of rice. (about 1000 gallons per pound)

On the other hand, Cornell says that it takes about 12,000 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef, and only 450 gallons to produce a pound of chicken.

So, while beef may use more water than rice, chicken can be produced with way less water than rice.

Then again, this site says it takes 1,500 gallons of water to make one barrel of beer, and well, now that's just giving up way too much.

The same site says it takes 39,090 gallons of water to manufacture a new car, including tires. I assume that amount is the saem whether it is hybrid or electric or fossil fuel. and I'm NOT giving up my car.

Lastly, to put it all in perspective, when it rains one inch, you get 27,000 gallons of water per acre.

#165 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 04:39 PM:

TexAnne: I don't know a whole lot about either embroidery or dye-stuffs (rather more about the latter than the former, though), but I'm arguably kinda fluent-ish in Japanese. My guess on kurenai-kai would be that it probably refers to murex. Kurenai=crimson, and (there are a lot of homophones in Japanese, so I can claim no certainty here without seeing the character) Kai=shellfish. (Though "purple" in classical western sources, murex would probably be rated as closer to crimson than purple in Japanese language, since murasaki(=purple), if I understand correctly, is traditionally a bluer shade than murex produces.)

#166 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 07:49 PM:

Steven --

Ecological vegetarianism is more or less by definition a negative-sum solution; the culture doing that would give up a whole lot of existing choice, including picking up (in degree depending on the value of vegetarianism) a higher infant mortality rate and (during the transition) losing a chunk of the adult population.

Vegetarianism as a personal choice is frequently positive sum; I have at least one friend who is made ill by eating meat, frex, and I have no desire whatsoever to see them threatened with hamburgers. But the change of scale does change the evaluation of the practice.

Laura -

Or you make silage, or move the herds (which last is what the herds did before they were domesticated, after all) or change the feed with the season.

Given some of the things that have been approved as cattle feed in the past, big vats of algae could be considered, too. It's not a difficult problem to solve; it hasn't been much addressed, is all.

#167 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 07:54 PM:

As I understand it, the current models/trees for which is related to what have fungi closer to animals than either is to plants.

That doesn't mean yeast are animals, but it means that if yeast is a plant then so are we all.

#168 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 07:59 PM:

Yesterday's WashPost had some vegan recipes. Their testers were three female vegans and two male omnivores. Hmmmm...

#169 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 09:25 PM:

Is Chalk Kosher?
Well, I was impressed by the mention of "a dog wouldn't eat it, therefore it's no longer food," and while pretty good, it's not an exact quote, and, of course, it's a dispute. (It may be a silly question, but we do like to argue.) Basically, the explanation would go as follows; If something is no longer considered food, then there is no problem with eating it, unless specifically mentioned as something that may not be eaten. For instance, even though the sciatic nerve is not considered food, according to one opinion, it is still forbidden because it is mentioned explicitly despite the fact that it's not food. On the other side, the criterion that something would no longer be eaten by a dog is not necessarily a good enough qualification, though most midieval authorities agree that it is sufficient to no longer count as food. Chalk, in that form, is certainly not considered food, so would be OK to eat.

Jello, however, is the source of a much more recent dispute. Orthodox jews do not eat Jello from non-kosher animals, but conservative and reform Jews (those that keep Kosher) do eat it, as it is no longer food. And giraffes are perfectly kosher - as noted, Orthodox Jews don't eat them because there is no tradition about their slaughter.

#170 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 09:39 PM:

I flat don't get the "it's not food if a dog wouldn't eat it." Does that mean that "it's food if a dog would eat it"? Surely that's not the intended corollary! What am I missing, please?

#171 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 10:10 PM:

I'd never previously heard of Kurenai-kai as such, but it seems to be a traditional embroidery guild with a somewhat bilingual website...?

#172 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 10:11 PM:

The corollary of "It's not food if a dog wouldn't eat it" is "if it is food you could get a dog to eat it". This allows the additional category of things which are not food which a dog would eat but a human would not. Or, more technically, the contrapositive follows, but the converse and inverse are different statements.

#173 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 10:11 PM:

I do most of my hunting at Kroger's.

I think that would be gathering, then. :-]

It seems like dietary decisions are so likely to provoke judgement from acquaintances because eating is such an important social activity. I'm not enough of an anthropologist to evaluate the statement, but I've heard it asserted that in every human culture eating is a public activity and sex is a private one. May not be entirely true, but empirically it seems at least 95%.

So people get defensive, or hostile. Eating with people who won't eat what you do, or who do eat things you won't -- there are powerful guest/host rituals that get obstructed, and even if everyone is at their most accommodating, it can leave an unavoidable awkwardness. Meals can lie very close to one's identity.

Myself, I'm an omnivore. I enjoy eating too much and politics too little to want them to become entangled. And occasionally I do get irritated at especially fussy vegetarians, who sometimes border on passive-aggressive: "you must make special efforts to accommodate me, for I am a delicate flower." On the other hand, I've had orthodox Jews suggest they could come to a birthday gathering and not eat anything, but that's unacceptable to my ideas of good hosting. We had the dinner at a kosher restaurant to make sure they could participate properly. There's just no way I could feel comfortable as the host of a dinner with six people eating and two just watching. Meals are important.

#174 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 10:24 PM:

James, thank you, that makes much more sense. (Apparently what I'm missing is an acquaintance with formal logic.)

#175 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 10:38 PM:

Ah, well, that changes everything. The kai of that website has the meaning of "meeting; society; club"--the name of the group. I'd probably (overly fancifully) translate it as the Crimson Guild.

And I have no idea what the Japanese for murex is. No, strike that--Google is my friend, in many languages. I think I know how to write it, but not how to say it. And it's clearly considered purple rather than crimson in Japanese.

I learn something new every day.

#176 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 10:43 PM:

Incidentally, you can learn a surprising number of new things from the most random threads here: White sugar is refined with charcoal made from animal bones, called bone black. It's okay to let water from washing communion vessels get dumped on the ground, but not to go into the sewers. "It's not food if a dog wouldn't eat it." There exists such a thing as vegetarian silk.

Also, on re-read, I see Sandy B beat me to my previous comment. Ah well.

#177 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 10:51 PM:

IIRC the Japanese distinction between blue and green is still a bit hazy at times (with traffic lights frequently invoked as an example), but wasn't the murex dye recently determined to be chemically identical to plant-based indigo/woad? Somewhere around here I've got a book on traditional Japanese indigo-dyeing techniques, which produced a dark navy blue, but now that I poke around the Tekhelet site s'more, I see that while indigo blue may result if the murex dye is overexposed to ultraviolet light, the original dibromoindigo is in fact purpleish.

Though actually, this site (or at least its English-language mirror) is probably the reference of choice for traditional Japanese color terms. Burble.

#178 ::: Bryn ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2006, 11:45 PM:

Regarding the acceptability of vat-grown human flesh to vegans, (far upthread) I have come across vegans who felt that it was acceptable to consume their own (their child's?) placenta.

I kind of think that if you're craving meat so much that placenta looks tasty, you should probably look into free-range and organic farming and admit veganism isn't for you.

#179 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 08:28 AM:

About Silk Stuff:

No, tussah wouldn't have been "Imperial yellow".

One of the things that modern people have a hard time understanding is that, for premoderns, the imperfections we associate with "handmade" are flaws, to be avoided. The ideal was something that looked machine-made, for lack of a better description. Spun silk is soft and warm, but it just doesn't/can't have the sheen of filament; I doubt very much that the Emperor's lounging robe was made of spun silk, much less anything he'd wear when people could see him. His underwear, maybe. :) His official clothes would have been made of the absolute best silk they could find and dyed with safflower (not the same as saffron, but does produce a nice yellow).

"Kurenai" is that bright color, means "scarlet" roughly. It's one of the forbidden colors, with murasaki being the other. The difference is that only the Empress could wear murasaki, but she could give her ladies permission to wear kurenai. On their outer robes, that is; the five layers of the "juni no hitoe" could be whatever they wanted. I am terribly pleased about this because there's a set that's all purple and white that I dearly want to make.

Have I mentioned I make and wear Heian-era clothes for fun? :)

#180 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 10:28 AM:

Ecological vegetarianism is more or less by definition a negative-sum solution; the culture doing that would give up a whole lot of existing choice, including picking up (in degree depending on the value of vegetarianism) a higher infant mortality rate and (during the transition) losing a chunk of the adult population.

Graydon, are you saying that vegetarians have a higher infant mortality rate? Source, please.

Also, you seem to be saying that switching to vegetarianism can kill adults, too. I don't get that.

#181 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 11:15 AM:
When I took basic bio 38 years ago, there were only two kingdoms and fungi were in plants, not animals; we're up to at least five now, and IIRC fungi are on their own.

Some biologists still hold to the Kingdoms notion. More of them have ditched it like a JLo DVD. The old notion of Kingdoms reflected both gross morphology - at the expense of more evolutionarily telling distinctions such as cell physiology - and an untoward bias against single-celled organisms.

The most common arrangement these days - though it's not at all consensus, and likely will change - is Carl Wose's notion that there are three highest-order taxa, called "Domains": Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryota. Eukaryota contains a number of subdivisions:

Stramenopiles (including diatoms, kelp, and the pathogen that causes sudden oak death);
Alveolates (dinoflagellates and similar organisms);
Rhodophyta (red algae);
Green Plants;
a grab-bag category of various not-yet-assigned single-celled organisms, and;
Opisthokonts.

As I say in a recent post at my joint:

Opisthokonts are distinguished from other eukaryotes by a number of cellular and molecular features, the easiest to explain of which is that when opisthokonts form cells that move by way of the whip-like organelles known as flagella, those flagella grow on the posterior end of the cell, and there's usually only one flagellum per cell.

Opisthokonts include further taxonomical subdivisions, including a few protists, fungi, and animals.

So while it's wrong to imply that fungi are animals, it's less wrong than the ''Five Kingdoms" arrangement would lead one to believe.

Back on topic: I eat most anything from all three domains. I try to avoid veal and Clostridium, which if I remember right is a member of domain Archaea.

#182 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 11:20 AM:

I am not Graydon. :) I am also not a medical professional, but I got curious and looked around a bit.

I found that vegetarian diets, unless carefully planned, are more likely than omnivorous ones to lack sufficient protein, some minerals, and some vitamins (quick overview). Low protein in a maternal diet can lead to low birth weight; lack of some minerals (iron and calcium are big ones that are likely to be lacking for vegetarians) can cause other problems. Low birth weight is a warning sign for infant mortality.

To sum up, vegetarianism is likely to lead to low protein, which is a factor in low birth weight, which leads to higher infant mortality. Q.E.D.

Next question, which I am unqualified to answer, is whether vegetarianism leads to higher infant mortality than, say, lack of a carseat.

#183 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 12:30 PM:

Thanks Carrie.

The factoid that I carry around in my head on infant mortality is that the USA has a much higher rate than other developed countries. I am pretty sure that is not caused by vegetarianism.

#184 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 12:42 PM:

Have I mentioned I make and wear Heian-era clothes for fun?

Actually, for a really recondite hobby, it seems to come up surprisingly often.

#185 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 01:12 PM:

Oooh.

*attempts to tamp down frantic bouncings-about of glee and narrow down silk geekage questions*

One of Elizabeth Wayland Barber's archaeotextiles books mentioned dyeing wool with saffron, so while the previously-cited page on kurenai specifically discussed dyeing silk with safflower (not saffron), I wasn't sure whether it was possible to cross the beams and dye silk with saffron. (Well, it's probably possible; I suppose the real question would be historical practice wrt "Imperial yellow".)

But is there any particular reason for those colors to've been restricted by sumptuary laws? ISTR (from one of Liza Dalby's books?) that kurenai, at least, was so light-fugitive that it would've been some wretched dyer's full-time work to keep someone in an entire twelve layers of hitoe thereof. But the safflower dyeing process doesn't seem all that labor-intensive in itself, esp. for the initial yellow shade, compared to something like the restricted kanoko fawn-spot pattern.

Are safflowers difficult to cultivate/harvest, or was the kurenai dyeing explanation so smoothly presented that it just made it look easy?

#186 ::: Tully ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 01:34 PM:

Laura, it's tough to realistically compare infant mortality rates across even developed nations due to different reporting standards and a lack of a standardized definition of "live births." Because the US has a much higher rate of low-weight pre-term births which are counted as "live births," you have to cross-correlate and conflate IMR's with perinatal mortality rates to reach comparable figures. And the PMR figures for other nations are tough to either obtain or verify.

International perinatal mortality studies also lead into the political/cultural swamp of abortion and infant euthenasia debates. Not going there--but vegetarianism per se does not seem to be a factor in IMR's or PMR's. Nutrition plays a big role, of course, but the difference is between people who eat adequate diets for pregnancy and those who don't, not whether they eat meat or not. A pregnant vegetarian who pays good attention to her required nutrient intakes isn't at any higher (or lower) risk than an omnivore who does. Obesity and morbid obesity in pregnancy are a different subject--those are real fetal risk factors, but not for nutrition reasons.

#187 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 01:35 PM:

Nice. Same-but-opposite-ly, Bishop Spong suggests that Leviticus is a 'survival document' for an overrun culture to keep its identity, and one 'feature' of all the harsh food laws was to prevent jews bonding with members of the wider culture. If they can't cook for you you won't eat with them; If you don't eat with them you won't bond with them. You'll always be a separate people.

I've heard him say that in a sermon, and I think he's right. The stuff about not wearing blended fabrics would seem to fall into that category, if not into the category of outright "racial purity" metaphor.

I think it's a bad thing, this not mixing. "The creation of pseudospecies, Odo called it." I'm so sick of humans and their goddam pseudospecies and seeming deep need to have a Them to be Us against. Shows the weakness of the Us, IMO.

Vicki - You're a sensible woman. More sensible than most people, by far. Always have been, IIRC. Certainly you were more sensible than ME, back in the 80s when we met!

This question brings to mind something I've always wondered about Buddhism. My understanding is that Buddhism (or at least the Tibetan variety) claims that all life is sacred, and moreover, that all life is -equally- sacred.

You don't understand. The communion host is sacred in Roman Catholicism; that doesn't mean you can't eat it. And life is sacred, but so is death! (IANATB, but my beliefs are similar in this way.) That's why they have bone flutes, and prayer drums made of human skulls etc.

Tibetan Buddhists eat meat. Not much choice, in Tibet.

I'm a vegetarian, as I said above. But when I see a big ole waterbug (on the street, since I seem to be effectively keeping them out of my house, thank gods), I stomp it and say "Kali Om!"

Lizzy L - I swear I wrote mine just above before reading yours! I'm leaving it anyway, even though yours is better.

Mez - that's where Wiccans get the term 'skyclad'. It's a direct translation of digambara. I have seen Jains with the little paper masks, but they were all svetambara (clad in white).

BDan, but there is a worldwide surplus of grain, even with the cattle etc. eating it. If we could physically transport all the grain to all the right places, and there weren't economic reasons why we wouldn't even if we could, there would be no starvation in the world. Being vegetarian in the United States doesn't help so much.

David Goldfarb - thanks to you I now know where the word 'eucharist' comes from...I could have looked it up, but never did. Thanks!

colin roald - Hear! Hear! But I don't always tell people anything. I just show up and eat what I can, and praise whatever I do eat. Sometimes I sneak off and have a food bar. But then my dietary restrictions (wayyy beyond just not eating meat; I can't eat spinach, for example) are numerous and bizarre, and I refuse to make my friends fuss with them.

#188 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 02:36 PM:

Laura Roberts --

The low birth weight thing; also the lack of maternal access to high grade protein thing. You can do it on a vegetarian diet which you're careful and well-informed about if you can eat everything in the vegetarian food possibility list. If you have dietary restrictions (allergies to nuts, problems with gluten or dairy) it gets much harder. Cultures which have historically imposed vegetarian diet for economic reasons have had problems with childbearing and rearing as a result. The problems are less pressing if you're in a rich country with lots of vegetarian options but still don't entirely go away -- kids vary, and what any given eighteen month old can effectively digest varies pretty widely, too. (Same with the mothers.)

The dead adults stem from those who can't get adequate nourishment from vegetarian sources. There's a fairly large number of such people in a Northern European descent population.

I can't eat -- my intestines delaminate and the breakdrown products poison me -- dairy, gluten, or soy. Nor is my digestive system even vaguely efficient. If forced to a vegetarian diet I'd be dead in six months; it's a tossup whether the brain chemistry collapse or the deficiency diseases would get me first. I am not the only person in that category. Then there are the people who don't outright die, but deal poorly with the lack of meat proteins in their diet.

#189 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 03:02 PM:

Xopher, I understand odd dietary restrictions. Among my coven and our partners, we have a couple of people who are vegetarians, a vegetarian who can't eat soy, one person has a wheat allergy, another a pea/lentil allergy and I think one or two other food issues. And we still manage to have excellent feasts. Some of it is we are fine with having dishes on the table not everyone can eat.

We once had a ritual to emergency room episode; now we know this person is allergic to wild rice.

What I dislike are large, after-ritual feasts (like the local COG hosts) with unidentifiable dishes, and no one in sight to ask, "what the heck is in this?" even though, for some people, it can be a life or death issue. If it isn't obvious, I bring a 3 x 5 card with the recipe written on it.

#190 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 06:11 PM:

I read something a long time ago that posited the notion that social bonds are created on a neurological level when eating together. Like it eating with someone, sharing a meal together, actually makes your brain relate to that person with a deeper relationship.

conversely, this same reading said that cultures that have eating restrictions that are different than the norm serve to keep that culture separate from other cultures. Jewish requirements for kosher. Muslim restrictions about eating pork and drinking alcohol and fasting during Ramadan (yes I'm a bit unclear of what all the restrictions are)

I don't know if there is any scientific basis to any of it, but my gut (and my stomach) tells me that there is some truth to it.

I imagine that to actually refuse to sit and eat with someone because belief systems prohibit them from eating the kind of food that was offered can only serve to cause the host to relate to the person as foreign or alien. sort of the reverse of reinforcing relationship bonds.

I think there is some of this at play in the on going war between vegans and meat eaters.

And so it appears that the gist of what I"m getting at here is: can't we all just get along.

#191 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 06:52 PM:

Things that are considered OK for Moslems to eat are called halal. Things that are not are called haram. I believe the rules are similar to kasherut, but with less attention to the edge cases.

To strengthen your point, Greg: Sikhs are specifically prohibited from eating meat "killed in the Moslem manner," that is, they can't ever eat meat with Moslems, because they won't touch anything halal, and everything else is haram.

#192 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 06:56 PM:
I'm so sick of humans and their goddam pseudospecies and seeming deep need to have a Them to be Us against. Shows the weakness of the Us, IMO.

Oh, so you're one of those people, are you?

#193 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 10:17 PM:

And so it appears that the gist of what I"m getting at here is: can't we all just get along.

hm, if it doesn't exist already, I'm declaring "London's Law":

"As an online conflict grows longer, the probability that someone will quote Rodney King approaches 1"

I just googled the phrase and got 757,000 hits. whoa.

#194 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 10:23 PM:

I was gonna put this on the open thread, but then decided this was a better spot:

I wonder who can and cannot (for religious or other reasons) eat furry freaking lobsters.

#195 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 11:51 PM:

I kind of think that if you're craving meat so much that placenta looks tasty, you should probably look into free-range and organic farming and admit veganism isn't for you.

And, courtesy of "Unca Cecil," we have the recipe for Placenta Pizza.

#196 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 12:12 AM:

Oh, so you're one of those people, are you?

Yes Chris. There are two kinds of people in the world, those who divide the world into two kinds and those who don't.

I'm the second kind.

#197 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 01:56 AM:

Xopher, are you by chance a tonsorial worker? If so, do you shave yourself?

#198 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 02:56 AM:

I've run into both kinds: the proselytizing vegetarian/vegan, and the omnivore who gets insecure around vegetarians and makes tacky/offensive comments therefore. A friend of mine was accosted and scolded by the former as she picked out a half gallon of milk at the grocery. Friends of mine who fit the latter description routinely suggest that I should, as a joke, sneak meat products into meals intended for my vegetarian husband.

That last one really offends me in all sorts of ways, starting with what it implies they think about our marriage and moving out from there.

This may be merely a subcategory of the social behavior commented upon above--that of how twitchy we get if someone won't eat something with us--but it seems like these conflicts stem from two basic, complementary sources. On the one hand, you have folks who think that their special diets make them morally/politically/religiously better than others; on the other, you have people who interpret other people's dietary choices as some sort of criticism.

Both categories puzzle me. As far as diet supremacy goes, I share Xopher's belief (that was you that said this, right?) that beasties have no more inherent right to live than plantses. I figure that dietary choices people make for moral reasons often stem from the premise "I will not eat creatures that are too much like me," and that premise results in different diets to the extent that definitions of "too much like me" vary. There's "human like me," and "mammal like me," and "has a face like me," and "belongs in kingdom Animalia like me," and there's even (though usually only as a temporary meditation/awareness akin to fasting) "is a living being like me". I can't see where one definition is more moral than another, to tell you the truth.

And as for people who feel silently criticized by others' meal plans, I just don't see how it's skin of my nose what anyone else decides to put in their bodies. If "my body my choice" is appropriate in the abortion debate, it's practically law in the food wars.

Um. So there.

Appropos of nothing much, I make a tasty vegan red beans and rice that utterly befuddles most of my friends and family in New Orleans.

#199 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 08:44 AM:

Julie: It's not that the safflower dyeing process is hard so much as that you have to keep doing it--take apart the whole robe (and remove the linings if it's one of the combos that features different-colored linings), dye each piece to exactly the right color (because it's not just that they shade correctly; you also have to have the right "light kurenai"), and then put the thing back together again. Every time the lady wears it, or almost. I'm pretty sure murasaki is fugitive too; Reconstructing History has some more stuff about it. I think one of the things Kass glosses over in her webpage is that the process took a couple of days. It's time-consuming, which makes for expensive, and it's time-comsuming repeatedly. And I'm not sure about kanoko; it might be post-Heian.

I know you can dye silk with saffron; in the West it was a common yellow if you could afford it.

#200 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 09:28 AM:

Greg London saith:

Cultures which have historically imposed vegetarian diet for economic reasons have had problems with childbearing and rearing as a result.

I thought you were arguing upthread that vegetarianism doesn't make good economic sense. (I'm not trying to be rude - just wondering if it is ecomomic or not.)

I'm not aware of any historical culture that is 100% vegetarian. But overall, many cultures have featured a minimal amount of meat in their diet. I'm thinking primarily of China/Japan (where tofu and other soy products have been used for centuries to replace meat), India and Mexico. The reason given for this usually is economic. Meat is seen as a luxury.

Would people in those cultures have been healthier if they ate more meat? Possibly. But their survival did not depend on it. (Would babies with an allergy to things like soy or dairy have died pretty quickly? Yes, most likely.)

European and (Anglo) American diets seem to be atypical in the large amounts of meat they contain. It probably is a result of economic prosperity. But I don't think it proves that meat is more economical or always healthier for humans than plant foods.

#201 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 11:07 AM:

Magenta Griffith - that's why we usually go out to a restaurant after ritual. That and the fact that I've generally been cooped up all afternoon preparing the ritual space and need to be OUT of it!

I've been to some big COG functions. Somehow they always decide that that "fall birthdays bring main dishes." Speaking of COG...your name sounds VERY familiar. I am Priest Elder of Mycota Coven (which dropped out of COG a while back, and into hiatus (mepf) more recently). I suspect that we've met. I was also at the Parliament of the World's Religions in...was it 94?

Mez: Tonsor non sum, but I do shave myself. Moreover, I perform code modifications on my own brain on a fairly regular basis. Mostly coding around design flaws and fixing bugs. It's risky, but there's no one else I trust!

#202 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 11:11 AM:

Laura --

That was me, not Greg.

The economic argument -- that vegetarianism is preferable because you can feed lots of people on the grain for one meat animal -- doesn't make sense because it supposes that the meat animal is necessarily grain-fed and that the feed is suitable for human consumption (which, say, silage corn is not) and replaces a human food crop (sometimes, but this isn't inherent).

Would people in those cultures have been healthier if they ate more meat?

I live in Toronto; it's pretty easy to see, if you take the Spadina streetcar, family groups that consist of grandma -- tiny, four foot something even if not bent with age and osteoporosis -- mom -- five foot some small number, but a head taller than grandma, relatively short of limb -- and daughter -- a head taller than mom, five foot lots, and proportionately long of limb.

Diversity of diet and diversity of protein sources is very, very important.

And of course meat is not inherently more economical -- though ranching elk on a couple tens of thousands of acres of the Peace River country that won't take a crop is more use than that land will otherwise have for human food production -- nor inherently healthier; people need their veggies.

There isn't a single good answer about diet that applies to everybody; natural selection is a mechanism for producing diversity, and we're a pretty diverse lot. (The historically beef-rich Anglo diet has a lot to do with the intersection of two ranching cultures, frex. But it is by now also reflected in the genetic makeup of Anglo digestive systems.)

#203 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 11:22 AM:

Nicole, yes, that was me. And I in turn agree with you that it's a "too much like me" thing (for most people). I used to know a guy that would eat anything that didn't have eyes in life. So he would eat oysters and clams but not scallops. Since I no longer know the gentleman, whose dietary habits may have changed anyway, I can't ask him if he would eat kiwa hirsuta. Pity.

Here's a question (not for Nicole but for everyone): suppose I get a paper cut. As usual for such a situation, I gasp in pain and immediately suck the wound, in the process ingesting some of my own blood. Does that make me a cannibal?

How about if I save the peelings from a bad sunburn and make soup? (No, unlike the paper cut example, I would not do this. But not because it's cannibalism; because it's nasty.)

I'm sure there are some who would argue that even cutting off a finger and eating it isn't cannibalism as long as it's your own finger. I disagree.

#204 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 12:47 PM:

To strengthen your point, Greg: Sikhs are specifically prohibited from eating meat "killed in the Moslem manner," that is, they can't ever eat meat with Moslems, because they won't touch anything halal, and everything else is haram.

I think this makes the Sikhs sound far more insular than they really are. It's true that Sikhs are not supposed to eat halal meat, because they consider halal slaughter to cause unnecessary suffering to the animal. Sikhs who choose to eat meat (some Sikhs are vegetarian, some aren't) are supposed to eat jhatka meat, meat from an animal that was killed with one stroke of a weapon.

However, aside from halal meat, there are no prohibited foods in Sikhism. In fact, one of the central practices of Sikhism is the langar, or shared meal. Prepared by volunteers, it's freely given to all who wish to sit down and share it. Food served in langar is always vegetarian, "so that no person may be offended and all people of all religions can sit together to share a common meal irrespective of any dietary restrictions." (from sikhs.org)

And at risk of sounding flippant, I can say from personal experience that the pakoras served in langar at the Hayward Gurdwara are tastier than any I've ever had in a restaurant. :-)

#205 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 01:29 PM:

Graydon - I'm sorry. I got my "names starting with G" confused.

The economic argument -- that vegetarianism is preferable because you can feed lots of people on the grain for one meat animal -- doesn't make sense because it supposes that the meat animal is necessarily grain-fed and that the feed is suitable for human consumption (which, say, silage corn is not) and replaces a human food crop (sometimes, but this isn't inherent).

I would add another twist to the economic argument: after you've killed an animal, you can only eat it once. The most efficient long-term use of animals as food is probably milk products and eggs.

#206 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 02:48 PM:

Laura --

Which is why bleeding/milking herding cultures out-compete kill-and-eat herding cultures, yes.

(The gain is about a factor of four, considered as protein mass.)

Of course, if you can't -- and statistically, far and away most adults in the human population can't -- digest milk, we get into 'efficient for who?'.

#207 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 04:17 PM:

Things that are considered OK for Moslems to eat are called halal.
Things that are not are called haram. I believe the rules are similar to kasherut, but with less attention to the edge cases.

I looked into this a bit at one point, while baking something for a Muslim neighbour (he's an Iraqi expat. I'm an American expat. We have had an...interesting few years sharing a house wall, mostly due to dread that the stupid thing each of our lots has done will be taken the wrong way by the other.) Basically, Muslims are less interested in how an item has been killed than Jews. Most of the effort around eating halal food is simply that when you get complex recipies and commercial products, pork products may creep in.

(I was making banana bread, which is lacto-ovo vegetarian, but I wasn't sure whether my milk and eggs would be OK. They were. He did check that I had made it myself, and I assured him that I had checked that none of the ingredients were haram.)

On the topic of sharing food (and off any other nuance of this topic), my favourite garlic bread recipie is a social, as well as culinary one. It goes something like this.

Melt an obscene amount of butter (margarine might do, if you're dairy intolerant) in a pan. Add rather a lot of garlic and a fair amount of chopped parsley. Put the pan on the table. Serve with lots of fresh soft bread and let everyone dip and scoop to their hearts' content.

Slightly more on-topic, I am surprised no one has mentioned pica in this conversation.

#208 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 05:04 PM:

Lexica: thank you for that. The langar sounds like a wonderful thing. I'll have to look into that.

#209 ::: Vera Nazarian ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 09:33 PM:

Technically I am not a vegan but an ovo-lacto vegetarian.

In reality I eat eggs maybe once or twice a year, strictly for breakfast at convention hotels, I never drink milk, but I do eat cheese often, but not all the time (also watch for rennet in the cheese culture and don't buy the animal rennet kind).

Thanks for bringing this topic up, because honestly I had no idea about chalk, probably because I don't see how or why I would consider eating it. Would I eat it? Probably not. Would I go into convulsions if I did? Probalby not. :-)

But in general my philosophy is simple -- as much as is personally possible, I eat things that do not contain dead meat of any living creature, or have caused suffering to other creatures in their preparation. There are probably exceptions, since I am not perfect, but in general, I will not eat anything from the animal kingdom.

Animal by-products, such as honey, are possibilities, but since I don't like honey, this is irrelevant.

I do not use gelcaps, but if forced, will open them up and simply drop the herbal contents of the gelcap on my tongue, no matter how revolting. :-) The gelcap shell gets discarded.

No leather, of course, or anything I learn may have an animal part in it. No jello, marshmallows, etc.

So, I guess the only animal product I have the most difficulty forgoing is cheese.

Been vegetarian for over 20 years now, and who knows, maybe one day. ;-)

#210 ::: Peter ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 09:51 PM:

that burning human flesh smells like pork. Since he was an explosives export in the Vietnam War, I assumed he has some personal experience in the matter, although I didn't ask.
I went to highschool in Ireland. There were a number of terrorist attacks where firebombs were used. One was near where I commuted to school. Yes. Smells like burnt pork. Also, when humans burn to death, their arms get into a preying mantis or boxing position. I thought I had forgotten all that until a train vs gas tanker truck incident where I worked in FL.

Is chalk treif or vegan? Last time I ate chalk, I was a kid in school, trying to gross out girls. The clique I hung with ate chalk a lot. Now that I'm older, I'm trying not to scare away women. ;)

...that pigs are also treif due to diet, not merely form...
I'll recommend books by Marvin Harris: Good to Eat is one that goes into a lot of details about dietary restrictions. Very short synopsis of the pork story: back in those olden days, there weren't grocery stores, so the place you got meat was also the place that the critter was sacrificed to the god(s). Pork was sacred to Baal. Someone who was raising swine was raising them to sell to the temple of Baal. The prohibition on fields where swine were present was an economic boycott of the chief deity of Babylon. Want pork? You had to go to the temple of Baal and give them money as well as worship there. What? Have no other gods before me? Guess pork is out...

As for giraffes, one is supposed to use a blade 2x the diameter of the neck, and kill the creature with one stroke (while saying the proper prayer) for kosher/halal meats. I suspect that a blade that meets requirements will be rather unwieldy.

#211 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 10:38 PM:

Graydon: your example is weak; you have no idea how much of the variation should be attributed to
- shape of diet
- size of diet
- general improvements in health
- the interesting growing agents meat animals are now fed.
(Arguably all but the last are even more significant in women those ethnic areas where women ate what was left of the common dish after the men were full; I don't know Toronto so can't say whether Spadina St. qualifies.) I can see that kind of generational growth in people I know have a full-spectrum diet; the change is more like half a head per generation, but they had less catching up to do.

#212 ::: Miles Odonnol ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2006, 11:31 PM:

RE: Vegetarians, breeds of: Here in Taiwan I've met more than one person who says, "I'm vegetarian, in the mornings." And it is NOT a joke.

RE: Specialty food business ideas:
A. Beef processed into crunchy green sheets for strict carnivores who still crave the crunch of a vegetable.
B. Tofu "fish" with toothpick lattices inside to simulate fish bones.

#213 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 04:27 PM:

Xopher, I shudder to think of the sunburn that would produce enough shavings to feed even one person on soup. Just use the SPF50 and a wide-brimmed hat and keep that question moot, right?

#214 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 11:15 AM:

As for economics of vegatarianism: Silage is going to be either corn or hay, and anywhere you can grow corn or hay, you should be able to grow some kind of human-consumable vegatable.

Then again, since I know nothing of the chemistry, I would be curious to know if beef versus vegatables efficiency is really comparing apples and oranges. i.e. you don't get the same chemistry in beef that you do in vegatables, so are vegatables more "efficient" in part because they produce less and/or simpler chemical compounds?

Sure, a Toyota corrolla gets better gas milage than a dump truck, but no matter how many corrolla's you get, you'll never be able to haul and dump like you can with that dump truck.

ya know what I mean?

What I would like to see is a comparison between beef cows and, say, a beef plant. For those not familiar, a beef plant is a low lying, but very thick vine which develops pods over the summer that grow until fall when they blossom into sirloins.

#215 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 11:42 AM:

Nicole, I do. But before there was such a thing as SPF, I got sunburns bad enough that my entire back could be peeled in...well, not one big sheet, but a number of fairly good-sized strips.

Granted, I was a child/adolescent and fairly small. And admittedly it would be a thin soup. But the point is, if you made the soup and drank it, would that make you a cannibal?

#216 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 11:47 AM:

Silage is typically either leftovers (what's there after the harvest--leaves and stems and such) or it's the remnants of a failed crop--this past summer, because of the middle western droughts, my farming relatives in Missouri ended up with silage instead of a corn crop. Since they also raise beef cattle, this wasn't a dead loss; had they been raising corn alone, particularly for human consumption, it would have been a dead loss.

Places like Wharram Percy ended up being depopulated because climate changes made them marginal as grainland, although they continued to be useful as pastureland. Much of the sheep and cattle country of the west is of dubious value as farmland--livestock works there because ranchers can adjust for rocky soil and limited rainfall by adjusting how much stock they carry according to what the land can support (at least if they're smart and in it for the long haul they do). Places in the northern Great Plains like Montana often deal with the demands of grain farming by only planting a crop in a field in alternate years; the farmers can get some use out of the fallow land (as well as some fertilizing) by running some stock on it--a system used in medieval Europe as well. The Highland clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries in Scotland were brought about because the land was, in the long run, far more productive economically as sheep pasturage than as cropland. Here in Tennessee, with a mild climate and a fair amount of good arable land, it's easy to see a lot of farmland as suitable for either livestock or crops, but I have to keep reminding myself that it doesn't work that way everywhere. Frex, here we discuss how many head of stock an acre can carry; in western Texas, they're more inclined to consider how many acres you need per head. Water, in this case, is a controlling factor. The Plains Indian tribes were able to turn their backs on farming because, with the horse, buffalo were able to provide a reliable and substantial diet, with what appears to have been either less work for comparable benefit, or the same work for a greater benefit, than pre-industrial farming could provide for them in those geographical conditions.

#217 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 01:48 PM:

Fidelio --

Or silage is what you can be sure of getting; with most maize varieties in the Ottawa valley, frex, they get maybe four feet high and you don't want to eat the ears. There's a fair bit of that sort of silage crop outside of ideal-for-agriculture areas.

Chip --

Most of those folks are Southern Chinese; the area is a rolickingly prosperous chinatown. The change in diet is somewhat overall quantity, but mostly relative cost of meat falling through the floor. The type of diet hasn't changed much at all; if you're Anglo, that's one of the parts of town to go to get vegetables you don't have any least idea how to cook.

Helya, look at the pre/post Great Pacific War Japanese, for that matter. Or the side effects of the hideous seventies British working class diet, which came close to having neither meat nor vegetables in it.

#218 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 02:21 PM:

It's pretty well-established that the children of immigrants to North America - particularly immigrants from less developed countries - to be taller than their parents (anecdotally, it's a running joke between myself and my friends, but I'm sure there are data as well). But the default explanation has got to be that 'we eat more,' particularly since (AFAIK) the height differences persist among vegetarian children of vegetarian parents.

CHIp, the Spadina streetcar runs through one of the many Toronto-area Chinatowns, so I presume that the hypothetical family Graydon has in mind is East Asian. This complicates things still further, since East Asian women are particularly susceptible to osteoporosis and the associated vertebral fractures and loss of height. We have no way of knowing how tall Grandma was in her youth.

Lexica, your local gurdwara has pakoras? Geez, maybe if the langars of my childhood had something tastier than daal, I might be religious as an adult. :)

#219 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 02:55 PM:

Silage is leftovers? Unless I'm totally amnesiatic on my childhood memories of beef/hog/corn/hay farming, or unless there is some other fundamentally different way of farming, I don't think so.

If we chopped hay and put it in a silo, we chopped it all up and put it all in the silo. Same goes for corn. When you were done chopping a field of corn, there was nothing left but short stumps of corn stalks sticking out of the ground.

If you shelled the corn instead of chopping it, then the stalks would end up on the ground and we'd sometimes put that into massive bales or stacks and use it for bedding. We usually shelled it or kept it on the ear, rather than chop it. And we'd fill the silos with chopped hay.

I don't know if there was more nutrition in chopped hay than chopped corn, may have been, but it was a whole lot easier to sell shelled or ear corn out of an elevator than it was to sell hay baled in a barn or chopped in a silo.

As for pasture verus growing vegatables, there's definitely some land that can support acting as pasture but can't be plowed. So, for the economic vegatarians out there, I wonder if they would eat meat that was raised on land that couldn't grow vegatables. Might be an interesting question.

#220 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 03:06 PM:

I think silage gets used because it's more easily digested than fresh green stuff, having started on the road to compost; in the case of corn (or the sorghum family), cattle might not eat much of it at all, if it wasn't turned into silage.

I suspect that most beef cattle are on grass from weaning until they get taken to a feed lot for finishing. (They eat as much as they want but get a lot less exercise: it's not called fattening up for nothing!)

#221 ::: BDan ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2006, 02:54 AM:

You don't have to feed animals on grain, but this is mostly irrelevant; other than areas which are simply incapable of supporting crops which can feed humans directly, much of what is currently pastureland could be turned into something more productive. Then there might be a surplus of agricultural land — fine, then we can let it turn back into wilderness, like, for example, all the pastureland that has been created from land that was once rainforest. If we can only support the population of the planet by cultivating every inch of soil on it, I don't want to live here, and moreover I want there to be more wild lands around than there are even now. Yes, I recognize that some people cannot survive without meat (I even know some personally), but I think that a vast majority of the people who do eat meat have never even investigated whether they could survive without it, and most of them probably could. The remainder can survive on meat grown on the aforementioned land that can't support anything else.

#222 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2006, 08:26 AM:

BDan: I know for a fact that I can survive without eating meat; I also know that it's not good for me. Being a vegetarian makes me lethargic and weak, a condition known as "failure to thrive". There are a lot more people like me than there are who absolutely need meat to survive--what do we do about the ones who will live but won't enjoy it? Do they just have to deal with unacceptable quality of life?

Because, no offense to the cows of the world, but if it's them or me, I win.

#223 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2006, 02:28 PM:

There are a lot more people like me than there are who absolutely need meat to survive--what do we do about the ones who will live but won't enjoy it? Do they just have to deal with unacceptable quality of life?

For "meat" read "Cylert" and/or "Sudafed."

#224 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2006, 12:23 PM:

Yeah, exactly.

#225 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 11:30 PM:

DE-LURKING:

Vassilissa: It reminds me of the one item in the Buddhist vegetarian supermarket that really weirded me out, the tins of vegetarian intestines.

I grew up with this sort of thing and see nothing wrong with it. If farmland is limited and population density is high, there is strong pressure to utilise as much of the animal as possible; it's all protein.

When Buddhism was introduced to China, Chinese vegetarian cuisine was developed so that those who embraced Buddhism yet still craved the taste of meat had alternatives. In addition to vegetables, traditional Chinese vegetarian cuisine features much use of fungi and soy/gluten meat substitutes. Mock meats, made with vegetable protein(gluten) were developed. Thus, it is possible to eat a vegetarian sweet & sour pork, that looks, smells & tastes like the meat version, and has similar texture to the meat version, yet is vegan.

The variant of Buddhism that took hold in China was one that prescribed veganisn (no animal products at all). Further, certain pungent plants like garlic & onion were proscribed as their pungent nature inflamed the emotions. Not a good thing if you're supposed to be a serene contemplative Buddhist. Not sure what that says about the French & Italians. :)

Interestingly, chillies fell through the loophole. As they were not known back then, they were never explicitly proscribed.

DISCLAIMER: I am an omnivore. I'll eat most things so long as it tastes good.

Clark E Myers: It is certainly true that many third world vegeterian diets are sufficiently contaminated by insect parts to furnish micronutrients - cf. the same nominal diet is sufficient in India and produces deficiency diseases in England.

Err, look again at the FDA Regulations. Let's just say that even if one is obsessive, it is unlikely that one is able to be a 'pure' vegan. It's not a perfect world.

#226 ::: r saul ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2006, 12:58 AM:

where in the world can I find cylert? (pemoline)

#227 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 04:08 PM:

Can I give my plant raw meet. like cow.

#228 ::: abi is starting to wonder about these rr.com addresses ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2007, 04:14 PM:

Higgledy Piggledy
Victoria gardener
Wants to turn plants into
Carnivorous beasts

Turning the tables on
Vegetable victimhood.
I suggest spam for the
First of the feasts.

#229 ::: sidnee ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 01:02 PM:

a vegitarian who follows the eating plan of including plant sources and eggs in their diet os called????

#230 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 01:31 PM:

sidnee: An ovovegetarian. Usually people who do that also include dairy, and then they're called ovolactovegetarians. Someone who eats dairy but not eggs is a lactovegetarian.

In fact, there are people who include fish, but no other meats. These are known as pescovegetarians.

#231 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Xopher... And an octogenarian is someone who eats octopi.

#232 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 02:14 PM:

No, that would be an octoputarian.

Exercise for the reader: what would a Sergetarian be?

      a. Someone born between November 23 and December 21
      b. A cannibal who devours soldiers returning from Iraq
      c. A righteous, if somewhat crazed, anti-pun crusader
      d. All of the above.

Do not put down your pencil until told to do so. You will be checked for gunshot residue upon exiting the testing room. Good luck.

#233 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 02:27 PM:

Xopher

Bah!

And a sagittarian is someone who eats sages. That would include Yoda. Yay!

#234 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 02:34 PM:

And an ovolactovegetarian who eats live-culture yogurt would be a novobacto-ovolactovegetarian.

#235 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 03:46 PM:

And if TWO novobacto-ovolactovegetarians were having a battle in a bottle...

#236 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 05:16 PM:

And, of course, a veterinarian is someone who eats only veterans...

#237 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 05:39 PM:

And if TWO novobacto-ovolactovegetarians were having a battle in a bottle...

... they may think they're both tongue-twisters and they won't take either of them. And three novobacto-ovolactovegetarians do it, three, can you imagine, three novobacto-ovolactovegetarians with the paddles and poodles and noodles. They may think it's an organization.

#238 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 06:33 PM:

...you can get anything you want (as long as it's novobacto-ovolactovegetarian) at Alice's Novobacto-ovolactovegetarian Restaurant!

#239 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 07:12 PM:

'cepting Alice!

#240 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 07:38 PM:

Xopher @ 230 - Lacto-ovo-vegetarians (that's how I learned it) who also eat fish are, AFAIK, pescatarians.

I know some people whose test is whether or not the creature has a face, so bivalves are in and fin fish are out. Not sure what to call them.

Yesterday on the radio, there was a show about bees. Inevitably, someone called in asking about whether or not honey was OK for vegans to eat. One of the bee experts eventually, and in an exaspirated manner, asked if the people in question (friends of the caller) were breatatarians.

#241 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 07:53 PM:

Larry Brennan - did you mean breathatarians?

I've heard of people being described as breathatarians, but not breatatarians.

#242 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 07:59 PM:

Aargh. Typo.

#243 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 08:30 PM:

Vegans don't eat honey. It's an animal product.

#244 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 08:43 PM:

Xopher @ 243... Vegans don't eat honey.Vegans don't eat honey.Vegans don't eat honey.Vegans don't eat honey.

That means they're not Honeytarians?

#245 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 08:47 PM:

No matter how many times you repeat it, Serge, it's still true!

#246 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 10:48 PM:

My fantasy is to live off of radio waves. Unfortunately, I suspect if I could, I would find they weren't very filling.

#247 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2008, 11:42 PM:

Larry Brennan: I call them confused. They are engaging in the, "I don't eat cute things" school of diet, and that's just wrong.

#248 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2008, 12:18 AM:

Terry #247: There's nothing cute about a fish face. Yee-uck.

#249 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2008, 06:35 AM:

"What kind of vegetarian are you, Eyebeam?"
"I usually try to steer clear of bear meat."

#250 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2008, 07:20 AM:

There's nothing cute about a fish face.

Maybe to other fish...

#251 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2008, 07:33 AM:

ethan @ 248... May I suggest that you go to YouTube, and enter 'fish head' in the search string?

"Fish head, fish head, roly poly, fish head, fish head..."

#252 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2008, 09:41 AM:

Is a nonjeneregretterian someone who likes to eat sparrows?

#253 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2008, 11:37 AM:

Serge #251: One is compelled to note that 'fishhead' is the vernacular Jamaican term for 'bribe'.

#254 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2008, 11:49 AM:

Fragano @ 253... And if you don't pay a fishhead, you wind up sleeping with a whole fish?

#255 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2008, 11:54 AM:

Serge #254: Nothing quite like that. In the wrong circumstances, the absence of fishhead could leave you well ventilated.

#256 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Fragano @ 255...

"It is a fact well known that, in the wrong circumstances, the absence of fishhead could leave you well ventilated..."
- Jane Austen's Pride and Extreme Prejudice

#257 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2008, 03:34 PM:

Serge #256: Nicely done!

#258 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2008, 06:28 AM:

Serge @ #252:

Heh.

#259 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 12:48 PM:

Actually, there is an objective distinction between plants and animals. It is not based on cuteness.
That distinction is consciousness/sentience. That means that the animals can enjoy surroundings and lose something meaningful if killed. The research supposedly showing that plants feel pain is not reputable. It is evolutionarily illogical. Plants are not mobile and cannot escape a threat and therefore have no use for feeling pain.
There are some animals that we are unsure about (insects, some small sea animals such as oysters, etc.). However, we know that cows, chickens, and most fish meet this criteria.
Plus, the answer to dairy farming byproducts is not to eat beef. The answer is to end dairy farming or figure out to maintain milk production without breeding the animal ever year (hormone stimulation).

#260 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2009, 01:01 PM:

IIRC, some plants, when attacked by insects, release chemical messengers which are detected by other plants nearby and cause them to generate compounds which discourage attacks by those insects. "Not mobile" does not imply "completely helpless".

#261 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 08:18 PM:

If one made the argument that they couldn't, shouldn't yeast and other bacteria, fungi and molds be an issue as well, being at least as alive as said chalk?

#262 ::: Erik Nelson sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2011, 05:59 PM:

Linkspam at 262: generic non-apropos comment with ad link on the name.

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