Privilege even in veganism

Recently, I was re-subjected on Hathor to a popular but not universal vegan position: that the only reasons anyone eats meat are tradition and pleasure. That no one eats meat because they must. We can just eat rice, beans and grains in lieu of meat.

That assertion is rolling in privilege. Specifically, the privilege of not having a health condition for which doctors advise a special, non-vegan diet.

Let’s get one thing clear: the debate about whether or not some vegan diet somewhere would work for people with insulin-resistance, Crohn’s disease or failing kidneys or a medical requirement for more protein than the typical human needs is not the issue. In fact, let’s just take it as a given that there is a vegan diet for everyone, somewhere. But at this point, it’s a matter of fact that a functioning vegan diet for some of these conditions remains unknown. Vegans complain online of being told by doctors they have a condition that requires them to eat red meat or eggs or whatever. Some of this may be ignorance or prejudice on the part of the doctors.

That’s not the issue. The issue is: people are being told by their doctors they have conditions which require a low-carb diet, or require more protein than most people, or that keep their systems from digesting half the foods available on a vegan diet. For a vegan to say “humans only eat meat for pleasure or tradition” is absurd, insulting and privileged. And untrue. People often eat meat and animal by-products because they are being advised by the experts in healthcare that they must.

Take me, for example. I ‘ve never liked beef. I’d rather never eat it. But I get anemic. I take iron pills every day and eat quite a lot of veggies and dark leafy greens per week. And when the anemia happens, I take extra iron pills and eat even more greens. No help. I have on multiple occasions systematically tried every food but beef known to help with anemia, to no avail. I’ve tried herbs. I’ve tried everything anyone at health care stores can think of. Nothing but beef gets me going again. I languish in fatigue until I break down and eat beef I don’t like or enjoy. Then I’m fine.

That’s a really mild example. There are people with immediately life-threatening problems who are being advised by well-informed doctors that they need to eat animal by-products or meat, at least for a certain period during their illness. When a vegan says no one eats meat except for pleasure/tradition – read “selfish purposes” – they are callously erasing that person and his concerns. How does that fit in with the vegan philosophy – deleting people who don’t fit your scenario?

There are people halting the progress of their diabetes by eating a non-vegan diet. Could there possibly be a vegan diet that would do them even more good? Sure, anything’s possible. But like I said, go subject yourself to medical experiments. How does advising others to be the vegan movement’s guinea pigs fit in with the vegan philosophy?

Additionally, there’s something very classist about asserting that everyone could just go vegan right now if only they’d stop making excuses. The US is full of people who don’t know how to eat properly by any standard. We don’t teach nutrition in schools anymore, and many parents just don’t have a clue. Fortunately, a vegan diet doesn’t have to be expensive, so it may be possible for them to eat vegan for the same or less money. But what about families where all the adults work very long hours just to make ends meet, and no one has time to do food prep and cooking? The answer I usually hear is: “They just need to buy a slow cooker and there are tons of vegan recipes that’ll be quick and easy to fix that way.” Yeah? Because everyone has an extra $24 or whatever it costs to buy a slow cooker? Check your privilege – not everyone does.

Saying the only reason people don’t go vegan is they don’t want to erases a lot of people who have legitimate reasons to believe they can’t.


  1. Jenny Islander says

    *raises hand*

    Tofu costs more than three times as much as eggs. Eggs are cheaper than about half of the beans or peas I can find in my local chain stores and much cheaper than any organic bean or pea at the health food store.

    As for veganism always being easier on the earth: Nobody local grows legumes for protein. If I did have the land and the know-how and the time, I would probably be able to do it myself, weather permitting. But I would be eating dried peas or white beans, plus oats or barley or rye, plus some mushrooms, for my protein. That’s what can grow here–again, weather permitting. If everybody local went vegan and grew their own food, we would have to expand the local human footprint enormously, taking up most of the land near the coast, where the microclimates allow for growing vegetables and/or grain. We would have to chop down more old-growth and old second-growth forest and displace local wildlife from the most favorable climate pockets for finding early spring plants and so on. And because the best places for growing food tend to be widely scattered, we would need new roads to connect them, or else boats with diesel engines to take the food along the coast even when the wind and waves were against a sailboat. And I live in what is sometimes called the banana belt region of Alaska. The offical gardener’s climate zone map of my state includes a special zone that doesn’t even have a number, just a matter-of-fact note that if you can get anything to grow there, more power to ya. That zone covers most of the state. So vegans who live there must import food, from hundreds of miles away if not further.

  2. says

    I raise my own poultry, and have seen first hand the difference between how they would do in the wild versus how they do at my place. My turkeys are larger and healthier than wild turkeys. There really aren’t wild chickens anywhere to compare my chickens too, so I can’t judge there. They have space to wander, plenty of fresh veggies, bugs to pick at, clean water, and a dish full of a food that provides for all their dietary needs in whatever quantity they choose to eat.

    When the time comes for one to be dinner, it is killed as quickly and painlessly as possible.

    I value my birds, but I do not humanize them. I know they feel pain and fear, so I try to ensure they never feel either as much as it is in my power to do so. But reasoning skills? I’ve seen my hens stick their heads out of the fence to get a better look at the coyote attacking them through the fence.

    However, a couple weeks ago, we had a raccoon get some of the birds. It tore one apart and ate it, then proceeded to tear the heads off six more and leave their bodies scattered about the yard. The surviving birds were so traumatized it was nearly a week before any of them laid eggs again, and I had to bring four of them in the house to doctor up because of their injuries. I am much nicer to my birds than their ‘natural’ predators, or even nicer than they are to themselves. For chickens, if the ratio goes less than 1 rooster to 10 hens, the roosters kill each other (and occasionally the hens).

    If you do want to ensure birds are well treated, the words you need to look for on the packaging are not ‘cage-free’ or ‘organic’. You want ‘free-range’ birds. You will pay more for them. It costs substantially more to raise birds well, and if I sell the meat at anything less than $4 a pound I have not made a profit.

    If you just want the eggs, a good sign is when the yolks of the eggs are orange rather than yellow. That means the chicken was allowed plenty of access to fresh veggies and likely bugs which provide for their entertainment as well as nutrition. For a quarter, you can generally convince a local farmer to crack an egg to show you. But you will pay more for fresh eggs. If you want the privilege of cheap eggs and meat, you are contributing to the abuse of animals. Vote with your dollars.

  3. sandra says

    Not everyone has the money to buy more expensive food. Once everyone in the world has the privilege of too much food, THEN we talk about which kinds of food to eat.

  4. Shaun says

    Speaking as a person diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (I know, old thread, but it seemed an open-ended question), there are clothes I will not wear, or will not wear in combination with each other, because either the texture or the vibration produced when the clothes rub against each other is extremely disruptive. I’m also a picky eater, at least as much for texture as for taste, but I don’t know enough to know whether is is just a personal quirk or is more broadly applicable here.

    By way of specific example, I consider eating peanut butter to be a mild way of torturing myself. I have a jar in my house, I’ve had it for about 6 months, and sometimes when I’m in a hurry or am out of other things to eat I’ll make a sandwich with it. I don’t buy peanuts because eating them is unsettling. I’m sure there’s some vegan alternatives to these kind of foods, but peanut products are a lot of what *I’m* familiar with as a protein alternative.

    When I was a teenager my mother tried to “cure” me of my AS by prohibiting me from dairy and grain products. I actually won that dispute, simply because that would leave me with so few foods I could eat (yet alone wanted to eat) that would even leave me healthy.

    I really do think there’s a kind of privilege in the way we North Americans eat, and I personally abstain from beef and try to stick to the less-ecologically devastating meats of chicken and fish, and maybe even we should make the ecologically-costly foods more costly. But as soon as you start taking options away from other people you don’t know how few options you’re leaving them with (and this isn’t even touching on people with more serious issues, like food /allergies./)

  5. says

    As someone who has anemia and who despite popping iron supplements everyday and looking at the nutrition guides at the back of food packages to check what the iron content is AND eating lots of meat who still gets tired very easily, I appreciate this post SO MUCH. I’d love to be vegetarian and not have to eat animals, but I wouldn’t be able to get through work without it. If I don’t have red meat for breakfast (yes, I have meatballs for breakfast), I won’t have the energy required to get my work done and unfortunately, I kind of need to work to pay bills and buy food and afford rent.

  6. DragonLord says

    I sometimes have to wonder how many vegans would survive 30 days after oil stopped being available.

    I also wonder what plans said vegans have for avoiding the mass slaughter of domestic food animals in the event that their message gets across and they convert the world to veganism.

    I know that both of those positions are extreme, but IMO for something to be sustainable it has to not fall apart when faced with those sort of extremes, which is also why I have no problems with Jennifiers statement about not being morally against cannibalism.

    I guess that what I’m saying is that I think that veganism is a privilege that those that are wealthy enough to have their food imported from where ever it can be grown can choose, however for the rest of the world it’s not only unsustainable, but possibly also suicidal as well.

  7. Inkhuldra says

    This is only partly on topic, but I hope you don’t mind. :-)

    I’m a carnivore by choice, and also because I live in a cold climate country where it’s hard to grow vegetables inexpensively. Veggies are very pricy here, because they’re mostly imported.

    The landscape around my rural home consists of small fields of grain and hilly areas that can’t be used for anything but grazing. My nearest neighbours are a flock of approximately 10-15 bullocks on a steep hill. Grain crops fail when the summer is too wet or too dry, but grass grows in abundance.

    I get a bit annoyed by people who claim that the world would be a better place if everybody switched to an all-vegan diet. Not all animal husbandry is based on keeping thousands of animals in feedlots where they eat grain-based feed rather than grass/hay (which is more nutritious and gives leaner meat and better milk). The vegan idea seems to be that all land that’s used for grazing could instead be used to grow grain or vegetables. How naive is that? Climate and geography makes large areas of the world inarable. Why not use that land to raise animals for meat?

  8. Grizzy says

  9. Shaun says

    This. Absolutely this.

    Judging by the comments in the thread, though, some of the diehard vegans would prefer human beings starve than eat an animal, even though eating other life forms is what all animals do. If they can distinguish the difference between a plant and an animal, it baffles me they can’t distinguish between, say, an insect and a primate.

  10. Patrick McGraw says

    Interesting that he thinks commenting on this blog means someone has the privilege of functions kidneys, just for one example.

  11. says

    Or a functioning immune system. I can’t eat any legumes, and I have to rotate my diet, and every high protein plant I’ve run across had made me very sick. Yet somehow I comment.

  12. Patrick McGraw says

    I suppose he thinks non-evident disabilities aren’t really real. He wouldn’t be the first.

  13. Kirsten says

    Directed to Mr. C, Dan, and those who agree with them.

    What you seem to have an issue with is the mass farming techniques of the U.S. and whoever else uses those techniques. With conventional fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, genetic modification, transport, storage and even use, vegetables are a whole different can of nasty worms. The main difference is you don’t see them in pain because they aren’t much for faces and talking. No pens, no death squealing, just pretty fields.

    I can’t believe how many people think that conventional farming of any sort is a good thing, or how few understand that the imported fruits and veggies we get come with chemicals banned in the U.S. but not their country of orgin. But not everyone has the time, the money, or the knowledge to get the very best. If we all did the best we personally could in reducing all our consuptions the whole world would be better off.

    And also, control our own breeding! Genetic diversity is dwindling directly due to human expansion of farms, houses, buildings and we hardly blink an eye! Am I the only one who thinks all life deserves to not be destroyed via negligence and ignorance..?

  14. says

    I meant to reply to this post a LONG time ago. Thank you so much for the information. I buy the organic eggs at Trader Joes. I have no idea how well the egg laying chickens are truly treated *for* that market, but I have noticed a perceptible difference in the taste and texture of the eggs.

    I’m not against animal slaughter-not a vegetarian here-but I AM against abusive, in”humane” practices of raising and killing animals bred for comsumption. I do think their quality of life has everything to do with the quality of the life that they later help sustain. (don’t want to get all mushy & spiritual at this point, but it can go that deep and weird)

    I’m glad your birds have *you*.

  15. Youll_Never_Guess says

    In my experience, lamb helps to a lesser extent than beef, and my local butcher tells me that bison contains more iron than beef, (but said nothing about b12- I just recently found out that it could be a factor to my condition, and haven’t had the chance to look it up yet.) It is however very dry, so cooking preparations should be carefully considered, to make sure you don’t change the chemical structure too much or lose the nutrients, if you wish to keep meat eating to a minimum(as it’s been suggested that there is more than iron and b12 in the meat that keeps anemia at bay, and not all causes and factors of anemia are known). Sad as it is, I have also been told that veal contains more of the iron and b12, (which would mean less beef intake overall/ fewer animals needing to be killed). One of my new favorite discoveries is that shell fish contains even more of both iron and b12 than red meat. I’ve replaced my large daily intake of beef, (on most days), with one can of shelled clams. Add to pasta, or vegie soup, and feel great!

  16. Youll_Never_Guess says

    I love the way you think. I feel the same way(especially about rape and murder, and torture). I’d just like to add that if people were to stop eating meat save for the meat that they absolutely needed to survive…it would become unavailable to the poor classes. It would mean fewer stock, and higher prices, and somehow I just don’t see insurance covering beef (believe me with the prices I have to pay to eat enough to stay alive, I have asked)…(Especially since I try to buy free range, grass fed, etc., because I figure that if I have to eat them, at least I can help to ensure that they have a good life first.)

    Also, if history proves anything, when humans no longer NEED cattle in large numbers, they will be quickly pushed into the woods, or deemed “threat” to land or human well being, and then be reduced severely in numbers, or even driven to extinction,(as has happened with many species of animal from wolves, to bison, to non working horses). Which means even more abuse. If people want to ensure the best interest of cows and bulls, they will have to come up with a third option, because just choosing not to eat them is not going to benefit them really.

  17. Youll_Never_Guess says

    I’ve tried going vegan. I almost died. I tried going vegetarian. I was in the hospital for a month. You assert that everyone here CAN, and therefor OUGHT, but you are wrong. You are basically saying I should just die.

  18. Casey says

    I was MSNing with a friend and we randomly segued into talking about veganism/vegetarianism and a whole host of other things He WANTS to be vegan even though he doesn’t have the means to do so, because he feels that veganism is RIGHT because it doesn’t hurt animals, because he believes the killing/eating/using animals to eat is inherently wrong and it’s CALLOUS/DISRESPECTFUL/RAPING THE EARTH (but that wearing an animal’s fur is SLIGHTLY less wrong)…He also agrees with PETA that owning pets/companion animals is wrong/in”humane”/slavery/abuse because the animals in question have been bred/evolved to a point where they’re helpless without relying upon us (but he owns numerous pets). He’s also of the mind that humans and animals eating each other and plants is wrong all around, and in a different (ideal) world, we could all just live off sunlight…he also had a bone to pick with this quote:
    “Additionally, there’s something very classist about asserting that everyone could just go vegan right now if only they’d stop making excuses.”

    He said to me:
    “That is exactly what Buddhist and Shinto societies expected of it’s citizens, and the poorest of people made room for that.
    Hathor posts like this are filled to the brim with privilege.
    there is no HONORABLE way to do that
    that is privilege
    to think that there is an honorable way to do it
    is privilege
    that is thinking you are better than them and thinking that they you UNDERSTAND them
    when you know you don’t, and we all know we don’t
    but that doesn’t lead to the right wing arguments that people also use either
    and that is what pisses me off about the world right now
    we CAN
    be kinder
    we CAN
    be better
    but it is FULL of privilege and insanity to think that eating any dead living being is honorable.
    that’s why I get so pissed off at Killian and her family for saying that animals feel nothing and were put here to feed us
    they felt stuff
    we need to recognize that”

    (it was very stream of consciousness)
    Well, it just bugged the shit out of me that he thought what Jennifer had to say was privileged or that killing animals in the least-worst way possible and thinking that was okay was privileged…can anybody help me out on deciphering this? I’m of the mindset that there’s nothing inherently wrong with growing crops and animals for human consumption as long as you do it in a healthful/humane/conscientious way but as much as he says that he and I are essentially on the same page, it still comes off like he’s on the other extreme in the food-ideology spectrum of it’s all bad, but I guess it’s just a reactionary defense against the people he knows on the other side of the spectrum who relish their positions as “carnivores” and being on the “top of the food chain” and even think that “animals don’t think/feel so whatevs” to justify negligent food-reaping techniques…
    Anyone else feel free to help me make sense of this/sort this all out? I’m a little confused.

  19. Jennifer Kesler says

    That’s because he’s just throwing the word “privilege” around like a weapon. Doesn’t actually specify what privilege the posts are supposedly guilty of. It reminds me of misogynists telling us we’re not being open-minded when we reject their position that women deserve to be treated like shit. I just ignore people like that.

    In other words, he doesn’t really think it’s privileged, he’s just saying that to be hurtful. And hey, who doesn’t love people who say things just to be hurtful! Gosh, how “kind” of him! How “better!”

  20. Casey says

    Yeah, I still got a MASSIVE bone to pick with him about that, and it bugs me because we’re usually of a like mind on most socio-political issues, and he says that he agrees with what I have to say on this issue and that we’re essentially on the same page but I think he’s being WAY too extreme…he keeps insisting that even though he thinks eating another living thing is inherently WRONG he DOESN’T think people/creatures who do it are evil but I still feel like he’s being an asshole.
    I kept at him with my “moderate” (LOL) stance that there’s nothing inherently wrong with eating animals but he was all like
    “WHY must you try so hard to justify what you do as RIGHT~!?!”
    He seems to conflate “not being inherently wrong” with “justifiable animal holocaust”.

  21. says

    Point out that a leading cause of extinction in animals is their habitat being turned into crop land. That’s how I usually break the brains of ‘omg save the earth go vegan’ types.

    That’s why I’m for a lot of the ‘genetically modified’ crops. Increasing the productivity of a small amount of land makes more sense to me than increasing the amount of land. That’s another way to break the brains of the ‘omg NATURE!’ folks.

  22. Cinnabar says

    As humans, we can exert more conscious control over our actions and behaviours than most other mammals. But how can he think that ALL killing and eating of animals is wrong? We DON’T live on sunlight, we need nutrients from plants and animals. Sure it’s sad when a fluffy little animal dies, but how does he explain (or live with) the natural evolution of carnivorous species? =\

    We’re lucky that we evolved to be omnivorous so that we can choose what we eat to a certain extent, rather than having to rely on specialized diets like a lot of other species. (Hey, that’s a kind of privilege too! =D)

    I guess it’s just a reactionary defense against the people he knows on the other side of the spectrum who relish their positions as “carnivores” and being on the “top of the food chain” and even think that “animals don’t think/feel so whatevs” to justify negligent food-reaping techniques…

    That might just have a lot to do with it, yeah. But that’s clearly not how you think at all. Truth be told, this whole issue is something I need to work out for myself too. I don’t get into it often with people, but when I do I usually brush it off before it starts getting heavy with something like, “I love animals! I love them so much, I want them to be a part of my very being!” =P

    BTW, I come from a country that is predominantly vegetarian for religious and cultural reasons (since he mentioned that), though I myself am not. Though I live in a cosmopolitan city that doesn’t have many issues with non-vegetarians, I know there are places and communities that DO actively revile meat-eaters as “filthy and unclean” and there have even been a few efforts to shut down businesses that cater to them. This both feeds off and leads into vicious religious intolerance against the minority religions that do eat meat.

    If he thinks vegetarian cultures are some sort of non-violent utopia where everyone skips down the street hand in hand and the animals are super adored, he’s wrong. Animals are treated like garbage here, routinely hurt or maimed without a second thought, left to rot in the streets. Pets are barely tolerated (although this is changing) and there are numerous reports of outright harassment and threats to people who try and take care of street animals, or even pet owners from their housing societies. Individually of course people love and take care of animals and pets, but broadly this is not a culture that respects animals, not unless they’re *useful* in some way.

    He’s welcome to live here if he wants. =\

  23. Jennifer Kesler says

    Farmers have been selectively breeding forever, so less radical GM than we practice now has always been part of farming. The problem, IMO, is when the people behind GMO decide (1) who cares is the GMO version has the nutritional qualities of gravel, IT’S RESISTANT TO DISEASE or (2) so what we sucked out all the nutrients, we’ll just replace them in the lab – “enriched” sounds so healthy, doesn’t it?

    I grew up with access to “organic” veggies before the term had been coined – back when “organic” was food. What I’m eating nowadays from the produce aisle, my body doesn’t even recognize as food. Is this because of GM? Maybe somewhat, in some cases, but it’s largely because corp farms don’t take care of the soil they use. They don’t bother letting nature put the nutrients into the veggie as it grows; they just figure they’ll take care of that in the lab later with synthetic crap or, well, GM. So I did just implicate GM again, but the point is, it doesn’t HAVE to be evil, and getting rid of it wouldn’t help anything if we continue to apply the same lack of standards.

  24. Casey says

    Do you live in India? I think I remember you talking about Indian soaps on Hathor. :D

    I’m honestly DREADING talking to him again on MSN after he gets back from his boyfriend’s family’s big ol’ weekend-long Christmas bash. I’m afraid either he or I will dredge this back up again. On Christmas Eve I was still reeling from that conversation because I felt like he was guilt-tripping me/personally attacking me because I only kinda-sorta agree with him…I ended up crying and nursing a bad eye-ache for most of the day. I mean, we’ve been friends since 3rd~4th grade and I only have like three really good friends (him included), and I’m conflict-avoidant so I try not to rock the boat for fear of losing someone close to me… :|

    The more I re-read/think back on that conversation, I can’t help but think he was maybe shit-face drunk at 2 in the morning (he lives in Sweden, and they have back-asswards policies regarding drugs and he can’t smoke weed, so just drinks to excess instead), COMBINED with the fact that he’s been reading up on shamanism/pagan beliefs for years now which has exacerbated his anti-Judeo-Islamo-Christian resentment (the reason he kept throwing around the word “HONORABLE” is because I asked him “surely halal and kosher meat is okay?” and he answered back “ZOMG, HALAL MEAT IS HORRIBLE!!! AND SO IS KOSHER!!! It is LAUGHABLE that they “sacrifice” an animal as they prey to God and think it is an HONORABLE death, NO DEATH IS HONORABLE!!” (I think he wants to convert to Jainism or something) that I think he was just trying to get the poison out.

    He also started out the discussion by making a weird conflation with eating meat and wearing fur, he said,
    “If you’re an Inari-Sami in Finland, or an Inuit or any kind of indigenous person where it’s cold
    and you’re wearing a seal skin that’s okay.
    But if you’re some bitch in NYC who wears a chinchilla coat just because she can
    So he starts out by acknowledging/believing that people who use animals due to their region/culture/religion is a-okay due to context, but wasteful USian consumers are bad (coupled with unintentional misogynist language!/barf), and I guess yeah, I get behind that, but then it snowballed into something nonsensical to me:
    “It’s okay to eat grandma’s meat but you can’t wear her skin like a coat or squeeze her into a diamond ring”
    And I’m like WAT? I’m no scholar of the animal kingdom, but I assumed for the most part that there was a cannibalistic taboo in almost every species.
    His whole argument quickly became muddled and infuriating.

    Add in the fact that he not only owns multiple pets, but also eats meat of all kinds and enjoys it very much that my asshole-ish-ness wants to seep out and say “YOU EAT MEAT AND OWN PETS, WHAT’RE YA COMPLAININ’ FOR~!??” which is so douche-y and disingenuous/condescending.

  25. says

    A lot of the ‘GM crops have no nutritional value’ thing is just propaganda. In most cases, your body really can’t tell the difference.

    GM crops aren’t just about pesticide resistance. And don’t knock the value of disease resistance. Think back to the great potato famine, among other such disasters. GM crops are working to prevent such from ever occurring again.

    Imagine, just one moment, what it would be like if some of these sustenance level areas actually had disease resistant, drought resistant, high nutrient value crops. Just imagine if every child had the privilege of going to bed with a full belly.

    That’s the goal of GM crops. Except Monsanto, those guys are just assholes out for money, any good they do is purely accidental or a result of pressure from marketing.

    When Zambia outlawed GM crops, people starved.

    Yes, I know we currently grow enough food to feed the world twice over and the real problem is distribution. We can’t solve the problem of people being power-hungry, greedy asshats. So let’s research ways to increase local food production.

  26. Jennifer Kesler says

    I said ALL crops lack nutritional value anymore, not just GM. I should’ve included for context that I’m in L.A., where even the farmer’s market offerings are really still just corporate farmed crap, some GM, some not. It doesn’t matter – the soil is worthless. Additionally, California sends its only decent produce – if indeed there is any – into markets where it has to compete with other agricultural centers (when I was a kid back east, California produce was good). What finds its way into cities is “food substitute”, because there are so many people clamoring for food, they can foist crap off on them for twice the price of good stuff. So they do.

    That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.

  27. says

    I used to live in California, and I am currently a farmer. I also grew stuff and sold it at the farmer’s markets when I lived in CA (LA area, to be precise).

    If you go to the market in LA itself, your information is about 95% accurate. If you can get out of the city proper now and then, you can still find excellent small-scale farmers who have roadside stands.

    As for all crops lacking nutritional value, well, frankly, not sure where you get your information. As I’ve mentioned before, I grow most of my own food, and I’m not unique.

  28. says

    Also, depending on your setup in LA (aka, do you have a sunny balcony) you can supplement your diet nicely with some container gardening. I used to always grow my own herbs and the like, and in most of the apartments I lived, I could usually have a couple productive tomato, pepper, and pea plants. If you’d like, I can see if I can find my journals from that time period and post what seeds I always found the most productive.

    Just keep in mind, when it comes to flavor, ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ are not synonyms. If you want tomatoes, go with Romas. Far more versatile, and actually have taste.

  29. says

    Would it be possible to make this topic with your friend an “agree to disagree” and drop it topic? Sometimes there’s no getting through, or getting someone to think rationally on a topic, and it’s best simply not to address it. Especially if it’s a friendship/relationship you value.

  30. Jennifer Kesler says

    I apologize for not being clear. My grandparents grew their own food, and it tasted great and was very satisfying. The storebought produce I’ve had in most cities where I’ve lived was not as good as theirs (they just lucked into the best damn soil, I guess), but still good. What’s available to me in L.A. is barely food – not tasty, and never satisfying in the way other produce is. So where I got my “information” from was my own body, and I consider it a reliable source.

    And perhaps my information was “95% accurate” a few years ago, but that’s another part of the problem: it’s gotten worse in the past 5 years. The farmer’s market on Third and Fairfax, for example? They’re mostly just flipping produce from the grocery stores now. That wasn’t true 5 years ago. It used to actually be stuff from farms, and while it was hit and miss, some of it was not bad.

  31. Jennifer Kesler says

    I don’t have any sun hitting any part of my apartment or balcony at any time of year, but thanks for the offer. I’m in the middle of a concrete jungle, blocked in on every side. I’ve been wanting to get into container gardening for some time (I do have a friend who’s able to do it, and she does grow some very good produce), but it’s just not an option for me currently.

    Just keep in mind, when it comes to flavor, ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ are not synonyms. If you want tomatoes, go with Romas. Far more versatile, and actually have taste.

    Hmm, if you think it’s a matter of species, maybe that’s why you’re not understanding what I’m telling you about growing methods. It’s a matter of overgrowing an individual tomato. Any type of tomato can taste fantastic when it’s grown in good soil under good conditions, not involving a hothouse. I grew up with really tasty homegrown tomatoes of several species. All things being equal, maybe a roma does have more flavor than a beefsteak. But grow a beefsteak under excellent, non-corporate conditions, and it’ll taste much better (and feel more nourishing) than a grocery store roma.

  32. says

    If you think it’s a method of growing methods, maybe you aren’t getting what I’m telling you about species.

    It’s not a one or the other deal. The huge ‘super tomatoes’ grown on synthetic fertilizers, yeah, those aren’t that nutritious. A roma grown under those same conditions maintains a lot better flavor and nutrition because Romas don’t ‘overgrow’ as much. The ‘superboy’ tomatoes overgrow even in my compost and worm-farm fertilized garden, that’s why I don’t grow them. They get huge way to fast, and that’s no way to make flavorful food.

    If you do want to grow your own, splurge on the seeds. Don’t go to Wal-mart and buy the 69 cent seed packs, or the packs at your grocery store which come from the same place and are often expired before they are even packaged. Go someplace like bountiful gardens, or seed-savers. Start with good, quality seeds and you can get some good produce even under somewhat less than ideal conditions. If you want tomatoes and peppers, go to pepper joe’s for seeds. I have a small ‘hothouse’ that I keep going year round with pepper Joe’s stuff just because the peppers in stores here are so…bleh. They are still good. Hell, his Serrano and Habanero thrive in the tiny window in my bathroom even in the middle of winter.

    I also get my information from my own experience and my own body. Maybe LA markets have gotten worse in the past five years, it’s been about that long since I was there. I’d venture that has more to do with economy than a change in farming techniques. It’s now cheaper to flip grocery produce than it is to drive to Modesto or other such towns and actually pick up the good produce.

    Is the farmer’s market in Watts (103rd/Central) still there? It was always pretty good. If memory recalls, it was on Saturdays. I think on Sunday it moved to the Macy’s parking lot on Colorado. The Thursday one in South Pasadena was often nice as well. LA also has at two CSAs with reasonable weekly subscription rates. 562-984-2917 and 323-644-3700 are the numbers I had for them, though shares tend to go quickly.

    If you do want to try your own container gardening, even if you don’t have a sunny window, there are still options for you. I’ve had some good results with the daylight bulbs, though some plants just absolutely refuse to thrive in such an environment. Tomatoes though, are pretty forgiving plants. If you are willing to risk idiot neighbors claiming you have a pot farm, you can actually do quite a bit with a hydroponics setup. I start most of my plants in the winter, in my basement, in such a setup under UV lights. For herbs and the like, I find tarragon practically thrives on a diet of bad light and car exhaust. Seriously, I got far better results out of the planter by the parking space in CA than I ever do in my carefully tended garden out here. Stupid plant.

    I was going to point you towards a place in LA that you could lease a garden space, but they aren’t there anymore. Pity, always better to be able to tailor your garden to your own tastes and nutritional needs.

  33. Jennifer Kesler says

    Yeah, I believe the last of the lease space went about 5 years ago. Gotta put up yet another parking structure, you know!

  34. Cinnabar says

    Yeah I do live in India. :D Back in the early days of the internet, I used to tell people that we lived in mud huts, took elephant buses to work, and strapped laptops on our back as we swung through trees. Sadly, that doesn’t work nearly as well anymore. Curse you, Slumdog Millionaire for ruining my fun!!! xD

    Anyway, about your friend, it really DOES sound like he got drunk or something when he started spouting off and then the brakes failed and he just couldn’t stop until he crashed into a wall of FAIL.

    I so understand wanting to avoid conflict for fear of losing a friendship. (Conflict avoiders of the world, unite!) The good advice to give here would be that solid friendships (and even not so solid ones) will weather tiny things like this and come out okay. But I totally understand how hard it is to shake off that feeling, so maybe you can just pretend it didn’t happen and carry on like normal next time you talk? xD

    And if he does bring it up again and tries to needle you on it, I like GardenGoblin’s point:

    Point out that a leading cause of extinction in animals is their habitat being turned into crop land.

    Also, if we all suddenly stopped eating meat, what would happen to all those animals that were bred for consumption? There’s just no space for them all. There would have to be a mass slaughter anyway or we’d probably end up slaves to the New Chicken Overlords.

    And most importantly, what is he doing having pets and eating meat while telling you how bad it is to do the same?? WTF?! If he still tries to get into this with you, remind him of this fact CALMLY and continuously. Like for every point he makes, just say over and over, “Don’t you eat meat and have pets too?”, “Hmmm that sounds interesting, but didn’t you enjoy eating X meat dish the other day?”, “Oh by the way, how is little Fluffy doing?” and so on. He’ll cower under the barrage of your cold, impassable logic! :D

  35. Casey says

    Well by the time he finally got back home to talk, I ended up messaging HIM first to complain about some HORRENDOUSLY OBVIOUS white privilege that was displayed by a (somewhat civil) wrestling forum I frequent, he responded in turn with a story of male entitlement on a “foreigners living in Sweden” forum HE frequents where a bunch of American men were complaining about how they couldn’t hook up with DEM SWEDISH FEMALES because they didn’t respond to their macho bravado. It’s surprising how volatile the politics of meat can get, because (as I’ve stated before) when we discuss ANYTHING ELSE pertaining to social justice/equality movements we’re of a like mind on the subject and everything’s hunky-dory! :D ;) :P

  36. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’m not sure which is better: elephant buses, or New Chicken Overlords. :D

    I think Gategrrl had a good idea with “agree to disagree” and I also like what Cinnabar suggests about gently reminding him that his position is inconsistent and therefore difficult for you to debate. I have friends where I have just plain banned a certain topic – religion, usually. Because I really don’t want to disrespect their beliefs, but OTOH, I don’t want to hear what I consider to be misogynistic lies and sociopath-benefiting fantasies.

  37. says

    before someone else brings this up as a reason to shoot down everybody’s argument, in the modern industrialized farms of the wealthy west, we grow crops to feed the animals, who in the case of cattle, consume ten calories to every calorie of food they provide on average, so the cropland argument does not fly.

  38. Youll_Never_Guess says

    Attackfish: If we stopped eating them, do you think they’d stop eating our food? Face it, if we don’t breed them, they will still breed themselves. If we don’t eat them, we’ll still reduce their numbers big time (kill them off so they don’t “threaten” our farms, land, and children) and nature will also have a cruel way of knocking them off. People choosing to not eat them, is not enough to help them. If you really care about the animals, then protections and options need to be in place before people stop eating them. Otherwise they will go the way of the moose, wolf, wild horse, buffalo, etc.: Reduced in numbers to the point of near extinction, because we don’t need them anymore.

  39. Casey says

    Yeah, things ended up blowing over (if you read my comment to Gategrrl), and I also forgot to clarify that he’s well aware of how damaging crop land IS, and that he just wants us all to live in eco-friendly shamanic-pagan-hippie covens and grow our own little victory gardens, which in itself can be construed as a naive privileged dream, considering how (as Jennifer stated upthread), some people just aren’t able to grow their own food for whatever reason.

  40. says

    I’m already a slave to the chicken overlords. There are days when I get up at dawn to trudge through two feet of newly fallen snow and spend half an hour in below 0F conditions digging through a drift by the coop door all so I can bring the birds their morning dose of warm water and refill the mini-duck pond.

    And the little boogers haven’t laid me an egg in a month.

    Note: We also grow a lot of crops to create the terrible corn-based bio-fuel. Soooooooo many better options out there for fuel than corn, but noooooo, we can’t use those, that would be silly.

  41. Jennifer Kesler says

    Additionally, the animals WILL EAT EACH OTHER because that’s what meat-eating animals do. It’s part of how nature is designed to work. Certainly, we need to consider how much meat we’re eating, and how we’re treating the animals we eat, and what kind of life they have before becoming food. And I’d love it if our primary method of body disposal for humans was to leave the remains out for the carrion critters.

  42. says

    *holds meat eating hand up high* Yes, but a) would they be eating industrialized farmed corn that destroys soil, and the water table and b) actually, I have a feeling most of them would die instead due to starvation. I know that undoing the meat industry in this country would absolutely not be animal friendly. I have issues with the meat industry in the way they are not for the most part concerned with humane treatment and ecological sensitivity, and corn feed makes the meat less nutritious, but I am not a vegetarian, and I don’t want to see an end to it. I was bringing it up because the argument was annoying me in its ease of countering. I like to point out flaws in arguments of the sides of issues I agree with before opponents can, and then claim the whole argument is bunk. Which it’s not.

  43. says

    I just had a former customer call me up and inquire if we can return to our old arrangement now that she has moved back. She has an autistic son, and his difficulties are severely impacted by his diet. He has a few allergies and a large number of sensitivities. For starters, anything washed with soap can trigger a melt down.

    His sensitivities also include most processed foods. Additionally, he has issues with a lot of types of beans. Corn is also an issue, including HFCS. Note: I am not privy to his actual diagnoses, I just know that a lot of his diet was worked out trial and error with his doctor overseeing.

    For protein, he gets eggs and chicken. I kept the chickens on a carefully controlled diet (which, by the way, they absolutely LOVE) of meal worms, grains, and greens. The eggs they lay he can eat without triggering any of his sensitivities. I stagger some meat birds in with these chickens on that diet so there is one ready to slaughter each week. I process the birds using only boiling water for sanitation and they are generally in her freezer within an hour of their last cluck.

    And best of all, in his mind, he gets to come pet ‘his’ chickens and collect the eggs himself on the weekends. Since she bought a house and they are outside the city limits, in the spring I’m going to help her put up a 4-chicken coop and set up a meal worm farm. I’ll put fertile eggs in the incubator come March-ish from my easter-egg layers and he’ll get to come by to observe the development and hatch.

    There will be four happy and probably spoiled chickens and one little boy who can have his favorite breakfast without it sending him into a week long series of melt downs. Egg and goat-cheese on gluten-free bread means he’ll be able to actually hold conversations. With the chickens he can join 4H and have some socialization outside of his special needs classes.

    Pet, food, and hobby. Chickens are AWESOME!

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