Friday, October 08, 2004


I can count among acquaintances and good friends both vegans and vegetarians. The one thing that runs through them all, like so much refined soy product, is not environmental concern, or ethical outrage, or poverty, or health.

It is pure bitch-goddess stubbornness.

Consider my classmate, D____. Not only is she vegan, she is also an Irish convert to Islam. When I was tasked with bringing food for a class that we were in, I wanted to make sure I brought something she could eat. Before I could launch into the options, she stopped me: “If it tastes good, I probably can’t have it.”

This, as a lifestyle, is simply untenable for me.

But I do agree, though, with a lot of the points that no-meat people make. I want to be good. I want to sing with the Morningstar angels among the clouds of tofurkey. But, damn it all, I’m just not strong enough.

So, I did what any red-blooded yet red-meated man would do. I rationalized. I created a social and dietary movement out of it. I was Paul, making a limited idea more palatable. Sure, diluting the Word in the process, but where would we be if he wasn’t such a pandering hack?

Behold: binivorism. I am binivorous.

Eating meat isn’t inherently wrong, since we seem to have the teeth for it. What’s wrong is the amount. The gluttonous consumption of whole herds of creatures to meet some protein requirement hardwired in for humans that were still being tossed about by mastodons. Consider how just eating less meat works out in the terms of vegetarianism:

Ethics: Killing animals is wrong. Yes, but the cute and wonderful things do die eventually, at the hands of a capricious god who has abandoned them. Might as well eat them. Just not in such a quantity to force them to live merely as food, raised in drawers with no sunlight. With a decline in consumption comes a decline in the need for factory farming; couple this with an insistence on free-range meat, and one can seriously improve the lives of all animals, both delicious and otherwise.

Environment: Rainforests are stripped away in order to clear grazing land. Again, decreasing the demand decreases the need for wanton razing. Of course, still having a Brazilian burger now and then ensures that the ranchers remain employed. In a completely unrelated side effect, the reduction in meat-consumption as a status symbol (picture a peasant-defiling king with a bronzed pig in front of him) might lead to more social heft being attached to those that are smart enough for moderation. No more SUVs, micromansions, breast implants…

Poverty: Meat is expensive. Then picture a world in which you’d have a hard time giving a filet mignon away. It’s not that no one wants it, they just already had some chicken for lunch and they’re already pretty well meated, thank you. Decrease in demand leads to decrease in price.

Health: Meat will kill you. I am looking forward to when the collective mistake of Atkins catches up to us. I will be in New Zealand, I promise you, when the bill for all the colon cancer appears. But remember, it’s not eating meat that kills you: it’s eating too much of it. There’s a reason that we eat it; you need what it gives you oh so tenderly. Plus, when you give meat up completely for too long, you can lose the ability to digest it. Far too many sophomore-year vegan converts discover the consequences of this when their cheatin’ hearts get the best of them.

So, how does one go binivorous? Just cut back gradually. I have meat once a day, down from twice. When I break this rule, I don’t twist my arm. It’s a party, there’s only pepperoni pizza? That’s all right. Because for the whole week beforehand, I saved one collective chicken’s life. And I am only one man. 100 other people means 100 fewer dead chickens a week.

I’ve also discovered the joys of cooking without meat. There’s no obsessively washing the salmonella away with tofu. Most vegetarian cooking comes from adventurous and spicy cultures. I also don’t feel as loagy and weighted down. Rare is the veggie meal that males you want to lie down afterwards.

Here are some things to help you, the potential culinary convert, out in your transition to non-excess. Meat eaters can only eat extra firm tofu. The slimy stuff is repellant, unless we’re dealing with one of those people that eat the skin off of the gravy. Those freaks will eat anything. Try putting nuts on everything; cashews and pecans are fantastic in various places. You can make a good Thai peanut sauce with chunky Skippy, some red curry, olive oil, and a frying pan. This is good on anything you would have put meat sauce or gravy on before.

When I informed D____ of my wonderful and capacious idea for living, she said, “Yes, I’m sure that portion of a cow that you saved today thanks you.” But the big picture!! We can make a difference if enough people change and binivorism intentionally makes it easy!! No more worrying about bringing your vegetarian girlfriend home for Thanksgiving. Instead, picture this: a happy couple, lying in bed and reading, when one turns to the other to say, “Darling, sometimes I just want to eat a swan.” The other smiles, knowing that the two of them had collectively spared a small group of pigs in the past month, and says, “You’re a monster and I love you.”


Blogger Sue said...

I swear to god, if you become a vegetarian, or a vegan, and refuse to partake in gloriously juicy, fat marbled steak with me whenever I come home, I'll stab you in the eye with my steak knife. And you KNOW those are big.

P.S. i'll still love you even if you become a monster and resort to devouring poor, defenseless cauliflowers.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Alcarwen said...

There are those of us who are forced into sad binivorism by the sad state of affairs that happens when we live on campus on a grad school budget that didn't leave enough cash for a meal plan or for a good weekly trip to the grocery store... that sad few have forced to become ramenivores... eating only what is essentially flour, water and some strange packet of nothingness that's really probably just sodium making the blood pressure skyrocket (as if the crisis of being a grad student couldn't do that anyways)... now we few, we proud, we povery stricken crazies eat meat on our returns into the civilization that are our parents houses... or we make sad attempts on the blogs of our friends to get invited to dinner. feed the starving student? pleeeeeeaaaaaassssssssse

7:47 PM  

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