Sunday, March 20, 2011

Courtesy of My Cousin

Several days ago, my cousin (who is 18) posted a note on Facebook telling a story about his trip to Subway.
Standing in front of him was a man who was harassing the guy behind the counter because his gloves had touched meat, and the man was vegan, so he couldn't eat anything that had been touched by anything that had touched meat. It's one thing to ask nicely for him to change his gloves, but apparently the man was being rather mean about it.
After the man left, my cousin asked the employee "Does your tuna salad have mayonnaise in it?" The employee said yes. Mayonnaise has eggs in it. Moral of the story as stated by my cousin: vegans are rude hypocrites.

I think that's a disrespectful generalization, but that's not the point of this post. 

Why does the man care if the employee's gloves had touched meat?

The purpose of being vegan is to avoid animal-based products so that less animals are slaughtered/treated badly for human consumption/profit. Therefore, eating food with meat or dairy is generally considered bad, since it detracts from that goal.

But is the demand for meat going up because the employee's gloves touched meat and also touched your food? No. In fact, you're just contributing to other consumption-based problems by insisting that he use another pair of gloves without reason.
Meat itself is not inherently evil. It's the demand for meat that's the issue. If something doesn't increase said demand, it shouldn't be a point of conflict.

So the moral of the story as stated by me is that sometimes people get so caught up in the dogma of things that they forget what the actual point of it is, and they'll often place huge value on things that don't actually matter.
So I think it's important to ask ourselves "Exactly why do I care about this?" and if it turns out that your caring about said thing is in alignment with your values/goals/whatever, then that's good. If not, then it's just an added point of anxiety, which is never beneficial.

If you're interested in learning more about the tech aspects of the Nook Color (plus hacks and such), you might want to check out said cousin's website: 

(You should also tell all of your friends to come to this here blog and post links to it and such, so that next time I see him I can brag about how I get more views than he does.)


  1. so as the token vegetarian let me mount a defense of that guy(despite him not noticing about the mayo which is silly)

    We view meat as something disgusting. We think of it as a dead animal(which it is). How would you like me running your sandwich over a dead body? You'd think it was gross(rightly so). That's how we think about it.

    We believe that Meat itself is inherently evil when not needed. If you're in the woods and need it to live that's fine if you're not then we view it as murder(despite Murder having an actual legal definition). To quote Morrisey "It's death for no reason and death for no reason is murder."

    I believe that the moral of the story is that the guy didn't know that mayonnaise has eggs and I believe that you are in fact supposed to change your gloves between every sandwhich.

    Also I once ended up in the hospital because my sandwich was contaminated with some fish products. Perhaps the man is allergic to meat. Perhaps he didn't want the meat juices on his sandwich.

    What makes the guy hypocritical is that he is eating tuna salad and tuna is, in fact, meat.

  2. I am glad that someone pointed out that tuna is meat. However, almost everything we eat is the dead body of something, why give animals special reverence?

    Anyway, as the last paragraph might reveal, I enjoy toying with vegetarians/vegans, and in the process have discovered quite a few categories. The difference that interests me most is why they make the choice. Some do it for health reasons, as animals and animal products can generally be replaced by healthier alternatives. Some do it for environmental reasons, as producing meat is resource intensive. Unfortunately these two categories are not much fun to play with because I rather agree with their reasons and feel rather bad about my own meat consumption after talking with them. Finally, there are those who do so for moral reasons, because they don't want animals to suffer, these are the fun ones. I omit people who are vegetarians for strictly religious reasons because I haven't run into many of them.

    Somewhat independently of why the eat the way they do, one can consider what they eat. Vegans won't eat animals or animal products, while a vegetarian usually will eat some animal products (ie. milks and cheeses, not sure about eggs). Then there are pescatarians who will eat fish and/or shellfish, on the notion that they have almost no nervous system and cannot be mistreated, or because fish are a rather healthy meat. So, if the man was a pescatarian that eats animal products, a tuna salad sandwich would be entirely kosher for him, but a light drizzling of meat juice not so much. However, the point remains that they slight meat contact is unlikely to do him any actual harm.

    As for vegans being rude, I read a piece at one point that argued that being vegetarian was inherently rude. If you want to go out to eat with friends or are invited to a group dinner, you put increased pressure on the eatery choice or on the host's menu preparation. I think it was in something that Michael Pollan wrote, but I am not quickly finding a reference. It does seem in keeping with his advice to think critically about one's meat consumption, without feeling the need to entirely eliminate it.

  3. Guess I was just too lazy looking for a relevant source... Also, sorry for comment-geddon, it just means the post was very interesting!

  4. I was vegetarian for some time, but I couldn't do it because it lowered my blood iron and messed up my sleep. Sorry....

  5. I went through a brief phase where I was a bit concerned about eating other sensing if not sentient animals. But generally if a philosophical idea appeals only to a certain subset of people, that automatically makes the universal rightness of the idea suspect. Not that they can't be right, but there had better be a very good reason that everyone else is wrong. Some one else has already written a bit why strictness is important to vegans and some possible rationalizations

    I don't particularly like meat, but it's not really healthy to be a vegan long-term. Not that you can't get "enough" protein, but there are other problems with plant sources of protein (phytosterols, lectins etc)


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