Adventures in Food Choice

A veterinarian writing in USA Today offers this food for thought: Being a veterinarian and caring for animals doesn’t mean that you have to stop eating animal products. Her story raises an interesting point about foods we like to eat as a culture, and foods we don’t. Coincidentally, the National Post served up an interesting “food threshold” chart yesterday. It encourages people to rate themselves based on their highest tolerance for foods that stretch one’s sense of taste, in more than one way. The rankings range from the lowest rung (fruitarian) to the highest (bear heart/monkey brain).
Some of these food choices are what we would consider “weird,” and best reserved for scenes from an Indiana Jones movie. But if you asked the Chinese or Brazilians (or Australian aborigines) to make a similar chart, you’d find insects, dogs, and animal organs would be on the left. Pasta would be on the right. That’s because the rankings on this chart are derived largely from a sense of cultural “sensitivity” which in turn assigns an “ick factor” to certain uncommon foods.
People are most comfortable eating what their culture finds acceptable. In America, that’s the old familiar “food groups” and the newer “food pyramid,” both of which includes meat and dairy and just about everything else short of Andrew Zimmern entrees.
Of course, some activists want to force us to change the way we eat. As the meat-eating vet relates in her column, she’s often accused of hypocrisy for her dietary choices.
We think animal-rights activists are missing the bigger picture. Obviously someone who dedicates her life to helping animals isn’t a hypocrite just because she accepts her place in the food chain. But vegan activists don’t seem to understand why their philosophy is considered fringe, which might be why they sometimes use violence to achieve their goals. And that’s what leaves a bad taste in our mouths.

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