Friday, June 5, 2009

Part of a Balanced Diet

For the latest round of "Smack" talk, our friend and I tackle the question that is on everyone's mind these days. Feel free to weigh in by posting a comment, and enjoy.

Smack: Would you rather have to eat McDonald’s breakfast every day for a year or live on a vegan diet for a year? I’m talking breakfast value meals, no fruit & yogurt parfaits.

Within Reason: Wow. Are we talking true vegan? As in no animal by-products at all? Man, that's hard. As I'm considering this, those stupid McDonald's commercials are streaming through my head...and I think that might be the deciding factor. This is like choosing between anemia and diabetes - literally.

Are there animal products in beer?

S: Yes, I mean 100% vegan.

Some beers are vegan, but some are filtered through animal byproducts such as gelatin or isinglass so they’d be off limits. Guinness is an example of this. Also, any beers flavored with honey would be off limits. Anheuser-Busch products would technically be ok, but you’d have to be gravely concerned about their ties to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, not to mention their signature Clydesdales.

WR: It feels so wrong to say this, but after you brought up the whole ancillary animal tie-in issue, I think I'd go with McDonald's. I just don't think I have the patience to wonder if Polar Seltzer is kosher to drink because it uses an animal mascot. I don't feel like shopping in the vegan aisle and overhearing tofu recipes. I really don't want overhear arguments about whether it's okay to 'pretend it's meat.'

Man this is a hard question. What would you choose?

S: At first it seems like an easy choice: McDonald’s breakfast. But then when I play it out in my head, I think, “Wait, I would be starting every day with 880 calories and 44g of fat* in my stomach.” Despite the fat kid inside of me that would be lovin’ it, there’s also a health conscious side of me pointing out the probability that I would feel like dog feces every day and probably get sick. But then the fat kid speaks up again and points out that a vegan diet would mean no bacon, no cookouts (unless I bring my own veggie burgers - can you imagine the embarrassment?), no milk… it’s a lot of extra diligence that I’m not up for. Plus I just love to eat meat. I choose McDonald’s.

*Based on my presumptive breakfast value meal of choice: sausage McGriddle, hash brown, and iced mocha.

WR: I think the thought of no meat is getting me a little riled up, because here's what I have to say: If you want to be a vegan, that's fine - but don't tell me it's a healthy lifestyle. It's just a different lifestyle. We're omnivores. I know that the whole process of eating meat has become so industrialized that it evokes uneasy thoughts for a lot of people, but a fact's a fact. I'm also aware that the thought of pure hunting - as in: hunting the food you eat, is a tough thought for some folks as well. I've heard it said that if you could successfully hunt a deer, kill it, skin it, gut it and cook it - you can eat it. That's a nice argument, but even cavemen eventually started farming livestock.

That should be a McDonald's commercial - "Piss off vegans. Eat McDonalds - or are you too weak?"

We are defending McDonalds.

S: I agree completely with your assessment of veganism. It’s just as unnatural as the processed, MSG laden food that they’re against. There’s no way to get all of the essential nutrition on a strictly vegan diet without supplementing with vitamins. I can understand being against mistreatment of animals and some of the horrid conditions at slaughterhouses, but to be against the idea of eating meat altogether is absurd.

As for your commercial idea, Wendy’s does have that “meatatarian” campaign.

WR: Yeah, I remembered the meatatarian thing right after I wrote that. Now I wonder if I've ever had an original idea in my whole life.

In summary, I will say this: you know your lifestyle is suspect when people are choosing to eat at McDonalds over becoming more like you.

S: I just went and got a triple meat sandwich for lunch… just to prove a point… to myself.

WR: Well done.

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