Red vs. blue and Atkins vs. carbs
On Hit and Run, they have a post regarding fat, diets, etc. But this part made me laugh out loud:
And while we're considering the topic, it may be time to realize that the red vs. blue state dichotomy is no longer a useful of talking about America (if it ever was). This story and this one suggest the third rail of American politics is rapidly becoming carb consumption.
No kidding. I am a member of that much despised minority--I don't eat meat. I just tell people that I'm a vegetarian to keep it simple, but I do eat fish, because I, like my cat, know that fish is just a separate and tastier category of food than boring ol' meat. Suffice it to say, I eat way less protein than your average American. And in an Atkins-crazed world, my diet has become an even bigger controversy than it was in the good ol' days when people used to just claim that I would die of anemia and claim that I was looking pale. Now they think I'm going to get fat. Which, as I point out repeatedly, is utter bullshit. There are vegetarians of all sizes and shapes, yes, but we do tend to live longer and be healthier in the long run. Regular bowel movements are a fun and exciting bonus.
Now there is the occasional fun of having someone look critically at a meal of mine and accuse me of "carb-loading", which I remind them is also known often as "fiber-loading". Don't let the Atkins assholes get to you if you like sandwiches with the bread on, people. When they start trying to make you feel like eating boring old carbs is a mortal sin, ask them point-blank when they last had a bowel movement. Sometimes I roll up my shirt a little to show the non-bloated belly to demonstrate what happens when you keep the track clean. Fun can be had all around.
Anyway, the Atkins diet seems to me to be another example of bloated American over-consumption. You know, like the Hummer, piling pounds of jewelry around your neck, disposable everything, sneakers that cost a couple hundred dollars, and yes, fast food in all its "size, not quality, matters" glory. It suits Americans to believe that they can only lose weight consuming only that food which does the most damage to our society and enviroment--meat, particularly beef and pork.
But in a way, the Atkins diet is an example of the red/blue divide that we all fear is growing. On the blue side, low consumption, concern for the enviroment and reading books like Fast Food Nation is causing people reconsider how their dietary choices have a larger effect. I myself chose vegetarianism, but many of my friends are going instead towards the organic meat option, which I whole-heartedly support as it is reviving the ranches around my adolescent home in West Texas.
On the red side, people are increasing their meat consumption in an effort to lose weight. But part of me also thinks it's because they are increasing their meat consumption as a symbolic gesture as well, defending their rights as Americans to consume the hell out of everything. When Eric Schlosser came to UT to talk, the College Republicans stood outside and protested by passing out fast food coupons. It was a marvel to behold how corporate America has convinced a good number of people that loyalty to the corporate system is "freedom" so thoroughly that they go out and work for free for these corporations to make what they think is a principled point. And many people have told me that it's a man's right to have a hearty steak if he wants one.
It's difficult to argue with people who make these points. They really have the benefit of simplicity--"It's a man's right to have a steak." Implication: liberals would deny a man his one simple, beloved luxury that he has earned by working his ass off for the system. It's hard to counter that with the nuanced point that the modern factory farms are destroying the enviroment and people's lives and property values, that yes a good steak from an organic rancher is a fine thing, but that McDonald's hamburgers are causing all sorts of problems, that by reducing meat consumption and redirecting alot of the grain that went to feed animals to feeding people we could reduce human suffering and therefore make strides to peace, that nothing is more vital than stepping back and asking how our personal contributions to this culture can make an impact on the world at large. So I end up just glowering and saying that I would appreciate it if they could respect my personal choices, as if I'm the one who has something to apologize for.