Real American Men and the Liberal War on Meat

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Yves here. I wish this post were a holiday spoof, but American politics increasingly resemble a nuthouse. Now that Biden conceded the right wing position that masks are oppressive by spinning being able to ditch them as freedom, the right has moved on to a new identity battle ground: meat, and in particular beef. Never mind that the new generation of meat-free burgers are apparently remarkably bovine-similar, including being not very healthy.1 Or that just about none of the agitators are hunters. You’d think getting men worked up about the coming war on penis-extender size pickup trucks would be a bigger deal.

By Cat Tebaldi, a Doctoral Fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right. Originally published at openDemocracy

On 24 April, Fox News broke out in a panic over “plant-based beer” and “grilled brussels sprouts” for a “Green 4th of July.” The tone and tenor suggested environmentalism was a deadly threat to the US, and especially American manhood.

Radical Right congressperson, gun enthusiast and Q-Anon supporter Lauren Boebert tweeted that US president Joe Biden’s climate plan would cut 90% of American’s red meat consumption by 2030 and that Biden should “stay out of her kitchen”.

The image of Biden in the kitchen evoked fears about the administration’s totalitarian overreach, and suggested an inversion of gender roles – Biden, and all vegetarians, were not real American men. Boebert and others repeated talking points by Larry Kudlow, the Fox Business host and former Trump adviser, who argued the Green New Deal would be the end of grilling and traditional 4 July celebrations, stoking a panic about the end of the most masculine form of cooking and the most American of holidays with casual racism.

Those covering the story used Mock Black speech or words or grammar associated by white speakers with Black language – such as “Up in your grill” – to evoke racial stereotypes. This links Biden to imagined urban Blackness and tells the audience that they know the “real American men” are white and suburban.

Meanwhile, in order to let everyone know they didn’t support Biden or brussels sprouts, right-wing men flooded Twitter with pictures of their meat. They retweeted several pounds of unseasoned grey T-bones, raw steaks, prime ribs – often accompanied by an American beer. One popularmeme echoed the National Rifle Association, saying we could take their steak from their cold dead hands. Liberal Twitter responded by mocking the Right with #meatbeer; laughing that they didn’t know that beer is always plant-based (except Coors) or that you should order steak medium-rare. Almost nobody mentioned that we should, in fact, eat less meat.

This was just the latest in a series of Republican attacks on ‘vegetarian totalitarians’ and the welfare state, from the “broccoli horrible” argument against the Affordable Care Act to stoking fears that the Green New Deal will ban hamburgers.

On 13 April 2021 Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst proposed the TASTEE Act (Telling Agencies to Stop Tweaking What Employees Eat), which would ban “Meatless Mondays” in federal cafeterias, warning us of a “war on meat” which sounds a lot like the “war on Christmas” or “the war on men”.

Meaty Manhood

These meaty moral panics present and valorize an American identity that revolves around a man battling liberals to earn his beef. Republican politics often use meat to mobilize an image of working-class, masculine toughness, or heartland American patriotism. It’s not just meat, it’s dad at the grill on 4 July – the picture of manhood. The food is heavy, under-seasoned and over-cooked, but presented with pride. Texan politicians share photos of dry brisket, Wisconsin’s governor of ham and cheese sandwiches. Trump, of course, eats steak well-done with ketchup, and poses with hundreds of fast food burgers.

Food ideology helps shape Right populist discourse against liberal “cultural elites”, a white working-class authenticity, in opposition to a liberal search for cultural distinction. Although an enormous steak is expensive, it is given value as an ordinary man’s food in part through a simple or oversized presentation that makes it seem everyday and authentically American. It is also populist in contrast to liberal foods, such as sprouts, and liberal food ideologies.

Liberal food snobbery, such as Mike Bloomberg’s campaign billboard reading “Trump eats burned steak”, or tweets mocking Republicans’ lack of knowledge of craft beer haute cuisine also allow the Right to craft this populist image. In the words of the Right, a huge side of meat with ketchup is “owning the libs”, these imagined, eco-conscious, pretentious liberals who probably order steak “à point”.

Soy Boys and Tradwives

From castigating ‘soy boys‘ to Jordan Peterson’s carnivorism, meat means masculinity for the Right. Even those who don’t yearn for a white nation might associate veganism with women or celebrate meat as food that builds muscular strong men. Such shared ideologies make this an important area for the normalization of far-Right politics.

Perhaps the best example is the meat-heavy Paleo diet. The author of ‘The Paleo Manifesto’, John Durant, is a Trump supporter who describes himself as an “unfiltered contrarian”, but his diet had between one and three million users in 2013. Pioneered in 1975 by Walter Voegtlin, since disavowed by modern Paleo leaders for his “white supremacist, eugenicist, and generally unpalatable politics”, this diet celebrates a natural, white, premodern utopia.

This vision of traditional utopia is also maintained by the tradwives, the women in their 20s and 30s who celebrate “traditional femininity” and actively promote submission to men, homemaking and having large families. Researcher Annie Kelly notes that this vision of nostalgic femininity is linked to white supremacy. Central to the women’s production of anti-feminist and white nationalist nostalgia are ideas of bodily and racial purity and fertility, such as home cooking as a performance of traditional lifestyles and gender roles.

For some a traditional utopia reflects an interest in wellness; a farm-to-table cuisine leading to a natural, healthy lifestyle, as well as a pure, fertile body and a slender figure. Often celebrating traditional Western foods or preparing labor-intensive meals that would be impossible for working women, tradwives link wellness to whiteness and anti-feminism. I grew up with this ideology, from a cookbook called “Nourishing Traditions”, which gave pickled beet and fermented cod recipes, and saw modernity and processed food as polluting to the body and mind – and challenged ‘politically correct’ nutrition.

Others celebrate traditional American food and traditional gender with a 1950s’ flair and a pearl necklace. If grilling is male, baking is feminine. Perhaps the only thing more feminine would be the dinner a tradwife proudly cooks from anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schlafly’s cookbook, ‘Faithfully, Phyllis: In the kitchen’.

Cooking itself is often a metonym for the ‘traditional’ female role, her place ‘in the kitchen’. Cooking for and serving your man becomes an important image of submission and femininity, which honors and elevates white masculinity.

Tradwives use pies and pearls to translate far-Right politics into the language of home and family. Although their tastes are different, mainstream Republican politicians and tradwives use food in very similar ways, using hamburgers and steaks to translate the Green New Deal into a front in a war on meat, men and white suburban homes.


1 Big concerns are that they are made from highly processed foods and have chemical additives.

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  1. Acacia

    Cooking itself is often a metonym for the ‘traditional’ female role, her place ‘in the kitchen’.

    And speaking of metonymy, “meat” can also stand in for… well… you know…

  2. Samuel Conner

    Personally, I think that cardiovascular disease is the most masculine way to die (for civilians), closely followed by lung cancer.

    I suppose that in an alternate universe, we would see a similar panic over Federal nudging to reduce tobacco consumption.

    I’m a “rice and beans, flavored with a bit of pork” person. For me, price signals have been the most compelling practical argument to reduce beef consumption. The cost per gram of protein is “too d@mn high”.

  3. Alfred

    Ironically, the TASTEE Act would be a good idea if it allowed people to eat what they like at work. I have had jobs where I was told to eat outside because I was vegetarian and the others “could not stand the smell of my food.”(!) Ironically, they routinely burned pepperoni pizza and beef burritos in the microwave for lunch, but that was OK. At another place, my boss banned me from eating at my desk because I got excellent takeout food from a local Japanese restaurant for lunch. “I don’t want that food in here!” he said. Because it was Japanese. I can’t eat “American” food, I can’t digest it, and it makes me ill. I am no longer strictly vegetarian, but object to feedlot beef and inhumane meat production. In Vermont there are plenty of ways to buy local humanely-raised and nutritiously fed meats from local farmers. The noise from the ones with the biggest bullhorns is just that, noise. The problem in my view is that because of the noise, people are NOT given the choice they may want. They are told what they must want.

    1. James Simpson

      This British man has worked in a wide variety of workplaces and my vegetarian packed lunches have never caused anything more than curiosity. What is it about the USA? There are plenty of so-called manly men here but they’re not so tied to eating meat. Although I can’t prove it, I suspect that some women find veggie men quite interesting.

      1. Alfred

        What is it about the USA? I have been asking myself that question since I could form a question, and I was born here. “Doin’ it wrong” here since 1955.

      2. California Bob

        re: “What is it about the USA?”

        Simple. Nearly half the country requires outrage as a reason to exist. There’s plenty of grifters making good money from offering a continuous stream of it.

        1. Alfred

          And the other half feels so insecure that if you are different, somehow you are trying to make them “wrong.”

          1. a different chris

            I can second your “complaints about how my food smelled” issue at work.

            I don’t even remember what it was that was being complained about. It was sure way, way healthier than what the guy* who complained was eating (he was famous for only eating Arby’s sandwiches, and even then they had to not have the onion sprinkles on the bun. I was once myself eating from said Arby’s -varied diet, y’know – and he simply couldn’t believe I got the one with onion sprinkles. You know, the default sandwich that approximately 2 million other people were also enjoying at that moment.

            People iz weird.

            *who was actually a friend, or at least a work-friend type, so said interactions were more like if I had accidently stepped on his toes… he was so surprised by what I ate since I am visually quite manly – maybe not in the best sense of the word (more Dave Bautista than George Clooney, alas) but there it is.

            1. Alfred

              Onions are vegetables[shudder]

              Your work friend is probably in the antacid/laxative aisle a lot…

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          I wonder whether it is even half the country which requires outrage as a reason to exist. It could be as little as a quarter.

          But a quarter of 350 million people is still 82.5 million people, and when they all make the howling noise which only deliciously offended outrage can make, they get very loud. Loud enough to be heard around the world.

          And the grifters make a very good living keeping the outraged very outraged, and very loud.

  4. Juneau

    There is a lot of discussion about beef these days, from Gates’ strange efforts to promote lab grown meat (he’s an omnivore) to anti vegan backlash and now beef as a symbol of republican rights and freedoms. As a vegan I find it distressing that this issue is being so politicized, and I never want to be supported by someone like Bill. I come from a family of hunters who never once bothered me about my food choices. Granted they were old school moderate democrats LOL. It’s baffling to hear people claim they are hunters by picking up a saran wrapped piece of cow out of a refrigerator compartment.

      1. norm de plume

        I may not agree with what you don’t say, but I defend to the death your right not to say it!

  5. Chas

    Can only assume this is presented as satire; it is difficult to take seriously a piece positing that the paleo diet, which seeks to emulate nutritional conditions present during the emergence of Homo sapiens, i.e. in east Africa, is somehow in pursuit of “white utopia.”

    It is indeed sad that even food is now politicized. It makes this author come off (likely unknowingly) equally as ridiculous as those she mocks.

    We are not only no longer allowed to occupy a middle ground on any issue (in this case, say, perhaps that both overconsumption of meat and veganism are clearly unhealthy lifestyle choices), but we are also increasingly encouraged to cluster (meat lover = Trump supporter = covid denier = racist; and liberal = vegan = elite = mask wearer = woke) by rhetorical nonsense such this piece.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Hate to tell you but you swallowing “paleo” bunk hook line and sinker completely discredits you.

      Having taken note of just about every diet fad starting with the mid 1980s, they are all middle-upper middle income, generally white hobbies, for the body-focused sort that also frequents gyms or Pilates or yoga classes. The Zone. Atkins. South Beach. And then paleo, which is actually pretty much Atkins. Oh, and of course superfoods.

      And the paleo diet is not at all what pre-modern people ate. First, paleo is big on fats, including animal fats if grassfed. Game is in fact incredibly lean since they have to run around to evade predators. Extra fat = unproductive weight. The only place you see game with a lot of fat is in very cold climates. Second, a lot of pre-modern veggies were way more tuberous and lower in sugars than the ones bred for cultivation.

      More from Vox:

      Scientists have long debunked the Paleo diet’s foundational myth that our forefathers and foremothers ate in this one way.

      The truth is our ancestors ate in a lot of ways, Harvard paleoanthropologist and author of The Story of the Human Body Daniel Lieberman told me: “There is no one ‘Paleo diet.’ There are millions of Paleo diets. People in East Africa ate different foods than people in West Africa versus the Middle East, and South America, and North America.”

      What’s more, we didn’t necessarily evolve to eat meat. In a popular TED talk, anthropologist Christina Warinner explains that humans actually have “no known anatomical, physiological, or genetic adaptations to meat consumption.” In fact, humans actually have many adaptations to plant eating:

      Take, for example, vitamin C. Carnivores can make their own vitamin C, because vitamin C is found in plants. If you don’t eat plants, you need to make it yourself. We can’t make it, we have to consume it from plants. We have a longer digestive tract than carnivores. That’s because our food needs to stay in our bodies longer, so we have more time to digest plant matter.

      There’s also plenty of evidence that people in the Paleolithic era ate grains and other carbs — even though new Paleo enthusiasts shun them.

      As Gibbons describes in National Geographic, the real Paleolithic diet “wasn’t all meat and marrow.” While hunter-gatherers did eat meat, when it was scarce they relied on “fallback foods” — nuts, tubers, plantains, water chestnuts:

      “There’s been a consistent story about hunting defining us and that meat made us human,” says Amanda Henry, a paleobiologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. “Frankly, I think that misses half of the story. They want meat, sure. But what they actually live on is plant foods.”

      1. Chas

        Association of an activity with a racial group does not at all mean that activity is a pursuit of utopian racial purity. Use of tanning booths is largely a phenomenon of white people; does this mean tanning booth users are inching closer to their goal of white utopia with each trip to the salon?

        I would also venture that paleo being an upper income, largely white phenomenon is much more a function of the former than the latter, which makes adding the racial element unnecessarily inflammatory. And of course it’s an upper income phenomenon; the foods it emphasizes are expensive, and the foods it seeks to avoid are cheap.

        Lastly, while I wasn’t trying to debate the merits of the paleo diet, Vox is not exactly the first place I’d go for objective analysis of the matter, given the point I was making in my initial comment.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The pursuit of bodily perfection is much more a white fixation and culture-normative. The grating use of idpol jargon to say that does not make it untrue.

          Look at the Olympics, the earlier European “body culture” fads, Jack LaLane, bodybuilding. Confirmation that bodybuilding was white-dominated long after blacks became significant if not dominant players in other American sports:

          Oh, and how often have you seen black men on the cover of Men’s Health? Like virtually never v. the one out of six you ought to see if blacks were proportionately represented? Hispanic-looking men also underrepresented.

          Paleo does not have to be expensive:

          Blacks are 3X as likely to be vegans as average Americans, which is contrary to paleo:

          According to Pew Research Center survey, 8% of black Americans are strict vegans or vegetarians, compared to just 3% of the general of the population.

          Those findings mirror a 2015 poll by the Vegetarian Resource Group, that found 8% of black people were strictly vegetarian, compared to 3.4% overall.

          Recently, a January poll by Gallup found that 31% of non-white Americans had reduced their meat consumption in the past year, compared to only 19% of white Americans.

          Your comment on Vox is ad hom. The article quotes scientists. If you want to dispute it, provide evidence.

          1. Chas

            Again, you haven’t responded to my criticism of the piece at all. The fact that white people overindex to a certain activity does not mean that activity “celebrates a natural, white, premodern utopia.” (direct quote from OP; emphasis mine)

            You can’t expect to simply launder the whole article with “yes she uses grating idpol jargon, but she’s generally correct,” and get away with it. The use of that jargon is precisely what’s wrong with her position, and is emblematic of the exact problem I’m lamenting: the inability since 2019 or so to discuss any issue without finding a vicious division along political or identity lines and the polarization to extremes that results. She is exactly what she mocks. Respectfully, it seems you are too caught up in your apparent disdain for the paleo diet to see this.

            1. a different chris

              You have quite a reading comprehensive problem.

              The fact that white people overindex to a certain activity does not mean that activity “celebrates a natural, white, premodern utopia.”

              True, it does not. And that’s not what the essay is saying at all. It’s saying that people are (quelle surprise) pushing it as such because howling nonsensical noise is how the modern right-wing calls its shock troops.

              So the meat-eating urban Democrats think “there they go again” but the red-state vegans (who can be really conservative, I know this from personal experience) just hunker down and don’t say anything.

              The important thing is the call to the group, not the information used.

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              This is more bad faith argumentation. You’ve retreated from most of the points you initially made but are sticking to this one. You in fact have NOT effectively countered my evidence that body culture is in fact a European project that came over to the US. Oh, and tanning booths are part of that. Go to any body building contest. They are all tanned. Tanned skin looks better than pasty pale white skin. It was a huge status marker for whites back in the day before people worried about skin cancer. In the winter, this suggested you were rich enough to have acquired it on a beach somewhere warm, as in could afford to travel. The men and women I knew back in the days that tanning beds had a bigger following were gym rats, and seeing who went in and out of one near me provided informal confirmation.

              In other words, the writer uses idpol-speak and writes clumsily on top of that. But you still have not disproven the evidence I provided, you are instead engaging in broken record, a form of bad faith argumentation.

              1. Quantum Future

                What we used to tan in the late 1980s as a bodybuilder was spray on tan.

                I like the realization Adkins, Paleolithic or Keto does not work for all races.

                My ex was from the Dominican Republic. The Adkins diet made her very sick. For me, I am mostly Eastern European. Adkins works like a charm.

                As for steak, a good cut like Ribeye is now unaffordable for the majority, outside a special holiday or treat and I believe that is where the politics are coming from, to hide reality one is no longer middle income based on reduced purchasing power.

      2. vlade

        I’d take issue with the Vox’s “we didn’t evolve to eat meat”. It’s true only very narrowly, as in that humans are omnivores, as all IIRC all apes (some monkeys are plant-only, even to the point of having plant-specialised stomach), even the most-vegetarian-apes gorillas will happily eat insect like termites.

        To put it in other words, we evolved to eat whatever was around. Meat was a valuable source of protein and some fat if it could be had, and we can process it. But most of the time, fruit and plants in general are much slower (less energy expedition) and safer to get than any meat.

      3. JohnMc

        while I don’t mean to defend paleo diets, anthropologist warinner might need additional info before she dismisses homo sapiens meat-eating evolution.

        Vitamin C is not limited to plant food sources, sufficient amounts are found in meat. Scurvy sailors needed additional amounts due to poor diets based on large amounts of hard tack.

        As far as digestive physiology, humans lack both fore gut or hind gut fermentation capabilities (unlike most of our primate relatives). The lack of a large stomach or colon but an extended small intestines and a pancreas capable of producing enzymes to break down food means we are not reliant on bacteria to digest our food as herbivores require. And we have that extremely acidic stomach (acid breaks down protein) to boot. And of course there is the expensive tissue hypothesis which posits that our large brain to small gut ratio is related to a nutrient dense (ie, meat) diet.

          1. Chas

            I didn’t intended to defend paleo, but I can’t help myself here. Our ancestors overwhelmingly favored organ over muscle meats, typically consuming them first after a hunt. Presumably this was selected for for the nutritional benefits. The fact you personally think liver is gross doesn’t mean your prehistoric ancestors did as well.

            1. lordkoos

              Is it possible that organ meats were favored because they spoiled more quickly than muscle meat, which can be preserved by drying, salting, etc?

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              Oh, come on. “Favored” is not what they actually ate. They ate mainly vegetables, nuts and seeds. That’s well substantiated.

              And it appears you did not read the rest of the comment with any care. It says “raw liver”. Have you ever in your life eaten raw liver? And don’t assume I don’t like cooked organ meats.

          2. p fitzsimon

            So how did the barrens land inuit live on essentially nothing but caribou for roughly 6000 years? Or the arctic inuit on fish, whales and seal?

            1. Alfred

              They ate things raw. And seaweed, grasses and roots.

              Ringed seal, whale skin and narwhals are essential to the existence of the Inuit since they contain vitamin C, commonly found in fruits and vegetables, as that is crucial for the humans to function normally.


              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Seaweed is an even better green than our now-prized kale. Not just tons of vitamins and micronutrients but also more minerals.

          3. Harold

            Since the human brain consumes 20 percent of a person’s calories, it follows that they require more calories than other animals. My understanding is that humans evolved to eat bone marrow, which they scavenged during the day from the leavings of large predators, who hunt at night. A hundred grams of bone marrow contains almost 800 calories. Bone marrow also has a lot of iron and b vitamins (and very little protein. It is mostly fat). Early stone tools are very efficient at breaking bones and extracting the marrow and where the such tools are abundant, indigenous people still use them for that purpose.

            1. Harold

              I am very surprised that this hypothesis is not more widely known, since it has been written about for thirty years. I once mentioned it on another forum and was ridiculed by a bunch of professors and economists. But as I understand it more and more evidence has been popping up, including the fact that early humans apparently stored bone marrow in caves.


            2. Yves Smith Post author

              The new thesis is that it is fats, not meat, is what made big human brains possible. Carbs and meat have the same caloric density, while fats have twice as much.

              1. Synoia

                Having lived in primitive societies, my observation is that Humans will eat nearly anything that moves and most of the things that don’t.

                If it moves it goes into the pot.

                Only with an abundance of food can humans become picky.

              2. Harold

                Fats, and specifically, bone marrow, which didn’t spoil as readily as muscle meat. Seed and nuts also contain fats, and early wheat varieties were richer in fats that stored vitamins. Modern wheat has had the fats bread out of it to increase shelf life. So it is less nutritious. Anyway hunting did eventually overtake scavenging but hasn’t lasted as long as an evolutionary stage. It is just more romantic.

                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  Huh? This is again Making Shit Up. Fats going rancid is the major cause of meat going bad, and muscle meat has some fat in it (anywhere from 2% to 22%). See:

                  Lipid oxidation in meats is a process whereby polyunsaturated fatty acid react with reactive oxygen species leading to a series of secondary reactions which in turn lead to degradation of lipids and development of oxidative rancidity. This process is one of the major factors responsible for the gradual reduction of sensory and nutritional quality of meats, thus affecting consumer acceptance. Therefore, the control and minimization of lipid oxidation in meat and meat products is of great interest to the food industry. In view of this, some technologies have been developed, such as vacuum packaging, modified atmosphere, and use of antioxidants.


                  And guides for dog owners (dogs are bigger consumers of marrow bones than humans) say that marrow bones can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days max, longer only if completely covered with fat.

                  1. Harold

                    With all due respect, I am not making things up. It is in the links I posted. Please don’t take my word for it. The piece in Discovery Magazine said, quoting the authors of an article from Current Anthropology (published by the University of Chicago Press): ‘Meat-eating is kind of a misleading term … Meat-eating can loosely mean so many things, many of which are not actually meat.’ In fact, the researchers believe that skeletal-clinging meat was frequently avoided, perhaps because it can rapidly acquire harmful bacteria from exposure or the mouths of animals. Marrow and brains, by contrast, because they are encased inside bones, retain low bacteria counts and persist much longer without spoiling.” Other studies have found that early man stored bone marrow encased in skin in caves for future use.

      4. Charger01

        I’m going to tread lightly, as I do not have the depth of experience Madam Smith possesses.

        I have tried the paleo diet on occasion, and have been successful. The emphasis on protein is a bit of a stretch in the article. The real deal is removing fast, sugar (or sugar like) carbs from your diet and replacing them with veggies (such as brussel sprouts, broccoli, or cauliflower) and moderateprotein and fats. You want your body to prefer burning dietary fats and not the rollercoaster of fast, shelf stable carbs the American diet is geared towards. I may be in the minority, but it works for me.

        The cultural piece of this article seems strange and alienating. Why is diet fetishism a political/social signal?.

        1. Alfred

          This is a Tribal society at bottom. It should be a sharing of knowledge between cultures, but some people insist on using it to divide, for their own purposes. We can choose, still.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          I’m not saying it does not work. Like Atkins, it is a ketogenic diet and ketogenic diets are very effective (your body has to use either protein or fats to make blood sugar, and that is less efficient than using carbs, which means your body starts tapping into your own fat stores faster). I’m debunking its claims of being natural/virtuous by rebranding it as paleo.

          As for the piece, it is reporting on meat being weaponized by the right as a social signal and then unfortunately piles on with “Oh, and aren’t they bad for doing so, see unwashed higher income deplorable equivalents.”

    2. Wildlife

      Some game meat (and here specifically muscle tissue) may be considered lean in terms of cooking, that doesn’t translate to not storing fat as a source of energy for survival.

      Mammals store excess calories as fat whenever possible. Mesenteric fat, brown fat, subcutaneous fat, etc. Game animals are no exception. The idea that five pounds or even 50 pounds of fat on an otherwise healthy elk will make a difference when it tries to outrun a wolf is silly. Every other elk in the herd has also been desperately trying to put on fat to maintain body condition. Being selected for pursuit and being killed is highly stochastic outside of the very young or unhealthy.

      Long-term, evolutionary pressure to survive starvation from drought, mast crop failures, delayed growing seasons, etc., and also to maintain breeding condition again favors fat storage. More fat, more milk, faster calf growth, better calf survival, increased evolutionary fitness.

      Bergmann’s rule does show that animals increase in size towards the poles, but this is body size, not body fat. A caribou or reindeer puts on fat just like a dik-dik, which is whenever possible.

      1. Alfred

        “Never Cry Wolf” was a good study of wolf selection of prey. They selected for the weak and diseased.

        1. The Rev Kev

          A good book that “Never Cry Wolf”. I think that it is true across the board that predators will bring down the weak, the injured, the sick, the young and the stupid that wander away from the protection of the herd. Not only do they expend less energy making these kills but they are also less to likely to be injured or killed themselves. I have seen a video where in Africa these predators make sweeps almost through the herds looking for their marks while those animals graze contentedly knowing they are protected by the herd.

      2. c_heale

        If you don’t eat vegetables, very lean meat can cause rabbit starvation.

        I’m also wondering about fat. Don’t female mammels need fat as an energy store when they want to have babies?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Yes, a famous example was the kid in Into the Wild. That is a terrific book if you haven’t read it. He didn’t starve but he was losing weight all summer in Alaska and so didn’t have the fat stores to fight off a poison (Krakauer explains the connection very well).

          1. BlakeFelix

            Into the Wild is a good book, but one of my favorite authors and foragers Sam Thayer went on a pretty decent rant challenging the kid poisoning himself. He was of the opinion that foraging for calories where the kid was was hard, and the kid wasn’t very skilled, so it seemed perfectly possible that he did just starve to death without any big effects from rare plant poisoning.


      3. Yves Smith Post author


        Human athletes would disagree with you vehemently on the impact of extra fat (unproductive weight) on performance (my trainer’s business consists about 60% of training pro and Division One athletes and Olympics competitors, so I heard a great deal about diet and bodyfat as considerations in performance). Horses are treated with Lasix to get them to pee out water weight!

        On a 1000 pound horse, 10 lbs is the maximum handicapping weight. 2.45 lbs is considered enough to give a past loser a shot at improved results. And being a loser in a race is the equivalent of being closer to a wolf in the wild, or being last in the herd and thus the one to be picked off.

        The typical elk weights 700 pounds. 5 lbs would be an even bigger deal to them than to a racehorse.

  6. cocomaan

    I’ve been hunting for years and deer meat, which I love, is far from organic. The last deer I shot with a bow was spending its days next to a cornfield, eating GMO corn. A few minutes before the button buck popped out of the bush, a squirrel had run by with an enormous corn cob in his mouth, off to gorge himself. That didn’t count the incredible flock of starlings swarming around the field.

    Wild animals tend to hang out near ag fields, and that’s just life. If you try to hunt big woods, you immediately realize how few animals are hanging out in unadulterated woodlands.

    Mediterranean diets seem to be the gold standard for health, but also will annihilate your pocketbook. And you can’t even trust the packaging.

    For instance, take cooking oils. We know that canola/rapeseed oil is garbage and is associated with dementia. So you look to olive oil, right? But olive oil that you get at the store is rarely actually olive oil. It’s usually a blend. There’s more or less an olive oil criminal ring in Italy adulterating all the damn olive oil.

    I have no idea where to buy unadulterated olive oil. How can I even tell?

    Or sweeteners. As Lambert pointed out in a post recently, and I saw reported on in American Bee Journal, a lot of grocery store honey isn’t honey. It’s some blend of syrups. The Chinese have been adulterating their honey for years.

    All this griping about each other’s diets is cheapened by the fact that we have no clue what we’re eating unless we grow it, raise it, hunt it, fish it, harvest it ourselves. And even when we do that, we’re not entirely sure what we’re eating anyway.

    My conclusion: find what diet works for you, helps you feel healthy, and leave other people alone.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Dunno. Go to some place where there isn’t agriculture beyond garden plots and maybe local farmers growing lettuces and squashes and beans and tomatoes, like Upper Michigan or West Virginia, or Maine, and the deer are plenty lean. I never ate corn-consuming deer, save the one or two times I ate farmed venison in a restaurant.

      Agreed with your concerns about sourcing. Honey is another problem. Unless you go to the beekeeper, how can you be sure the honey is honey and not honey cut with high fructose corn syrup?

      1. cocomaan

        Part of the reason deer are leaner is that they concentrate fat production in a net/webbing of fat, the caul. It’s surrounding the organs in species like deer and goats and sheep. Purpose is to protect the organs while also surviving in super cold temperatures, IIRC.

        So while that button buck had a ton of caul fat, the muscle tissue didn’t have marbling. Some people cook with the caul fat, I haven’t been brave enough yet. Deer tallow tends to be extremely strong flavored and it’s easy to screw up a meal when you use it, but I was talking with a wild game chef and I’ll see if I can try it out next time I bag a deer.

        You do get deer with marbled fat, like a cow, for instance in deer with testicle damage.

        In any case, wild game tends to concentrate around these ag areas, simply because it’s easy food!

      2. cocomaan

        Also, second comment on honey: from what the Bee Journal was saying, the only way to see whether your honey is adulterated was through NMR spectroscopy. That’s an expensive machine, I remember getting an NSF grant for a university trying to buy one, at least a quarter of a million bucks.

    2. James Simpson

      Here in the UK, a Mediterranean diet is quite cheap compared to a junk food or high-meat-content diet, especially if you do much of your cooking at home. Perhaps if you read the ingredients on a bottle carefully, you would be able to tell which is a mixture of oils. My local Asda has a fine selection from cheap sunflower to the finest organic olive and even the best is affordable.

      1. a different chris

        >Perhaps if you read the ingredients on a bottle carefully

        Did you read the comments carefully? Are you referencing the part that tells us what’s supposedly in the bottle or the tinier print below which says “this is all lies, lies, lies”???

        Oh wait, they seem to keep leaving that part off.

        Actually I’m a bit more sanguine about the labeling, it hardly seems worth the effort in the US anyway. As you said, eating in helps a lot and people here do not eat in, especially in metro areas.

        Which wraps us right back around to the whole bizarre right-left-bs template that’s been imposed upon us for somebody else’s good. Let’s see:

        1) Red Meat is hated by librul elites
        2) But the majority of Americans enjoy red meat, says so right on my TV?
        3) And librul elites are everywhere you say, so ipso facto some of them must eat meat?
        4) Ok but it’s still a schism! A real difference I tell you! They are abandoning it and forcing us to also! And…
        5) Said elites also dine out constantly because the expect to be served
        6) Said elites insist on pure olive oil because they think they are special
        7) But how do said elites know what they are getting when they always eat at a restaurant?
        8) BTW, don’t you do accounting for Cargill? You know, um, corn?

        So the people who are said to be so insistent on “pure” food spend most of their time getting it exactly where they have no hope of telling even if they are eating food the server spit in, and the people who are all about meat, meat, meat apparently live surrounded by fields of…grain.

        The Idiocracy came even faster than global warming.

    3. Alfred

      Re olive oil. I only eat olive oil and goat butter as added fats, and I don’t use much, so I buy Zoe Spanish EVOO, either organic or not. So far, an absolutely fine product, and worth the cost for me–if I buy a case of 6 at my Co-op, I get 25% off. I notice that canola oil, the so-called “organic, non GMO” kind has infiltrated organic products and I always read the label now, because it really makes a difference. It’s so disappointing that companies like Terra and others sold out to conglomerates, and immediately the products went to crap.

    4. Pate

      I have no idea where to buy unadulterated olive oil. How can I even tell?

      You may want to have a look at California Olive Ranch.

        1. Alfred

          “Funding for the study was provided by Corto Olive, California Olive Ranch and the California Olive Oil Council.”

          Did they test their oils?

      1. doug

        We are lucky to have a greek restaurant that the owner has olive trees back in the old country. He imports it. They sell the oil they use at the restaurant, and it is like no other I have ever had.

    5. Ian Ollmann

      GMO is a different ballpark from pesticides.

      GMO stuff is reshuffling of the same natural amino acids to make different proteins. It doesn’t make sense to object to corn with jellyfish proteins in it, if you would also eat the jellyfish, if prepared nicely enough. Imagine a dish with jellyfish and corn.

      By the time the deer has finished digesting its dinner of corn, with jellyfish seasoning in the farmer’s field, it has been broken down to the usual 20 amino acids and some smaller oligopeptides and reused to make 100% deer meat. It’s jellyfish character is gone, in much the same way as the plankton aspect of a jellyfish’s diet is largely gone. In the same way we eat pork and beef even though we may quite definitely do not want to eat what the pigs and cows eat, GMO into deer isn’t really a problem except for reduced crop yields.

      The concern over GMO os thoroughly overblown. If you want to be worried about it, you may be concerned over the effect of GMO corn pollen on native species, or perhaps evolved resistance amongst insects, but from a human health standpoint GMO isn’t a problem except where its success threatens our crop diversity.

      1. Alfred

        No, no, no, no, no, and no.

        You sound like my brother the chemist, who gave me pure benzine to clean the rosin off my fingerboard when I was a child.

        “GMO isn’t a problem except where its success threatens our crop diversity.”

        And why would this problem happen, exactly? Would it be because GMO was developed in the first place? Who puts the genie back in the bottle? You?

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Purdue University Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology Don Huber has been writing and speaking on the parallel-path dangers of GMO food and Glyphosate food for quite a few years now. Here is a briefest article about that.

        He lead into one of his lectures by recounting the Showa Denko L-Tryptophan GE-poisoning outbreak as an example of poison created by pure Genetic Engineering . . . . in this case not even inter-specific gene moving around. This case was merely Showa Denko increasing the number of times one of their production-bacteria-lines’ own genes for L-Tryptophan was repeated more times in the genome than “normal”. That had the stereoscopic effect of getting the bacteria to produce a novel poison never before known to science, and only discovered and isolated for study with some difficulty.

        If you wish to seek out GMO-based food to eat, that is your privilege. Others who have searched out information on GMO-based food-caused illness and risk-of-illness won’t eat any of it. That way, you can have even more.

    6. lordkoos

      Some known fake olive oil brands:

      Most of these are typical supermarket brands and many are Italian in origin. I try to buy extra virgin olive oil from Greece, Spain, Tunisia and California. Americans seem to like oil that has little taste, but a lot of real olive oil can be more flavored and many people around the Mediterranean prefer the stronger tasting oil. The best I’ve tasted was a Greek Arbequina oil, but it was pricey. We live near a Grocery Outlet bargain store and their buyers get good stuff at times, I’ve bought a lot of good Spanish oil there.

      1. cocomaan

        I can dig this. I remember tasting some premium olive oil at a friend’s house that was something they’d brought home from Europe. It truly did taste different.

        As for that list, definitely helpful, I’ll have to see what my local grocery carries.

      2. BillS

        Yes, counterfeit olive oil is a problem..and not just in Italy. I live in Italy and finding decent olive oil is not hard. My feeling is they do not export the good stuff (the oil with taste). Most Italians are pretty discerning and feel shame when the police discover adulterated food (oil, prosciutto, honey, what have you). Despite globalization, food culture is strong here and is very regional. A bit part of in-country tourism involves going to another region to sample their food products.

    7. drumlin woodchuckles

      Your question about how to know if the “olive oil” you are getting is even olive oil or is some multi-oil adulterated ” oil-food-product” under olive oil cover is disturbing for the issues of infinitely regressing epistemology it raises.

      How, indeed, do I know that the Extra Virgin Olive Oil I buy, and pay a reasonably lot for, is not really just a flavor-enhanced Wesson Oil trap for fools? I will claim that I can taste and smell the difference, but I would have to take a blindfolded taste-and-smell test administered by disinterested third parties to really know if I can even taste and smell the difference.

      Many years ago, a Lebanese Pharmacist where I work at told me that the adulteration of “olive” oil is a real problem. He told me about how a group of students he was once part of did a chemical analysis test on lots of different “olive” oils and found a lot of well-known prestige brands to be part-olive at best, and OINO ( Olive In Name Only) at worst. So I asked him to name a brand that tested all-olive all-the-time and he said ” Colavita”. And I know what Colavita tastes like. But clever engineers could fake something to taste “like” Colavita.

      So can I know? How can I know that I know? How can I know that I know I know what I know I know I know? At some point I have thrown up my hands and taken it on trust.

      I attend olive oil tastings from reliable-seeming hosts at times. I trust that people who place olive oil at the center of their traditional cuisine can tell the real from the fake. I “think” I can tell the difference between bullshit and bullshinola in the books, papers, and promotional literature.

      And so I trust that I know that the “olive oil” I use really is olive oil. If I discover that my favorite brands get fingered as fake, then I will feel lost in a callous and dishonest world.

      And yes, Lord Koos up above offers what I will trust to be a very good road map to real olive oil.

      ( As more Americans learn about good tasting olive oil, more Americans have been willing to spend enough to create a big enough market for it that some Americans are willing to risk trying to produce some themselves. Here is a group claiming to grow good olive oil, but I am in NO position to know a thing about it.)

      1. Taurus

        Adulterated olive oil is not replaced in any meaningful way with vegetable oil. It is simply diluted with an oil which is not strong in flavor or taste but cheaper. Hazelnut oil is usually a good candidate. So a Colavita which is 100% olive oil will be undistinguishable from Colavita which is 85% olive oil to most of us. The profit when you do this on an industrial scale is better than heroin smuggling. And the risk is much lower – in Italy, it is a civil offence with a token fine. The Newyorker had a good article on this probably 10 years ago.

        1. Harold

          Hazelnut oil? What would that mean to someone who is highly allergic to tree nuts, I wonder.

          1. Taurus

            Good point. I do not know. It is very diluted – and it is processed (oil, not the nuts themselves). I suspect that if it was a problem, we would have heard by now (because someone would have died).

  7. Not a vegan, thank you

    Thank luck everything at openDemocracy isn’t smarmy claptrap like this. Sheesh.

  8. KD

    Every effort must be made to prepare the proles for a radically reduced standard of living and the effort must be connected with our highest spiritual aspirations for a healthy planet and equality, when the reality is that the many must be brought down to satisfy the undying greed of the few. Economic activity = energy, energy consumption = waste. Economic activity isn’t going away, “green” for the Democratic Establishment means reducing that portion of economic activity going to workers, and, of course, you are a white supremacist transphobe if you have a problem with that. On the other hand, I won’t get too worried until they come for rice and beans and try to replace them with some kind of meal derived from ground insects and saw dust.

    1. Ian Ollmann

      Respectfully disagree.

      Every effort must be made to make full use of technology to keep equivalent standard of living without the destruction of today’s methods so that the Proles don’t go into a rampage and cause a lot of trouble.

      Bad: Take away the F-150
      Good: Make an electric F-150

      1. Alfred

        I am a “Prole” income-wise anyway, and no effing way could I any way in he!! afford an F150, let alone an electric one. I ride an E-bike, and MY dream is that E-bikes will be subsidized as a form of transportation for anyone who wants one. Yeah, more bikes on the roads, what an effing nightmare.

  9. Adam1

    It certainly feels like a nuthouse. God forbid either side actually talk about big ag and their unsustainable farming enterprises and their destructions of rural America all for the sake of more profits. We have one of the largest stretches of grass land in the world and yet we plow it under every year to plan corn and to watch the topsoil get washed and blown away. We then later harvest that corn so we can ship it to feedlots to feed cows. Why not put those cows back on the prairie to eat the grass they are biologically designed to eat. feeding them corn makes for an unhealthy cow. A cow fed grass produces significantly less methane and has significantly fewer E.coli bacteria in its gut and unplowed pastures sequester far more carbon than plowed corn fields.

    1. cocomaan

      Not only is big ag engaged in unsustainable farming processes, but an increasing amount of farmland is owned by overseas investors, meaning our food supply is no longer under American control. I’m not some kind of troglodyte mercantilist nationalist, but this seems like a dumb idea, especially when it’s a supposed global rival – China – doing a lot of the buying.

      And the other big owner is Bill Gates. Yuck.

      1. juno mas

        I believe Gates buys the ag land for the price supports. A capitalist in search of socialism.

  10. Chris Smith

    I completely wrote this off when I got to “tradwives link wellness to whiteness and anti-feminism.” Because of course, “whiteness.” Whatever.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I don’t like the nomenclature. It’s designed to demean. But having lived in the Midwest and now the South, that type most assuredly exists.

      1. KD

        Instead of “tradwives” what if they said “Hispanic families” or “Catholics”? Both are well established descriptors for the phenomenon. Perhaps you could retitle it efforts of clueless whitelibs to drive white ethnics and minorities out of the Democratic Party for good?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          This is not a Catholic-only phenomenon. You see it also in Mormons and some Southern Baptists. Not uncommon here in Alabama and we are only 4% Hispanic.

      2. FluffytheObeseCat

        They do exist. Interestingly out here in the far west they’re not uncommonly pretty elitist (according to the writer of this article) about food choices. As in they’re devoted to home grown vegetables, maybe home raised chicken and eggs, and meat sourced from local ranchers. How the writer conflated tradwives with 1950s era stereotypes about food is beyond me. They aren’t usually the ones serving or eating the modern equivalent of TV dinners. They romanticize an earlier era, and their food choices often conform to it, to healthy ends, IMO.

        1. Harold

          The chicken and beef in the 1950s was much much healthier and tastier than that of today. I remember, you had to actually use your jaws to eat beef and it had gristle. But it also had a lot for flavor — and probably vitamins and minerals.

  11. GERMO

    I am obsessed with, and distressed by, the thick and depressingly uniform strains of not-so-cryptic toxicity that have started to prevail in the NC comment section. My sympathies to the mods/hosts.

  12. William Hunter Duncan

    Of course lost in the politicization of all this is the millennia-old understanding that animals are essential to the health of both the land and the vegetables and grains produced from it. In the same way that bison were largely the reason prairie grasses were often taller than a horse, a garden bed without animal waste compost is going to be comparatively less healthy and productive. Albert Howard in his landmark book An Agricultural Testament proved scientifically 100 years ago that soil fertility is improved by animal waste, and so too the vegetable and grains grown from that soil.

    But here in America it is either mass produced, concentration camp, industrial meat diets, or vegetable based diets mostly made possible by industrial means including fossil fuel inputs, each diet as ideological as the other and equally ignorant.

    1. Alfred

      Humans violently resist being subject to an ecosystem that may eventually reject them as superfluous or damaging. They’ll annihilate anything that threatens to put them in their place. Yet, here we are. Except we are about to take everything down with us.

    2. Not a vegan, thank you

      > Albert Howard in his landmark book An Agricultural Testament proved scientifically 100 years
      > ago that soil fertility is improved by animal waste, and so too the vegetable and grains grown
      > from that soil.

      Interesting. I wonder, can vegans knowingly eat vegetables and grains grown from such soil?

      1. William Hunter Duncan

        Probably, most vegans would not on ideological grounds, but if truly educated and they tested it scientificly they would discover that they are healthier because of it.

  13. PlutoniumKun

    The binary form of US politics is infecting the rest of the world unfortunately. It seems to me to be bizarre that something as straightforward as dietary advice can be politicised, but thats what has happened. Its never of course unpolitical elsewhere – an old UK chain of vegetarian restaurants was called ‘Cranks’ for a reason (although vegetarianism has always had a curious political appeal to both fringes of the left and right). While Paleo seems to have become a right wing thing in the US, I’m kind of curious about how a lot of my ex vegetarian UK friends have gone partially paleo – the whole ‘raise your chickens and eggs in your back yard and buy organic meat from happy animals’ has become the new vegetarianism, while the old purists have gone vegan, or occasionally the full carnivore.

  14. rc

    There they go again. Everyone is a racist who doesn’t agree with them.

    We see you bigots.

    Traditionalists believe in the nuclear family. One of the earliest commandments in the Holy Bible is go forth and multiply. The Holy Family is a model of virtue that many emulate. For policy mavens data around the benefits of healthy families supports these Traditionalists’ decisions. Disordered lives result in disordered outcomes.

    Traditionalists reject the revolutionary tendencies of the modern American(ism) political system and believe laws should conform to virtues and the Natural Law.

    Christian missionaries went to the far corners of the earth to convert souls for God. Rather than seeing others as less, they are anti-racists because they only see humans through the lens of God–worthy of saving, worthy of love.

    Let’s be truly honest. Religious bigotry is everywhere in the government and public school system. The anti-Columbus movement is veiled bigotry against Catholics. BLM/woke Marxism isn’t about protecting blacks. It’s about a world of materialism and state power that aims to displace the family and substitute a godless world centered around man.

    This social war is about destroying any room for religion in the public square. Race is the wedge. Environmentalism and man’s material needs as the new one-world religion is the moniker.

    Meat and medical tyranny are only the beginning. This new cancel culture is a world without mercy and forgiveness, the elites’ world without God. It is cruel and murderous. Tyranny and power are the endgame.

    One day these serpents’ heads will be crushed.

  15. Steve Ruis

    It is interesting that the people who advocate for less meat eating or even no meat eating also argue against eating “over processed food.” There is nothing less over processed than plant based meat substitutes. Apparently consistency is still the hobgoblin of small minds.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, I don’t understand meat substitutes. I like tofu, even better when it is prepared cleverly like in some Chinese dishes. Beans or lentils with grains or potatoes are a complete protein. They can all be prepared nicely if you find decent recipes.

        1. lordkoos

          I make MaPo tofu every couple of months, delicious. One Chinese secret to tasty tofu — add a little meat for flavor, which of course is heresy to vegetarians. MaPo tofu is generally prepared with 1/4 cup ground pork or beef.

          There is a Sichuan hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Seattle (on the corner of Jackson & 12th) that makes a great version of the dish.

      1. noonespecial

        Lentils – A simple dinner of rice, lentils (with cumin, turmeric, salt, tomato and scallion cooked within), plantains, and maybe a scrambled egg is filling and easy-peasy to make.

    2. Alfred

      Those people advocating for less meat eating are not the ones who came up with the current fancy meat substitutes. They are more the tofu, tempeh, lentil, quinoa, hemp, etc. people. The “plant-based meat substitute” people are going for people who want to be fooled into thinking they have not “given up meat” and at the same time think they are not eating meat.

  16. lyman alpha blob

    There’s actually a think tank to analyze the radical right and it employs PhDs?!? This author reads like they spend way too much time on the Tweeter and not enough with actual real people. Just when you think we’ve hit peak woke…

    Thanks for the comments about the honey – I hadn’t realized they’d been adulterating that too. I’d been buying honey from a farmer’s market, but my daughter, who has recently developed a taste for sugary processed junk foods (unfortunately advertising does seem to work very well at least with the preteen crowd – get ’em while they’re young), insists the kind from the store in a plastic squeeze bottle is better. It could be just the general contrariness of that age group, but now I’m going to check the label a little closer.

    1. lordkoos

      We buy only honey from reliable sellers at our local farmers’ market who either keep bees themselves or have contracts with local beekeepers. I favor the stronger, darker varieties over the less flavorful clover types.

    2. Not a vegan, thank you

      > Just when you think we’ve hit peak woke…

      Thank you, l.a.b. That’s exactly what I was trying to intimate above, but I got only short shrift.

  17. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    Good heavens! How many stereotypes can one author shoehorn into a drive by mud-splatter?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I don’t have the energy, but if openDemocracy has a place where you can contact the editors, I would tell them that the use of idpol/academic jargon is not just preaching to the choir but certain to alienate. people who might sympathize with the message if it weren’t presented in such a judgmental, insider-y way. There is a valid point in this article, that meat-eating is being added to the list of conservative identity markers and now used as a rallying point for opposing climate change initiatives. That’s worth knowing but the packaging gets in the way.

    1. Harold

      I am not against meat. But I agree that meat was not meant to be a cheap staple. I think it should be eaten judiciously, on festive occasions. Whatever people eat, they should do so slowly and preferably with lots of social interaction.

      As far as low-level inflammation, I think I read somewhere that all digestion involves some level of inflammation

      1. Alfred

        In a lot of cultures, particularly on the African continent, meat is a condiment. The way Americans consider it a main course is a product of something I don’t really understand. Growing up, we could not afford to have meat by itself, it was always mixed in with a lot of other things to stretch it.

        1. Harold

          Meat is also a condiment in the so-called “Mediterranean” diet, and in all cultures where people are poor.

          Meat used to be grass fed or grass fed and “finished” for a month or so by feeding it grain to make it more fat and tender. Grass-fed beef contains more vitamins, including essential vitamin D, which the human body can’t synthesize. Cheap meat became a staple as a result of federal subsidies given to growers of feed corn. Modern industrially produced meat animals are fed grain for their entire lifespan and never see a blade of grass.

          In addition, people used to eat meat from just one slaughtered animal. Now a pound of ground meat may contain meat from hundreds of animals from many geographic areas, greatly increasing the chances of consumers being exposed to dangerous bacterial diseases or worse, brain eating prions.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            “including essential vitamin D, which the human body can’t synthesize”

            Really? Perhaps you meant vitamin B?

              1. WobblyTelomeres

                Yes, we do get vitamin D through food. And we make our own when we get UV rays from sunlight on our skin. Which is why if a northern hemisphere resident suffers from a vitamin D deficiency, it is usually in winter. That, or they are a programmer.

                We do not make vitamin B12 (nor C) which we must get from our diet, an evolutionary quirk. Which is why you see vegans using nutritional yeast on/in foods and vegetarians eating yogurt or cheese to get their B12.

  18. The Rev Kev

    Wow. Forty comments already on this topic. When it says ‘right-wing men flooded Twitter with pictures of their meat’, is that like the time when Jeff Bezos sent those pictures to his mistress before he got divorced?

    Remember when 4chan as a prank got the media convinced that the American ‘OK’ hand sign was actually a white-supremacist signal or some such? And how the media and the establishment went for it while 4chan fell over themselves laughing? This whole kerfuffle over meat is striking me as more of the same – but it is not 4chan this time. Both the left and the right are just looking for arguments to have and if it was not meat, it would be something equally stupid like if real men can dance or not.

    And right now you have extremist left and right wingers eagerly scouring the media just looking for the next thing that they can attach themselves too so that it will raise their profile and so-called respectability. That is how women who want to have a more traditional home life suddenly find themselves labelled as far-right or white supremacists. If women went big time into chess, guaranteed that there would be some right-wing female chess players would would try to infiltrate them thus having the left-wing extremists label ALL such women as white supremacists – especially when everybody knows that white pieces always get the first move. Still, as I read once, people are entitled to their delusions.

    1. Alfred

      McConnell was doing this to rile up his constituency by saying Dems would tell them how many burgers they could eat, etc. It’s just a way to divide people on a larger scale. And it’s a big distraction from the real things that people are going to have to give up as we slide further and further into this continued extraction of everything.

  19. fumo

    The correlation between gender/sex (let’s just not, please) and veganism/vegetarianism is statistically beyond significant. And this seems largely to hold across time and region of the world as well.

    Draw your own conclusions.

  20. Reality Bites

    This article does everything it can to bury its point under idpol nonsense designed to distract fromt he real culprits. Paleo is white supremacist? Really? So I suppose the Standard American Diet is what we need. One of the reasons the so-called ‘Diet Wars’ started was because Atkins and others had a message that was aimed directly at attacking the over-processed junk that they were peddling. It went unnoticed that nearly all of the major diets agreed that the over-processed, high fructose corn syrup laden frankenfood that dominates most grocery stores is terrible for health.

    Calling Paleo “debunked” is a bit strong. Even if one disagrees with the origins, people can be vegetarian and be Paleo. Again, I find that there is always a concentrated effort to take down any diet that encourages people to ditch sugar, processed carbs, and inflammation inducing canola oil. Most of the paleo books i have read also make the same points about olive oil and honey that others have highlighted.

  21. Mikey Joe

    I enjoy grilling but I also like Brussels sprouts. I don’t know the origin of the sprouts name but there is an interesting article on the history of the Barbeque and Christopher Columbus role in it at the Smithsonian.

    History of the American Barbeque

  22. vw

    One of the maxims of world peace is no doubt the following: “Don’t try to tell other people what they can and cannot eat.” Both this author and the people she’s profiling are, apparently, violating this maxim with impunity.

    As someone who is watching with dread as a world rapidly approaches where we will all have to be grateful for whatever we can get to keep body and soul together… I didn’t think there could possible be a silver lining. But for all the squawking of this type to finally shut it – well, maybe that counts.

  23. Arizona Slim

    Slim checking in from Tucson.

    My goodness, it looks like a food fight has broken out on Naked Capitalism. Hmmm, what could I possibly add to this donnybrook?

    Oh, I know. I think I’ll paraphrase some advice from Mark Twain:

    Eat what you want and let the food fight it out inside.

  24. Starry Gordon

    Y’all might be interested in this book: The Sexual Politics of Meat by by Carol J. Adams. From one of many reviews:

    The Sexual Politics of Meat
    A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory

    First published in 1990, The Sexual Politics of Meat is a landmark text in the ongoing debates about animal rights. In the two decades since, the book has inspired controversy and heated debate.

    The Sexual Politics of Meat argues that what, or more precisely who, we eat is determined by the patriarchal politics of our culture, and that the meanings attached to meat eating are often clustered around virility. We live in a world in which men still have considerable power over women, both in public and in private. Carol Adams argues that gender politics is inextricably related to how we view animals, especially animals who are consumed. Further, she argues that vegetarianism and fighting for animal rights fit perfectly alongside working to improve the lives of disenfranchised and suffering people, under the wide umbrella of compassionate activism. …

    That’s one view. I bought this book remaindered at Strand a few years after its publication date, and not long after that someone stole it, but I did get to read some of it, and in the earlier chapters the author connects vegetarianism with the Abolitionism, Temperance, socialism, various kinds of Spiritualism, and so on, of the middle and late 19th century, so it’s not as hip or recent as ‘critical X theory’ might lead you to believe. However, habent sua fata libelli: it has gone from the remainder box to innumerable citations on Google and lists of pirated PDFs, and now, this comment, as up-to-date as tomorrow.

    On another but related subject, it has been my impression from various readings that paleolithic humans ate a lot of insects and worms. For some reason this fact (if it is a fact) hasn’t been brought forward to modern paleo diets.

  25. lambert strether

    I get in the habit of eating exactly one thing for months. When I lived in the California high desert, I got into the habit of walking to the Albertson’s, buying a steak with plenty of fat, then grilling it medium rare and eating it with plenty of cracked black pepper and a glass or two of red wine. It was pretty good! No discernible side effects, good or bad, though perhaps walking and biking to work helped.

    That is my contribution to the diet discussion.

  26. Ultrapope

    I must admit that I find the panic over meat and manliness on the American right extremely amusing, particularly when it comes to beef. Now that’s not to say that there are in fact real consequences to this meat-based masculinity mumbo-jumbo – but sometimes you just need to take a step back and laugh at the absurdity of the situation.

    You want to be a strong, tough, manly-man and assert yourself as prime provider and patriarch of your domestic clan? Then its imperative that you base your entire diet off of meat, particularly the meat-of-meat, the ur-meat if you will: beef! Just look at that juicily steak, how it conjures up the image of the manly pre-historical hunters who spent there day in the wild, bringing home a kill to the tribe. I mean, yes, maybe you yourself didn’t hunt the cow… and maybe the cow wasn’t in the wild…. and maybe the cow was just in a pen with other cows, eating grass… and maybe the cow was slaughtered in some sort of Ford-style assembly line in a slaughterhouse owned by rich Brazillians… and maybe the beef was bought at the Food Lion… but that is all beside the point. The beef is more than just a representation of manliness – at its core, it is the transubstantiation of American Manliness (TM)!

    Too long have American Men suffered under the tyranny of Big Vegetable. We all have horror stories of a family friend or co-worker who won’t partake in the eating of meat. Conference organizers who now need to order TWO different meals, to accommodate the vegifacism endemic in our workforce. The hungry businessman who on an international flight is forced to suffer as his vegisadistic seatmate gets his meal ten minutes earlier than he.

    As American Men, we must fight back. No more can we simply sit back and eat meat – now we must demand meat and only meat! When the person next to us says they are a vegetarian, you must loudly proclaim “Well I am a CARNIVORE – I only eat meat!” After this, you must go on a long speech about the manliness of meat, disparaging vegetarianism and its War on American Manliness. Whereas others may have been annoyed by the moralizing of a few random vegetarians when meat is discussed, now they will fear ever mentioning one vegetable, legume, or fruit while in your presence, lest you begin a 45 minute diatribe about vegetarianism and wax poetical about your all-beef-all-the-time diet. Yes, you haven’t had a bowel movement in 3 weeks, but that is what makes you an paragon of American Manliness!

    OK, maybe that was all over the top but again there is so much to be depressed about in the nuthouse that is America right now. That the American Right feels it needs to drum up a panic over manliness due to the fact that men are not being picky enough eaters is really amusing to me. Ironically, some guys have become so fixated on being Manly Men that they have totally missed the mark. Its not that they have become women – instead, they have reverted back to being childish boys.

    1. fajensen

      Overly Manly Men can strip a thread on the Manliness adjustment and become too much “Tom of Finland” (not that there’s anything wrong with that but maybe it is not what they wanted to express :).

  27. THarry

    What I didn’t see in the above article or comments is the fact that any appreciable per capita meat consumption given the existing human population of 7 billion plus is simply unsustainable, as meat production is one of the major contributors of carbon and methane, not to mention nutrient runoff from feedlots and the growing of crops to feed animals. And there is simply not enough available space for enough free range, grass fed animals to make much of an overall difference in maintaining existing levels of consumption. My wife grew up in Cultural Revolution era China. Her mom cooked with a wood fueled stove and raised laying hens. Chicken and other meat was a relatively infrequent luxury. The main diet was rice and vegetables. Greatly reducing per capita meat consumption is one of those inconvenient things we will have to do in the mid to long run to reduce our carbon footprint, along with elimination of the individual auto, most air flight, endless growth and consumption, etc. I don’t eat red meat because it’s bad for my gout. But I still eat some chicken and fish a few times a week. Mea culpa.

    1. fumo

      “any appreciable per capita meat consumption given the existing human population of 7 billion plus is simply unsustainable”

      For me, the problem is far less the meat consumption than the 7 billion plus thing.

  28. drumlin woodchuckles

    I first heard about the books Diet And Physical Degeneration by Weston Price and Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon in Acres USA. I bought both books and have read parts of them over time.

    I read the anti-Weston Price link and the anti Sally Fallon link which the author of this article offered. I would suggest that people take a couple hours reading each book and decide for themselves if the books say what the article writer says they say. One doesn’t have to buy the books. One can check them out of a library if the libraries ever open back up. I myself don’t think the books say what the author says they say.
    But I will leave that up to any reader who decides to study the links, and study the books, and see.

    The article itself reminds me of something written by PETA. I get the distinct feeling that the Social Justice Wokeness of the language is the point of the article and that the alleged subject of the article is just bait designed to trick people into reading all the Social Justice Wokeness language.

    The author is just using the alleged right-wingness of meat-culture as an artificially constructed stage upon which to strut her Wokeness Superiority Stuff.

  29. Mark Dempsey

    Holy mackerel! Once again NC proves the most controversial topic is not politics, but diet!

    Worth a look on Netflix: The Game Changers … produced by the unlikely trilogy of James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan. It covers athletes who have gone vegan, and the chemical logic they follow (you heal faster).

    JFYI, I’ve researched and written about this multiple times.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Just skimmed your posts. Agree 100%. 10 years ago, I was working myself into an early grave. Angina, insomnia, sleep apnea, cholesterol over 300, high blood pressure, pills, coffee, repeat.

      Read Dean Ornish’s books. While I didn’t and don’t agree with everything his approach requires, I have certainly cherry-picked. Vegan, exercise daily, quit the rat race, lots of long walks in the woods. BP now normal, cholesterol under 80 (yes!!). Most days, I drink a high protein pitcher of green smoothies over the course of the day and have a nice cheap vegan dinner (bean and barley soup with some cornbread, for example, really f-ing healthy btw). Instead of writing million line programs and wondering when and how the next sociopath in my life would appear, I play with model trains, listen to jazz, do what my aging Jack Russell demands, and try to keep up with the (non-STEM) peeps here. A lot healthier.

      Read an article about an 80yo guy who deadlifted 400lbs. Sounded like a good plan.

      1. lawrence silber

        First. I love this site and it has taught me so much about our political economy, second, I dont want to sound preachy, but given all the comments written here today that’s probably impossible. Adopting a vegan diet and identity is just simply about not causing unnecessary pain and suffering upon other sentient beings. In my mind culturally deciding which species are acceptable to eat and which are “disgusting” to consume is eerily similar to racism. But I think that is where i would end the political and cultural analogies. Sure we can conjure up all kinds of amusing correlations and identities relating to diet, i just fear it minimizes the true reasons we need to cease exploiting animals for food and clothing. It is but an added bonus and secondary benefit that eliminating animal products from ones diet , including fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods, most definitely lessens environmental degradation from all the obvious sources that otherwise wouldn’t be exploited. Even if measured against the masses of humans that stick to eating animals , every person that does cease indirectly decreases a tiny amount of sufferings’. The other benefit is personal health in later life. All these silly paleo meat based diets might be ok for a young athlete, but the science is irrefutable at this point Consuming such diets increase ones chances at cardio vascular diseases and cancer. Plus i challenge any person looking to loose weight, and given Americas obesity rate, that number is sadly large, adopting a plant based diet will shed the pounds like no other life style choice will. I’ve been vegan now for almost 15 years. I wish it was different for the first 41 years of my life but like everyone else i was caught up in ignorance and hypocrisy. Today i run an animal sanctuary and obviously that has helped cement my decision. But you have to admit, its hard to say I love animals in one breath and then in the next order a rare T- Bone. I regrettably did that for most of my life.. One day I just realized how hypocritical that was. Instead of just deciding all animals are fit to eat, i understood they all had lives they valued and it wasn’t necessary for me to eat them. It was just a taste preference. As far as those mock meats, well i eat them all the time. Its hard to change taste preferences. but it seems awesome to me that we can eat a plant hamburger that is indistinguishable from a meat burger, and nothing has to loose its life for my pleasure. The same is true for mock chicken and pork. Like any thing else some brands are better than others. Obviously nut milks are all the rage as well and hopefully contributing to eventual elimination of te dairy industry. One more thing , and this is amusing to me. Discussing veganism and MMT with people not tuned into either threads seems to emit the same volley of defensive deflections , misdirection’s, and emotional attachments to untruths that make it very difficult to just objectively discuss empirical facts and get past long held misconceptions about what is true. Personally i don’t do well convincing anybody about either concept. People dislike others suggesting diet changes, and obviously political preferences discolor the operational mechanics of our monetary system. You guys do a great job illuminating the later, and i know you’ll love animals, so just maybe someone will read this and decide they should also adopt a more plant based diet so some pig, goat, cow, chicken, or fish might not be “produced” and “processed” for someone’s pleasure and marketed as fulfilling some otherwise unobtainable protein quota. Sorry for the rant, every day i look into the eyes of my pigs and see someone there. The same is true for all the other animals under my care.

  30. lambert strether

    So conservatives posting pictures of their meat is d*ck pix, sublimated, amiright or amiright?

  31. everydayjoe

    As a brahmin from India I did not eat meat till I was 18 when I came to go to school in the US…I loved my beef…but many are happy in India without having tasted red meat…Indian conservatives say beef should not be eaten! -Beef is widely available in India contrary to belief…Food is a weapon in cultural wars around the world.

  32. Ep3

    I live just a couple miles from a butcher shop, who has always bought locally raised, traditionally fed cattle, pigs and chickens for his meat. His prices pre-pandemic were similar, sometimes lower than the local chain grocery store. Now they are double.
    My sister has stomach problems eating chain grocery store pork and eggs. Yet, the pork and eggs she gets from this butcher do not give her any problems.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps paying double is the price for non-toxic pork and eggs. If the toxic pork and eggs make her sick, is it worth it just because they are half price? If she continues buying shinola pork and eggs at a shinola price, she has answered that question for herself.

      If enough other people reach the same answer, it may be possible to fund and support a growing shinola-meat farmer-sector recapturing and sequestering bio-carbon on more and more land.

      Freedom isn’t free. And neither is quality.

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