Tips on Dealing with Uninformed Eaters

Let’s face it, uninformed is just a fancy college word for ignorant. But whatever you call it, the fact still remains that I live in the heart of beef-land America, home of the “worlds best” burger, the most bar-b-q restaurants per capita of any city in the nation, and about 150,000 people who think the word vegan is something that has to be treated by antibiotics after a visit to the OB/GYN. Needless to say that I regularly come into contact with more than my fair share of less-than-educated eaters. So, what is a man to do when he is told he by someone wearing a handlebar milk mustache that he is not eating the way God intended? Or what words should come out of my mouth each time the McNugget mom tells me that I am too hard on my kids? Well, I’m not sure I have an answer.

I am not one for confrontation. In the state where there are as many guns as there are hormone-riddled cattle, I tend to tap the brakes on telling everyone that they are on the fast track to a Kentucky-fried funeral. But do we let ignorance go uncorrected? Do we grab the wheel of the bus of misinformation like Officer Jack Traven and try to steer it back to safety?

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So I will do what most tend to do these days. I will fill myself with keyboard bravery (comments without consequence) and shoot from the hip in response to the 5 dumbest comments I get about food. Then, just for good measure, I will add what I should probably say in real life.

Situation 1

UE (uninformed eater): So, Mr. “Meat Kills Everyone,” if meat is so bad for us, how do you explain why people are living longer today in the U.S. than they ever have, huh? (gives a greasy handed high-five to her hamburger eating BFF).

What I want to say: You smell like solami and lil’ smokies (as I walk away).

What I should say: I think we are living longer in spite of our meat consumption. There have been drastic strides in medicine over the last 50 years, and that is what is keeping us alive longer, but let’s not forget some of the longest living cultures in the world are those that consume far less meat than we do. They are also typically cultures where medicine is less advanced than it is here.

Situation 2

UE: How can you make your kids eat nothing but salad and nuts? You know they are just going to rebel when they get older?

What I want to say: What? WHA? I can’t hear you . . . your kool-aid drenched children are yelling too loudly as they jump from sofa to sofa screaming/reenacting what appears to the final scene from Lord of the Flies. I can’t imagine why they seem to have no attention span.

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What I should say: We work really hard to help our kids understand why we eat the way that we do. Plus, we started them off early eating whole-foods, so it’s natural to them. Of course they have junk every once in a while, but as they grow up, I think the fact that they are healthy and feel great will impact them in the long run.

Situation 3

UE: It’s not healthy just to eat plants. I have a friend who went vegetarian and ended up in the hospital with protein deficiency within 2 hours. If you have to take tons of supplements to stay healthy, your diet sucks.

What I want to say: Condolences on your friend, but I think he has vegetarian confused with being a freaking goat. Just because you don’t eat meat doesn’t mean you eat whatever you want and stay healthy.

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What I should say: I actually don’t take any supplements, whey, or anything in addition to my regular plant-based meals. Eating plenty of leafy green and fresh fruit supplies me with all of the protein, minerals, and vitamins I need. I am in the best shape of my life, and I haven’t taken a supplement in years.

Situation 4

UE: I’ve seen the government pyramid, and know about the 5 basic food groups. Your diet doesn’t follow either. Milk and meat are necessary according to the FDA.

What I want to say: You’re right. The government never lies to you. Isn’t that right Mr. Native American?

What I should say: I tend to trust the tons of research that says you need to follow 5 other food groups: VFBNS (fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, and seeds).

Situation 5

UE: I just don’t like vegetables.

What I want to say: Yeah, it’s much easier to like diabetes and cancer.

What I should say: If you’re not used to it, just ease your way in. There are a ton of cool ways to cook different veggies and fruits that you might have not tried. Feel free to come over sometime and eat, you probably would be surprised that we eat more than just salad.

So, in retrospect, I guess you do catch more flies with honey (or agave for you hardcore vegans) than vinegar. It is probably necessary to bite our tongues sometimes at the lack of knowledge out there, and lead by example instead of violence (verbal or otherwise).

So, go out unto the world and educate the uneducated, heal the sick, and eat those veggies.

head in sand

Cat Image Source: Willrad/Flickr