Saturday, November 26, 2005


Many people have written to ask me to talk about my vegetarianism when I was younger and why I went back to being a carnivore. Well--here is the story. When I was younger, I thought it wrong to hurt another living thing. I had compassion for flies, ants and anything else that moved. At twelve, I bought myself the book, Diet for a Small Planet. I figured if I was going to be a vegetarian, I might as well be a good one. I made salads, ate fruits and vegetables and tried to eat meals that were comprised of complete proteins.

My parents never balked at this change in my diet and just bought whatever grocery items I needed as long as I prepared most of my own foods. I never asked anyone to share my personal decision nor did I think that eating meat was sacrilegious. At twelve, I had reached the Piagetian stage of formal operations and was able to reason that other people did not all think like me and made their own decisions--which had nothing to do with me. At this time, I lost all idealistic perceptions of others, mainly adults. I had a crush on a male teacher at that time but it evaporated as I realized that he was no different than me, a mere mortal, who was human just like me. I never had a hero after that as I had learned a long time before, that no one could rescue me from pain and anguish but myself.

I had a tremendous amount of free-floating hostility within me as well as downright aggression--I thought being a pacifist (which included being a vegetarian) could control my inner feelings of rage. But it only sublimated those feelings for a while. I sat quietly while peers at school made fun of me. But I learned the truth about what worked when one of my siblings brought down a boy who taunted me about my wild kinky hair on the school bus with threats of violence. My pacifism did not work. It only served to make me angrier. As the years went by, I learned to explore my anger and aggressive feelings and to allow them to come to the surface and not to be afraid of them. By the time I was 24 and walking through the isles of Key Foods in Manhattan looking at rows of tuna fish, I realized that I no longer needed to hang onto my role as a vegetarian to prove that I was a "good" person. I was a decent person all ready. I will never forget the day I tried a can of tuna--it was magnificent.

I still decided for health purposes that I would not eat red meat as I had high cholesterol even in my 20's but I also had anemia. Then at 37, when I had a heart attack, I decided I had had enough of trying so hard to be healthy. It obviously did not work for me. I had run myself into the ground, exercised, given up meat and did everything I could to be healthy and it all backfired. I went to Mortons in Nashville and ate filet mignon and have not stopped since. I still try to eat healthy and have very little meat but it is just because I have to watch cholesterol, not for any psychological reasons.

I now look skeptically at people who preach vegetarianism to others as a type of religion--they are often the same ones who tout peace and brotherhood while trying to mask their feelings of aggression. My husband once said that he did not worry about violence from peace activists but frankly, I would rather hang out with a crowd of hard core gun addicts. I find them more capable of understanding and controlling their own aggression. People who preach peace in the face of appalling violence deny their aggression and target it at others who are not deserving of it or who are trying to protect them. I cannot justify that.

Here is an example of what I mean about using food as a method of virtue and pacifism. Notice that the bloated Americans are eating "fat turkeys" while the innocent peace activists are eating salmon, lentils and rice. With this holier-than-thou attitude, should they be eating salmon at all? Thanks to Professor Althouse for pointing out this article.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm...It's no surprise that Helen is full of aggression. It has nothing to do with meat or not meat. I merely make an observation regarding the self-centeredness of her decision-making process. Being a vegetarian, while initially driven by compassion, quickly became all about her and her needs--to purge herself of agression, for example. And her decision to give it up, again, was a narcissistic one--'it wasn't doing anything for *me*' Ah, yes, the 'what about me?!' cry of every human. We are all so very important; each the center of a universe. I'd ask those considering vegetarianism to look to Helen's original motive of compassion. Perhaps one might choose to become a vegetarian, not for oneself directly, but because one has compassion for all living beings. In particular, given the horrific farming conditions in the U.S., this seems to apply all the more so. We raise animals in, what for them, must seem pain factories. While a first instinct might be to direct one's aggression at those who protest against this by not eating meat, it does no harm, I hope, to exercise that compassion muscle a little and consider others, including animals.

1:18 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sure hope that was wild salmon, not farm-raised stock that could spread disease to the native population. And that the lentils were grown without pesticides. Oh, and that rice: was it grown and harvested by adult workers earning a reasonable wage, with access to excellent and affordable health care and with equal treatment given to both genders, all religions, sexual preferences, and cultural/racial backgrounds? I'm sure they cooked using solar power, not any source connected however indirectly to fossil fuel.

Once you start declaring yourself holier than the rest of us, be careful: it's harder to balance up there than you expect.

1:24 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To anonymous at 1:18:

Guess you probably had to interupt your semi-veggie dinner with Cindy to write that rant--better hurry so you can get back to your PETA meeting.

1:28 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some animals are here to be eaten by those of us who would eat them. To argue otherwise is to deny reality.

1:32 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just imagine the pain of having your leaf shredded all for the sake being turned into a salad, or having your bean picked from your stem, or your apple riped from your branch! The horror.....gasp!

When are the vegetarians going show a little Compassion for The Living? :)

On that note, the Equalization Movement is insane. Give me Liberty or give me Death.

1:34 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous - we are all self-centered, so go jump in the proverbial lake. You are not only self-centered but unbearabley self-righteous. If you don't like farming methods, then you should support farming that is kinder -
Personally, I have switched to buying free range chickens, eggs, beef and pork. And organic milk.
Mostly because it seems to taste better, especially the eggs.

Helen makes an interesting and valid point. Remember how the peaceniks of the late 60's and early 70's often errupted into violence during their protests?

I also agree that those of us who are 'gun nuts' control our aggression pretty well.

1:36 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All those veggie people, anti-gunners and so-called pacifists are at the core of what is wrong with this society today. They should eat a little meat, shoot a .44 Magnum and kick somebody's ass (when necessary) and develop some cojones in the process.

Well, not the females. Most of them already have a set, and too much facial hair.

1:45 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What we really need is a predator that will prey on humans. That way we could cull the herd, and prevent the weak and idiotic from breeding.

1:47 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Joe Giles said...

Interesting points re: vegetarianism + aggression. Thx.

And as for Anonymous, funny how I was also thinking that blog comment areas sure seem like "pain factories" on occasion.

1:48 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger steve u. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:55 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Ken Mitchell said...

You write: "Many people have written to ask me to talk about my vegetarianism when I was younger and why I went back to being a carnivore. "

And yet, by your own account you are NOT a "carnivore"; you are, as most human beings are, an "omnivore". We evolved with a firm practice of eating anything that didn't eat us first.

But it isn't so much a matter of WHAT you eat to maintain a healthy diet. The key is to have a balance, with all things in moderation = including moderation!

1:57 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger chuck b. said...

Your observations about aggressive peaceniks seem quite apt.

It’s my long-held theory that some people turn to pacifism and left leaning political sentiments because they feel angry and depressed. (And some people turn turn in the other direction toward various forms of religious fundamentalism and right-leaning politics for the same reason.) Rather than dealing with feelings as emotions, people try to deal with their feelings as thoughts, or products of an intellectual process. People say “I think” and “I feel” interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. One is inherently rational, and the other is not.

As for eating meat, I managed to eat a mostly vegetarian, almost vegan, diet through most of college, and enjoyed it very much. I had the occasional meat relapse. We had a lot of tasty, inexpensive choices in town, and I fell in with a peer group that made mostly meatless food choices. I ate some great meals back then. It was never any kind of pacifistic or spiritual or health-oriented statement for me. If anything, it was vaguely political and a little sentimental. After college, I’ve found it harder to avoid meat.

I've never had much sympathy for flies or ants (what use would they have for my sympathy?) or even chicken or fish, I do fret about cows and pigs and I find the spectre of factory-farming very distressing--emotionally and intellectually. That said, I still eat the occasional cheeseburger or steak. For the most part, I actually like eating fruit and vegetables and pasta and tofu and I like my bread as wheaty and sprouty as it comes.

Anyhow, thank you for sharing your story; I enjoyed reading it. (sorry to hear about the heart attach, of course!)

1:58 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm. I actually was one of those pacifist types for awhile back in the 1960s. We turned violent? Um, no. You must be thinking of Communists and other highly authoritarian leftists. The opposition to the Vietnam War brought out all kinds of people -- some of them pretty disreputable. Just like gun owners. Most of them are fine, decent people. You have noticed a few criminals also own guns, though, I hope. FWIW, while I'm not interested in guns, I'm also an opponent of gun control.

Helen, sorry to hear about your heart attack. That's pretty unusual in someone so young.

1:59 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

-[humor]- I find vegetarianism as an ethical choice rather insulting to my dog and most other carnivores. They are pretty much locked into their fate of eating other animals, no matter what their personal choice is. -[humor]-

And while we are at it, what about bulls? Where is that peace and tranquility that eating nothing but plants gives you?

2:04 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger steve u. said...

You note, "People who preach peace in the face of appalling violence deny their aggression and target it at others who are not deserving of it or who are trying to protect them." Well said. Many times that seems to be the case.

Decent people all want peace. Most adults, however, realize that truly promoting peace sometimes requires stopping, or even waging war, with thugs. Otherwise, thugs rule and destroy the opportunty for decent people to enjoy peace (at least in any meaningful way the term might be regarded).

2:05 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every leftist saga seems to have its "subhumans" to differentiate them that hold themselves on high. And should they not exist, then they are invented.

It used to be easy - simply discriminate along racial or religious lines. But that has proven futile and here in "anonymous" we have one of the newer strains that too will soon prove to be absurd. In this case, these leftists have arbitrarily determined that some "subhumans" "kill" to eat.

Yes anonymous, you are superior. Feel better now? Lets not consider your arbitrary definition of "killing". Lets not consider the fact that the vegetation you eat is home to far more animals than the single cow that might sustain me for months. Yes, anonymous, you can disregard the hundreds of mites and other exoskeletal creatures that you devour on that head of lettuce because they don't have pretty eyes.

PS: Instawife! Try the metamucil cholesterol regimen. It really works far better for some than popular medications.

2:16 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

Hi blackminorca,

I heard that the metamucil cholesterol regimen does work from one of my relatives who tried it--thanks for the recommendation. It just doesn't sound very appealing--but hey, neither does a cow to a vegetarian.

2:27 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the age of 45 I became a vegetarian. Six months later I became a vegan. I did this as the result of a process that involved both reason and emotion. It was my decision for myself. I don't preach to people about it. I don't even discuss it much, unless someone asks, or if, as here, I happen to stumble into a conversation where the issue has been raised. My experience is pretty much the opposite of yours, Helen. I never had a vegan "preach" to me, but I've had plenty of omnivores belittle me or insinuate that I am either full of myself, naive or otherwise impaired.

2:30 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger SarahW said...

When you can take the can of chunklight tuna from the shelf, it will be time for you to leave, Grasshopper.

2:35 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we weren't meant to eat animals, they wouldn't be made out of meat (Spinoza, Ethics and Barbecues, ch. 7).

2:36 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you really want to see a bunch of self rightous diet maniacs, chack out the Freegans. I find them totally offensive on so many levels.

They could be working to get donations to food banks, but instead take food from dumpsters that truly needy people could use, and brag about it.

2:38 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many of the same things hold true for those who wear their "environmentalism" on their sleeve. No better example was the recent TBS "comedy" special "Earth to America." With few exceptions, E2A was a succession of preening elites who flew into Vegas convinced of their moral and intellectual superiorority based upon their professed concerns, adhesion to totemic beliefs and politically correct allignments.

2:38 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now I'm really curious: which comes first, anger and depression or pacifism and left-leaning political sentiments? Are they mutually reinforcing?

Glad to read that you were able to break that vicious cycle, Helen.

2:48 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Bujutsu Blogger said...

Well, I'm not a vegetarian, I'm just "veggie-curious". I do eat meat occassionally but I almost never cook it for myself. I do eat a lot of fish, though (Perhaps a more Catholic definition of meat...).

At any rate, this is a health decision and not any moral superiority argument on my part.

I wonder how many pseudo-moral vegetarians have emerged from them simply hearing about the traditional Buddhist injunction against eating meat as it harms living things? Their compassion might be commendable, but I wonder how many of them are seeking to fit a label rather than a deep compassion for all living things.

All the same, I generally don't try and judge people on the basis of their culinary habits. There are probably more relavant things to consider.

2:48 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you starting tossing puppies into the blender you will know the transition is complete.

2:54 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Joan said...

Dr. Helen, have you considered the possibility that your high cholesterol and heart attack were caused by your vegetarian diet? There is ample scientific evidence that diets low in animal protein lead to these conditions. One of the benefits of lower carb diets is to regulate the cholesterol mechanism and improve cholesterol profiles.

3:00 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Joan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:04 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Dalai Lama spoke at Stanford recently about nonviolence. His take caught me by surprise for its pragmatism. (Boldface mine.)

In the two-hour forum titled "The Heart of Nonviolence," the exiled leader of Tibetan Buddhism praised such pacifists as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., but stopped short of condemning all violence. Actions taken out of compassion - even if lives are lost - can be justified if those actions reduce future suffering, the Dalai Lama told the audience of 1,000 at the university's Memorial Church.

"History shows the second World War protected the Western World - protected democracy," he said, speaking sometimes in English and other times through his longtime principal translator, Geshe Thupten Jinpa. "The Iraq war - it's too early to say, right or wrong."

However, the Dalai Lama cautioned, war and violence generally leads to more war and more violence, more hatred and more resentment. He pointed to the situation of Tibetan people, who he said should not react violently to oppression by the Chinese government, but should instead gather support from the Chinese people for their liberation.

Here's the story. I do not intend to suggest by my boldfacing that The Dalai Lama endorses the Iraq conflict. But many of the supposed pacifists of today might be taken a bit aback by his unwillingness to absolutely condemn it.

3:07 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To Joan,

Yes, I did consider that my vegetarian diet led to my heart attack--that is why I started eating red meat at 37 after I got sick. I go to a cardiac rehabilitation class and they told me that at one point--a number of the heart patients were getting weak and sick because they thought it would be good to avoid meat. The staff told us to include small portions of red meat in our diet each weak to keep from getting anemia etc.

To anyone else who is a vegetarian--I do not mean to imply from my post that all vegetarians are pacifists who cannot deal with aggression--it is the ones who preach to others that they are bad people if they eat meat. I just do not think that morality goes hand in hand with what we eat--like one commenter said--Hitler was a vegetarian and it sure didn't put him on a moral highground.

3:13 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not that it really matters, but was Hitler really a vegetarian ?

3:19 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Unknown said...

Actually, my favorite bumper sticker sez: "What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it's all about?" But I digress.

3:25 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being a vegitarian or a pacificst works when it comes from your heart and mind not when it comes from a neuroses or blind obedience to political ideology.

I'm a vegitarian because I like animals and don't want to be responsible for killing them or causing them suffering. I can't understand why anyone would do something to another living creature that they would not want done to themselves. It seems so obvious.

Pacifism is more complicated. It is a tactic that works in specific situations, it is not a universal solution to every problem. Peaceful resistance involves distinct actions to bring about a change by using non violent means. See for information on non-violent techniques. In certain situations where peaceful resistance can work it can be the best solution because it can break the cycle of retribution. Examples of successful non-violent movements are the US civil rights movement, and independance movement in India.

Pacifism is not a universal solution. If I knew my neighbor was being burglarized or abusing his family I would call the police. If a dictator is commiting crimes against his people, I would hope that the neighboring nations would get together and intervene. Pacifism would not work against Nazi Germany or Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

Lastly, allowing others to harm you while you take the punishment without reacting is not a superior morality. If someone is maliciously harming you then that person needs help and just taking it silently does not help that person.

3:28 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The late Broda Barnes, M.D. believed that most premature heart attacks have little to do with diet. He believe that an inherited condition of hypothyroidism was the culprit. He explains scientifically why he believe that is the case. So, by supplementing with dessicated thyroid on a daily basis most heart attacks can be avoid until one is at an advanced age. Linus Pauling believed that sugar was far more harmful than fat. I suggest you all look Dr. Barnes up on the net, and read Dr. Paulings book, How to Live Longer and Feel Better (1985) in which he advocates high doses of vitamins including his favorite, of course, vitamin C. Good luck!!

3:32 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To anonymous,

I was told by doctors that I had two odd events happen at once that caused my heart attack--I had an arterial spasm which women are prone to and typically don't cause a lot of harm but a blood clot got caught in it. Why it happened--who the heck knows? The same happened to the runner, Flo Jo.

I have had my thyroid tested and it was normal. The problem is, there are many heart events that happen to women (and men) that are odd and difficult to diagnose such as heart rhythm problems that hit out of the blue. I was lucky because 38% of the women who have a heart attack die with the first one. If you are a vegetarian, it is important to make sure you get enough vitatims and minerals, particularly postassium which the doctors prescribed for me.

3:42 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a teenager when I dated my first vegetariaan. Althought she tasted good enoguh to eat, I wanted to know more about veg-roid-ism.

I read a piece by BU philosophy prof Michael Martin on the subject in an early issue of Reason Papers. HE reasoned that the only universally sound reason to be a vegetarian is taste. MY young woman friend concurred, and I've never had to return to the issue. Otherwise, what's an omnivore to do? Deny our nature is not an option.

I've haven't been near a library that has these early journals bu I can recommend it. I've searched the remainder of Martin's corpus without luck. I haven't come accross anything else as straighforward since.

3:46 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Helen: I hope you do keep your cholesterol down. We also eat very little red meat, not because of animal rights, but for environmental and health reasons. One thing that I have learned is that beef is only one animal, but you can easily get ten different species of fish at the store. Variety is the spice of life.

We have a catalog of favorite dinner recipes which are about half fish and vegetarian. I would be happy to send some of it to you if you are interested. (I would prefer not to post all of it on the web since most of it is from cookbooks. I am told that recipes are not copyrighted, but still.)

Also, as the other poster said, Hitler was not vegetarian. According to Jewish vegetarians, the Nazis even banned vegetarian groups in Germany. (I don't know the truth of this last part, but it is an interesting claim.)

3:51 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If you are a vegetarian, it is important to make sure you get enough vitatims and minerals, particularly postassium which the doctors prescribed for me. "

If you are a vegetarian, that's not particularly difficult to do.

3:57 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Polynices said...

Thanks for sharing your tale.

What I love about "vegetarians" is that on at least a technical level, there is no such thing! It is impossible for humans to live without getting vitamin B-12 in their diet. B-12 is ONLY found in animal meat. Therefore, even the vitamin supplements that "vegetarians" take have B-12 in them that is derived from KILLING animals and harvesting their meat.

Yes, this is a tiny, tiny amount of meat in their diet, but it still makes me laugh at the vegetarianism-as-a-religion ones who insist on allegedly eating zero meat.

3:58 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To Greg,

Yes, I do love fish also--we have some great fish stores in Knoxville and I adore any type of seafood. Perhaps you have a recommendation for a cook book on fish that I could order?

On the Hitler issue, I believe that Hitler was under the care of some quack doctors who monitored his diet due to intestinal problems. They had him eating a vegetarian diet at one point, I thought.

4:00 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

The recipe sheets that I'm going to send you will show you the cookbooks that they came from. Two of them are appropriate for you if you have heart disease.

The page that "trace boolean" linked, and the link that I found from that link, say that Hitler was put on a vegetarian diet for a period by his doctors. I do not know whether those particular doctors were quacks. Whoever they were, some of their treatment had to be substandard, because Hitler eventually trashed his own health and he was willing to execute anyone who criticized him too much. In any case, to the extent that Hitler was vegeterian, it had nothing to do with pacifism, environmentalism, or animal rights. Hitler despised liberals in general and pacifists in particular.

4:12 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

trace boolean,

As a cattle rancher let me say congratulations on walking the talk. I respect vegans because they put a lot of thought and effort into eating ethically. If you are honestly concerned about ethical eating and want to avoid products that have any animal input vegan is the way to go.

Unfortunately, the average ethical non meat eater actually makes the overall condition of animals worse because they tend to change from eating animal products that are raised under more natural conditions (beef and lamb) to animal products that are raised under much more intensive and non natural settings (chicken, eggs, and dairy products).


4:17 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting comments!

I drifted into a sort of vegetarian lifestyle first through triathlons, where I discovered a "meat hangover" was worse than the alcohol variety (and god forbid I should give up drinking!) then through my significant other, who is a vegetarian/fish person.

Given a family with a HUGE history of heart disease, I watch my diet pretty closely by necessity. I recently, however, declared turkey a vegetable, thankfully in time for Thanksgiving.

I was once on a radio show being interviewed about guns when the host popped the "you don't eat meat, yet you teach and preach armed self-defense" question on me. "I like animals," I told her.

Michael Bane
Only on the Outdoor Channel

4:20 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You said, "As for me, when someone tells me they're a vegetarian, I usually can't resist pointing out that Hitler was a vegetarian, too"

That seems like a harsh way to open and end a conversation in one easy sentence. It might be better to save that line for someone who is being truly obnoxious to you.

Just a thought.


4:27 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always eaten meat because I happen to like it. I know several people who are vegitarians because they don't like meat... not because they feel bad for certain animals. And I know other people who are vegitarians for other reasons. As long as they don't preach to me - I don't preach to them and we can all be happy.

I've never found vegitarians to be more healthy than I am nor do I notice that they look any better or worse (skin, hair, weight).

Over the years I have had some delightful vegitarian meals... but my thought has always been that people should eat what they enjoy eating - not eat in certain ways because they are made to feel guilty.

What I find most humorous though are the vegitarian items made to look and supposedly taste like real meat. The vegie burgers and some sort of tofu turkey stuff. If you want to be a vegitarian - then I see no point in eating something that is "fake meat". But maybe it's a variety thing that I just don't understand.

4:35 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 46, live in work in the most liberal place in America (Cambridge, MA), and have never had anyone "preach" vegetarianism to me. People I know make decisions about food overwhelmingly for two reasons--taste and health. (Though I do know a number of people who care about how the food is picked and processed, and whether fair labor practices are employed.) So I can't identify with the original posts or many of the comments at all. Sounds like a stereotype to me, and is certainly not borne out by my experience.

I do wish the author continued good luck in her recovery from her health issues.

4:58 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen,

That article at BREITBART.COM you link to has to be a joke, right? I mean, look at this sentence in it:

"Before Sheehan's arrival, more than 100 protesters at the camp ate a traditional Iraqi meal for Thanksgiving _ salmon, lentils, rice with almonds and a salad of parsley, tomatoes, cucumbers and bulgur wheat."

Salmon? SALMON??!?!??

I seriously doubt that there has ever been a salmon caught in Iraq. Salmon are a cold water fish. Very cold water. On the west coast of the US the rivers that salmon spawn in runs from Alaska to northern California.

Finally, to a lefty it seems that eating salmon is a way to "... call attention to the innocent Iraqi victims in addition to the more than 2,100 U.S. soldiers killed since the war began in March 2003." Well isn't that special.

What next, they'll eat King crab to call attention to global warming? Or eat abalone to call attention to the evils of globalization? Or eat lobster to call attention to the burden of debt crushing third world countries.

Me, I don't need no stupid reason to eat salmon, I just eat it. ($3.00 - $4.00 a pound from the local Indians, caught fresh that day. Mmmmmm.)

5:02 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Unknown said...

I can't understand why anyone would do something to another living creature that they would not want done to themselves.

I'm against eating living creatures, too. I think they should only be eaten after they are killed.

5:15 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's pacifism and pacifism. Specifically, I'd distinguish peaceful pacifism from the emotion-suppressing variety. I suspect that honest peacefulness is actually rather a good defense - aggression is a feedback loop via the other party's response. If the target is responding with none of anger, defensiveness, or hurt, the loop doesn't close. This would require the patience and maturity of a buddha, which is why it strikes me as particularly stupid that "don't fight" gets taught to all kids as a cultural default. Of course they should fight, if the situation calls for it!

5:23 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. Helen:

So I leave the computer for a couple of hours, and there is a wild blogging feeding frenzy over vegetarianism!

Even Adolph Hitler made his appearance. He was indeed quite the vegetarian. He was also much opposed to tobacco smoking---he used to offer gold watches to staff members who quit. And he was an ardent animal rights enthusiast (despite his feelings about Jews and other groups of humans he disliked). Sort of makes you think.

No, I am not claiming that nonsmoking vegetarian animal rights people are Nazis. It is just interesting to note how many things we think of as "good" are associated with people we know are "bad."

Fascinating posts---you have attracted some interesting and informative posters. Congratulations! And you brought my undergraduate minor in psychology to the surface with your mention of one of my favorite thinkers in that area, though not considered to be PC today: Piaget.

Heck, looking at the MSM, I can only conclude that most journalists haven't finished the formal operational stage of cognitive development.

I found your original post thought provoking. Fanaticism seems to be a general property of some people, and it pokes its head up out of such psyche's in an interesting way. *I* think it is all about people who want to impose their will on others.

I have known plenty of people from India who are vegetarian for religious and cultural reasons, and they know a great deal about the pros and cons of their diet.

But why do some people get so "pushy" about it, trying to make the non-vegetarian feel as if they personally are destroying the environment or contributing to the decay of society?

Such people think their way is the ONLY way, and folks who don't follow those rules are evil. Soon, anything that you can do to stop them---lie, steal, even commit violence---becomes acceptable. Pretty soon, you are in Dan Rather country: it doesn't matter that the documents you talked about on television are forged; they ought to be right, so they are.

Thus, I think you are right: fanatics are fanatical. They want to push that fanaticism onto others. And their fanaticism takes them some very dark places.

Me, I am fanatical about having another slice of pumpkin pie for a snack. Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

"Eric Blair"

5:26 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To Mr. Blair,

What--you dare leave your computer for hours at a time--you mean you have better things to do like eat pumpkin pie?--Hmmm, sounds like a good idea. Although do not get me started on pumpkin pie as I have a whole story about that which I would never post.

I loved the writings of Piaget in graduate school--I find myself referring to his work at times as his theory of intellectual development is quite interesting. For those readers who are interested in his work--try reading "Piaget's Theory of Intellectual Development". Piaget is a psychologist who studied the thinking processes of children.

5:47 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger chuck b. said...

This is my favorite fish recipe:

Chutney Broiled Fish by Sudha Koul, from Curries Without Worries.

2 lbs of any mild white fish, cut into 3" x 3" pieces

2 cloves garlic

2 cups chopped coriander leaves

4 hot green peppers (2-3 are fine, imo)

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 tablespoon chopped coconut (at least!--tho' it's a saturated fat, so beware)

3/4 teaspoon ground tumeric

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup oil (too much, I a couple tablespoons)

Pat fish dry and set aside (getting it dry is important).

Make a paste of the other ingredients.

Apply thickly on both sides of fish.

Broil for ten minutes on either side.

I like it flaky and lightly blackened.

6:21 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger chuck b. said...

And I like vegetarian sausages. Boca is my favorite.

And one last thing, vegan farts smell terrible!

6:23 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

Hi Chuck,

Thanks--it sounds great--I am going to try it.

6:24 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...


The fish--only the fish.

6:25 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger KA said...

I was a vegetarian for a couple of years in high school in the 1970s. I did it because I had a crush on a girl at school - in the granola crunch years - who was a vegetarian. It worked, too, and I learned important things about good girls of the left. But I hated vegetables and pretty much ate bread and cheese, got constipated and anemic and wound up at my doctor's office - he was, at various times, my pediatrician, my scoutmaster at the local church, the pastor of the church, and a harpsichordist who harrassed me into playing cello with his recorder ensemble, so he knew pretty much everything there was to know about me. He told me I was anemic, and that I was ending my vegetarian career. He then took me to lunch at the local Chinese restaurant near his office and ordered me Peking duck. And that, as they say, was that. He is still alive, in his eighties, unfortunately suffering from Alzheimers. Kenneth Anderson at

6:29 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TJIT - thanks. I do what I can (and also realize I still could do more). I reached the same conclusions as you state about eggs and dairy, which is why I took the next step 6 months after I stopped eating meat. It's interesting to me that you're a rancher, and I'm pleased to hear you think about these things. I imagine that informs your practices, so more power to ya.

Brent - you wrote:
What I love about "vegetarians" is that on at least a technical level, there is no such thing! It is impossible for humans to live without getting vitamin B-12 in their diet. B-12 is ONLY found in animal meat. Therefore, even the vitamin supplements that "vegetarians" take have B-12 in them that is derived from KILLING animals and harvesting their meat..

Actually, no.

Vitamin B12 was first isolated in 1948. It is derived exclusively from bacteria...Most people obtain the majority of their vitamin B12 intake from animal products. Although most people associate vitamin B12 deficiency with vegan diets, the majority of cases occur among people who regularly consume animal products... in a more primitive setting, human beings almost certainly would have obtained an abundance of vitamin B12 from the bacterial “contamination” of unwashed fresh fruits and vegetables—regardless of their intake of animal products.

More at the link.

6:54 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

chuck wrote: "And one last thing, vegan farts smell terrible!"

You have me there.

6:55 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny how persistent that "Hitler was a vegetarian" meme is.

7:09 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Doc,

I'm much more right-wing than you or your husband and I'm a 100% vegan for ethical reasons. It has nothing to do with holier-than-thou feel goodism on my part. Right-wingers make the mistake of conflating a person's concern with alleviating the suffering of innocent beings with liberal politics. It's not necessarily so - see Matthew Scully's books for an example. I'll just say that just as the abolitionist movement did not consist of a monolithic ideology, neither do ethical vegetarians, and our view will come to be seen just as morally true when viewed from the future as slavery does now.

7:12 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, you see, you obviously were not vegetarian enough. When vegetarianism fails to deliver the benefits of omnivorous living, the answer to your problems must be a more fundamental purity of vegetarianism.

How do you call yourself a vegetarian unless you embrace the provisions of barefoot, ragged, homeless starvation?

Drinking water is theft by the way. God made that water for the flies to piss in.

So perhaps we should all just drink the Koolade....


7:28 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"something akin to some Buddhist and Native American customs"

Native Americans are not the holistic sages that the are portrayed to be. In Wellesboro, Pa there are cliffs over which the indians would drive herds of deer and elk. And the same practice was used throughout the continent often with the indians taking just the tongues if the kill was more than they needed.

And forest fires they set would darken whole sections of the country for days. It had some benefits in promoting forage for game but the indians where ecological renegades.
""To find some truth about the Indians' doings, we can consult a primary source: the journal of Meriwether Lewis, one of the leaders of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Here (with his own spelling) is an item that Lewis recorded on 29 May 1805:

today we passed, on the star.d [starboard] side, the remains of a vast many mangled carcases of Buffalow which had been driven over a precipice of 120 feet by the Indians and perished; the water appeared to have washed away a part of this immence pile of slaughter and still their remained the fragments of at least a hundred carcases [and these] created a most horrid stench. in this manner, the Indians of the Missouri distroy vast herds of buffaloe at a stroke; . . . ."

7:42 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"At twelve, I had reached the Piagetian stage of formal operations and was able to reason that other people did not all think like me and made their own decisions--which had nothing to do with me. At this time, I lost all idealistic perceptions of others, mainly adults.... I never had a hero after that as I had learned a long time before, that no one could rescue me from pain and anguish but myself."

Maybe I am not at formal stage of operations, but you and your husband are both heroic figures to me. Don't worry - I don't expect you to rescue me from anything!:-)

7:53 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glenn and Helen are just a couple in love.
Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, fashions, and forms.

8:33 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To anonymous 7:53 and 8:33:

What a lovely thing to say.

9:37 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger jau said...

Holy f'ing mackerel!! (I mean green bean.) I haven't been here in a whole day and .... Piaget is awesome but I'm not entirely clear on the connection to your eating (or not eating) meat. The evolution of your aggression and non-aggression are fascinating. You think a lot too, clearly.

So what would you say about a 14-year-old who declares herself to be a vegan because she thinks all adults are stupid? That's really truly her reason. Plus, her mother's letting her stop going to school because "all the teachers are stupid" and "none of the kids like me".

9:59 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

Hi aup,

The connection to Piaget was that at 12 or so, I finally reached the stage of logical thinking where I understood that other people made their own decisions and could decide for themselves if vegetarianism was for them--in other words, I understood the abstract concept of separateness and that others were separate beings who decided what they wanted for themselves.

You know, I think many teenagers go through a period of vegetarianism to set themselves apart from others and to give them a sense of identity--especially girls as they can control food even if they can control nothing else such as going to school or whether or not kids like them.

10:07 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Earlier on, someone posted about the link between hypothyroidism and heart disease. That was very interesting to me.

When I was 28, I had my cholesterol tested for the first time at my annual exam. It was 240. I ate everything in moderation. My cholesterol continued to be high over the next couple of years. At the time I was initially tested, I also had my thyroid tested because I was so tired and my hair was falling out. My thyroid test came back normal.
Over time, my doctor started shifting her practice with a new emphasis on natural horomone replacement, and I came back to her with all of the same problems, and although my thyroid tests continued to be normal, she prescribed natural thyroid for me to see what would happen.
Well, my cholesterol is at a normal level now and I have not changed my diet. She says the traditional thyroid tests are not reliable because what is a normal thyroid level for one person, may be very low for another. And there's such a broad range between what constitutes a high level and a low level, the tests just aren't specific enough.( My mother also had a diagnosis of hypothyroid when I did.)

Anyway, I wonder how many women with high cholesterol or heart problems could benifit from this kind of therapy, and if it would help to prevent heart attacks?
(She's a knoxville doc. I like her very much.)

10:25 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

Hi Zuzu,

I have read that thyroid levels that look normal may not be and have always wondered if I needed to address these concerns. My doctors do not seem to think I need to look into this avenue. If you get a chance--let me know the name of the doctor if she is in Knoxville--or you can email me her name at

10:53 PM, November 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are multiple eating programs, and vegetarianism is just one. Some programs work well for some folks, but don't work well for others.

For example, Eskimos have a very high intake of fat and very low intake of fruit and vegetables. But they are very healthy. If I ate that diet, I would be a physical wreck because my genetics are not adapted for that diet.

The task each of us faces is to discover the eating program that is most compatible with our own individual physical system. However, I don't think political beliefs have any relevance

12:28 AM, November 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Although the comments have moved firmly into vegetarianism territory (about which I am unconcerned), the part of your original post that grabbed me was:

"People who preach peace in the face of appalling violence deny their aggression and target it at others who are not deserving of it or who are trying to protect them."

In my opinion, most of the current crop of pacifists are not manifesting any form of aggression at all; they are giving themselves permission to evade the responsibility inherent in facing down real evil or muddying your hands with realpolitik. This leaves you squeaky clean with all the moral superiority you crave. You don't have to solve the problem if you insist there isn't one or that it's not your job to address it.

I would also be inclined to consider the wonderful, soft life so many us (peaceniks included) have been blessed with here in the USA since WWII, and our society's loss since then of institutionally positive representations of individual sacrifice at ANY level.
Also, when the children actually WON, slaying their Johnson/Nixonian fathers when we skulked out of Vietnam, it set the precedent for many of those same adult children to try to re-experience that battle thru today's war in Iraq (in spite of demonstratively differing circumstances). Or more bluntly: many peaceniks willfully choose to be babies. Mind you, I'm not saying you have to fight to be a "man," I'm saying you have to fight to win a battle, and take responsibility for determining when a battle must be fought. If nothing is worth fighting for, you never have to decide -- OR fight.

And last, I think a lot of icons of peace and non-agression are not well understood by peaceniks. The last 40 years have seen a concerted effort to create & spread respect for Martin Luther King and his nonviolent strategies during the civil rights movement. That's OK with me, and I'm mostly pleased with the outcomes of that. But peaceniks fail to see that the success of such nonviolent tactics are predicated on the basic decency of the larger community/government/nation witnessing the nonviolent behavior. If you're dealing with the Anglosphere like King and Gandhi were, it can work. If you're dealing with ancient Rome, Mohammed, Huns, Celts, Stalin, Mao, Che, Saddam Hussein, etc. they just slaughter you. End of unsuccessful nonviolent protest.

Peaceniks who love to point to Gandhi are ignorant of the fact that Gandhi knew this and admitted to it. Neither do such peaceniks realize that many of Gandhi's "nonviolent" fasts carried with them the implicit threat of staggeringly huge civil strife and slaughter that would issue from his followers should he actually fast unto death. This fact was not lost on the Brits before they pulled out; but it is on peaceniks who point to Gandhi's methods. Neither do they seem to care that he later became as dogmatically rigid in his prescriptions for nonviolent protest as any bloodthirsty Mao or Pol Pot was in demanding "reeducation" or "great leap forward" or any cleansing thru slaughter. In fact, when asked about the ongoing genocide of the Jews during WWII, his advice to them was to show their superiority to their oppressors by "dying a good death." Oh, please.

I am also reminded of watching A Few Good Men and wondering why I wasn't as thrilled at Col. Jessup's takedown as was the rest of the audience. Is this Vietnam and smacking down daddy again? Well, since Rob Reiner was directing I guess my differing from the expected response was prescient. Compare this to a similar takedown of Capt. Queeg in the Caine Mutiny, after which Lt. Greenwald chastised the celebrants, reminding them that Queeg -- warts and all -- contributed to the existence and continuance of an important American military organization, and had value on that basis alone. "Sophisticated" liberal audiences would have never seen validity in Greenwald's final speech AFTER Vietnam. Too much like "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." Which, of course, was Col. Jessup's belief. And mine.

Well, I'm not used to pounding out this much copy. I hope it makes some sense.

2:30 AM, November 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I began reading "Jack" with a sigh of "oh geez" and ended up thinking he's onto something. We have had decades of fairly comfy living and I definitely sense that element of childishness in the anger and resistance to dealing strongly with anything - from adolescent acting out to terrorism. Thanks for the food for thought, Jack. (Heh - another food comment.)

2:42 AM, November 27, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To king jack,

Yes, I do think that many people--particularly those who preach peace at any cost-are also trying to evade responsibility. They do not want to be responsible for anything and feel a sense of superiority as a result. I have a colleague like this.

We worked together in a office where there was a potential for violence. I made sure I was around or hired help if we had anyone who was potentially violent there so she would be protected. One day, we had a discussion--she told me she could never harm another person no matter what. I said,"ok, what if I needed help?" to which she replied she would watch me or her own mother be killed rather than lift a hand to harm another--this was her philosophy. I inappropriately got angry and called her a coward. I should have walked away--but I learned that this person would never "cover" my back and I could not count on her should I need help with a violent client.

I have wondered about this mentality often--I think this person as well as many others are so afraid of responsibility that they think they would rather die than fight. However, I notice most of these people keep themselves in pretty structured environments to reduce their chances of encountering any problems.

But this is one type of pacifist. There are others who refuse to protect others but also harbor violent feelings that they release periodically onto others such as at protests where they get angry in a safe way or PETA types who throw blood on women with fur coats.

7:00 AM, November 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great thread, and i love the way dr helen reads the comments and responds.

the article on the dali lama was quite interesting

although the headline was misleading.

It was "Dalai Lama spreads message of nonviolence at Stanford visit"

Talk about burying the lede. It should have been, "Dali Lama says that war and TV are necessary sometimes."

Re vegetarianism...

I was a veggie in my hippie college years but drifted away when i became more athletic and cold most of the time. Stamina and basal body temp. both increased with animal protein intake. I suppose you could do this with veggie protein powder but it is not to my liking.

Also the increase in protein and fat, ala Zone, helped massively with blood sugar regulation which was having an effect on my moods and can also have an effect on somatic health.

Also re vegetarians.

Little known fact, vegetarians eat meat everyday!

Well almost, .....human digestive tract slough off cells that are digested and recycled. Some estimates put the amount as high as 25 grams of meat (human) protein per day.

This is why the protein complementarity thesis of Diet for a Small Planet was wrong.

"The important fact here is that the majority of amino acids absorbed from the intestinal tract are derived from recycled body protein. We are in a sense all flesh eaters, a form of self-cannibalization."

You do not need complementary proteins at each meal, even each day, as your own body's protein does a fine job of complementing the missing essential amino acids for quite a long time, weeks maybe. So you could have beans one week and rice the next with no problem. But even the Dali Lama would admit that that could get boring, like America without TV.

Recently on a visit to Seattle (which is moonbat central and quite rainy and cloudy)
I stopped in the local mega coop, and walked by the meat aisle.

There was a sign, a small printed piece of paper, next to the frozen chicken. It read,

"Our Free Range Chickens are not forced outside"

Happy Thanksgiving All.

9:10 AM, November 27, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To anonymous,

I am so glad that the free range chickens were not forced outside--those same people at the coop would probably have no problem with pelting women with furs on--or maybe watching from afar while someone else did it. I once had a vegetarian who left me stranded on the side of a busy interstate while she rescued a dog--obviously, my life was expendable--or I guess she figured I could care for myself.

9:20 AM, November 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting discussion, not least because it's been civil.

King Jack, your comments brought to mind this, from G.K. Chesterton, I think: Violence is never a good way to settle your differences, but is often the only way of not having them settled for you.


10:33 AM, November 27, 2005  
Blogger Capt.Craig said...

Re King Jack and Helen's response the following is timely.

"But animals like bears, tigers, and lions, that wander individually or in small groups, know that their survival depends upon how they fight, and their willingness to fight is so well understood that they are seldom attacked, whereas to a predator a herd in flight is a living contradiction of the maxim that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Mankind is not a genetic set piece, divided into lone wolves and lemmings, but rather the division is a reflection of habituation to the collective—indeed, worship of it—as opposed to a habitual resistance to it. Capitulation and appeasement may sometimes be merely subcategories of a controlling impulse that produces both. When the Left bends to America's enemies it may not be a result of cowardice or betrayal, but of loyalty to the omelette so single-minded that it precludes consideration of the eggs."

Read the whole piece by Mark Helprin here

A great analysis.

10:46 AM, November 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vegetarianism and "peace" protesters are possible in America largely becuase we have been so successfull in maintaining peace and security here for so long. I look at the daily lives of people in most of the rest of the world and see them living with a level of violence and poverty which makes their lives more "uncertain" than the lives of our citizens. Even the Europeans are only one full generation removed from the chaos and death tolls of WW II.
We have been able to avoid such domestic chaos and death since the close of the Civil War. Tihs long period of almost total domestic safety has allowed the rise of some very non survival oriented beliefs.
America is almost the only place in the world stable enough and welathy enough to support and protect such non survival oriented
beleifs on any scale. I wonder how long we can retain this invincible mind set.

11:30 AM, November 27, 2005  
Blogger Felice Luftschein said...

I've been vegetarian since highschool, and went through a typical left-pacifist phase. At 39 I'm still vegetarian, have long hair and a beard, but am also pro-hunting (although I don't hunt myself), pro-gun and voted republican in the last election. I love America - where I can be whomever I want to be, contradictions and all.

12:41 PM, November 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has the adverbial form of "health" completely disappeared from our language, or it is just commonly misused?

1:27 PM, November 27, 2005  
Blogger Greg Kuperberg said...

Actually militarism is stronger in the United States and pacifism is weaker, relative to Western Europe, for the simple reason that the United States has the most powerful military in the world, and also one of the largest militaries in the world. Of course cause and effect goes in both directions — the United States also has a larger military than otherwise because of militarist sentiment. But part of the reason that the American military is large is that that was the trajectory of history. Many other countries were forced by their smaller size and their bad luck to unshoulder much of the challenge of World War II and the Cold War onto the United States.

I am not a 100% pacifist by any means. War can be a necessary evil, for sure. But the pacifists are at least sometimes right. War can be just fine, but only if you win it. Here "win" does not mean overthrowing or killing specific bad guys; it means more fundamentally advancing the interests of the free world. That is not what is happening in Iraq at this moment; instead, failure is being dressed up in costumes of success. That makes the pacifists correct in this specific case, whether or not they are vegetarian, and no matter how wrong they may be about other wars.

1:37 PM, November 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for the reply. Once you get too many readers/commenters to do so, at least we'll always have Paris -- er, that is, I'll always have your reply of November 27, 2005.

Regarding your office anecdote, it reminds me of of when Michael Dukakis was pilloried for hesitating to state how he would defend his wife or daughter from a rapist (or some such). I'm sure your office mate enjoyed the "purity" of her position. It relieved her not only of any responsibility to act, but also of any need to ever monitor changing circumstances and reevaluate her position.

Regarding peaceniks who ARE filled with aggression, I have two male friends (early 50s & latter 50s) one in Alabama & one in Texas, with whom I regularly share anecdotes about friends/coworkers who get frighteningly furious thru their Bush Derangement Syndrome. We three friends are all traditionally Democrats and social liberals with a streak of libertarianism. And -- in this post 9/11 world -- we all now have to avoid genuine discussions with people we have considered part of our population cohort for a lifetime. Because their aggressive BDS symptoms prevent rational/civil discussions. I can't know what psychological circumstances bring a particular individual to be so prone to BDS.

As to the childish/immature nature of so much peacenik/lefty stuff, you might like to check out Saturday's "Nashville Eye" essay in the Tennessean. A person named Molly Secours (I haven't bothered to google her, but she describes herself as a writer/filmmaker/speaker) attempts to express her opinion on incentives given to Nissan and the TennCare cuts. Clearly, she fancies herself heir to Swift & Twain, but in fact her sarcastic approach is magnificently childish. Even though there are issues on which she & I probably agree, her inability to engage on an adult level undercuts everything. This air of petulent superiority is not unique to her, as it is MoDo's stock in trade. Even Molly Ivins (who I used to have strong positive feelings about) tends to loiter in such territory these days.

Also, I enjoyed Retread's Chesterson quote and agree fully with Anonymous 11:30 a.m. In that regard, I am a big fan of HBO's Rome, and one of the things I find so impressive about it is the believable representation of casual inhumanity and early death that we are lucky enough to mainly avoid in today's America, even though it is still routine in so much of the rest of the world.

Oh, and I disagree entirely with Greg Kuperberg's assessment of the necessity & progress of the war in Iraq.

Now that I've started rambling, it's time for me to shut up. By the way, Thanksgiving marked the 11th anniversary of my "acute" MI and subsequent triple CABG. I was 42 and lucky to survive, as men so young generally don't have the collateral circulation to weather the blockage. TPA did save me, but it was not administered until after ambiguous EKG results were superceded by that test where bloodwork detects damaged heart tissue (forgot correct name of test). In short, as I was told, I "presented like a woman." Rough way to get in touch with my fenimine side. Good news is that my grafts appear to be in no danger of reaching the end of their functional lives. Back then their average lifespan was said to be about 10 years. I remember after the surgery how upsetting it was to hear the surgeon say, "You don't think these things last forever, do ya?" Here they had just chopped my rib cage open with a Dremel and I had to project ahead to another such procedure somewhere in the future. Luckily, it has so far not been the case.

So good health to you and all the other instapersons.

2:43 PM, November 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

blackminorca said...
Every leftist saga seems to have its "subhumans" to differentiate them that hold themselves on high. And should they not exist, then they are invented.

Yes; they are called the pre-born!
Sub-humans they are afraid to name and give a proper burial to.

3:11 PM, November 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For myself, I believe that eating meat is essential to good health. I also have high cholesterol and a family history of heart disease. As a hunter I have the opportunity to substitute much healthier wild game into my diet. Wild venison, antelope and elk meat have higher levels of many essential nutrients without the fats of beef. Even wild rabbit is extremely lean whereas farm raised rabbits are loaded with fat. Hunting is not cheap, but one trip this year provided all the red meat that my family needs until next year. I highly recommend it. It tastes good too. Ted Nugent’s book “Kill It and Grill It” contains lots of good information on the subject and makes a persuasive case for eating wild game.

4:01 PM, November 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Helen,

I read your reasons for going back to being an omnivore with interest. It makes sense that since you were not raised a vegetarian but chose it rationally, when you found that the reasons for your choice no longer were valid you gave up being a strict vegetarian.
I also agree with you that being a vegetarian does not necessarily correlate with peace and compassion towards others. There are plenty of militant vegetarians out there, not just in the US but in India where vegetarians are in the majority.

That being said I am a vegetarian because I was raised as one and I have always enjoyed my vegetables more than any meat. Partly because my memories of good times and homely comfort are associated with vegetarian meals. And partly because I never really developed a taste for meat.

Enjoy the best of both worlds!

6:48 PM, November 27, 2005  
Blogger jau said...

"Air of petulent superiority" is a super way to describe what so many people carry around these days. I wonder what the social malaise under everything came from and when it will end (soon?!!).

7:16 PM, November 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm a vegetarian. and yes my reasons are "pacifistic" if that's what you want to call it.

my experience has been confirmed by numerous comments here. i do not at all preach about my choice. i only bring it up when choosing a place to eat with a group.

however, once my choice is known to others, my experience has often been that carnivores find it incumbent upon them to preach to me. that humans were meant to eat meat. that we're at the top of the food chain. this doesn't usually bother me. but some people who i count as friends are rather relentless about the topic. i don't desire to justify my choice. but i don't know what they expect when they start the argument.

several vegetarians on here have noted this phenomenon. and others including yourself with your original remarks find it apparently entertaining to have a laugh at the expense of vegetarians. but you think we're the ones with the aggression problem?

7:59 PM, November 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not a vegetarian but I never really liked red meat and rarely ate it. Several months ago I went to the blood bank to donate blood for a surgery. I was too anemic to give as a regular donor and almost too anemic to donate for myself. The blood bank gave me a list of foods to raise my iron level. It indicated that vegetables, even beans, have very little iron, and basically you need to eat meat, especially red meat, for adequate iron. I had no other heatlh reason making me anemic.

I still don't care for red meat but it strikes me that humans have evolved to eat it.

8:48 PM, November 27, 2005  
Blogger gt said...

My early experience was somewhat like yours. I was pacifist at 12, during vietnam, and became committed to vegetarianism on reading diet for a small planet at 13. By 16 I had morphed a bit into a libertarian, and at 15 sometimes nonviolently resisted my father when he attacked me. As an adult I'm vegan and freegan, trying to take myself out of the cycle of violence around me.
I'm angry and depressed, and have some of that annoying smugness. I'm angry because too many of my friends have been raped, molested, taxed, drafted, imprisoned, hyperregulated, stolen from, etc.
My choice to be nonviolent is a selfish one - I think it somewhat improves the odds that I won't be a victim of violence again, by making me more sensitive to threat models and more likely to heed early warning signs and avoid danger. I've had some success and some failure with this approach.
I'm having a hard time understanding your point.
So is it ok now if I kill and eat my enemies? because I have a list.
- arbitrary aardvark

9:54 PM, November 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay...completely off-topic and superficial observation that has nothing to do with the topic, but as a fellow-woman I must say it.

having seen your picture at your hubby's site, you don't look a day over 30.

It must be all the red meat! :-)

On topic, I tend to agree with you. I'd rather hang out with the ignoble gunowners than the noble vegetarians, and for the same reasons.

10:08 PM, November 27, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To gt

You mistake nonviolence with being a vegetarian. There are plenty of meat eaters who are not violent and plenty of vegetarians who are.

I never said that I used violence against others in going back to being a meat eater--I said I had aggressive feelings--which is much different than acting on them. I never did nor would I harm other people except in self-defense--real self-defense. But I did learn not to be afraid of my anger--to look at it and explore it and realize it was ok to be mad--it just wasn't ok to hurt other people because of it. People who use violence in interpersonal relationships because they are mad, angry, and abused is wrong.

We have all been abused in some way--some moreso than others. If being a vegetarian and a pacifist helps you to control your anger--do so but that did not work for me-I am assertive with others and tell them if they are doing something I don't like and try to resolve it. I am aware that bad things can happen but I am also open to the fact that there are people who are kind, giving, and non-threatening out there also. A lot of pacifists I know are scared people. They jump when you come up on them. I can't help but think that must be a hard way to go through life.

7:05 AM, November 28, 2005  
Blogger jau said...

Helen, well said (7:05 am). I have a good friend whose fear and trembling have seemed alarming to me given her supposed pacifism but you've helped make it more understandable to me. So now, your next assignment is to explain the group-think wherein the assumption is made in a sort of conspiratorial and we-are-together way that 'of course' we agree about [name the topic]. There's so much of it (the third grade Madison teacher's writing assignment, television announcers, friends, etc.). Where's it come from and how to combat it?

10:08 AM, November 28, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...


You have given me quite an assignment!

10:51 AM, November 28, 2005  
Blogger jau said...

Hey, why not?! If you got 100+ conversations from an essay about why you returned to eating meat, heaven only knows what might come from something (dare I say it?) meatier!

12:57 PM, November 28, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a peacenik - but I am also involved directly with trident because of this. I have no wish to be in a world where some crackpot thinks it is ok to throw a nuclear weapon at another country without fear of equal (nuclear) reprisal. You really want people who think this way to be the ones at sea carrying those things, and we all just have to trust, and vote, that our political masters/mistresses also think that way.

As noted earlier, America has the most powerful military in the world. He who has the biggest stick (trident is a VERY big stick) is the one least likely to be attacked with that kind of stick.

Sounds like a ramble? No, just pointing out that with conscious thought and rationalisation even a peacenik can make unpleasant decisions and choices and work with nuclear weapons

7:05 PM, November 28, 2005  
Blogger gt said...

Dr Helen, thank you for responding.
I have a political disagreement with you - one on which I am willing to agree to disagree, but the more interesting things you are saying are about the psychology, where I am weak and open to learning.
You mistake nonviolence with being a vegetarian. There are plenty of meat eaters who are not violent and plenty of vegetarians who are.
I never said that I used violence against others in going back to being a meat eater.... I never did nor would I harm other people except in self-defense--real self-defense

I view vegetarianism and nonviolence as connected. While vegetarians can be violent, or Hitler, by definition a meat eater is violent unless they are in the vulture or freegan niche. I'm the one making the claim that by eating meat you are being violent against others (a claim i might moderate depending on your medical situation.)
You haven't threatened me specificly, or even other aardvarks generally, but if you eat a zebra today, it could be an aardvark tomorrow, and me next week. I'm more comfortable around people who've chosen nonviolence.
I agree with your points about assertiveness -it's something I strive for but am not good at. Blogging and having a webcomic are steps at not holding all of the anger in. I read a book about Vietnam that talked about developing personal narratives as a way to work through trauma. Also, maybe I should make clear that any abuse I suffered was mild, just typical experience of growing up in the 60s, rather than the severe cases you work with. I'm just hypersentive to bullying, which is why I work, rather ineffectively, as a civil liberties lawyer and libertarian activist.
Cordially, an arbitrary aardvark.

9:54 PM, November 28, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

To gt,

Well, I think it goes a bit far to say that if I eat meat--I will eat a person. But if you feel better around people who are "non-violent" and they make you feel better, go for it. But I think to deny the predatory aggressive part of human beings is to deny yourself the whole realm of human feelings.

Being afraid is what makes a person feel ineffective. I have no fear of my violent or angry feelings. They are part of who I am --as they are a part of all of us, whether we choose to acknowlege them or not. Research shows that the best way to modulate anger is to discuss it in a healthy environment. If you always avoid your feelings of anger, violence, etc. and frustration and associate only with other "pacifists"--you will let go a part of yourself that may help you with your work, your life and your happiness. Just a thought.

7:55 AM, November 29, 2005  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I'd eat salmon for Thanksgiving. But when turkey is 49 cents a pound at Krogers and salmon is 10 times that or more, guess what I buy. Definitely that same liberal conscending attitude while enjoying food and prosperity that few others can afford.

10:54 AM, November 29, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

Hi dadvocate,

Yes, have you noticed that all organic health food cost twice the price of regular foods? I find this interesting as I don't often frequent my local health food store as the prices are outrageous. I will see people with one small basket of food that costs over $100.00. Wouldn't it make more sense if you were that concerned with all people living in poverty that you could do without organic produce and donate the difference to the poor? I save my money and give it to people who are working for a living like wait staff, people who provide me with good service etc.

11:36 AM, November 29, 2005  
Blogger gt said...

I think we're still talking past each other a bit. Well, I think it goes a bit far to say that if I eat meat--I will eat a person. I'm not saying that if you meat, you will eat a person. I'm saying that if you eat meat, you do eat a person. Agree with your other comments. I try to channel my emotional energy into my legal work, and enjoy blogging as discussion in a healthy environment. Enjoying your more recent blog posts as well.
-arbitrary aardvark

5:36 PM, November 29, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't quite get the logic of vegetarianism. After all, they willingly accept the fact that carnivorous animals exist and that they eat other animals. They accept the amorality of nature in that case. But only in that case. They do not accept that there's no morality involved in humans eating animals. Somehow, that is a moral evil, even though humans, by nature, are equipped to eat meat (they have incisors).

The same people insist that there is no distinct difference between animals an humans.So which is it? Either human beings are just like other animals or they're not. If we're essentially the same as animals, we cannot be held morally accountable for the evil of eating them. If we're to be held to a higher moral standard, the great demand for equality with the animal kingdom disappears.

3:35 AM, November 30, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that some meat eaters get so uppity about people who choose to be vegetarian?

So maybe Hitler was a vegetarian... Let's take all the psycho genocidal world leaders of the past and make 2 lists... vegetarians on one side and meat eaters on the other... I wonder which list would be bigger... hmmmmm??

And if we weren't supposed to eat babies, why are they made out of meat?

2:46 AM, March 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was already said. Bad and good people aren't determined by what they eat. So what's with the list idea?

4:34 AM, April 26, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simple question I hope.

Since a decision to not eat meat can be easily justified medically (contrary to the myths that are being proliferated here about iron deficiency - anemia, protein deficiency, lack of B12, no strength, inability to maintain body heat, etc.,) morally, environmentally, agriculturally, and economically, WHAT, other than "I like it, "I can," or any other sophmoric or sarcastic quip can explain a choice to kill animals and eat their flesh?

Non-agrresive answers preferred. :-)

12:15 PM, July 18, 2006  
Blogger lisette said...

Wow, the only thing that surprises me about this blog (contains the usual simple minded hyperbole directed at "violent" vegetarians (where are they? ha ha)is that it is the blog of an actual licensed psychologist. Dr. Helen reminds me of someone I used to know who gave up veganism because she broke up with her boyfriend (also a vegan). Makes perfect sense, if your school mates taunt you, make fun of you, take it out on the animals. The bullied becomes the bully (not too complicated here) but a bit shallow and simplistic for someone with a psychology degree (perhaps not). Narcissistic return and admiration for you compassion and ethics, while very nice, or few and far between if non existent for most vegetarians and it is certainly not a good reason. Hopefully, this is more about life and choices for animals.

Reduction ad absurdum, from the 1790s: There was a small, much ridiculed movement afoot in England to extend the concept of rights to women. At that time, as you may know, the social heirachy began with educated white landowning male humans and descended past women and non-Europeans all the way down to the "brutes" or animals. The first really circulated published text on the matter was of course "A indication of the Rights of Women," by Mary Wollstonecraft (reviled for her forward-looking beliefs by all respectable men of the day, she was popularly dubbed "that monster in petticoats"). Anyway, hilarity abounded in response to her outrageous suggestions regarding American women (that they might enjoy rights under the law), and one of the most famous cartoons of the day depicted a woman standing in line at a voting booth (har har!) and right behind her a donkey, preparing to cast his ballot.

In other words, there's nothing new under the sun; those resisting a new step up in the evolution of a just and compassionate human culture have always, and will always, ask the inflammatory but irrelevant question, "If we take THIS step towards greater humanity, where will it end--in sheer chaos and absurdity?" But once those reforms are instituted and have become commonplace, in hindsight the social conditions prior to their inception are viewed by the vast majority as "brutal" or "backwards."

The rhetoric of the anti-animal rights movement EXACTLY mimics that of the anti-abolitionists. Tract after tract during that period refers to the "obvious" argument that white humans are inherently more valuable than blacks, due to their "superior intelligence," more highly developed social structures," "more complex consciousness," etc. Those who advocated humane laws regarding slavery, or its abolition, were labeled the 18th and 19th c. equivalent of "crackpot" and "psycho" (as, of course, are virtually ALL proponents of a larger circle of compassion, in the early historical stages of each movement, when more narrow-minded and self-interested peers respond in knee-jerk, conditioned ways to ideas that their parents taught them were silly, misguided, or (God forbid)"sentimental"!.

The most tired and ridiculous rhetorical refuge of those who stand against the expansion on of our circle of compassion and rights, is the schoolyard logic that, "if he cares MORE about blacks then we do, he must care LESS about whites! he's not just a slave-lover, he's a white-hater!" Typical reactions to the daring claim that non-European humans deserved some minimal rights within English and American law were ridicule, contempt, laughter, and the attempt to shame (with labels like "crackpot") the humane advocate into rejoining the backwards thinking of the vast majority of society at the time.

In fact, the complete adequacy of vegetarian diets is now so thoroughly proven and documented that even the National Cattle men's Beef Association has acknowledged the legitimacy of meatless diets. In an official statement, these representatives declared, "Well planned vegetarian diets can meet dietary recommendations for essential nutrients." Statements and wild accusations that vegetarians risk severe mineral deficiencies again provide no supporting documentation. I am sorry if Dr. Helen's vegetarian diet did not work for her, but the key here is "well planned". We do not live in a society that caters to the vegetarian diet, but it is improving. I raised and nursed (4 years in a row) children on a vegetarian diet although I was raised on tex/mex. It takes some effort and education in learning how to prepare meals.

Here are some stats you won't being hearing about on the "liberal media".

*Animals killed for fur in the U.S. is approximately equal to the human population of Illinois.
*The number of animals killed in experimentation in the U.S. each year is approximately equal to the human population of Texas.
*The number of mammals and birds farmed and slaughtered in the U.S. each year is approximately equal to one and two-thirds the entire human population of Earth. Over 99% of the animals killed in the U.S. each year die to be eaten.

Where are all of these overbearing vegetarians? I have taken to calling it "the V word", it is so completely left out of any discussion involving global warming, the environment or even animal welfare discussions.

"When you think about the growth of human population over the last century or so, it is all too easy to imagine it merely as an increase in the number of humans. But as we multiply, so do all the things associated with us, including our livestock. At present, there are about 1.5 billion cattle and domestic buffalo and about 1.7 billion sheep and goats. With pigs and poultry, they form a critical part of our enormous biological footprint upon this planet.

Just how enormous was not really apparent until the publication of a new report, called “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Consider these numbers. Global livestock grazing and feed production use “30 percent of the land surface of the planet.” Livestock — which consume more food than they yield — also compete directly with humans for water. And the drive to expand grazing land destroys more biologically sensitive terrain, rain forests especially, than anything else.

But what is even more striking, and alarming, is that livestock are responsible for about 18 percent of the global warming effect, more than transportation’s contribution. The culprits are methane — the natural result of bovine digestion — and the nitrogen emitted by manure. Deforestation of grazing land adds to the effect.

Also, Hitler was not a vegetarian. I am surprised Dr. Helen did not bother to research this, given her credentials and that John Robbins, her origninal inspiration, as written on and researched the subject quite thoroughly as have others.

"Robert Payne is widely considered to be Hitler’s definitive biographer. In his book, Hitler: The Life and Death of Adolph Hitler, Payne says that Hitler’s “vegetarianism” was a “legend” and a “fiction” invented by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda. According to Payne:

“Hitler’s asceticism played an important part in the image he projected over Germany. According to the widely believed legend, he neither smoked nor drank, nor did he eat meat or have anything to do with women. Only the first was true. He drank beer and diluted wine frequently, had a special fondness for Bavarian sausages and kept a mistress, Eva Braun… His asceticism was fiction invented by Goebbels to emphasize his total dedication, his self-control, the distance that separated him from other men. By this outward show of asceticism, he could claim that he was dedicated to the service of his people. In fact he was remarkably self-indulgent and possessed none of the instincts of the ascetic.”

Rynn Berry is historical advisor to the North American Vegetarian Society and is on the Advisory Board of EarthSave. Publisher’s Weekly wrote of his thoughtful essay, “Why Hitler Was Not a Vegetarian,” that it "lays to rest the myth that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian." In the essay, Berry writes of the famous chef Dione Lucas:

“Dione Lucas was a sort of precursor of the popular television ‘French’ chef, Julia Childe. One of the first to open a successful cooking school in the United States, Lucas was also one of the first chefs to popularize French cuisine on television in the 1950s and 1960s. During the 1930s, prior to her coming to the United States, she had worked as a chef at a hotel in Hamburg, where Adolph Hitler was one of her regular customers.”

Not only did Hitler eat meat, he went so far as to outlaw organizations that advocated vegetarianism, and harshly rebuked all proposals to ease Germany’s food shortages that involved reductions in meat consumption.

Lastly, how do you separate meat eating from pacifism? Even "humanely raised meat" ends up on the same truck to the slaughterhouse, freezing in the winter and baking in the summer with a legal 36 hours in between waterings. Many animals do not survive this. This is to say nothing of the persons (usually Mexicans) who are slaughtering the animals for you and are treated almost as unfairly and brutally as the animals. 70 percent of U.S. pigs going to slaughter have pneumonia and 90 percent of all chickens US are infected with leucosis (chicken cancer) at the time of slaughter. Even if you can mentally separate yourself from this (a true act of mental rationalization)is this even healthy?

As long as humans murder animals, they will kill each other, indeed, he who sows the seeds of murder and pain, will not reap the joys of love. Pythegorius

1:53 PM, September 12, 2007  
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