Thursday, August 21, 2008

More misinformation about vegetarianism in the news

There was no wondering which way this veg-related opinion piece on Raleigh-Durham, NC's WTVD-TV website was going to lean after reading its subtitle. The title "Is Vegetarianism Better?" leads into "Have you ever been bullied by a vegetarian?" and Health Blog writer Akiia James proceeds to share her story of her own experience as a malnourished vegetarian (she describes it as having been "lacking in nutrition"), by virtue of having been what she calls an "uneducated vegetarian". In her article, she promotes a website called "The Fast Guide for Vegetarians and Vegans" as being a good resource. The site features numerous articles, most of them sketchy and well-intentioned at best, but with others with titles like "The Top Five Nutrients Vegetarians Lack" which features protein at the top of the list (and don't get me started on this ridiculous protein deficiency myth). James provides this info, although asserting that she herself is now a happy meat eater who chooses to get her protein from animal sources and who knows several other vegetarians who have resumed meat eating because of their own exercise regimens.

So I have to ask what the point of the whole article is. Why offer up information on vegetarianism if you're going to admit that you failed at it because you ate an unhealthy diet (i.e. lacking in "whole grains, legume and larger quantities of green leafy vegetables"), that you think going back to eating meat was the healthy and "satisfying" choice and that many of your vegetarian acquaintances followed suit. Yet, James claims that she "understands and respects both sides of the issue", even though she starts the article with some sort of vague gripe against a vegetarian on a radio talk-show and then spends the rest of her time going out of her way to show that her personal experience points towards meat eating being the right choice.


The article was badly-written, incredibly biased and uninformative. Mucho downward thumbishness, it gets from me.

4 comments:

jessy said...

that article is crap. and did she even research anything?! argh! i hate when articles like this are published 'cause people say "oh yeah - see - veggies are do'n it wrong!" i wish more articles would come out about animal products and its link to: obesity, cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, and lack of whole grains, veggies, and whole foods. it's so frustrating sometimes. argh!

Akiia James said...

Wow, thanks guys for discussing my blog. I was searching for something else and ran across your blog. I appreciate what you say and respect your criticism. However, the purpose of my blog entry on vegetarianism was to evoke dialogue among those who know nothing or little about it. Although you may have found my content useless, I got great feedback from readers. You must consider the fact that we live in a society that is meat and junk driven, therefore the majority does not view vegetarianism like you do. Not once did I say vegetarianism is wrong or that anyone should not adopt the lifestyle. In fact, I accomplished what I set out to do and that was to open people's minds and make a decision that best suits them.

M said...

Wow, thanks guys for discussing my blog. I was searching for something else and ran across your blog. I appreciate what you say and respect your criticism. However, the purpose of my blog entry on vegetarianism was to evoke dialogue among those who know nothing or little about it.

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That's what's really unfortunate -- that you were aiming this at people who know nothing or little about vegetarianism. After reading your blog post, anybody who knew nothing about vegetarianism would be left thinking that, according to a personal fitness writer for ABC TV, it can lead easily lead to anemia and malnutrition, and that most people who are serious about exercise regimens who try it go back to meat eating. This was the personal experience you shared, as a health and fitness writer.

As for "evoking dialogue" -- you subtitled your piece "Have you ever been bullied by a vegetarian?" and then shared some vague story about overhearing a snippet of something on the radio that made you angry towards a vegetarian. I mean, how more provocative and inflammatory could that possibly be? That's not evoking dialogue; that's just veg-bashing and trying to get people arguing with each other. It's a common tactic employed by many food and fitness writers now when discussing vegetarianism because it's seen as hip to do.
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Although you may have found my content useless, I got great feedback from readers.

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Which ones? The ones who knew little or nothing about vegetarianism in the first place and who are now uninformed and possibly permanently biased against it?
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You must consider the fact that we live in a society that is meat and junk driven, therefore the majority does not view vegetarianism like you do.

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Thanks. I'm already quite aware that much of society is comprised of people who eat unhealthily. What does that have to do with your opinion piece, though? Are you saying that you were catering to these people who want to hear that it's right to eat meat and to eat junk? I mean, you're a health and fitness writer, right? Is it not your job to educate your readership of healthy options, rather than cater to what you say are societal norms of which I need to be aware?
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Not once did I say vegetarianism is wrong or that anyone should not adopt the lifestyle.

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No, not outright, BUT you pointed out that your own personal experience with it led you to become convinced that meat-eating was healthiest, and then you backed that up by pointing out that you know former vegetarians who share your opinion.

How was this not leading your readers to believe that vegetarianism isn't somehow wrong or conveying to them that adopting the lifestyle would be unhealthy?
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In fact, I accomplished what I set out to do and that was to open people's minds and make a decision that best suits them.

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That's just it. You didn't open anybody's minds. You started your piece off with an inflammatory subtitle, went on about a preachy "holier-than-thou" vegetarian, shared your own experience with vegetarianism where by your own admission you were unable/unwilling to eat a nutritious and varied diet, added that you know other vegetarians who've abandoned the diet for health-conscious reasons and then the only info you really provided about vegetarianism was a link to a poorly-written and somewhat obscure website (that in and of itself contains bits perpetuating myths about vegetarianism).

It's just a real shame that where an opportunity could have been taken to truly educate your readers about the potential health benefits of vegetarianism, you just repeatedly drilled home to them so many negative opinions you have about it. And that's why I critiqued your piece.

M said...

i wish more articles would come out about animal products and its link to: obesity, cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, and lack of whole grains, veggies, and whole foods. it's so frustrating sometimes. argh!

Jessy, I agree completely. Rather than perpetuate anti-vegetarian myths, it would nice to see people who write about diet and nutrition actually read up on the numerous reports of the benefits of vegetarianism. I mean, even mainstream folks like the American Heart Association are talking about it.