But these days, being a vegetarian is nothing. There's a whole universe of weird food cultists out there now, with each little interest group seizing upon one sliver of "science" then spinning their food choices into a quasi-religious lifestyle.
A few years ago, the cultists morphed legitimate concerns about high cholesterol into a global hype-a-thon of "low fat" and "heart healthy" life choices. Suddenly, anything with butter in it was evil and millions of American tortured themselves by smearing vile phony-butter on their morning toast.
A bit later, valid concerns among people with diabetes about the risks of sugar and excess carbohydrates laced into the American diet devolved into the new Church of the Atkins Diet and a chorus of low-carb acolytes. Pretty soon, thousands of otherwise sane people were tossing their burger buns in the trash to eat their protein with a fork. But butter was back to being OK.
Then, plausible concerns about pesticides, steroids and genetic plant modification spawned the highly educated yet stridently anti-science cult of organic foodies. To hear them tell it, a kid might die if they eat a slice of Wonder bread. Or your spouse will fall over dead of cancer unless they pay twice as much for "organic" carrots or "free range" chickens.
As if using manure as a 'natural' fertilizer poses no risk. As if we'd be better off with "natural" crop-destroying blights. Does anybody recall the Irish potato famine? Fact is, millions of college-educated organotroids have utterly and completely taken for granted the benefits conferred upon human life by the advances of agricultural science. But lots of people bow their heads in reverence when a smart-sounding enviro-priest uses fear and ignorance to puff minor health threats into phony crises.
Lately, the torches and pitchforks are marching in support of gluten-free foods. Kernel of turth: there really are a few people with celiac disease who really do have allergy problems related to exposure to gluten -- a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Overblown hype: selling gluten-free diets to the much wider population of the "worried well." Thanks to the new war on wheat, gluten-free diets suddenly equal "healthy," and by extension, somehow, everything else equals "unhealthy."
What a strange crossroads this portends. If gluten is "bad" for people, then nearly every form of bread (except cornbread) is a form of "poison." So what was Jesus up to when he broke bread with his apostles? Was the Son of God a bioterrorist? Humanity would barely exist without bread. Grains are not poison.
It isn't that bread is bad for you. Or butter. Or meat. Or cupcakes. Etc. It's that too much of anything -- even water -- can turn a healthy thing into an unhealthy thing. It's about the balance. It's about burning up the calories you consume with physical activity. It's about moderation.
Too bad there isn't much profit in that.