Fogive them Lord, for they know not what they are eating

Photo: Two billboards, one in front of another, that coincidentally form the sentence 'Christ died for our Dunkin' Donuts'.

Praise the Lard! Lord, give me tofu…but not yet.

People who know me — but not that well — always find it surprising that I have a bit of a conservative streak. One of the times it shows up is when I tell people that they may not believe it now, but someday they will: in many cases, Mom and Dad were right.

“Choose your friends carefully,” Mom always told me. “If you’re not careful, they could lead you down the wrong path.”

My housemate Paul could’ve benefited from this advice.

First Biella got him to give up dairy; this in itself is a minor miracle as Paul lived in Wisconsin for a few years. I hear they can shoot you if you admit to not eating cheese over there. Biella was unsuccessful in completely brainwashing him; while we have a fridge full of such abominations as soy milk and soy cheese singles (which are even more abhorrent than ordinary cheese singles), he has not been able to give up ice cream.

Now caffeine’s off the list, and it’s Kat’s fault. This is even more wrong because Paul’s a programmer. Caffeine’s part of the lifestyle. You might as well tell a Texas cowboy “no more beef!” or a Parisian to stop peeing on the subway walls (“But eet eez our right to meecturate anywhere we damn well please, maudit Anglais!”).

This is an ugly trend, and I envision an army of hippy chicks slowly eradicating all traces of fun from Paul’s diet. This white liberal approach to food rather reminds me of the self-denial that was brought about thanks to parousia (that “Jesus is coming, look busy!” state of mind), and Open Source guru Eric S. Raymond has observed this too:

Why do we tend to treat our natural cravings for red meat and fat as sins, then? Notice the similarity between the rhetoric of diet books and religious evangelism and you have your answer. Dietary mortification of the flesh has become a kind of secular asceticism, a way for wealthy white people with guilt feelings about their affluence to demonstrate virtue and expiate their imagined trangressions.

Once you realize that dieting is a religion, the irrationality and mutual contradictions become easier to understand. It’s not about what’s actually good for you, it’s about suffering and self-denial and the state of your soul. People who constantly break and re-adopt diets are experiencing exactly the same cycle of secondary rewards as the sinner who repeatedly backslides and reforms.

This model explains the social fact that the modern flavor of “health”-based dietary piety is most likely to be found in people who don’t have the same psychological needs satisfied by an actual religion. Quick now: who’s more likely to be a vegetarian or profess a horror of “junk food” — a conservative Christian heartlander or a secular politically-correct leftist from the urban coasts?

Being a first-gen immigrant from Asia, I wasn’t sadlled with hippy parents or their ’60’s damage. As an added bonus, I’ve got cultural relativism to provide me with “cover fire”. All I have to say to shut some self-righteous unbathed patchouli-and-body-odour-reeking vegan up is something along the lines of “That’s your natural tendency towards Western White Oppression talking. In my culture, the general rule is that if it has four legs, wings or served in the Japanese Army under Hirohito and Tojo, it’s perfectly okay to run over it with your Honda and eat it.”

When it comes to diet-as-religion, I think it’s time to make the devil sign and say “Hail Satan!” He’s got all the good music anyway.

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