June 25, 1993

The Vegiburger Wars

The pen is mightier than the sword --and some pens are mightier than others.

Mike Royko wrote a column about the MacLean burger, a low-fat hamburger. He pointed out that its flavor left something to be desired. I chucked over it, because Royko can turn a phrase and insert a needle with more skill than any writer I know of. He went on to tackle the militant vegetarians.

The vegetarians fought back, calling Royko bad names and giving him a hard time. When our local militant vegetarians picketed MacDonalds, the company being very polite and socially responsible, merely watched them patiently. Not Royko, who has an understandable aversion to venom directed at him. Royko responded with a column, pointing out that the most famous vegetarian was Adolph Hitler.

I sometimes disagree with Royko, but on this one, I am with him 100%. I share his aversion to evangelists and missionaries who insist that everyone do things the same way as they do. When cannibals eat missionaries, I am on the side of the cannibals. It's not because I am militantly in favor of eating meat --I'm not. There is good evidence that eating meat, at least lots of meat, is bad for your health. What I object to is people trying to foist their values and standards on others. This goes for religious evangelists, advertising people, high pressure salesmen and a gaggle of people who are absolutely positively sure that they are right and that the rest of the world is wrong. People who fanatically want to convert the sinning public will go to any lengths to convince the world of their righteousness and to make converts to their way of thinking. For a few animal rights people, it includes such things as splashing blood on people wearing fur coats; for some anti abortion people, it involves blocking abortion clinics and harassing people who work in them or patronize them.

When I was a boy, there was a man who would spend much of the day walking around with a large sandwich-board sign with a biblical quotation on it. As he walked, he would mumble, "if you go to hell, you will only have yourself to blame." He added a bit of color to the neighborhood, as do those people who perennially picket the White House and other government buildings.

Picketing is a gambit of organized labor, when they attempt to acquire better working conditions, higher pay, or other things that benefit them. When picketers try to convert the masses, it seems to me that it becomes a bit of a joke. I sometimes wonder if these people are so wealthy that they can afford to spend a large chunk of time walking back and forth and chanting.

MacDonalds will sell anything that people will buy. If they thought that there was a market for MacVegies, they would sell them. They now sell all sorts of meatless food: salads, eggs, muffins, and a variety of beverages and deserts. There is only one reason why they would sell a MacVeggie; that a number of people would want to buy them. I remember eating a vegiburger once --and once was enough.

I believe that the reason that snails --pardon me, escargot-- are edible is that, if you add enough garlic to something, almost anything can be made palatable. I am thinking of asking The Laytonville Inn to feature Forest Burgers: sawdust, heavily laced with garlic, onions and various spices. Who knows? It may go over big with both vegetarians and loggers. If made with pine instead of fir, oak or madrone, they would have a piquant flavor; sort of like a mixture of tofu, ground pine nuts and garlic. It could be a real winner, eventually substituting for their Loggerburger (which is ground logger, suitably spiced, on a bun).

There is ample evidence that vegetarians live longer than meat eaters. That has been well established. --Or does it just seem longer?

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