Fooling yourself doesn’t help you

January 9, 2013 by Joshua
in Awareness, Blog, Fitness, Tips

I can’t help reposting a comment I put on another site.

Readers here know that while I don’t eat meat I don’t consider avoiding it virtuous or better. I don’t consider not eating meat any more healthy, virtuous, humane, delicious, or whatever than eating meat.

I don’t understand why so many people who eat meat call themselves vegetarian. What do they gain? As best I can tell they consider not eating meat better or virtuous. Or maybe they feel special. But then don’t they feel bad when they eat meat, having told people they don’t? Or when they start eating meat honestly again? Doesn’t that make them seem flighty and lower their credibility, which, in turn, hurts people’s impressions of them?

To me, social skills are among the best things you can have to improve your life, especially if you want to win friends and influence people. Or just to look at yourself in the mirror with integrity. Lowering your credibility is about the worst you can do for your social skills.

Someone else’s original post

The post was on the forums for the Mr. Money Mustache blog, which I read regularly and recommend, on about someone looking for help stopping eating meat. Here’s someone’s original post, with bolding by me

We’re at home vegetarians – meaning we still eat meat occasionally when we are eating out or at someone else’s house or on special occasions, like Thanksgiving. But 98% of the time, it’s all veggie. And we love it! There is so much you can do without meat and greater variety when you aren’t building every meal around beef/chicken/pork.

We like to do risottos. You don’t need to use arborio rice, although that is traditional. You can use all kinds of whole grains, like wheat berries, farro, etc.

Homemade pizza is another good one. We do cheat and have pepperoni every once in awhile, but we also like caramelized onions, potato & rosemary and spinach & garlic pizza. Those are all super easy.

There are about a billion variations on beans and rice. Jazz it up and use different grains.

These aren’t strictly vegetarian cookbooks, but more world and whole foods cuisine:

Ancient Grains for Modern Meals (check out the different savory cakes, so delicious and different than anything we’ve ever made)

Cocina de la Familia, which is family style mexican recipes gathered from all around the US.

Veganomicon, a vegan cookbook (most of the recipes can be made not vegan just by using butter instead of weird vegan margarine)

Plenty by Ottolenghi, loads of adventurous vegetarian foods with an asian influence.

Those and our slow cooker cookbooks are probably our most used these days. Seitenbacher vegetarian broth is a tasty substitute for chicken broth. It’s cheap and makes soups/risottos/beans and rice much more flavorful without the animal products.

And finally, canned coconut milk tends to separate in the can, that is why there is usually some sort of thickener, like carrageenan, added to it. Our Trader Joe’s just started carrying 2 varieties cheaper than the asian grocery. But our asian supermarket is still king for curry bases at about 59 cents a can.

My response

I’ll start by mentioning I like their post and bet I would love nearly everything they cook. Still, so many people who eat meat call themselves vegetarians with some qualification, I couldn’t help noticing they ate meat and called themselves vegetarian with some qualification. I don’t care what they call themselves, but it looks like they’re fooling themselves.

I responded

Not that labels matter, but not fooling yourself does.

If you eat meat, you’re not vegetarian.

Okay, if you loosen it to “at-home vegetarian” you could be at-home vegetarian.

But you eat meat at home!

Okay, if you loosen it again to “at-home-except-for-holidays vegetarian” you could be at-home-except-for-holidays vegetarian.

But you eat meat at home outside of holidays!

By the time you’re at “at-home-except-for-holidays vegetarian who also eats pepperoni” I think you may want to drop the vegetarian label and just say you eat meat. Or cut out at least one of the categories of meat you say you don’t eat.

Eating meat isn’t a sin, nor is avoiding it virtuous, but believing you’re something you’re not can impede your personal development.


I believe what I wrote. Mis-alignment between

  1. how you perceive yourself,
  2. what you believe about yourself, and
  3. how you behave

can create problems.

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1 response to “Fooling yourself doesn’t help you

  1. Pingback: Richard Feynman on fooling yourself not helping you » Joshua Spodek

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