Never go to a restaurant with a guy who has a conscience. You either go home hungry, or minus one friend. Or you find yourself signed up for the PETA mailing list for the rest of your life.
These days, everything you cook for supper, everything you pick up in a grocery store, and everything you order at a main street cafe is a moral and sociopolitical statement.
I'll take a hamburger, please.
"Dude, no. Did you know that almost a third of the world's arable land is devoted to raising animal feed, wiping out biodiversity? And the methane produced by cattle is 25 times worse for the environment as carbon emissions!"
But I really feel like a cheeseburger.
"Cheese? Did you know that it takes 21 gallons of milk to make a pound of cheese? And processed cheese contains nitrosamine, which can contribute to the onset of Parkinson's and dementia."
Alright, alright, I'll have a BLT instead.
"Bro, the World Health Organization has declared processed meat like bacon to Group-one carcinogen, equal to cigarettes and diesel fumes."
"Slow your roll. Producers dump so many growth drugs into chickens that they double in size in half they time it took 50 years ago. Oxfarm America claims producers deny chicken plant workers bathroom breaks. Besides, you don't know if that was a free-range chicken."
How about egg salad?
"Most eggs come from chicken in cages so small they can't stand or turn around. And some plants feed the live male hatchlings into grinders."
I'm guessing a ham sandwich is out then?
"Not unless they can prove it was pasture-raised and slaughtered by non-traumatic means."
But they taste so good with a bunch of mayo...
"Oh no. Did you know that over half the ingredients in name-brand mayonaisse involve genetic modification? It's a ticking GMO timebomb, man."
I suppose something's wrong with the wheat bread too?
"I'll say. Wheat is the most fertilizer-intense crop in the world, and is causing nitrate pollution. A expert from the American Chemical Society calls it 'the biggest environmental disaster no one has heard of.'"
"A substantial percentage are found to contain antibiotic-resistent superbugs."
Yuck. Maybe I'll just go with spaghetti.
"Not so fast. LGBT activists are boycotting pasta because the president of Barilla has made discriminatory comments about gays. Oh, and it increases the chance of lung cancer."
"Crazy talk. It's not 'ethically harvested.'"
But I'm starving. I didn't have time for a bowl of Wheaties this morning.
"It uses up the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline to produce every box of breakfast cereal. You are making us dependent on foreign fossil fuels!"
Fine! Just bring me a salad.
"What! Twenty workers were hospitalized in a toxic spill at one of the larest bagged salad processors in North America. All that excessive packing! Oh, and remember E. coli."
Stir fry, then. Surely there's nothing wrong with vegetables.
"Over 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides are dumped on crops in the U.S. alone every year. It raises risk of cancer in adults and ADHD in children."
What about canned vegetables?
"Cans are lined with Bisphenol A. Contributes to heart disease, infertility and diabetes."
Let's go straight to dessert then. A banana split!
"Hold on, homeboy. Chiquita has been fined $25 million for supporting terrorist groups that kill workers in Columbia."
"Two million children work in slave labor to harvest cocoa in west Africa."
Okay, I don't want that. A cup of coffee then.
"Nope. Fifty percent of land used to grow coffee beans will be rendered unusable by 2050. Oh, and the workers are exploited."
I've lost my appetite. Just a lemon water for me.
"No can do. The carbonic acid in seltzer water rots away the enamel on your teeth."
Oh forget it. Give me a bottle of water. I'm out of here.
"God no. Do you know how much fossil fuel is wasted making bottles and shipping? It actually takes two gallons of water to manufacture a gallon of bottled water! Besides, plastic bottles leech chemicals, the tops are not biodegradable and end up killing birds in the lakes and oceans."
I don't want to destroy the polar ice caps, or force families into slave labor in Thailand, or cause animals to be raised in cruel conditions. I just want my lunch! And I don't have time to forage for twigs and wild berries in a virgin forest.
Like me, you are probably vaguely aware that if you Google, someone will tell you there is something terribly wrong with just about every single thing you could possibly eat.
Like me, you'd probably, vaguely, approve of having food grown with less chemicals and more sustainability, with animals kept humanely and produced by workers treated fairly - if you can still afford to eat it then.
How can a sensitive soul sleep at night, these days, on a reasonably full stomach? My hypothesis is that the biggest cause of death today is worrying about what will cause your death. Try to keep things in perspective, huh?
* Source: The Neurotic Eater's Grocery List, New York Magazine