NPR Morning Edition coverage of *An Economist Gets Lunch*

You will find it here.  Here is one quotation:

“Vegetarians are more virtuous than the rest of us; they should be admired.”


Do you have any suggestion for vegetarian eaters? The laws of supply and demand don't really work in our advantage (in particular, a Pakistani restaurant is often quite a grim suggestions). My standard solution is to find a large accumulation of indians.

I'm no Tyler, but I try to avoid meat substitutes like Seitan or Tofu in favor of dishes that are not just trying to approximate a meat dish. Indian food is a good place to get this.

My shift away from eating meat into vegetarianism basically killed off my desire to ever eat out. If I do I try to stick to Indian, Thai, all-day breakfast, or the few restaurants that actively cater to (or at least make an effort to accommodate) vegetarians, but even then eating out is more about convenience than it is about socializing and eating good food.

I think Southern food can be a pretty decent option for vegetarians if you are not too strict. Growing up in the South it is not rare to get a "4 veggie plate" for lunch at a local BBQ place or diner.

The problem is they often cook the vegtables with meat scraps/fat. I am a vegetarian and vegan when I cook for myself at home, but I don't sweat incidental consumption of animal products in stocks, bread, veg etc. I generally just eat around anything big. One nice thing is these place almost always include a legume (Pintos, Black Eyed Peas, Limas, Red Beans, etc) so you can get a complete protien when pared with bicuits, corbread, or rice.

I think this description of Southern ( and also true for typical Indian food ) is an excellent case that going vegetarian may not always equate with going healthy. It is very easy to get obese even on a strictly veggie Indian diet.

I grew up (and still am) a vegetarian so I don't have much experience with meat. I still enjoy the attempts at meat subsitution with tvp and seitan a lot of vegetarian restuarants do. In a lot of meat dishes the meat (I'm thinking ground beef but I don't know) doesn't really have that much flavor or complex texture so how much of the quality of the meal is lacking? I love indian food but a man needs to rip into some seitan flesh on occasion.

Do any of the current meat-substitutes get to the point where a person might not be able to tell them apart from real meat?

Are we getting closer to that point?

You're asking someone who says "I grew up (and still am) a vegetarian so I don’t have much experience with meat. " that, Rahul?

To me, Seitan tastes like Seitan, not meat, and it is perfectly good for what it is, which is, if done right, delicious.

I've found several vegan restaurants in Portland, suggesting that the trend is rising. Two restaurants are only a step above fast-food, Veggie Grill and Cafe Yumm (not strictly vegan, but easily enough to do). Give it a few more years and it'll filter down.

I'm not sure how much dining trends in Seattle, Portland, LA (Santa Monica), SF, NYC, &etc tells us about how much things will filter down...

Woodlands in Fairfax. It's very good.

Admired or, perhaps, ostracised.

" In one anecdote about Aristides, known as "the Just", who was ostracised in 482, an illiterate citizen, not recognising him, came up to ask him to write the name Aristides on his ostrakon. When Aristides asked why, the man replied it was because he was sick of hearing him being called "the Just""

I really find this fascinating and agree with a good share of it after being in the business for over 25 years! However, as someone who is also a former health inspector and now restaurant consultant, I have to tell you that often those small, not so mainstream ethnic restaurants are the ones that scared me the most!

Here in LA, the Thai places with the best tasting food always seem to have "B" and "C" grades from the health inspector. I try not to think about it too much.

those small, not so mainstream ethnic restaurants are the ones that scared me the most!

Well, it is authentic.

One of the scandals I remember from my time in Indonesia was street food vendors using formaldehyde to preserve food (mostly noodles)

That was fun and very funny at the end.

Was going to ask you but found out from Russ Roberts on twitter you are going to be on EconTalk on the 30th. Can't wait!!

I agree that was a funny quote. Who knew that those vegetarians were hiding their lights under bushel baskets all these years? Makes me want to find one and hug her.

Morning Edition moves tons of books, relatively speaking -- great coverage for the book.

I do not see the link between morality and the eating of vegtables

Here's a thought: perhaps the link is between morality and not eating animals.

Or perhaps it's just being smug?

Actually, in this context it would be the link between morality and eating the least resource intensive food. If you go in for that sort of thing.

"eating the least resource intensive food"

But, unless, you're foraging for your produce (and obviously that is not an option for even a small percentage of all the humans on the planet), is it really? Those organic vegetables self-righteous vegans love require animal waste or a desert/rainforest/aquaculture-full of input material to be used as fertilizer.

It isn't my area but, yes, a vegetable-based diet apparently requires less energy, fresh water and land input than a meat-based diet for a given number of calories. See this abstract, for instance.

It is a rhetorical fallacy to say that both meat and vegetables require inputs of some sort and therefore those vegetarians are just "self-righteous." The inputs of each can be quantified and compared. As far as I can tell, the comparison favors vegetables in terms of using fewer scarce inputs.

Try: animals are the most resource intensive source of protein (think deforestation, energy security, greenhouse gases through methane); in more developed countries living conditions are not that far from torturous for most animals that are eaten; OK, I'll give it to you that health benefits remain debatable for some people (let me take a stab in the dark and include you in this group) and are difficult to view in terms of morality from the strictly individual perspective.

Yes, it's not the eating of vegetables, it's the not eating of animals. But I think you knew that already.

Read the China Study - whole food, plant based diet.....healthiest thing you can do for yourself. Plenty of great recipes out there, and in most mid-to large urban area, decent restaurants (except maybe New Orleans)....

The China study is a piece of pseudoscience has been debunked a number of times.

I like many meat dishes but have cut back drastically on my consumption of it, for precisely the reasons you give.

One, I am bothered by the appalling treatment of animals in their pens (food factories), mammals in particular.

Two, I believe in the benefits of a high whole food / plant food / low meat diet.

The most I ever actually suggest to a meat eater ... cut it back a bit and you get the best of both worlds if you want to eat meat but see that it is not so nice. That is where I started off.

Cattle live a fairly idyllic lifestyle up to the end. For the most part, they are are left to themselves in a pasture, fed well, and rarely stressed. It is only when they are shipped off to feed lots do things take a turn for the worse. Hogs, on the other hand, have it pretty rough. So do poultry.

In the last couple of years, I have heard more and more people say they have an ethical issue with consuming mammals. I wonder if this has coincided with the rise of dogs in our society into a full fledged member. Regardless, I am surprised there is not more of a market for humane meat, especially with respect to mammals. Hopefully this will be the case. it wouldn't be that hard to devise a supply chain for beef products that is completely humane, and I would imagine there would be a I think Whole Foods may do something akin to this with a quality of life scale of some sorts, but I haven't looked into yet.

I found myself having this discussion with a Mauritanian today and had to admit straight out that my two main arguments are not very valid here: animals roam free until they are eaten, and it is not like the desert is of much use for growing lentils. I ate bread and cheese while they ate free range camel ...

Yes. Cattle and sheep can be raised on land ill-suited for much else and pigs and chicken can grow fat on food of little nutritional value to humans. It's only when we start growing corn simply to feed livestock that the incentives get muddy.

If you are a feed-animal life in the developing world might actually be better than life in the developed, eh?

"Vegetarians are more virtuous than the rest of us; they should be admired.”

Vegetarians are only OK. A little too much gristle, require more seasoning, and harder to catch.

Not just that, eating a vegetarian seems less ethical too.

You've probably been eating too much corn-fed vegetarian.

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