Smoking, nonsmoking, or meat eating? If firefighter and vegetarian activist Rip Esselstyn has his way, restaurants will soon begin segregating omnivores from anti-meat fanatics. What a way to sell vegetarian diet books.
In his words:
“I think in less than five years, there will be such a stigma attached to eating meat and dairy, that it will be similar to smoking cigarettes today … You want to go eat a cheeseburger, then you need to go to a special room, where people are eating cheeseburgers," he said. "Wouldn’t that be great?"
Esselstyn, along with PETA and company, would love to tar and feather meat-eating with the kind of “for your own good” stigma that’s now associated with smoking cigarettes. But contrary to what some alarmist health reports have been implying, the evidence doesn’t support that sirloin-stogie analogy. Your enjoyment of meat or dairy won’t affect the family at the table next to you, and it’s certainly not a shame-inducing activity that needs to be banished to a ventilated danger zone.
More importantly, less than 3 percent of Americans are vegetarians, making it (still) a fringe lifestyle. And vegetarianism has been associated with a long-documented record of health problems ranging from birth defects and rickets to lowered IQs and eating disorders.
It seems to us that if Esselstyn would have 97 percent of restaurant patrons seated in the back room so that he can eat his soy nuggets without carnivorous temptation, he’ll probably be eating alone.