There is a term referred to in gender studies as that of “passing”.
Like all terms, it is fraught with a history of both supporters and deniers. Does one wish to stand out? Or is the desire to fit in?
The goal of “passing” is to appear cisgendered in a certain way. Does a biological male have to look like Carmen Electra? No. But there is an uncanny valley that needs to be crossed, according to the term, in order to “pass” over into another gender.
The same could be said, in such a horrible transition, to BURGERS.
The Prologue to Apocalypse was Cows.
When I read David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth, it profoundly changed my life.
Though in hindsight, one could make the declaration that Wells’s sensational writing would cause a dramatic overcorrection on the part of those who are trying earnestly to make a difference, it did what it needed to for me. Jonathan Franzen, who has taken a fatalistic stance with his essay later that year, “What if We Stopped Pretending?” took the opposite approach. I love Jonathan Franzen, but I cannot agree with him here.
Because after I read that book, and after I plunged into a two week depression that was noticeable by my students at school, I decided to make changes.
In 2019 I decided to become a vegetarian.
This is something that I have not really discussed on the blog. In combination with what I had read in neuroscience, I realized that mammals could most easily be lumped in with us (and us with them) as containing consciousness. To realize that they had just as wide a spectrum for suffering made it difficult for me to picture cows and chickens exacting a “brutish and short” life, to quote Hobbs, in order to provide for me what amounted to an easy meal.
The ethics also combined with an environmental side. The amount of land and water required for beef especially, but poultry as well, is much higher than that of plant-based foods. Not only that, but the methane produced by cows burping (and not farting, as many think) contributes to huge gains to the greenhouse effect.
And now the meat-based industry has entered our news yet again with “wet markets” and our continued and routine interaction with meat in very unsterile and medically disastrous ways.
Time will soon tell just how taboo the meat industry will be when all is said and done.
Antagonist = Me
Possibly the hardest thing to stomach, whether it was Wells’s book, or the continued reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was the realization that the industrialized and the developed nations were most to blame. In this century, it will be the poorest who will bear the weight of climate change.
This horrified me.
I knew that I had to do something. And while we have changed our energy provider to use renewable sources only, and while we have taken to vegetarianism, still it cannot be helped that I drive from place to place in a gas guzzling vehicle. Many of my friends have tried electric cars, but many of the ion batteries in the cars are so depleted in used ones as to only travel 50 to 60 miles on a charge. It is perfectly reasonable for in-town driving, but little else.
So I am here to suggest that I have plenty to work on. If I teach at a school close enough to me, riding a bike is a real possibility.
The Passable Burger
But not all is doom and gloom in the area of environmental awareness! “Beyond Burger” is never going to completely replicate the juicy taste of a meaty burger from Whataburger.
Like I said before, however, not everyone needs to look like Carmen Electra.
And this patty is amazing. With 20 grams of protein and 2 grams of dietary fiber, I feel like I have eaten more than I ever have from a black bean burger, which seems to be the only competition besides other newly arrived burgers like that of the Impossible Burger.
And while it takes 18,000 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef, the amount of water it takes to make pea protein for the creation of a “Beyond Burger”?
The concept of “Passing” seems to be the way to reach people. With veggie options at fast food places like Burger King, people are waiting for this concept of “passing” to arrive in each industry.
And while we are pushing closer and closer to “passing” in the renewable energy department, odd problems still stand in the way.
Perhaps there will arrive some singularity of self-driving vehicles and electric cars, working together to reduce one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gasses.
Which leaves construction, a problem requiring such large quantities of energy that I have no idea where to even begin.
But, to me, the question of plant-based foods has been opened and closed. It is a healthy and renewable solution to eat a plant-based burger. Do I sometimes miss the burger? Of course. But what I don’t miss is the guilt and anxiety of knowing that I have continued to externalize the problems of the globe to the poor and overextended.
Not only that, it’s getting cheaper! I encourage you to pick up a Beyond Burger and try for yourself. I promise that you will be surprised and delighted at the change.