The Semiotics of Meat: a Paleo Deculturalization Program

A common veg*n argument is that we’ve all just been tricked into eating meat by our cultural programming. However, that notion is exactly contrary to my experience.

Granted, this sort of self-analysis is fraught with potential errors, but I don’t think the argument I’m about to make is easy to dispute.

To my mind “meat”, or the idea thereof, came to be signified as a mere proxy for protein. Secondarily, the significant component of “meat” was “fat”. Conversely, fruit and vegetables were not associated with a macronutrient sign, but a proxy for vitamins and minerals. Starches, grains, et cetera were signs for the other macronutrient, “carbs”.

With my mind employing these shortcuts in concert with dietary guidelines (most notably, the demonization of fats), I tended to eat small amounts of meat. I ate meat because I enjoyed eating meat, but with a hint of fear that the fats would get me. Also, I thought that protein could be sourced from soy, black beans, nuts, et cetera so I didn’t really need meat.

All in all, my cultural imprinting lead me to assign labels of “unhealthy” or “superfluous protein” to meat categorically. At the same time, I assigned labels like “nutritious” and “healthy” to the fruit and vegetable category. Thus, it seems as though culture would have me become a vegetarian. While this wasn’t powerful enough to override my enjoyment of meat, it was powerful enough to consciously limit my meat intake and consciously favor fruits and vegetables. In that light, I have to call shenanigans on the veg*n “culture makes you eat meat” argument.

Without further ado, here are some learning aids that I’m employing to rid my mind of the flawed ¬†semiotic value of meat as a concept reduced to protein and fat. Meat isn’t about fat and protein! Let the propaganda reversal begin…

Commence Deprogramming…

 

Behold the massive amounts of vitamins and minerals!

 

Edit: The data are from http://nutritiondata.self.com/ after finding them through a search. The serving sizes are whatever the defaults were as the results of the search. While serving sizes are helpful and interesting for certain purposes, the point of the article wasn’t comparison or a basis for implementation in portion sizing (as the RDV are suspect to begin with), but simply to plant the idea of meat as a source of vitamins and minerals without reference to fat and protein.

16 Comments
  1. Uncephalized 5 years ago

    Why is Vitamin D not shown for most of those? I was under the impression that most meats are good sources of D, but they all have a ~ instead of a number. Is it not known for some reason?

  2. Tony Mach 5 years ago

    One could think that we have evolved eating this as food – gasp!

    A few notes:
    – I would expect that animals fed with grain have lower values for certain Vitamins (e.g. B6, B12) and are lower in certain minerals (phytates reducing the bio-availability of minerals)
    – Furthermore, I don’t know what minerals are used in fertilizer (can’t know all!) but would expect soil to depleted in certain minerals
    – Certain nutrients are found higher amounts in intestines, e.g. Vitamins A and K in beef-/chicken-/pork-liver or Vitamin D in cod liver
    – Anecdotally, there is cultural imprinting against eating intestines (its gross, the liver “collects” poisons, etc.)

  3. Kevin Holbrook 5 years ago

    Great post, I have had yet to see these things side-by-side for easy comparison. Looks like I'll be eating more rabbit!

  4. AZr 5 years ago

    You should compare like to like. The portion sizes you list have different weights, so it appears that there are greater nutritional differences between each type of meat than there are.

  5. Karen 5 years ago

    I'm curious about what serving size you used for each item. Even without that info, it's still a pretty nice spread of information.

  6. David Csonka 5 years ago

    Man, I really want to get some bison. I can drive 30 minutes from here and go stair at a herd of the suckers, yet it's still so much more expensive than beef in the store. I need to get a freezer and strike up some kind of deal with one of the local ranchers.

  7. tembi 5 years ago

    This is great! We all need this as an antidote against nutritionism!

  8. oneinfinity 5 years ago

    i've never heard the argument that we have been "tricked" into eating meat by anything (though i don't doubt that people have made that claim), and honestly it seems stupid. obviously we evolved as omnivores, end of story.

    the question of eating meat then is really an ethical question. you first determine whether we "have" to eat meat to survive, and if the answer is "no," then you have to ask the question, "well, if we don't have to eat meat should we?" and proceed to honestly explore all aspects of the issue to arrive at a well-reasoned conclusion.

    • Author
      Andrew 5 years ago

      If survival was the question, we could all be hooked up to an IV sugar drip and provided with mental stimulation a la the Matrix. Since your premise is bad, the subsequent reasoning is flawed accordingly.

      When the question contains something along the lines of "optimal", "thrive", or "flourish", we get very different answers than lowest common denominator survival.

      Ethical arguments for veg*nism tend to be spuriously focused on an anthropomorphized notion of sentience whilst ignoring the unintended consequences of agriculture – from the inherent dominance hierarchies it causes in humans to the killing and displacement of myriad species that are abstracted by a Utopian image of green fields and a golden sun excerpted from a logo Monsanto's ad agency chose for its soy-based fake meat products.

      • oneinfinity 5 years ago

        I wasn't responding to your rebuttal of the veg*nism argument, but rather trying to make the point that that argument isn't really the essential argument for veg*nism in the 1st place. I agree with you that it's mainly just a propagandist attempt to sway people to a particular point of view.

        And when i say that the place to begin in exploring the issue as an ethical one is to ask whether we need to eat meat to survive that's exactly what i mean, and i do mean it in a lowest common denominator sense; however, that's obviously only the starting point, issues "along the lines of "optimal", "thrive", or "flourish," etc. would obviously have to be examined further down that path, if as I stated, the goal was "to arrive at a well-reasoned conclusion." Because obviously it's a complex issue.

        As for your final paragraph, it mostly just seems like a rant. I think you would agree that just because some ethical arguments for not eating meat "tend to be spuriously focused," does not therefore lead to the conclusion that there are no sound ethical arguments for veg*nism.

        • Author
          Andrew 5 years ago

          Yes, I completely agree that your comments thus far have been attempts at negation without offering any positive claim of your own. Since this isn't a class in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, and I fail to entertain the position of logical pondering in service of nihilism, you're coming across as a veg*n apologist aiming to cast aspersion whilst offering nothing but a gaping chasm in return. In such cases, rants are the only way I can survive the tedium.

  9. Sarah 5 years ago

    Are these nutritional measurements taken on 'raw' subjects or were they cooked before you did the testing?
    Sarah

  10. Crystal Anderson 4 years ago

    Some also says that pasteurized milk is a good source of vitamin D but this report: http://www.mercola.com/Downloads/bonus/vitamin-d/report.aspx says otherwise. I also read that taking vitamin D supplement is one alternative if you can’t get enough of sunlight, which I think is true.

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