Tofus, quinoa, gluten-free artisanal cheesecake—everyone knows vegetarians are just the worst. Especially Dan Barber, the chef and owner of restaurant Blue Hill in the West Village (as well as Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Westchester) and winner of numerous James Beard Foundation awards. He knows better than to trust all that quirky "self-righteous vegetarianism."
This week, the Wall Street Journal published a Dan Barber-penned diatribe about the difference between championing locally-sourced produce and ingredients—something he and his restaurants have been known for—and smug vegetarians, and he offered up some food for thought about where vegetarianism and foodie-ism goes wrong:
- "Vegetables deplete soil. They're extractive. If soil has a bank account, vegetables make the largest withdrawals. So without animal manure, where are you going to get your soil fertility for all those vegetables in an organic system? You are, by some measures, forcing crops into a kind of imbalance."
- "Butchering and eating animals may not be called kindness, but eating soy burgers that rely on pesticides and fertilizers precipitates destruction too. You don't have to eat meat, but you should have the good judgment to relinquish the high horse. There is no such thing as guilt-free eating."
- "The sustainable food movement is about hedonism, A to Z: Be greedy. Be greedy for great food when you know that it was grown in the right way. That's why a local, grass-fed burger shouldn't be a guilty indulgence. It should be a part of your diet."
- "We never had a sustained tradition of great farming in this country. Never. So when older visitors come to Stone Barns and they meet the incredible vegetable farmer, Jack, they'll invariably say, 'Oh, you're farming like my grandfather used to farm.' No, we're not. Their grandfather didn't farm like this. Their grandfather probably exploited the great fertility that is American soil, dropped his plough, and then moved on to the Midwest and exploited it all over again."
So next time you're at Shake Shack, skip the 'Shroom Burger and go right for the Stack! Right?