Pollan, Elitism, and Effective Advocacy

Smart stuff from Adam Merberg about Michael Pollan:

When a prominent advocate for eating “mostly plants” describes his weekend of meat-based meals in detail, tweets a link to videos of butchering techniques, and never says much about the plant-based meals he eats, one gets the sense that he doesn’t think that plant-based food can be worth writing about.

Exactly. Pollan has based a career on advising people to eat “mostly plants,” and yet whenever he writes about his personal eating the meal seems to center upon mounds of high-priced, specially-sourced animal flesh.

Merberg continues:

Now, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with Pollan eating like somebody who has a lot of money. What gets to be a bit bothersome is when he chooses to publish an account of his meals in a publication like The New York Times Magazine. Such a decision rests on an assumption that people are interested in reading about a bunch of wealthy people spending the better part of weekend preparing and eating expensive food.

Pollan simultaneously marginalizes himself and undercuts his message, and I can’t begin to understand what he thinks he gains by doing so.

If he cares enough to speak out, it seems reasonable that he should want to do so as effectively as possible. That would entail acting on an understanding that good advocacy requires more than just describing a problem and telling people what to do about it. I can think of no better way for him to accomplish that than by talking about some inexpensive meals that are compatible with his dietary advice.

If Pollan won’t follow his own advice, why should he expect anyone else to listen to him? Link.


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