We like to think that everyone’s dietary preferences are valid (so long as they don’t devour just sugar and caffeine all day long—that ain’t healthy, not by a long shot). For instance, yours truly is an omnivore: I eat meat, veggies, and… way too much sugar. I enjoy meat, I won’t pretend I don’t. However, I also recognize the health benefits of a vegan diet, as well as the moral dilemmas associated with how animals are raised. I’m open to trying out new dishes, but I also have a soft spot for pizza.
Warm discussions and open-minded experimentation can open up quite a few doors in our gastronomic journey through life. What doesn’t work well is when someone tries to cudgel someone into submitting to their dietary beliefs. Very few people enjoy being tricked, coerced, or threatened into accepting someone else’s beliefs—whether related to food or not.
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That’s where one redditor’s post on the AITA subreddit comes in. The woman asked the net for their verdict on whether or not she was a jerk for parking her non-vegetarian husband and son into eating fake meat. Scroll down for the full story, as well as the discussion about free will and food ethics that the post sparked on Reddit.
Who do you think was in the wrong here? Do you think the mom was a jerk for tricking her non-vegetarian family members? Would your opinion change if the situation were reversed? Do you think the situation is simple and clear-cut or touches upon some deeper ethical issues than people might not see at first glance? Share your thoughts—and your verdict!—in the comments, dear Pandas.
Bored Panda had a chat with Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin about food hangups, why it might be a bad idea to trick someone into eating something, and how to actually convince them to try some new dishes instead. (Spoiler warning: bribery works!) Jessica is a world-renowned pie artist, food expert, and the author of ‘Pies Are Awesome.’
She told us that there are quite a few nuances that we have to consider before tricking someone when it comes to food: from their potential allergies and religious beliefs to whether or not they actually have a good sense of humor. It’s incredibly important to think of the consequences of your prank. You’ll find the full interview below, Pandas.
Our food choices, like whether or not we consume animal products, can lead to some serious arguments, even among relatives
Image credits: cottonbro (not the actual photo)
One woman shared how she tricked her husband and son with some fake meat. She then asked the internet if she was wrong to do so
Image credits: Klaus Nielsen (not the actual photo)
Though opinion was divided online about whether or not the mom was in the wrong, at the end of the day, the majority of AITA community members decided that the OP did something morally wrong. Essentially, she took away her husband and son’s ability to choose.
Free will is a huge deal. Nobody likes losing control or feeling like they were manipulated. You could even argue that even if the taste of the fake meat was fine, the very fact that there was some darn trickery going on will push the two men away from turning vegetarian. I know that I’d be quite annoyed if someone was toying around with my food and my feelings.
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There’s also an apparent danger that the OP might not have considered. Say this wasn’t her family that she tried to prank, but some guest. Who’s to say that they weren’t allergic to some ingredient in the dish? It’s dangerous to play around with people’s expectations, especially if you don’t know how they might react to certain ingredients.
Pie artist and culinary expert Jessica told Bored Panda that everyone has at least some weird beliefs about food. “Let’s face it, we all have dietary hang-ups that stem from obscure little childhood traumas and beliefs,” she said that some might think that mushrooms are slimy and gross while others think that peas are mushy and that’s why they hate them.
“Many of these long-held beliefs about what foods we like and don’t like don’t stand up to scrutiny. For the longest time, I thought I hated broccoli. Turns out, I just hated the way my British grandmother boiled them within an inch of their life until they were nothing but a sickly yellow mockery of real broccoli. The first time I had ‘real’ broccoli, lightly steamed with shaved toasted almonds, I realized my mistake, and ever since broccoli has been a staple of my diet,” she shared how a quality gastronomic experience can shatter previously held beliefs.
However, Jessica had a warning for anyone who’s thinking of pranking someone else and tricking them into trying something they might dislike.
“Before go we nuts planning our clever culinary capers to trick friends and loved ones into trying the foods they ‘hate’ in a new and improved format, we need to make some important calculations:
- Does the person you are about to trick have any actual food allergies, and could potentially be harmed by your dish?
Does the person you are about to trick have any strong spiritual or religious beliefs associated with their diet, or has made it clear they have zero interest in eating a certain food, and would feel they have violated their principles in eating the food you are about to serve?
Does the person you are about to trick have a sense of humor and adventure? Would they be amused at your deception, or pissed off that they have been lied to?”
The culinary expert stressed that by answering these questions, people can then see if they should go ahead with pulling “the ol’ switcheroo” on their friends… or if it’s best to shelve the idea and try a slightly less clandestine approach. “If you don’t know the answer to any of these questions, take that as a ‘no go’ on the ruse!”
We also wanted to get pie artist Jessica’s opinion as to why some individuals are quite aggressive in spreading their dietary beliefs. “Sometimes, people are concerned about the health of a loved one and are hoping to influence their diet in a more positive direction, sometimes people are sick of dealing with an overly fussy child/spouse, sometimes it’s simply a tribalism thing,” she explained that some people tend to think along the lines of, “In this family, we eat meat!” or “In this family, we don’t harm animals!”
“Our reasons can be well-intentioned, and there is certainly nothing wrong with encouraging friends and family to expand their culinary horizons… but tread carefully when it comes to employing deception unless you are prepared to endure the fallout!” Jessica warned.
According to the food expert, she’s a fan of using bribery and quid-pro-quo deals to get someone to try eating something new. For instance, you could tell someone:
- “If you try Beyond Beef, I will watch that show you like with you without complaining.”
- “If you agree to eat no meat for 1 month, I’ll buy you that game console you want.”
- “We can go to that fancy restaurant but you have to at least try a bite of each thing on the tasting menu.”
Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list. Think about what would compel your family and friends to want to expand their culinary horizons.
“Our connections to food are often emotional in nature and you can’t reason someone out of an emotional position with logical arguments,” Jessica told Bored Panda.
The story provoked a very wide range of opinions about the ethics of what had happened. Here’s what some people had to say about it all
Previously, Bored Panda spoke about the relationship between what we eat and our health with Jack Bly, an entrepreneur and fitness expert from the US. He said that we really can’t out-train a bad diet, so we have to be careful about what we put in our mouths.
“The only people I’ve seen ‘out-train a poor diet’ are athletes who are moving their body a ton. For everyone else, diet needs to be a priority if you want to see real changes in your body. You eat 500 calories in a minute. But it would take an intense hour of exercise to burn those same 500 calories,” he said that we have to be very aware of portion sizes.
According to the fitness expert, if our goal is to limit how much sugar, fast food, and other unhealthy things we eat, then it’s best to optimize our environment for success. That means not keeping any of the food items you’d rather avoid at home. It also means that your family and friends should be aware of what you’re cutting out so they can hold you accountable.
“My meals vary but one principle always remains constant. And that is every single meal I sit down to eat must have a good source of protein in it,” the fitness expert added that anyone aiming for fitness should prioritize protein.
Meanwhile, BBC Future points out the irony that vegetarians are actually more likely to be threatened by vegans than non-vegetarians are. According to some researchers, vegans tend to think that vegetarians are ‘hypocritical.’
What’s more, when vegans try to promote their diet by alluding to the animal suffering that can be prevented, their intentions can backfire. Omnivores tend to find vegans who choose their lifestyle for health reasons more tolerable than ‘ethical’ vegans and vegetarians. Nobody enjoys being judged or interacting with people who believe they have the moral high ground. That can spark a defensive reaction in people and they’ll just double down on whatever eating habits they have now… the ones being judged.
The post Woman ‘Tricks’ Husband And Son Into Eating Fake Meat To See If They’d Notice, They Get Upset first appeared on Bored Panda.