“Beyond Broccoli – A Meat Eater’s Guide to Eating Vegetarian” and “Home Cheese Making”

Okay, I mostly attended the home cheese making seminar. It was interesting, but I got the feeling that I missed most of the stuff I couldn’t just get out of a book or online while I was in the “Beyond Broccoli” seminar.

Now, here’s the deal. The Beyond Broccoli – A Meat Eater’s Guide to Eating Vegetarian workshop description was, “Learn how to prepare vegetarian meals to improve your health and tread lightly on our planet.” I don’t know why, after repeatedly having my workshops not be what I expected that day, I expected advice on how meat-eaters can better prepare vegetarian meals, but I did.

And, maybe, if I’d stayed through the entire thing, that would have eventually happened. Unfortunately, I was unable to stay.


Because I most certainly did NOT sign up for, “Let us each and every one tell you why we are vegan and zealously preach at you why you should be too.”

I actually considered leaving almost out of the box. Even as I was sitting down and overheard the panelists commenting in a half-joking way about how having Barlett Durand’s presentation (from “The Conscious Carnivore“:http://metacookbook.com/archives/233-The-Conscious-Carnivore.html) on the laptop (and thus briefly displayed on the projection screens) was extremely insulting. I figured it sounded like a joke, and they knew there’d be a bunch of meat-eaters in the audience, so they probably were not really feeling insulted. I think I was wrong. However, I cannot be sure. Maybe it really was a joke.

However, I stuck with it for two reasons. First, I really did want tips on how to cook more vegetarian meals, and ideas that particularly appealed to “meat eaters” are particularly up my alley, given how I struggle with reducing our meat consumption. Secondly, I didn’t want to be utterly judgmental. Yes, I was surprised that they seemed even a little upset about the meat-eating presentation, and I was VERY surprised to start hearing testimonials on how two of the presenters became first vegetarian, then vegan. However, I felt that wasn’t going to, necessarily, reduce the quality of advice I got on cooking. Especially because, let’s face it, if you’re going to manage to be vegan for 42 years (as the second speaker, Karyn Calabrese, claims), your food has got to be somewhat tasty.

I had to leave though because I can’t stand blatant ignorance and fear-mongering or gross-out appeals to change. And Calabrese indulged in all of the above. In honesty, as much trouble as I had with the first panelist (whose name I now cannot recall), Calabrese really put me over the edge.

Mostly, I could handle her gross-out commentary like repeatedly calling milk “cow secretions” and even some fear-mongering like her insisting only veganism will keep humans healthy (complete with almost-but-not-quite-terrible stories of her family all dying young, except her). Mostly, I thought I could gut through it to get to the “reward” of awesome cooking ideas.

I thought I could stick it out until Calabrese started in on how meat eating was only a learned trait, and we have no urge to eat meat (or, presumably, other animal products such as eggs) unless we’re taught it.

At that point, I was raising an eyebrow. It basically goes against everything we know about human biology, and the biology of our nearest evolutionary relatives.

A second eyebrow was raised at her repeated insistence that we meat eaters really can stop eating meat at every meal!!! I’m sure there are some anomalies, but no one I know who eats meat eats it at every meal1. And, certainly the numbers go up if you’re talking meat and/or dairy at, but even then I know plenty of omnivores who would devour the heck out of some “rice-stuffed acorn squash.”:http://www.metacookbook.com/archives/199-101-Acorn-Squash-Stuffed-with-Wild-Brown-Rice.html

In essence, I just loathe hearing “don’t eat meat at every meal”. Mostly because even the most dedicated meat eater I know tends to have at least one meal a day without meat. And given that I hear it from people who love meat, but think we should eat less of it, it makes me nuts.

But I had to leave when she presented her “proof” that humans only eat meat because we’re culturally conditioned to do so:

If you were stranded on a deserted island with a bushel of apples and a dead cow, you’d eat the apples and not the cow.

The number of issues with this statement are myriad. I’m not going to get into them too deeply, but here are a few responses I got from friends as I ranted about this day of:

# Well, of course I’d eat the apples. I probably don’t have a good enough knife to cut through cow skin.
# If the cow’s already dead, of course I’m not eating it. That’s a sure path to a nasty bacterial infection.

# Of course I’d eat the apples first. While I was hunting for firewood to cook the cow.

Now, in fact, if you were stranded with a live cow and a bushel of apples, you’d probably still eat the apples. Even if you made comment #2 up there. Why? Well, do you anticipate wrestling a cow to the ground to kill it? I might be willing kill & eat the thing, but I know I can’t take a cow with my bare hands. Apples for me. How I’m going to defend the apples from the cow, I don’t know, but fine.


The icing on the Beyond Broccoli cake was its juxtaposition with the Sally Fallon Morell lecture earlier in the day. The lecture you had to pay an extra $10 to get into, that lasted three hours, and that I deliberately skipped because I would miss the canning lecture and I was sure it would make my blood boil.

Okay, so the two lectures had the last thing in common.

But let’s look at the Morell “lecture”:http://www.familyfarmedexpo.com/bio11sallyfallon.html description:

Animal fats, properly prepared whole grains, enzyme-enriched foods and nourishing bone broths kept our ancestors healthy. Sally Fallon Morell, author of Nourishing Traditions, explains why you need these foods too. Beginning with a presentation of Dr. Weston Price’s unforgettable photographs of healthy traditional peoples, Sally explains the underlying factors in a variety of traditional diets that conferred beauty, strength and complete freedom from disease on so-called primitive populations.

That’s a complete difference from a lecture that turned out to be about all the health dangers associated with animal products.

Frankly, the tweets that were flying about the Morell lecture made it abundantly clear that anyone who sat through her lecture and the Beyond Broccoli lecture would be getting utterly opposite messages. For example:

“If you don’t see teethmarks in the butter spread on your bread, you’re not using enough butter!” – Sally Fallon

It made the conference seem a bit schizophrenic, honestly. And that’s just for someone who followed the tweets and sat through a bit of the Beyond Broccoli lecture (nearly no tweets about that, oddly). I seriously hate to consider the person who went to and sat through both lectures.

Now, truth be told, it’s no bad thing to get two opposing viewpoints. It certainly can help you exercise your “logic muscles”. However, if a person is just there looking for advice on how to cook a little better, they’re going to be frustrated. If a person is there actually looking for some education on nutrition, it’s going to be confusing. Whether that confusion produces some research into nutrition or not will depend on the person. In honesty, I don’t expect many people will be encouraged to go learn more for themselves, and make their own judgment call. But I may be a bit cynical from years of telling students to go figure it out for themselves.

Anyway, on to the cheese making lecture. This is much shorter.

I went to the cheese-making lecture after I got sick and tired of Beyond Broccoli. And watched as, a few minutes later (no more than 5) someone else I’d seen at the Beyond Broccoli lecture wandered in as well. I admire his fortitude to sit through all that for even longer than I did.

The cheese making lecture, what I got of it, was fun. There was a great deal of discussion about milk flavor profiles, which milks to use, how to combine different kinds of milk, and so much more. I learned about the existence of a cheese press and cheese molds. (As in “a thing to shape your cheese” not as in “a thing that grows on your cheese” – I already knew about the second.) People got a lot of good advice for their questions, and we were informed about an upcoming set of “cheese-making classes”:http://learngrowconnect.org/taxonomy/term/20 in the area at Angelic Organics Learning Center. I also learned that the best cheese to make for your first cheese is ricotta. (For the record, the panel was divided on whether mozzarella was a good first cheese; one said yes, one said NO and one abstained.)

The major bummer was when a ton of people left when they realized there was neither going to be a hands-on experience nor even a cheese-making demo. I think it was too bad, both for the panel and for the audience. I can’t blame the folks for thinking there’d be something more “interactive”, though. I certainly thought it’d be like that for the “Yes, We Can!“:http://metacookbook.com/archives/232-Yes,-We-Can!.html lecture as well. That said, I bet the people who left missed out on a lot of good information.

Oh well. It made a rather crowded room much more comfortable.

On a final, personal note? It was vaguely delightful to go from Karyn Calabase talking about “cow secretions” to listening to a dairy farmer practically purr about the delights of milking a cow by hand. Both were so very strange in their own way, and it amused me to think how different the two conversations on each side of the ballroom partition were.

fn1. Do you know someone who eats meat at every meal? Are my friends actually outside the norm?