Bitty’s Book Review: Is Meat for Pussies?

Book

[I stopped writing book reviews ten years ago, when I angered Marion Cunningham, who I believed to be a flawed goddess who wrote a very flawed book; it’s hard to be honest without angering people. And there’s another intrinsic problem: about half my friends write books, so it’s sometimes tough to be objective. Still; there’s no better way for me to understand the world of food books than to write about it, and I’m starting here. [Why with this book is a good question, but the answer is simply that I found it intriguing.] – mb)

I came to Meat Is for Pussies (John Joseph, Crush Books, $19.50) prejudiced in its favor. I think we eat too much meat; I like in-your-face writing; I think Big Food has too much power; I think our diet needs to change.

Yet do we need a “how-to guide for dudes who want to get fit, kick ass and take names”? What does “take names mean, anyway?” What about chicks, or whatever you call the counterpart of dudes?

Clearly, I’m not the target audience: I’m way too old, I’m not from Brooklyn, and I don’t really know who John Joseph is. But the science here is non-existent, there’s little or no consistency, and it reads like a not-very-well-grounded 200 page rant. Much of it is a well-deserved diatribe against processed foods (in fact there is a section advocating a mostly raw diet), yet there’s a recipe that calls for WestSoy Seitan (brand names abound, by the way), San-J Sweet & Tangy Sauce, Daiya Vegan Gourmet cheddar cheese, and Tofutti Sour Supreme. Who is going to be convinced to change their diet by that? And has Joseph ever read the label of Earth Balance butter substitute, Ener-G Egg Replacer, or Gardein Chick-n Strips, all of which he recommends? How does he define “processed,” one wonders?

But the few recipes, many of which are straightforward and just fine, are not the real turn-off here; it’s the insulting attitude. If you’re not a vegan, if you’re not eating organic food at every opportunity, then you’re a spineless wimp and an idiot and you need to change your life. (If you’re a woman, this doesn’t apply; you’re not even directly addressed here.)

One has to love Joseph’s attitude: “I want to make others healthy,” he writes, “end animal slaughter, feed the needy, save the planet, fight ignorance and help the youth….” But evidently he wants to do so by believing every “scientific” study and wild claim that proves his main point, which is that… meat is for pussies. Do you have erectile dysfunction? Eat less meat. (Viagra, by the way, is for pussies too.) Colonics work. Wine and meat taken together “form a deadly chemical reaction in your stomach.” “Fast food is the new crack.” And, my favorite: “Yoga spots and vegetarian restaurants are some of the best places to meet smoking hot chicks.”

Joseph notes that “nobody likes being preached at.” But that’s all he does here, and it’s not convincing. There is some good sentiment (I have no problem calling Monsanto “the devil incarnate,” for example), and even some credible advice, though none of it is novel.

The novelty is in the presentation: personal, macho, and loud. You have to “Stop being a lazy pussy.” If you appreciate this “advice,” you’re probably not reading this; if you’re reading this, my guess is you won’t appreciate it. (Or the pictures of the “100% vegan ass-kickers”: all men, of course.)

Posted in Food Politics

27 Comments

  1. Anonymous said...

    Well. That’s one book I won’t be reading. Or recommending to anyone either.Thanks for the honest review. ^_^

  2. jenniechris said...

    It’s probably supposed to be some sort of male complement to the "Skinny Bitch" books, which are directed at women and are in your face. (They also had some dubious claims as to why meat was so bad for you.)

  3. certifiedjaysin said...

    John Joseph is the singer for the Cro-Mags, one of the greatest hardcore/punk bands of all time. Insert joke about him being a real "cro-mag" in writing this book. Amazing man, but I agree with Mark’s review of the book 100%.

  4. Anonymous said...

    Ahhh..more sensationalist writing intended to rile people up. As if we didn’t have enough. As someone who agrees with the overall point, this sounds like a guy I don’t really want on my side of the debate.

  5. Anonymous said...

    Oh, this must be the male version of "Skinny Bitch", a truly awful diatribe that suggested you eat an endless selection of processed vegan food.

  6. foodinamerica said...

    Any publicity’s good publicity, right? This is hilarious, yes. But why help this guy sell this crap?

  7. kconnors00 said...

    Glad you are writing about food books again, this one not withstanding.

  8. Anonymous said...

    The title alone is a blatant lack of intelligence. Unfortunately I know a female version of this John Joseph guy.

  9. kgreene said...

    What this book needs is a reality show.

  10. elizabethr said...

    Good review, Mark – my first out-loud laugh all day today. And, to kgreene, very funny, too. …Unfortunately, the not funny part to me is that I HATE seeing/hearing/ putting up with (and there’s plenty of it) stupid stuff out in the media about vegetarianism. I’m an unabashed animal rights advocate and while I haven’t read this book (and won’t now, thanks to Mark), I’d love to fast forward to a world that sees how unnecessary eating animals is. People like this guy Joseph, who apparently don’t do their homework before publishing, set the clock back on the very issues they claim to favor. Too bad. Especially with such a notice-grabbing title.

  11. SoGoodtv said...

    I hate the title, though surely the marketing department loves it. It will sell books and get attention, which is not the same as bringing something valuable to the discourse. Critical thinking, pragmatic solutions and consensus building, is that for &u**is too?

  12. IndirectHeat said...

    "I have no problem calling Monsanto “the devil incarnate,” for example)."That’s unfortunate. You’ve jumped on some bandwagon, there. Some of Monsanto’s products make the world a better place, and keep humanity from starving. Roundup is a non-toxic compound that makes it easier to keep weeds out of crops, and breaks down extremely rapidly into carbon dioxide and water. RoundupReady crops allow Roundup to be the only herbicide used, and thus make the only herbicide used be an environmentally benign one.Monsanto is not a humanitarian organization, and has it’s fair share of poor behavior, but "devil incarnate"? Please.

  13. peterspendelow said...

    Replying to IndirectHeat, Roundup has been demonstrated to be very toxic to amphibians, and might be a major reason why native salamander and frog populations have been dropping. I stopped using roundup when I found this out. Google roundup + amphibians to see more on this, or go to http://www.chronicle.pitt.edu/media/pcc050411/sci1_pesticide.html.

  14. IndirectHeat said...

    It’s always a danger to engage in arguments on the internets, and yet…The experiment that you refer to applied Roundup directly to frogs. I would suggest not putting Roundup on your frogs, just as I would avoid applying salt directly on your frogs, or even baking powder directly on your frogs. Keep these things away from your frogs. Just as paint is safe if applied to a home, but not safe if applied to a frog, Roundup is safe when used properly.When Roundup is applied to crops, it degrades in a matter of a few days into carbon dioxide and water by action of the microorganisms that are in the soil. There are many, many nasty pesticides in the world (take 2,4-D for example). Some of them are made by Monsanto. Roundup ain’t one of ‘em.

  15. allanvkatz said...

    As an aging punk rocker who’s made F&B his business, it’s refreshing to read a review of such objectivity. Too often, idol worship (or backlash) severely taints the criticism of others in our field. BUT, you could google the author! This guy’s known as one of the most volatile figures of all time in a subculture defined by volatility. Once homeless, hare krishna’d, NYHC OG warlord sums it up. It would’ve helped to at least make note of his [likely] intended audience, which also explains the exclusion of women. With that said, I really miss NYC.

  16. summertomato said...

    The reason women aren’t addressed in this book is because the exact same book has already been written for women. It’s called Skinny Bitch, and it’s foul mouthed and f’in horrible.

  17. Anonymous said...

    Fan of the book, fan of the message, and a fan of John. The guy does more than most to make the world a better place. His style may be unorthodox and may offend, but his message is important and it comes from the heart. I’ve already seen the book have a positive effect on people and if you haven’t read it (which most people commenting apparently haven’t) i suggest you do. John’s compassion and earnestness is a real asset in the movement toward a plant based diet.

  18. peterspendelow said...

    Sorry that this is branching a bit from the original post, but the reply by IndirectHeat regarding the safety of Roundup needs to be answered. The article I refered to did not look at adult frogs and did not involve directly applying Roundup to any animals, but did look at tadpoles of a number of species as well as zooplankton and other pond organisms. Richard Relyea was testing the effects of Roundup, Sevin, 2,4-D, and Malathion. Surprisingly, it was Roundup – an herbicide – that was the most toxic to the tadpoles of the four pesticides tested. It killed all the tadpoles of leopard frogs and gray tree frogs and almost all the toad and wood frog tadpoles. Only spring peeper tadpoles survived fairly well. Here is a direct link to the study itself:http://naherpetology.org/pdf_files/222.pdfQuoting Relyea from the news article: "The most shocking insight coming out of this was that Roundup®, something designed to kill plants, was extremely lethal to amphibians,” said Relyea, who conducted the research at Pitt’s Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology. “We added Roundup®, and the next day we looked in the tanks and there were dead tadpoles all over the bottom.”When Roundup is spreayed on fields, it certainly can wash into nearby streams and ponds and kill amphibians

  19. meatisforpussies said...

    Hey Mark…… shout out from a Cro-Mag.I found your review quite humorous, especially coming from the author of "HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING", (should be called "How to COOK EVERY DEAD SPECIE") – but as far as it being well-grounded the studies mentioned in MEAT IS FOR PUSSIES are grounded and well researched even backed by someone with a PhD in Nutritional Science, but maybe I missed your credentials on Nutritional expertise. Clearly I advocate as much raw and unprocessed foods as possible but better they eat seitan or earth balance than the poison they’re injecting in their bodies now, eventually the transition can be made to a cleaner diet. For that they can buy my next book, "HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING THAT DOESN’T SUFFER AT THE HANDS OF COMPASSIONLESS HUMANS." as you forgot a very important aspect in your rant to dismiss my book, THE SUFFERING OF ANIMALS. Like the pain caused by your recipes. Actually Mark, I’ve received over 400 emails after just one month of the book being out from people who got the tone and got off meat, cigs, and other poisons, as well as started to exercise. Yes, clearly it is targeted to a certain audience, but that was my goal with the book, to reach the population of stubborn men who refuse to change their destructive lifestyles. Oh, by the way, I’ve never lived in Brooklyn, nice try though with your sub-textual assumption that I’m a knuckle-dragging Guido. I’m glad you love my attitude, but while you write from (where exactly?), I’d like to invite you to one of my spoken words at a lock-up, or boys home for at risk youth, or a Cro-Mag show, you see my friend, although you dismiss me and my writing style, believe it or not I do have an audience, and those are the people you would never reach in the circles you run around in. John J (author "Meat is for Pussies’)

  20. Anonymous said...

    awesome! (referring to John J). Keep fighting the good fight! And for the person defending Monsanto’s Roundup…really?

  21. dellapace said...

    I understand your backing away from book reviewing, Mark, given your percentage of friends and associates writing books, but I’m delighted you are reviewing again.

  22. Anonymous said...

    Bittman is also the author of ‘How To Cook Anything Vegetarian’ FWIW.

  23. OneManLaptop said...

    Nice to see John coming in to defend himself, and I notice that his detractors have since fallen silent.I’ve recently switched to a Vegan based diet/lifestyle, and books like John’s are good fuel for the fire. The misconception of Vegan’s as weakly hippy folk is a stereotype which needs to be challenged, and having an ‘in your face’ style book, like Meat Is For Pussies out there, is a good supplement to the hundreds of other more restrained works available.

  24. CHOY_FACTS said...

    hey john jacobs of the cro-mags. thanks for posting your insightful comment here. perhaps you will read this, perhaps you will not. either way, here it will stay, (unless it gets deleted which could very well happen.)the problem most people, such as myself have with people like yourself, is not that veganism/vegetarianism is perceived as being "pussy". the only people who actually believe that are idiots, fuckers, or perhaps even the dreaded "idiot fucker". maybe there are still some people, like ted nugent who believe you’re a wimp if you don’t eat meat, but the acceptance of vegan/vegetarianism has so grown in the past 20 years that eating a steak is really the shameful thing to do. meatless dishes don’t need defending like yours. if you want to properly defend your "lifestyle", put up or shut up. drop the macho bullshit and cook recipes worth eating. to be quite frank, it’s not the "pussiness" of not eating meat that most people make fun of vegans & vegetarians for. it’s your unrelenting smugness, about how you believe you’re the only ones doing anything to SAVE THE WORLD just because you made a few changes to your diet. it’s the incessant moralizing & the holier than thou attitude, (which i will admit i really don’t run into all that often), which people make fun of.but hey, here you are.it seems you’re suffering from "bill o’reilly syndrome" where you have this belief that being a loudmouth and using dirty words makes your point more valid than offering up simple, delicious recipes free of packaged, over-processed vegan meat substitutes that are as full of additives as anything else out there.john jacobs of the cro-mags, i have never read your book, nor will i ever intend to read your book. your attitude is absolutely pathetic and does more to damage any positive things you might have to say. monsanto might be the devil, but your presentation has all the charm of a grade-schooler mad that people don’t want to play the same games as him. it’s just public masturbation and i can get that at any public park after midnight.i mean, really, what are you trying to accomplish with this book? are you just trying to get people to stop thinking of you as an over-sensitive wuss? because all of this dick waving just comes across as over-compensating. or maybe it’s about something bigger than you. maybe i’m wrong and this is your attempt at saving the world, in which case, it’s pretty sad. but i guess if it gets you a few pats on the back at your next peta gathering, it’s worth the stroke job you’re giving the rest of us.regards,internet user @choy_facts of the website twitter dot com

  25. pawnfocker said...

    pawnfocker said…I’m from Australia.I have read John Joseph’s other book.I am not vegetarian.I am interested in what he has to say.I have listened to his radio interview with Jack Blood.I relate to his style. I’m active. I don’t grab my balls like a schoolyard critic.John is relevant to my path. My path is unique. It is forged on hardship with a view to victory.PawnFocker™ has many faces, and he shall return.Pfaction™

  26. Banjo said...

    Bittman was criticized by some New York Times readers when he published an opinion piece about diabetes in March, 2013. He failed to distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. He implied that all diabetes is caused by sugar intake. In fact, Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and is not caused by sugar intake

  27. Steve said...

    I am a member of the “target audience”. I started reading this book about a week ago, and while it may be in your face, it has inspired me to make some changes to my diet… And I’ve already begun to feel the positive effects. So, dismiss it if you must, even if from your high horse on top of a soap box (CHOY_FACTS, as well as many others), but dismissing something before even giving it a chance is really pathetic. You all talk down on people for “jumping on a bandwagon” when that is EXACTLY what you’ve done by rejecting this book before even reading a single page.

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