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Friday, August 5, 2016

Eating habits and political outlook

I wrote a post earlier (which I now can't find) about how you can tell a white person's political outlook from whether or not he likes modern art: liberals like it, conservatives don't. I've known a lot of people, and I can't think of any exceptions to this rule. (Blacks generally don't have the level of pretension necessary to like modern art.)

It takes a certain type of person to look at a Rothko painting --

-- and see great art.

(Basically, the same type of person who can look at biological gender and see a social construct.)

The modern art dichotomy, in terms of how it reveals political leanings, is thus easy to understand. You're either the type to think the emperor's new clothes are beautiful, or you aren't.

Food is a different matter. It's harder to understand why political opinions should fall along nutritional lines. But, they do, although the lines are a little blurrier than they are with modern art. People's eating habits usually reflect their politics.

Liberals tend to believe in the food pyramid, which emphasizes carbs over protein. Conservatives are more likely to believe in the paleo or zone diets, which tend to emphasize protein over carbs. A poll taken at a pasta restaurant would favor Hillary; at a steakhouse, Trump.

If you see someone eat an entire meal (either breakfast, lunch, or dinner, not just a snack) with no protein, or only a tiny bit of protein (say, the cheese on spinach pie), that person is more likely to be a liberal.

Most of the vegetarians I've known have been liberals. Both vegans I knew were liberals. And every vegetarian I've ever known who broadcast her moral superiority for being such was a liberal.

Liberals prefer organic food. Conservatives tend to be indifferent to the presence of pesticides, though more conservatives have switched to organic recently.

Liberals tend to hate genetically modified foods ("Frankenfoods"). Never mind that the molecular composition of these foods is similar and there's never been a single person harmed by eating them. Liberals tend to believe that eating these is basically the equivalent of filling your bathtub with Chernobyl wastewater.

Liberals are more likely to cut fats and salt from their diet. Conservatives, sugar.

Liberals are more likely to prefer sharp (smelly) cheeses. Conservatives are more likely to be happy with Swiss cheese or American brands.

If food is used as a way to show one's sophistication or signal status, you're likely dealing with a liberal. Liberals gravitate toward more pretentious, preferably foreign, foods. And they're more likely to be foodies, period.

In 2014 Gwyneth Paltrow held a Democratic fundraiser at her house attended by Barack Obama; she also has said, "I'd rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a tin." Coincidence? (I think not.)

Liberals are more likely to wash their food down with locally brewed, artisanal beers, which they insist are superior. (Any time you find yourself wanting nothing more than to give someone a blind taste test, you're probably dealing with a liberal.)

In some ways, it's easy to see the correlation with certain kinds of pretensions and political correctness (which is simply another kind). But in other cases, it's harder: why would liberals lean more toward carbs and conservatives toward meat?

I can't figure it out.


Luqman said...

Both political attitudes and food preferences (or susceptibility to status signalling) seem to draw heavily on personality. A lot of the `liberal diet` looks feminized and herbivorous, gatherer rather than hunter. I firmly believe that veganism actively alters personality instead of simply correlating with it. You can see it in their faces as well. It is sort of like the homosexual look, where even men with quite obviously masculine secondary sexual characteristics have a certain profile (I call it low-T, but it may not have anything to do with low testosterone).

lowly said...

Easily explained. Racial memories of dangerous critters makes lefties averse to animal proteins, that, plus estrogenus humanis is a gatherer whereas testeronus humanis is a hunter.

John Craig said...

Luqman --
That's a good point, one I hadn't considered, that the vegan/vegetarian diet itself feminizes you.

John Craig said...

Hooter tooter --
You and Luqman think alike.

Unknown said...


That is some really plausible explanation. Gathering is communal and non-confrontational; hunting more competitive and survival of the fittest with those at the top those who bring in the meat. Liberals (generally speaking) detest competition or acceptance of the inevitable biological truth that there is a natural hierarchy to life, hence the mental gymnastics and social re-engineering to make life suitable for themselves.

I live in the suburb next to the gayest suburb in my country and your second point generally holds true. Yes there are some very masculine strongly built and acting gay men, but the majority have a very frail limp-wristed look reflective of a low protein diet.

Liberals, by nature of identifying with eco-bio-anti-global-save-the-gay-whale kinds of virtue signalling causes, are more likely to eat meat ('meat is murder'). Hipsters (usually liberals) are about obscure, pretentious, non-mainstream interests before they become mainstream and nothing is more hipster than craft beer (which is small in production scale).

Steven said...

Interesting article. I was amused by your beer observation because I got some small brewery real ale as a present last Christmas and thought it ranged from tolerable to absolutely disgusting...some of that stuff was dogshit... and I like to say that I prefer commercial lagers. I still think maybe I'm lacking sophistication but just happily so.

I love meat and dairy and I gave up sugar for while recently but I don't eat red meat now and I flirt with cutting back on dairy because I have ethical concerns. I think factory farming is one of the greatest evils of the age but that is specifically factory farming rather than traditional forms, which were small scale and more free range (which is quite conservative of me when you think about it).

While I sympathise with veganism (heavyweight contender David Haye is now operating as a vegan..its image seems to have improved lately), I don't doubt the patterns you've noted are true.

Liberals/left people might argue that their greater vegetarianism is an indication of greater empathy. I wonder if there is anything to that. Some of the nicest people I know are liberals (not hardcore SJWs but inclined to liberal views). They are empathetic people who like things like open borders because they are so nice and open and they want to embrace everybody. They are quite intelligent but in my opinion they tend to be a bit naive and on some things ignorant. That's the profile of the more liberal people I know. But even they are a bit negative about identity politics and SJWs, the more extreme and narcissistic liberals.

Mark Caplan said...

Liberals are scared to death of eating older artificial sweeteners such as Splenda (sucralose) or aspartame, but are sweet on Stevia. They'll avoid table sugar but cheerfully wolf down honey or maple syrup.

John Craig said...

Gambino Dellacroce --
Not sure what country you live in, but keep in mind that taking steroids is now fairly widespread among gays, at least in the US. That could count for some of their seeming masculinity.

John Craig said...

Steven --
A lot of "taste" seems to be learning to pretend that you like what you really don't. A fair amount of "acquired tastes" seem to fall into this category. (Why continue to do or eat something if you don't enjoy it?)

True enough, there are plenty of nice liberals. I know a lot of "nice white ladies" who are inoffensive personally, and I should distinguish between them and the SJW's I often write about. The vegetarians who do throw their moral superiority at you, as I indicated in the past, are almost invariably liberals.

John Craig said...

Mark --
True, I've noticed that too. (Though I have to admit a weakness for honey and maple syrup myself.)

Mark Caplan said...

Liberals are quick to point out that crickets have more nutritional value than beef and pork and their cultivation doesn't contribute to global warming.

"Eat Crickets"

John Craig said...

Mark --
Well then they should eat them......I've heard of this, but have never been all that tempted. Now that I think of it though, I'd be curious to try them just once.

Of course, liberals believe in crickets in another way too: whenever Hillary does something wrong, they're what we hear from the mainstream media.

Justin said...

I agree with your observations. I'm a conservative and have moved toward eating a paleo/ketogenic diet with lots of meat.

One interesting thing to note on this is liberals score higher on the Big Five personality inventory for "openness to new experiences", and also have a higher disgust threshold than right wingers.

John Craig said...

Justin --
Hmm. I wonder how the higher disgust threshold feeds into food snobbery. A guess the willingness to try new things would be correlated with willingness to try foreign cuisines. But the food snobbery is something else entirely.

Justin said...

The sociologist Jonathan Haidt talks about where it comes from. Start watching this YouTube video at 7:12

John Craig said...

Justin --
So it's all about purity. Why are we willing to touch? What are we willing to imbibe? How are we willing to defile our bodies? Makes sense, in a way.

Anonymous said...

Me: Do you eat honey?
Vegan friend: No
Me (sarcastically): Why not, is it because the bees have been enslaved?
Vegan friend (serious): Yes
Me: So why do you have a pet dog, hasn't she been enslaved too?
Vegan friend:..........

PS Liberals should add worms to crickets for their ethical protein source...

Unknown said...

i meant "less likely to eat meat"

Unknown said...

Yes. I would say that in a country whose economic evolution has developedas far as the US, the penetration of steroids into another niche market is inevitable.

Anonymous said...

Well I tend to identify more as a conservative and I eat lots of vegetables but that doesn't mean I shouldn't eat meat, in fact I love all types of meat varieties the key here is balance you need meat for protein to build up your body and you need vegetables to detoxify and repair it.

I agree vegans who show of their supposed moral high ground of not eating "animals" is annoying especially considering how most of them are are anemic and skinny to the bone.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your impressions but of course, there's a lot of class going on here.

In my own case, I'm a conservative but I went off meat a few months ago. I don't know what it was, but I just had enough. I have no taste for it now. I eat fish and chicken and I have no political qualms about eating meat. I just lost the taste for it.

As for that damn Gwyneth Paltrow, who the hell eats cheese from a "tin"? Is that some Britishism she picked up? Sounds like it.


John Craig said...

Puzzled --
Sure enough, most snobbery has to do with class-ism (if that's a word).

i"ve never seen cheese, even in a supermarket or at Costco, that comes in a tin either; it's always wrapped in plastic, as far as I know.

Anonymous said...

About art - mostly I agree with your observations. But I sort of part company w/my fellow conservatives. I like modern art. I think what's great about the West is that we innovate. I do think that a lot of contemporary art is pure shit. But I like experimentation.

There's a movement called I think "the new traditionalists" and they purport to bring back the good old days of representational art, but they are mistaken. The art that they want to bring back is only representative of a small part of Western art, the French Academy. Many other countries in the West had other forms of art, that were not strictly representational.

Maybe that's why I'm an independent!! I pick and choose.


John Craig said...

Puzzled --
I got an email from someone this evening who described modern art as a "Ponzi scheme." I think that's a pretty good description of it. I'm afraid I"m one of those conservatives you part company with here.

The Ambivalent Misanthrope said...

OMG, modern art as a Ponzi scheme... That is a perfect shorthand summary for the whole thing. I love it.

Jeff Koons says his representational work is exactly what it appears to be, no hidden meaning or cultural commentary or self-conscious art looking at itself type of nonsense. And yet his ghastly oeuvre inspires something between nausea and severe depression in me. I have to say that if I had to choose between a Rothko and a Koons (to hang up in my office, say) I'd opt for Rothko in a microsecond. At least I wouldn't get a migraine with a Rothko hanging over my desk.

Luqman said...


You may or may not agree with the following, but this is what I think: Western art has become unmoored from its metaphysical grounding i.e. it has become meaningless. Broadly, modernists denied the existing standards of beauty in western art, postmodernists deny beauty as a valid standard in the first place. I believe this is why concept art is such a big thing. Meaning becomes entirely subjective and imposed, this is pretty much a dogma nowadays.

The older art was not powerful due to being representational, as you seem to recognize, so merely aping their methods is bound for failure. To make the same `look how clever I am` art in a representational fashion is not improvement, but a perversion of the old masters. Still, I do admire that they at least seem to recognize something is wrong and care about craft.

Deconstructing the assumptions of the past can be very useful for reaching something meaningfully new. It is at least theoretically possible to find beautiful and elevating modern/postmodern art but such beauty is likely to be incidental. As long as the human spirit exists I am sure there will remain beautiful art somewhere in the morass, only the lack of meaningful standard means it will not be widely recognized, appreciated and allowed to grow into more.

On another note: I wanted to clarify that I said gatherer vs. hunter as a mental sorting tool, not because I literally think these are those behaviours emerging. There is some further underlying truth to the correspondence, if any.

Sorry for using your comments section as a soapbox John.

John Craig said...

Ambivalent Misanthrope --
Yes, rich liberals selling these essentially worthless "works of art" back and forth to each other for ever increasing amounts of money, and "Ponzi scheme" is a perfect metaphor for that.

Okay, here's your other choice then: an empty wall or a Rothko? Which would you take? I'd take the empty wall, otherwise I'd be afraid people might think I had an empty brain for thinking a Rothko was great art.

John Craig said...

Luqman --
No apology necessary, I always welcome your comments. (This blog IS a soapbox, for better or worse.)

The whole hunter vs. gatherer, masculine vs. feminine, yin/yang dichotomy is a useful way of looking at eating habits. It's long been a truism that a woman's favorite food is likely to be some sort of fancy dessert, or maybe pasta, while a man's is more likely to be a steak. And all of politics can be looked at through that prism: liberals -- at least among whites -- tend to be more feminine, conservatives more masculine.

Anonymous said...

And my favorite food is all of the above. I guess that makes me pansexual.

About art - it always was a Ponzi scheme, or rather, an investment and a form of decoration. The great Dutch Masters (my favorites) came about as a result of the explosion of wealth in the Dutch republic. The new bourgeoisie needed purty thangs to put on their walls.

Luqman - I don't have time for a long exposition on this but briefly, compare the freshness of Rembrandt's drawing style to the turgid quality of the French Academy. I remember reading some stuff on some "traditionalist" website raving over the Orientalist painters:

I admire their chops. Their drafting skills are admirable. But they bore me to tears.

The greatest art combines drafting chops and originality. My two favorite artists are Winslow Homer and Rembrandt. YMMV.

I think it's dangerous to put a left/right, conservative/liberal spin on everything. If I prefer Expressionism to Orientalism, that doesn't make me a leftist. Shit, no.

In fact (changing the subject a bit here, John, if you don't mind), my utter loathing of liberalism and liberals is beginning to disturb me. I can't communicate with liberals on anything. I think they are deranged and dangerous. But I still like artistic daring. I just reserve the right to say that 99.9% of what is called artistic daring in this day & age is pure, utter HORSESHIT.


Anonymous said...

I just remembered this:

If you don't wanna read the whole thing jump to page 27 (16 in the PDF), where there is a table. Both men & women prefer honey above all, but men more than women! The ranked order of preference is exactly the same for both sexes, but women appear to prefer a more "balanced" diet. What I would expect. Women like berries & tubers more than men - expected.

The men's love of honey is an outlier. My explanation is twofold. One, men like what they like more than women like what they like. They love passionately or they don't give a shit. Two, men hunt for honey. It's hard work, it gives them prestige - so they value it more.

Fascinating stuff which proves that food prefs are universal.


John Craig said...

Puzzled --
Just took a look, thanks. I wonder if we're getting to the point where we're overanalyzing this. Yes, people appreciate what they have to work for more, that's why vegetables from our own garden or fish that we actually catch seem to "taste" better to us. And risking stings to get honey is tough; but extrapolating from a hunting and gathering tribe of 1300 people living the edge of the Serengeti to present day America is stretching it a little. Unless we're beekeepers, none of us forage for our honey, and speaking personally, I like honey for the same reason I like maple syrup (the gathering of which entails no risk): because it's sweet.

Agreed, though, that everybody likes that which gives them more prestige. Which I think cuts closer to the political differences in eating styles between liberals and conservatives.

Anonymous said...

John--It's been my experience that vegans are essentially insane. I mean I've never once in my life known a vegan who also thinks clearly about life in general. My hypothesis is that the brain of a vegan is deprived of so many essential fatty acids that it's impossible to function normally. Furthermore, I feel that veganism is really an eating disorder that's made worse by its practice and so if not stopped it's progressive. Thanks for letting me opine and your article is mostly accurate especially the artist/liberal dynamic. Brian F

John Craig said...

Brian --
That's another point I hadn't even considered: the brain DOES need fatty acids to function properly. Hmm. Makes sense. I hadn't seen it as an eating disorder before, but that's what it is. They do tend to look almost anorexic.

Thank you for that.

Justin said...

To add to Brian's comment above, vegan diets also contain no Vitamin B12 (they have to supplement), and the mental effects of the pernicious anemia this leads to are well documented. It can be similar to dementia, so yes, lack of clear thinking.

Anonymous said...

I think vegetarianism, and certainly veganism, is a rejection of biology. It reflects an inherent discomfort with acknowledging our animal nature and where we are in the food chain. This rejection of biology is carried over into political beliefs and systems.

And then there's the fact that veganism is "new" to Americans, and reflects a rejection of traditional Western values, which for some people is enough in and of itself to recommend it.

- Gardner

John Craig said...

Gardner --
That's a great summation of.....the entire world. Or, at least, our entire current society.

(Aren't you watching the Olympics?)

Anonymous said...

Definitely watching the Olympics.

One of our USA athletes, who just won the gold, is from our town, so my kids are very excited.

- Gardner

John Craig said...

Gardner --
Ah, that's right, I think I know which one. I'm a big fan of that athlete.

Anonymous said...

Rothko, and his ilk are non-art. There is non-art and here is art; there is good art and there is bad art: and there is healthy art and there is sick art.

Good and bad in art are largely matters of technique and perception. Technique can (and must) be taught: perception is largely innate and biological.

Healthy and sick art are matters of intent.

For an illustration of what I mean, I recommend the art of Joe Coleman. Coleman is simply in a class by himself, although Robert Williams, for example, has some of his esthetic.

John Craig said...

Anon --
You obviously know what you're talking about, and I don't, so I can't comment knowledgeably here. (But I do recognize a scammer --- like Rothko -- when I see one.)

I take it you're using that painting by Joe Coleman as an example of sick art (you don't specify which in your last sentence). It does give the impression of a sick guy; it actually reminds me of the art of Dr. Kevorkian, if you've ever seen that. Kevorkian didn't have the same technique, but he did seem to have the same underlying impetus to his art. (And Kevorkian, by the way, was an unquestionable sociopath.)

Anonymous said...

A little study of Joe Coleman will show that you are dealing with a very warped guy. He would do stuff like show up at a high school reunion as a kid that had died years earlier and make a spectacle of himself: then he took to packing himself with explosives (actually, commercial grade pyrotechnics) and blowing himself up onstage saying bons mot such as "Let's give Christ back to the Martians" and finally biting the heads off mice onstage.

His art is incredibly detailed and layered and there is no question he has a high IQ and some talent. It's not a surprise that he was an artistic hero to the late Anton LaVey.

Robert Williams is not in the same category with Coleman: he's just a decent commercial artist working in the schlock-hot-rod and rock and roll debauchery genres. But there are, as you note, quite a few other artists in a similar vein to Coleman out there. Several are criminals or social outcasts apart from their art. John Wayne Gacy and Jack Kevorkian are two whose work come to mind. Bob Berdella was also a similar personage in that he attended the Art Institute, although he is not known for painting himself, he had a boutique called "Bob's Bizarre Bazaar". It sold a lot of verydisturbing works.

These people often combine considerable talent with a perverse view of reality, and although I do not approve of destroying troubling art, it's possible seeing people like this to understand why several regimes have been motivated to do so throughout history. Art has power. Malevolent art has malevolent power sometimes. Conversely, beneficient art has a soothing, healing power.

Anonymous said...

Vegans take on a certain look after a few years. Most of them are very confrontational and have trouble dealing with others. Steve Jobs and Chrissie Hynde are two examples of vegans in the public eye who have a similar appearance in terms of their facial development over the years and a reputation for confrontationality.

Hynde seems to be in pretty good shape physically as far as being able to move around and her voice has held up pretty well, but eventually I suspect she will fall apart. Jobs, of course, died relatively young, but I think that if he had let the doctors operate when they wanted to, he might still be alive today.

John Craig said...

8:03 Anon --
Some of John Wayne Gacy's was obviously sick art, like the clown with the red around his mouth, or the skull dressed in the clown suit, or the picture of Charlie Manson. And some of it was an attempt to be wholesome. I'm not sure which set of art was more disturbing.

Agree with your last paragraph completely.

John Craig said...

8:11 Anon --
(Not sure if you're the same person, you might want to consider using a handle if you intend to write in more than once. ) I don't know anything about Chrissie Hynde, but I'm convinced Steve Jobs was a sociopath:

Now that you mention this, I wonder if lithesome people vegetarianism isn't just a way to demonstrate moral "superiority," something sociopaths are forever trying to do.

GVector said...

If Jobs was a sociopath, then maybe sociopathy has some purpose in occurring in a certain percentage of the population.

I met Jobs one time, and he seemed pretty normal, by 1980s Silicon Valley standards. I thought he was more sensible than his counterparts at Sun, who the company I worked for dealt with regularly. As compared to Jobs, McNealy and his crew were loutish and often insufferable.

What distinguished Jobs was that he had a vision of how something should work and he was absolutely ruthless in seeing it implemented that way. The Macintosh was deliberately designed with no command line interface and a keyboard that lacked many of the standard characters and function keys on all computers and terminals then: you had to develop on the much more expensive Lisa and cross-compile, as it were. Steve thought that if you had both a command line and a graphical interface you would never use the graphical interface, especially if "you" were a programmer.

Similarly, he felt that a tablet or handheld device should not need a stylus or pen for input. He would say "you might lose the pen", but that wasn't his reasoning. He figured humans already had a stylus, ten of them to be exact. The technical problem with using fingers was that unlike a stylus point, which could be a pixel or two wide, fingers cover a huge area and are not precise. Making the iOS interface work meant a huge "do what I mean" layer of abstraction between the interface and the OS or application. Apple had already designed the Newton PDA, a very sophisticated platform with some advanced computer science in its OS and programming environment. When Jobs saw it he immediately set out to kill it, and he did. (Full disclosure: I was a Newton and NeXT user, loved them both. In the four years between the end of NeXT and the start of MacOS X, I switched to FreeBSD and have not ever looked back.)

Sun is dead, as is SGI and all the other workstation outfits. Apple is now worth $750 billion dollars, and the iOS device and its ecosystem is most of that. As much as I loved the Newton, and the palm OS devices I had to replace mine with, iOS is simply better-way better.

John Craig said...

GVector --
You know your computer history, so I certainly can't argue with you there. But I'd justice to point out that oftentimes just a snapshot of a sociopath, as you got with your one meeting, can be quite positive. No one is better at making a good first impression than a sociopath. As far as al those innovations, yes, they were genius, but it's my understanding that Job wold regularly take credit for other peoples' ideas. People who worked at Apple said that Jobs never actually designed anything himself, he only cracked the whip until he saw something he liked.

Anonymous said...

I can offer only a boring explanation - that liberal/conservative brains are wired differently, and so they accordingly enjoy different food:

Regarding the first comment, it is true that vegan food can feminise. Vegan products often contain soya, which is known to raise oestrogen and lower testosterone levels. Meaty foods contain glycine, which is an inhibitiory neurotransmitter. This might partially explain why conservatives seem generally less self-conscious than liberals.

- Gethin

P.S. It would be interesting to read about libertarian food habits. My guess is that libertarians eat a mix of everything, and don't tend to think too hard about it (this is my eating style anyway).

John Craig said...

Gethin --
I called myself a libertarian for a long time, but I'm actually slowly moving away from that, partly because of the craziness of the official libertarian Party of the US, which advocates open borders, among other things. I've shifting more into an alt-right stance, though I'm not entirely there, either.

The longer I observe this stuff, the more I'm convinced that Left and Right brains ARE wired differently, and also have different psychologies. (SJW's tend to have high narcissism levels, from what I've seen.)