The fish-eating mayor of New York should definitely call himself a vegan.

Eric Adams is a vegan crusader who can’t stop eating fish. The New York mayor embraced veganism more than five years ago after experiencing symptoms of diabetes and regularly promotes the vegan diet as healthier for people and the planet. He wrote a book touting veganism and even started “Vegan Fridays,” requiring public school cafeterias to provide vegan meals every Friday. And yet, people keep seeing Adams eating fish. The latest sighting appeared in an article by Politico, which reported that the mayor typically dined on “fish and salad” when he ate at Osteria La Baia, an Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan that is believed to be his “non-fiction office.” official”. The sighting sparked another round of accusations that Adams is lying about his veganism, to which he responded with vegetarian cooking. demonstration Monday, refusing specify the precise contours of his diet and call its detractors “the food police”.

As a vegetarian for over 18 years, I am in awe of Adams’ masterful and mysterious performance here. The mayor refused to let the meat eaters set the terms of the debate, a debate that invariably focuses on purity and hypocrisy rather than practicality and ethics. People who eat meat are often desperate to prove that self-identified vegetarians and vegans are moralizing impostors who break their own rules. Adams denied these selfish critics the gratification of grief while keeping the focus where it should be: on the urgent need for everyone to stop eating so much meat. I became a vegetarian because I sympathize with non-human animals to a sufficient degree that I think it’s immoral to eat them, but even if you don’t care about that, you should probably be concerned that the he meat industry contributes massively to the climate. change – a fact its lobbyists are trying to undermine through pseudo-scientific research and propaganda.

You may be thinking: Oh great, another preachy vegetarian, here to lecture me on the evils of meat. Rather the opposite! I’m here to tell you that if you’re currently eating meat, you shouldn’t stop. It’s not reverse psychology. Rather, it is an acknowledgment that if you try to stop eating meat, you will almost certainly fail. In my experience, adults who attempt to go vegetarian quickly fall off the wagon and then go straight back to their previous meat parade. Some research confirms this and suggests that most will fail within a year of switching, although the exact numbers are disputed. And that’s the worst possible outcome. Americans eat far too much meat, far more than most of the rest of the world. The average American eats about 222 pounds of meat each year, the equivalent of 800 hamburgers. Viewing meat consumption as a binary masks the fact that there is a trade-off between eating a small mountain of meat each year and eating none at all.

Adams is eager for New Yorkers to make that compromise. In 2021, he urged New Yorkers to try the Meating Halfway Challenge, which encourages participants to eat less meat. He rejects purity of judgment in favor of sensible pragmatism. When asked about his alleged fish dish on Monday, Adams told the press that if he tried to follow a plant-based diet, he was “perfectly flawed.” While his questionable comments about cheese’s relative addiction to heroin drew the most attention, he also warned New Yorkers, “Don’t beat yourself up. No one is perfect in the city. And he added, “Here’s my message: the more plant-based meals you have, the healthier you’ll be.” It’s a brilliant message, a truthful and realistic plea to help improve health outcomes and save the planet by simply adjusting your diet.

Alright, you might say – Adams has the right idea, but why does he have to twist his own eating habits? Why isn’t he just called a pescatarian, meaning someone who eats fish but no other meat? The answer is obvious: it is not. A pescatarian typically eats fish, dairy products, eggs, and other animal by-products. But Adams doesn’t eat animal byproducts. The technical term for his diet is probably “Seagan,” but besides being a dumb word, that label doesn’t really reflect who he is. Adams’ diet is mostly vegan. Occasionally, however, he eats a meal that includes fish. He seems to believe that this intermittent deviation does not disqualify him from maintaining the vegan label.

It seems pretty obvious that as a public figure who seeks to be a role model for his constituents, Adams wants to model veganism, not seaganism. It’s a responsible choice: overfishing has devastated our oceans, driven biologically important species to the brink of extinction, decimated global fish stocks and destroyed marine ecosystems. Adams doesn’t want to encourage New Yorkers to eat fish because eating fish is not his vision and is often ruinous for the planet. To reconcile this desire with his apparent guilty pleasure of occasionally fishing, he chose to maintain his identification with veganism. And no one has a right, or a particularly good reason, to deny him that self-determination.

By modeling a vegan diet in a country where meat is both overconsumed and associated with masculinity, Adams takes a bold, even courageous stance. Vegetarianism and veganism retain a stigma in the United States — a real issue that prevents policymakers from discussing meat reduction alongside renewable energy and electric cars as common sense solutions to climate change. It’s high time a prominent politician challenged this ridiculous subservience to meat-eating sensibilities. Adams is the flawed vegan who is perfect for our times.

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