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RSS By: Steve Cornett, Beef Today

Read the latest blog from Steve Cornett.

Update: A medical term for vegetarians

Mar 04, 2009

By Steve Cornett

First, let me make note that I didn’t write the darned NYT article. All I did was ask you to go read the thing. So I can’t "not know" what I’m talking about because it wasn’t me who thought we needed a term for people whose personal warp makes them think they should eat less pasta and more tofu. Or less tofu and more pasta. Or whatever it is that lets them think St. Peter is keeping track of what they eat.

That was a psychiatrist who said we needed such a term because he was seeing a lot of them whose mamas would rather see them starve than eat an oreo or a pig skin. Psychiatrists, not magazine writers, know when somebody has crossed the line between concerned and goofy. So don’t tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. Call the doctor. 

Still, let me disassociate myself from the term “wacko” that some ill- mannered correspondent used so cavalierly. That’s what I would call a stigmatizing pejorative. 

Orthorexia is, after all, a condition. An illness. People don’t choose to be orthorexic, you know. You can see right there in the article that it’s part environment and part genetic. Nature and nurture combining to make them “different.” Not their fault.

I don’t have a current copy of the DSM-IV that the head docs use to diagnose mental illnesses, but I’ve known (and, most recently corresponded with as you may have noticed) enough of them to think I can recognize some of the symptoms.

Some signs you should watch for in your loved ones:

The sense of humor atrophies early, especially among the orthorexics whose “bad food” phobias involve meat. I’ve seen no research, but I did once have a doctor tell me to quit eating so much beef and within days, I had become surly and what, at my age, they call “crotchety.” I think beef, and this I believe not only because of all the vegetative eaters I’ve known through the years, may contain a “good mood” vitamin. 

Orthorexia also “presents” (to use a term the way the psychiatrists do) as what my dad would call a “bad case of self importance.” If your loved one says “At least I’m doing something for the good of (mankind) (the globe) (the world) (animals) (bean curd farmers)” and if the emphasis is on the “I’m” don’t panic, but you might consider a subtle suggestion about “getting the old noggin noodled just for fun.”

Oh yeah, and if their arms look like mesquite roots with little nodules for elbows, that might be a symptom, too.

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COMMENTS (7 Comments)

Steve, don't let 'em get you down! Both editorials you wrote on this topic are just fine the way they are. I enjoy your columns.
10:59 AM Mar 24th
the funny thing is that vegans and true vegetarians is that they are ingesting some type of animal product either from a vitamin or some other source. they just do not know it. the 13th emino acid that is required to live but is only needed in small amounts only comes from animal products. so no matter what they think or do they still are not completely free from animal products. just some food for thought.
1:25 AM Mar 5th

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