Let’s put an end to ‘dietary tribalism’

Be you a vegan, vegetarian, locavore, raw food advocate, fructarian, slow food advocate or, well, whatever … this is well worth a read.


Every time I’m on social media, I am reminded of a growing trend that worries me — let’s call it dietary tribalism. I use this term to refer to the many fractured groups with conflicting dietary views who, for the most part, don’t realize just how much they have in common.

This recent piece in the New York Times about the “challenges of plant-based eating in a meat-based world” got me thinking, as it described several people’s efforts to adopt a vegan lifestyle and how they were fraught with challenges. Not only did I find this lens problematic (for one, not everyone finds the transition that difficult), but I was struck by how it repeated a familiar, yet inaccurate frame: that one is either a vegan or they’ll eat an entire cow in one sitting.

But it bothered me even more that the comments turned, predictably, into “veganism isn’t…

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About Jean-François

Jean-François Chénier is a social business consultant. He is the founder of the '222 million tons' project, dedicated to giving people tips, tools and resources to help them waste less food and eat well.

3 thoughts on “Let’s put an end to ‘dietary tribalism’

  1. Great re-blog! I have bookmarked Grist.org to go read on the weekend when I have more time. I already checked out a couple of articles — fantastic writing and ideas.

    I do wish we could all just get along so that changes can be made to improve our industrial food system. The current, “perfected” system of meat-for-food may be cheaper, but it is in so many more ways more costly. I’m certain we humans can get back to a more sustainable practice of feeding the billions of mouths in this world. Aside from each of us doing our little things, we simply MUST work together to get the big things done.

    • I just found Grist.org a couple of weeks ago – there’s a lot of great content to explore. This article really pushed the right buttons for me. So many of the “tribes” set up false dichotomies, and discount other solutions to the same set of problems … which makes collaborating for societal change a challenge. Was kind of sad to see where some of the comments went on the article; the tribes had a skirmish.

      • Wow…I read the thread yesterday, and you’re right. “Tribalism” is the word to describe them! They remind me a lot of the Dems and Reps. We all want the same things, just can’t seem to agree how to get there. Why can’t we all just get along?

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