Monday, March 9, 2015

Bad Vegan Math

Is there anything worse than superciliousness connected with a misleading use of numbers?

Every group has members who manage to make membership in their group appear unappealing to outsiders, particularly by making membership a sign of moral superiority. Arguably, it takes one to know one. (In my own defense, I'm well aware of my many deficiencies.) However, I've yet to meet a vegetarian that didn't somehow manage to bring up his/her avoidance of meat in a way that illustrated his/her moral and cultural superiority to the rest of us omnivores.

Am I wrong, or has there never been a time like the last fifty years where so many people feel so little shame about being such lousy liars?

Consider the meme above. Perhaps the Albany Times-Union is the ultimate source of's error. However, it just isn't that hard to do the research necessary to blow this little piece of propaganda to smithereens.

There's some variance in the numbers, but here's what I found: 1 cup of broccoli has 31 calories and  2.57 grams of protein (actually about 8.29 g/100 kcal). An 8-ounce New York strip from Organic Valley has approximately 450 calories and 50 grams of protein. 

50 g ÷ 2.57 g ≈ 19.46
19.46 × 31 kcal = 603.26 kcal
603.26 kcal ÷ 450 kcal ≈ 1.34

Breaking it down: To get the protein benefit of an 8-oz. New York strip from eating broccoli, you'd have to eat 19.46 cups; in the process, you'd consume 603.26 calories from the broccoli — 1.34 times the calories from the steak. Again, you can find different values for the calories and protein. However, even in the best-case scenario, you'd still have to pound down more broccoli than you could stomach at one meal before you'd get the same protein value of a broiled steak.

Lesson One: If you gotta lie to make your case, it isn't worth making. Lesson Two: Never try to use numbers to mislead a carnivore who can do math.