The Moral Hierarchy of Food

This piece focuses on the way in which an obsession with food is in some sense replacing (or parodying?) religion, for some people.

The new religion: How the emphasis on ‘clean eating’ has created a moral hierarchy for food

Professor Gillian McCann “argues that the rise in food movements has coincided with a decline of religion in society, with many people seeking familiar values such as purity, ethics, goodness. But these movements also tend to encourage behaviours that have steered a generation away from religion: Judgment, self-righteousness, an us-versus-them mentality.”

As my pal Andrew Potter would likely point out, here, most of what we observe in this moral hierarchy of food is consistent with another hypothesis, namely that the holier-than-thou aspect is yet another instance of the basic human drive toward status-seeking. In other words, part of the way one person makes herself feel special, feel superior, both in her own eyes and in the eyes of others, is by finding new and exotic ways to differentiate herself in terms of diet.
This was parodied nicely in the episode of the Simpsons in which Lisa tries use her veganism to impress her new boyfriend, who replies, “I’m a level 5 vegan — I won’t eat anything that casts a shadow.”

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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