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Famed British chef Jamie Oliver has made it his mission to get people to eat healthier. But, it turns out, he’s a little annoyed a certain group of healthy eaters: vegans.
“I am split these days because vegans do annoy me, but I also do care for them,” he told the Sunday Times of London, describing several occassions at his UK restaurants with “20 scruffy, weird-looking fellas putting iPads of slaughtered animals in front of kids having spaghetti bolognese on a Saturday lunch.”
While Oliver has been a big supporter of eating more plant-based foods, he says activist vegans don’t allow for any meat whatsoever, even if it’s raised sustainably and ethically — and that’s what’s problematic.
“They hate me,” he explains, “because we do stories about higher welfare meat, which I am deeply passionate about, but for them it is on or off — there ain’t no stepping stones, whereas I’m all about stepping stones.”
In other words, don’t “yuck” my “yum!”
To be fair, Oliver doesn’t have nearly the same level of disdain for vegans like other food personalities such as Anthony Bourdain or the Italian chef who came under fire last year for saying he’d kill all vegans.
In his 2000 book, “Kitchen Confidential,” Bourdain wrote: “Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn… Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food."
But Oliver, who recently studied for a master’s in nutrition and has worked to provide healthier school lunches to children in an effort to fight childhood obesity, appreciates the value in eating more vegetables, telling the Times that at least 65 percent of his cookbook recipes are vegetarian.
“The vegan diet tracks better than anything on longevity, health and lower cases of disease,” he said, adding that he’s even created an all-vegetarian cookbook he's hoping to publish.
Oliver, who has already published 19 cookbooks, owns a chain of Italian restaurants and a dozen other establishments, including his Diner restaurant which sells hamburgers and hot dogs.
But it’s all about balance for him — just forget the label “clean eating.”
“The clean-eating thing really annoys me,” Oliver says, “but it is an energy that is coming out because the government and businesses lie a lot and because, while we are confused on packaging, we do not know what the f*** it is that we are eating.”