Ah, the New York Times style section—always on the lookout for the next big trend. But sometimes, it just ends up stirring up a hornets’ nest.

Take yesterday’s article on dating and meat, “Be Yourselves, Girls, Order the Rib-Eye.”

In it, writer Allen Salkin asserts that more women are ordering steak on the first date—not because they crave the protein, but because it makes them look more desirable. According to a former vegetarian quoted in the article:

Red meat sent a message that she was ‘unpretentious and down to earth and unneurotic,’ she said, ‘that I’m not obsessed with my weight even though I’m thin, and I don’t have any food issues.’

With this piece, the Times has hit a trifecta: It has annoyed (at least) three communities. “Offensively bad” snorts a Chowhound topic that is up to 100-plus comments and counting and filled with the vitriol that only food-lovers being told what they should and should not order can muster.

Meanwhile, the sustainable eaters aren’t too happy either. Op-ed writer Kerry Trueman of the sustainable-food organization Eating Liberally won me over by quoting Homer Simpson’s pro-meat chant “You don’t win friends with salad,” complaining that:

Salkin serves up beef as a badge of honor, but stewing in those steak juices is a growing stigma attached to consuming factory farmed meat, because (a) it’s loaded with heart-hazardous saturated fats … and (b) our meat-centric diet is chewing up the planet, spewing greenhouse gases, ravaging rain forests, and miring us in manure lagoons.

And the feminists have a little something to say about it as well. Miriam on Feministing hates the idea of women eating to impress, and reminds us that this isn’t the first time we’ve been given culinary dating advice:

We’ve heard this line before haven’t we? What you decide to order on the first date is of the utmost importance. If you order too much, he might think you’re a pig…if you order only a salad, he might think you’re a waif with body image issues. So what’s the solution? Meat of course!

Maybe we should just choose another activity for first dates, like bowling.

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