A: Last night, I got together with some friends, had good conversations, laughed together, enjoyed one another's company, and then we ate sawdust. It was a pleasant evening. We had a great meal.
B: Well, no, you didn't. You ate sawdust. The nutritive end of the activity you were engaged in was completely missing. Therefore, properly speaking, you did not have a meal.
A: Nonsense. A meal is about more than just eating food. It's about good conversation, laughing together, enjoying each other's company. We had all of that. So why would you say we didn't have a meal?
B: All of the things you mention are indeed good, and they certainly enrich and fulfill what a good meal should be. But the nutritive end of eating is what unifies and makes them intelligible under the description of having a meal. You can't sever the nutritive end from the activity without fundamentally changing the nature of that activity.
A: So only nutrition counts as a meal, nothing more, nothing less?
B: No. I suppose science might someday invent a pill which you could take that would conceivably give you all the daily nutrients you require. But no one would seriously suggest that taking the pill constituted having a meal; or, to put it another way, engaging in that distinctive kind of activity which we call "having a meal." A true meal would necessarily include all the other essential goods you mentioned -- good conversation, enjoying one another's company, etc.
A: Okay, but what if we didn't eat just sawdust? What if, instead, we had barbecue ribs, mashed potatoes, a casserole, the whole nine yards? But then, later, we all got indigestion! Maybe we even got so sick that we had to, ahem, spend some time in the bathroom regurgitating our "meal" into the toilet. Then we wouldn't have had a meal, right? We ate real food, but the nutritive end was never served, since we just threw up the food.
B: Even if the nutritive end was never completed, you still had a meal, since "having a meal" as a distinctive kind of activity is always ordered towards the nutritive end, whether that end is fulfilled or not. It's still a meal, in that it still belongs to the species "meal," even if only deficient specimen of the species. However, activities that are not ordered towards the nutritive end at all never even rise to the level of being a deficient specimen of a meal. They are no specimen of a meal period.
A: I still think you're too obsessed with nutrition. Focusing on that seems to impoverish what a true meal is. We need to articulate a rich picture of the nature of a meal, instead of just pointing to eating food.
B: I agree. But, again, the nutritive end of eating is what unifies and makes intelligible all the other goods that define having a meal as a distinctive form of activity. So we must at least begin there...
Faithful Reader may imagine another situation to which a parallel analysis might be applied. Perhaps regarding the other interactive power of the vegetative nature.