Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Trouble with Meat

Q: How many vegans does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Vegans can't change anything.

Ahimsa

I once stepped on a beetle for no reason. My family and some extended family were with me at the time and they were angry at me for it. My first thought was that it was because, oh yeah, we were in a national park (Bryce Canyon) where you're not supposed to mess anything up if you can avoid it. Then the more I thought about it, it was just a jackass thing to do. Beetles are gross, true, but squashed beetles are even grosser. I soon realized that the only reason for me crushing the beetle was to feel superior or powerful somehow (I was in middle school at the time so, ya know). That's usually a stupid reason to do anything.

A few years later a friend of mine stepped on a caterpillar on the trail for no reason. I hate caterpillars. They are just so gross. More on that later. But it made me really angry for some reason, probably because people are often the most ardent opponents of ideas and practices that they recently left behind. Anyway I caught myself before shouting and instead told him he should move to India for a couple of years to learn the principle of Ahimsa, or nonviolence. Actually it goes beyond nonviolence to mean not doing any harm to any living thing through any action or inaction. As you may imagine, this can get out of control. Jains in India often wear masks over their mouths to avoid accidentally eating bugs. Still, in principle its really a good attitude to have I think.

This is a sound argument for vegetarianism, unless you've thought up some way to eat animals without killing them. On star trek they have that replicator, and I think it was Clarke or Asimov who said something about hydroponic steaks? Or maybe the answer came from Douglas Adams: genetically engineer animals that want to be eaten and are capable of telling you so (creepy). Here is an even more disgusting way around this reason.

Nutrition

I can't say whether vegetarianism is more health-promoting or not. This guy seems to think not, but he sounds a little crazy to me. I think that while a lot of vegetarians do it wrong, if someone spends a little bit more energy to keep track of what they're eating it is probably way healthier than what we omnivores eat. So my sister's roommate from her freshman year who spent a whole semester eating yams (her skin turned orange and she started losing hair) did it wrong, but you can get all your iron and proteins without eating meat. That's vegetarianism two, omnivore-ism (?) zero.

Preference

"I don't like the taste of meat."; "I don't like the thought of eating flesh"; "I just read The Jungle and toured a hot dog factory."

How can anyone argue with these? You don't like meat, so you don't eat it. Great, that's how I feel about kidney (tastes like pee). I find that people who have this reason for not eating meat are not the zealot vegeatarian missionaries who want us all to join them.

Sustainable Earth

This is the idea that animals wreak havoc on the land while crops don't. This is a myth, I think. Cow patties are not nearly as destructive as plows and fertilizers and pesticides. Ever heard of the dust bowls? Giardia can be filtered out of water with a hand pump. High acidicy can't. Let's just agree that both farming and ranching could benefit from more long-term perspective.

Food Shortages

This goes something like people are starving because we are using land inefficiently. raising meat only produces this many steaks per acre while growing wheat produces some huge number of loaves of bread. Probably another myth. The world produces enough food to give everyone 2,700 calories a day (enough to make us all fat). Distribution is the problem.

Other Reasons

These are other reasons I have heard (for real).

My farts don't stink because I am a vegetarian.

Yeah well I got one word for you: Brocolli.

Meat eaters have bad breath.

No, people who don't floss have bad breath.

(from a 6' male)
I only weigh 128 pounds.

Congratulations, Jack Skellington.

So where does that put us? Three good reason not to eat meat. Well I like meat and am not about to stop. Sorry.

As for you vegetarians, good on you. You're doing something I can't do. Keep up the good work so that I don't have to. Vegans, yall are crazy.

20 comments:

Creativity Escapes Me said...

There's nothing like a perfectly rare New York steak. Sir, you have my attention.

kel said...

once i stepped on a pile (and i mean pile) of free-lovin' box elder bugs. i felt bad but i saw pile after pile on the way home from work almost every day and i knew they were just making more box elder bugs in there. they were grossing me out.

the anna said...

which reminds me that genealogy is important. i have an ancestor NAMED freelove. so there.

Michelle 2021 said...

I like meat too. I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say that I try not to think about the animal when I'm eating meat. That's a lot of negatives.

Creativity Escapes Me said...

My father is a meatcutter. I went through a "Meat is Murder" period when I was 14 or 15, I do admit. When he told me he was holding three jobs one as a meatcutter to keep his family in the lifestyle we were accustomed my red period quickly came to a halt.

so and so said...

My grandma use to take us Snail Hunting with her because they ruined her garden. When we found them, they became the scum on our shoes.

I feel bad about it now, but I was too young to understand the Janist implications of my actions.

Wave o' babies!

Territorial Soufleé said...

Wouldn't be ironic if somewhere, deep in Amazonia there was a primitive tribe......and also they only eat vegans.

Michelle 2021 said...

Gazelle carcass!

Awright13 said...

We own a cattle ranch so I don't think I ever really thought about it. I think animals were put on this earth to use as we see fit, but when we abuse that privilege (ie killing this for the power etc.) then it because a problem. I can see how that would upset people and it upsets me as well...but not enough not to order something medium rare w/ A1 sauce.

jo said...

isn't ahimsa a cool concept. the jains are so interesting. it's all so intersting... everything about it is so interesing. it's intersting TR... i think you know this.

aporitic said...

Here's another near-eastern concept for you: karma,. I think that when you have a name as cool as T.R. *****s, you have so much positive karma that you can eat whatever the hell you want and still be cool.

But, I'm hearing you on the whole vegan/vegatarianism thing. I think it's great that people do that sort of thing. So great in fact that I'm willing to raise my forkfull of USDA-inspected Prime Rib and toast them for their dedication to their principles. "Salud!"

T.R. said...

I'll toast to that.

[ching!]

does meat ching?

The Mediocre Gatsby said...

I think that when God creates such creatures, he takes into concideration all of the people stepping on them. Therefore if we don't step on them, not only are we trying to second-guess Him, but we are also going to be directly responsible for bug/pest overpopulation.

Just a thought.

jeremy said...

"(from a 6' male)
I only weigh 128 pounds."

I agree, that's freakishly obese. Wait, who's Jack Skellington?

T.R. said...

If I could be 6' tall, I would.

Michelle 2021 said...

I'm trying to imagine a version of Halloweentown that's Vegan. Hmmm...
"Wake up Jack, this isn't fair!"

Laverna said...

My family goes hunting every year at my grandpa's cabin. I've never actually shot anything, but I've done pretty much everything else -- except tanning the hides, my family does it all on our own. Field dressing is an interesting experience because you walk up to this animal that was alive a couple of minutes ago, but is now dead so that you and your family can eat. It is an interesting mix of feelings -- gratitude towards the animal mixed with a very strong feeling of responsibility. You've taken this animal's life, make sure that it doesn't go to waste. Perhaps that's why I could never understand poachers.
When we first started butchering the deer we'd harvested on our front porch, I don't doubt that some of our neighbors were shocked. If it bothers any of them, though, they don't say anything. :) Some of them come over to see how we did. Some people probably can't stand the thought of cutting meat off of a carcass, but I think that it is fascinating. Beautiful, almost to see how all of the muscle groups are connected to each other. I think that it is a pity that some people are so disconnected from their food.

T.R. said...

I watched a girl at work today disconnect from her food. Always remember to wash your hands before you eat.

Tamra said...

good to know that for a year of my life TR thought I was crazy. You probably think that no matter what I eat tho. Hope you are doing well.

Chester The Bear said...

Amen to Gatsby. Squashing them must all part of His Devine Plan (which I'm told, if we're all really really good, He might tell us about some day).

I do feel sorry for our prey, which is why I can be frequently seen at KFC. They ought to put a "no chicken died in the creation of this nugget" disclaimer on the box.

As for Vegans, don't they understand that some of the nutrients in the soil their beloved plants grow in come from dead animals? Maybe we need to tell them. They's have even less to eat, and we'd have to put up with less Vegans.