Food with a Face, Part 1

We watched this debate a couple of days ago:

http://intelligencesquaredus.org/debates/upcoming-debates/item/910-dont-eat-anything-with-a-face

I have been thinking about it ever since. I’ve finally come up with my own conclusions on issues raised in the debate and here they are: My very personal and subjective thoughts on the subject of animal husbandry/wifery.

First of all, we need to understand that there is no such thing as perfection. Nature has no concept of this, and no thing or action unto itself is pure. Everything is linked in a causal relationship with everything else which means that all things, all action, all thoughts, are created through the evolutionary action of connecting, blending, mixing, stirring, and fermenting. The universe is a big pot of stew: Constantly feeding and constantly being fed.

There is nothing wrong with a being creature made of meat and muscle, full of sadness, happiness, hope, and fear, who sometimes sings beautifully and sometimes farts. This is being human, this is the big construction project of being alive.

To die and become pure in the afterlife is not the reality we see before us. What is real is that we die and become compost for the life that comes after us. We become soil for the next plants and animals that populate The Big Story. Our soul is the unique light inside us, what we give to the universe as we live in it, not something that comes out of our physical bodies as we lay dying. This is what I believe, because everything else seems to be stories to palliate our fear of death.

What does this have to do with eating animals?

Because I think that the underlying moral belief of the vegan ethic is that killing a creature is wrong because of the impurity of the act. There is a belief that consuming animal foods is filthy, disgusting, and causes cancer. Another part of the vegan ethic is that keeping an animal as livestock and killing it for food causes suffering. In part 1 of this post I will focus on the fact that I think the impurity of meat is what really underscores the vegan  ethic, much more then any suffering caused to an animal. In part 2 I will consider the moral ramifications of plowing up all arable land for plant production

The fundamentalist vegan viewpoint is one that I can agree with in general, but one that I know is foolish in the long run.

Please, dear reader, don’t take this as a license from me to eat meat. I believe that if you eat meat, eggs, or dairy from a factory farm you are participating in what my lapsed-Buddhist belief system could only call suffering. Suffering of the highest sort. You only need to watch a documentary such as Earthlings:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19eBAfUFK3E to feel deeply the kind of suffering that exists out there in the world all around you. This movie made us weep with the graphic realization of the endless suffering going on all around us.

This is what we do not want, in any form whatsoever. If you eat from this system you are participating in the cruelest system humanity has perhaps ever devised. It makes me incredibly sad even just thinking about it. This is the source of the majority of animal products.

So when I say that to to deny eating meat is foolish, I am not in any way saying it is okay to participate in the current horrifying factory farm situation. That situation, in all of its ecological, economically, and ethical aspects is wrong and promotes suffering and destruction of the landscape and all plant and animal health.

The purity that the vegan ethic is trying to achieve comes from a deep lack of understanding of the cycles and systems of nature. Nature is the artwork of evolution, it is not created by a single all-powerful mind. Nature is a mess, the universe is a total pigsty, and everything is full of dirt. Death is a part of this so-called chaos ( which is really just the most beautiful order of all). Nature points at death and says, “This is part of it all.”

Death is there, and animals will die. In the wild, it is rarely a quick death.

There are enough studies out there that show that eating a plant based diet, with some meat, is the healthiest diet you can eat, so what is the point of belaboring this point over and over? Beans and grains have historically been a very important staple food, and as a dried commodity they are extremely long lasting and full of nutrition. Having been a vegetarian for years with forays into veganism and raw food, I now believe that these fads are only possible in the top tier of the planets richest inhabitants and they take up far too much land and energy to be a truly sustainable diet for the planet. I now believe that eating food from a local farm that uses regenerative principles will ultimately be the true source of personal and planetary health.

And luckily, it is the true source of flavor as well.

…to be continued…