On Rain Forests and Vegans

Share


by A.B. Thomas

I was unsure how to make my point on what I see as the primary ecological problem that isn’t being addressed when everyone speaks about solving the Earth’s problems.

Version 1:
A while back there was a blog about veganism where it was pointed out that rain forests were being destroyed to make way for land to be used to raise herd animals for meat. I left the comment that I applauded her for her stand, and I do agree that there has to be something done about the problem. I don’t see our harvesting of meat as the root cause. Where I diverge is that I do believe that the human population and our wants are the cause of the problem. I firmly believe that there is no solution be it changing the entire population’s diet or otherwise that will work because the sheer amount of human population in the world today. It’s astonishing to me that we are so willing to exterminate a wasp nest or a mouse nest because they are disease carrying pests yet we are unwilling to look and see that we are the most destructive pests on the planet without anyone standing up and suggesting that our nests be wiped out.

I understand the food chain cycle all too well, growing up on a farm wit a large family dependent on our own reserves for the food essentials. If the crops did poorly, the animals did poorly, and if the animals did poorly, we ate poorly. The other factor is not only in understanding but respecting the food chain came in the form of a portly short frame of my friend Terry’s grandmother – who on the outside resembled a tree stump but when called for, namely chasing down a very…investigative, nay, curious…white boy became fast as a white tailed deer and powerful as a cougar on the reserve. She drilled it into my head that all nature’s gifts had to be honoured (although she did also make it clear that mankind, in some cases, were not one of nature’s gifts) and by upsetting the balance we devastate the ecosystem that we depend on to survive. Having said that, here is my counter point to the opinion that we must be diligent to curb the destruction of the rainforests – the problem isn’t clear cutting but modern scientific advances.

Mankind no longer ‘weeds out’ the frail but creates environments for all of us to survive. Do I sound callous? Perhaps, but all one has to look at a map to see that were no human population should be, there we are. An example? Dubai. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is not only crating a business mecca in the sand but he is changing the landscape – putting water where there is supposed to be none, putting land where there is supposed to be only sea – heck inside one of his massive engineered shopping malls he has constructed a ski hill with fresh powdered snow daily to fit his own dreams of the ideal place. Mankind as a whole has forgotten that there isn’t any universal right to life, it is merely a privilege. A privilege that has limits in order to restrain ecological disaster but our egos have circumvented that very basic concept of stability.

When a person gets sick, society makes the call that every thing should be done in order to prevent them from dying (and I’m realistic enough to tip my hat to say that the economic situation of that person does play a large role into the quality of care – and the area of the world that they live in. Here’s another one of my political blasts: one of my pet peeves are the various ‘charitable’ organizations funding things in third world countries and asking for ‘a few pennies a day to feed and give medicine to a child’.

In Canada, there are Native reservations and I would be living in a fantasy if I didn’t acknowledge the amount of families who have to access their local food banks in order to make it through the week. We have imposed our ideas of what the value of life is on parts of the world we don’t see while we turn a blind eye to those that walk all around us. When those problems are solved and we can look at our own country as free of pockets of our population living in ‘third world conditions’ then we can turn outward, until then it’s a slap in the face to those who in a nationalistic sense are our brothers and sisters. Nuff said about that.

Natural disasters are Mother Nature’s way of ‘clearing the air’ of debris. Think about a lightning strike in an old forest; fire ravages the land and what is the result? Sprigs of new life spring out of the ashes. Volcanoes destroy yet create; hurricanes annihilate and yet new water sources are created. Heck, even beaver dams destroy and create something new where life evolves. We stem the certainty of the disasters that cleanse the world and in turn we let the Earth continue to rot.

Our justice system even is to blame for keeping the rot when it should be eradicated from the Earth. Take Canada for instance, we have a serial killer like Clifford Olsen and a serial rapist and murders Paul Benardo lolling for the rest of their lives on the taxpayer’s dollar – their basic necessities, save for freedom, taken care for. Hell, they’re even kept out of their respective prison’s general population so that they are harmed. I could name more people but with those two examples, both of which have no remorse over what they’ve done, except for the fact that they got caught, I make the argument that we shouldn’t pay for their life. Quite the opposite, they should pay with their lives. Two less people in a blink of an eye and with the countless others who seek nothing but harm to others, why should they live? Does it serve any purpose but our own moral superiority that we are not ‘beasts’ like them and are more lenient – a waste of skin is a waste of skin and an ecological factor in the condition of the world today. Once again, if it was the animal kingdom and they were rogue individuals in the wild, they would be killed by their own packs, or whatever you wish to call the societies that animals have.

Do I feel anything for those who suffer? Yes and no. Natural suffering, like it or not, has its reasons, so I can take that in and realize or take heed in the lesson. In case you’re wondering, yes I delineate suffering – self induced or artificial suffering I have no regard for; quite frankly I ‘see’ a lot of emptiness in certain folks that spin their tales of woe because they lost houses, families or health because of a vice or their own undertaking. They are worth little to me because they fail to see the worth in themselves and take responsibility for the lessons that they should be. This was another of the teachings by Terry’s grandmother: a person is worth what they deem truthfully themselves to be worth. If a person has to be told what they are worth or inflate their own worth in order to get others to elevate that worth for them then they do not merit consideration of being considered ‘one’. I still struggle with suffering caused by what we as a society has done, such as pollution or overmedicating to the point where minor virus’s and bacteria have mutated into ‘super bugs’ – though natural in origin the effects have been amplified by our society therefore calling into question whether it is natural or artificial. How do I classify this? Usually if I think too hard on it I end up cracking a beer and watching “Family Guy” so I may never sort that moral dilemma to a satisfactory end.

The need for action on population control, no matter how hypocritical religious Nazis may protest the immortality of killing with the exception to their own tyrannical outcomes, is statistically clear: There are an estimated 6.8 billion people inhabiting 57 million square miles of land. There has to be a drastic change in these numbers lest all the natural resources required to maintain an ecosystem such as ours. Currently we are seeing the effects of the equilibrium hard astern though media prefers to have 30 second sound bites from politicians and flavor of the day scientists blame it on industry because of the massive human build up on this little planet. Taking into my estimate that a herd of 20 humans (taking into account that there would have to be a hierarchy of hunters, protectors, crop harvesters and several children under the skill level to be on their own and survive) would have a range of perhaps 50 in abundant hunting grounds to 500 square kilometers in the sparser areas, we would have to eliminate close to 57% of the current population.

Thus I come to my final thought: Society as a whole has a choice to make. The first is to keep our egotistical view that we are dominant over all and let our egotistical selfish bent continue to see the Earth as our sole playground. This will lead in a century or two, if not less, obliterate all including those who we are ‘trying to build a better world for’ as we wallow in greed and moralistic platitudes. The second is to let the natural checks and balances do what Mother Nature intended, let life exist until the sun withers and dies.

Oh and yes I am aware of my paradoxical thinking on helping those in my own nation over those of other nations with the idea of nature taking its course. It’s a case of suffering caused directly by artificial means. If Society as a whole hadn’t decided that only those with money can afford ‘luxuries’ and strive to maintain the status of luxuries by continually upping the cost of those so that only a few can afford them then there wouldn’t be the majority of poor in the world. There seems to be this idea that the value of life is based on being better than someone else. In this sense, the pain and suffering is not of their making and therefore a forced natural suffering that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

Life is full of paradoxes, whether we wish to accept them or not, the difference is whether you allow yourself to see both sides. I do, I don’t like to, but I do. The questions becomes these: Are you capable of admitting that life is a privilege not a right? Can you look at a person walking down the street and say to them, “I choose you to relinquish your life so that the generation after my children’s generation may live comfortably”? Can you say to yourself, “I have failed to reach my personal goals as being a part of my community – I will step aside for the sake of the others”?

Version 2:
As a pre-cursor to this little rant of mine, I suppose I should give the following warning – I am an egotistical maniacal jerk, S.O.B., heartless…no doubt some will have at least several stronger words to describe what I am but I think it would be wrong to present something that does not reflect my true beliefs – after all, I have no political aspirations so I don’t have to be a limp noodle. With that in mind, if I offend you, I don’t mean to. If I make you think a little about just how wrong I am, that’s good. I don’t mind being told I’m wrong, it happens on a regular basis. On the flip side, if you think I may be onto something, perhaps it would be best to have yourself checked out by your local mental health professional…

A moon or two ago I read a blog from a Vegan group in Costa Rica that was appealing to the population of Earth to stop eating meat as an effort to stop the eradication of the rainforests. I hadn’t paid much attention before this blog, but along with making way for human habitation, the rain forests are also being cleared to make pastures for animals bred for human consumption. I thought that they were right; we shouldn’t be clearing the rain forest to make room for our meat sources when there are obviously one existing already right before our very mouths and forks: Vegans.

Step back for a moment and you will have to concede that the most populous herd on the planet is us. Historically, the herbivores of the planet have provided the better of meat because of their grain based dietary needs; carnivores don’t have tender as meat. If you’ve ever eaten alligator, rattlesnake, or for those in Asia, dog, then you will attest that the meat from a herbivore is easier to digest. It would only stand to reason that with human meat then Vegans and to a slightly lesser degree, Vegetarians (this is based primarily on the slight fishy smell they have about them), would be a viable food source to feed those who are not capable of walking down the street to the corner convenience store and picking up a box of chicken wings and cheese like substance dribbled over natcho chips.

I’m the type of person who never thinks uni-laterally on any subject and I have given much thought on the viability of the harvesting of Vegans; it makes perfect sense for this action to be adopted on a global scale. A 2006 Harris Interactive poll suggested that 1.4% of the U.S. population over 18 is vegan. If you extrapolate the numbers to a much more global scale, then you can say with a certain amount of certainty that of the 6.8 billion people on the earth, we could round up and sauté at least 93 million people at this very moment for having the presence of mind of being human cattle. Yet the United Nations would have the media brown shirts print out the propaganda that there’s a food crisis!

How about sending Vegan missionaries to the direst areas in need of help producing food for their peoples? I don’t even mind if UN attaches itself to this; perhaps even Bob Geldolf would put together a sort of “Vegan Aid” concert where Vegan musicians would play a set then hurl themselves into a large vat of barbeque sauce with fanatics of the bands paying to get that piece of famous ass they’ve been fantasizing about.

They show all those infomercials on television about the starving peoples in the third world, pleading to send money in order for the organization to drop bags of flour and seeds to grow crops. Why not kill two birds, so to speak, with one stone? Give them the basics to grow their own food plus a nice high in protein meat product as well. Vegan missionaries go to some village, carrying heavy loads of seeds and they show the villagers how to plant the crop. During the time the crop is growing, the missionaries show the villagers various recipes on what they can do with the mature crop. Once the harvest is done then the pragmatic teaching of storing and using the crops wisely could be taught culminating in a large celebratory feast where the villagers would eat the missionaries, quasi-fattened by the constant showing and tasting of the recipes. Thus the villagers know how to grow certain crops, have the knowledge of how to use the results of the planting and we get rid of a couple of the over-populated human race to boot.

There’s a secondary boon to this idea (like I said, I think multi-laterally, damn it) and one that I’m sure that cash strapped governments will be quick to jump onto the bandwagon for: hunting tags licenses to tag and bag vegans. By having legislation in place for guidelines to hunt vegans not only do you stem the chaos that would ensue with people simply going up to other people on the street, shooting a suspected vegan then gutting and skinning them on the street leaving the left overs for the strays but there can be surcharges for the buying of vegan tags (also leaving room for conservation courses so that we don’t place vegans on the endangered list…too soon). How many families have had issues because dad or mom go off on a weekend hunting trip? Well, think about this way – there wouldn’t be any going out into the dangerous wilds where beasts and beer could put your potential loved ones at risk. Nope, most likely ol’ mom or pop would head over to the nearest hippie commune and bam bam, back in two hours with their victory spoils and perhaps the lingering aroma of something used to alleviate some medical conditions.

Why would I come up with this idea? Ever watch Question period in the House of Commons then go to the zoo and watch the monkeys? You spend hours pointing the television remote control at that cage trying to get it off the Parliament channel (or am I the only one who carries the modern man’s most useful tool in his front pocket, close to his heart as a reminder of the glorious mind-draining pleasures it plies to us? You know, I bet if television had been around back then, the history of Caligula would have been written much differently). Or how about a children’s birthday party? I’ve heard tales that feeding frenzy prone piranhas, after witnessing one, have to go into years of therapy and have to be heavily medicated but still sit in their waters shaking with eyes bulging crying out, “Oh the humanity! Oh the humanity of it all!”

There’s a section of the population here in human land that believes we function at a higher level than all other animals, that’s why we are the kings of the castle and everything else are the dirty rascals. This is pure and utter rot, that’s what I say, balderdash and a big raspberry to those who are under this misguided belief. We do not function with more mental agility; in fact, I would say we have lesser function because we delude ourselves into thinking that we do.

I hate to be the one to burst the egotistical bubble but we as a race are still reacting to our primal instincts as much as our animal neighbors do. For instance, Shadow, the family German Sheppard when I was growing up, had an uncanny drawing to porcupines; at least once or twice a month my grandparents would spend their night on the veranda picking out quills from his snout but he never learned. He was instinctually drawn to porcupines and there was nothing he could do about it.

I had a similar calling, though mine seemed to be with wasps or more to the point, the location of their nests. I can’t count that high on the number of times grandma would be shaking her head while applying a body cast paste of baking soda and water to me. It’s not that I consciously looked at an area in the bush and went, “Hmm, there’s a good spot to cover my body in red painful welts” nor was it a conscious decision to become a martyr for humankind by controlling the wasp population of Central Alberta twenty or so wasps at a time; it just turned out that way. I never had that problem with bees even though we had our share of those during the summers, I climbed trees where they had their hives and they would buzz me but rarely did they sting me. I have this vision of bees being mean looking crotchety old men rocking in their chairs on their porch with a shot gun in one hand and a malt liquor bottle in the other scowling and cursing people as they went by, but when push came to shove they would get off their porch and help someone one out of the deep hidden giving nature they actually had. Wasps, on the other hand, are like one of those street gangs, pulling out their knives and slashing your nose off then telling you that was only a warning. Anyways, you can’t tell me that with my ‘higher functioning’ brain that I have a secret fetish for wasp stings, it was an instinct that I had to follow.

Now I bet my bottom dollar (cuz I ain’t stupid enough to bet my top dollar, but since I’m Canadian this is moot since we use coins rather than bills aptly called the Loonie because unlike the dollar counterpoints, bending over with ten Loonies in your pocket is a lot more painful than ten dollar bills…and makes jeans slide off much more often in the most of inappropriate of places, which is not so bad if you’re in your prime but when you have more hair around your belly button than on the top of your head, but I digress) you’re saying “ah, but you’re a moron, I on the other hand, can walk and chew gum at the same time successfully”. I may be a moron but you will never see me spending $4 on a small bottle of water – I grew up on well water, some days during the springs I had to ask my grandmother if it was water or chocolate milk. The only thing I expect when I drink water now is that I don’t have to carry around a toothpick in order to get the chunks out afterward. On second thought, I guess we don’t really even follow our instincts that much after all. When we boil humankind to the basics we are a herd animal, we need each other to survive. Yet we go against the herd instinct as a society everyday.

Think about this: how much do you spend on housing and food; the basic necessities for survival? If we are so much higher functioning, then why would we look at our neighbors and say, “You know what? People have too much money, let’s make costs so high that people that don’t make as much as me have to worry constantly on whether they will have a place to sleep or enough food to eat!” So I take back the stuff about the balderdash, the raspberry and the utter rot. We do function on a different plane than our animal neighbors; the question is how do we justify it being labeled higher? Why the hell not harvest Vegans as viable meat sources?

At this point you may be thinking “Hey, is this guy one of those serial killer cannibalistic types possibly advocating for he and his brethren’s dining lifestyle choice?” The answer to this query would be that while in the slangular terminology parameters I have indeed on countless occasions eaten members of our own species, I have not partaken in the digestion of flesh. I would also like to enter as additional information along that lines that a high percentage of those that were my ‘prey’ complimented me on the ordeal and in fact returned to ask me to have seconds…so there, bite me…but in the nice way, if you please.

Postscript: I do hope that any Vegans reading this took offense. I chose Vegans primarily because as I was pondering (re: sitting naked in my easy chair chugging a scotch slurpee and eating cold chicken wings watching “Pinky and the Brain”) what demographic of the population I wouldn’t find particularly distasteful to see skinned, skewered and served with a bouncy Brissonet Rouge and honey-mustard sauce when my ex girlfriend, a Vegan, came to mind. I’ve always found her expressed beliefs hypocritical. While she always professed no interest in eating any kind of meat in the privacy of our home it was, as I would found out several years later into the relationship, an entirely different matter when she went out and would gorge herself on sausages. There was no bias on the kinds of sausages either; long, short, plump, skinny, skinned, unskinned, and I have heard tale that on a couple of instances she would even help herself to couple at the same time. It would appear that I may harbor some residual resentment.
What I should have done to present an impartial view was to stick with my original idea and title. I had read an interesting article during the research process about the concerns of the use of steroids in food stocks in order to bulk up the animals. I decided that I would write on that calling the piece “Pro athletes: Grade A or unfit for human consumption” with the subtitle “Should Health Canada staple warning stickers onto their foreheads with the possible risks?” As it is the garbage bagged bitterness clouded my clarity. I apologize to all Vegans for such an unwarranted action on my part towards your belief and for those who can’t take a joke I’d say “eat me” but I know you don’t go for that kind of thing….

Share