Meat or not...
“I despise anyone who hunts,” he glared at the LandRovers filled with men and guns.
“You don’t eat meat?” I asked. “Course I do.” “Somebody has to kill the sentient beings you eat.”
“Sentient! Animals can’t think, they react,” my companion grunted. “So eating them’s not an issue”
“But hunting them is?” “Hunting’s cruel, the fear of the chase….” “There’s the fear of being transported to an abattoir, of waiting your turn, the smell of blood, watching your friends being killed, then it’s your turn to become meat…..”
“You’re inserting human feelings….” “They feel, they’re conscious. They react to events, they add it all up and see the route forwards. In this case, certain death so you can eat your steak or bacon.”
“But they can’t solve problems….”
“Thirsty crows will throw pebbles into a jug to raise the water level so they can drink.”
“That’s not real problem solving, anyway, we’re talking about our human right to eat, creatures are stacked in an eating order - top predators, etc….”
“Yup. But here’s a twist. If you were to eat less meat, it’d help cool Climate Change….” “Cars, airplanes, shipping, all that does more damage.” “Intensive modern agriculture emits huge amounts of CO2.”
“Yea, but we need meat to survive….”
“You think so? We in the ‘West’ have evolved to see animals as fodder or as a background to our existence, but tribes such as the Nandi, whom I grew up alongside in Kenya, saw them as part of nature’s interlinked web. Intimately understanding nature’s processes, respecting the sentient creatures around them, the Nandi knew animals think, have feelings. Once, when a leopard threatened to attack us as we looked after his cattle, I was dismayed that Kipchebet, a childhood friend of mine, didn’t kill it. Fear had uncharacteristically made me wish to destroy that beautiful creature.”
“Self-protection kicking in,” my English companion stated.
“Yes, but Kipchebet, in tune with the natural world, retorted, ‘No Iain! She now respects me, next time she’ll keep away from those juicy little claves,’ he’d pointed lovingly at the cattle he milked and would never kill for meat.”
“As I say, we need the amino acids in meat….”
I carried on, “Kipchebet’s tribe are those lean, tough Kenyans from whose ranks the world’s greatest long-distance runners have emerged. In those days they generally only ate meat once, perhaps thrice a month - a wild bird, an antelope, if it was a celebration, a chicken would be killed. They’d do that when I returned from the nearest secondary school a full night’s train journey away; it’s why I love chicken. Yet without much meat they run miles, even fifty in one go.”
“Hrrmph, that’s got me thinking….”
Now locked in to teacher mode, I continued, “In the West, and increasingly in lands where people have more available money, meat consumption is unreasonably high. Yes, meat contains most minerals and acids humans require, but we can get enough to sustain us by eating one meat/chicken meal a week. This would be so much better for the planet, hugely cut down green-house gas emissions. Better still, local, organically raised cows and sheep which are fed on grass and free-range chickens are far less destructive so if you must eat meat, treat yourselves. It tastes much better and is far kinder to the planet.”
“So this Vegan stuff, claiming they save nature.” “To feed the increase in véganism, raw jungle and wild terrain is being destroyed to plant acres of land with beans, lentils, soya. That’s happening far away, so add on all the complex transport links on top of the consumptive, intense modern farming process required to meet such demand, and it isn’t that clean….” “Hmm, it’s a puzzle. What can we do, I wonder….”
“Very confusing, but buying locally, if possible, from small, concerned farmers is best….”
“And more expensive….” “No, I’ve compared prices. And don’t forget you’re eating less meat, plus veg that’s in season, stuff that doesn’t contain chemicals or antibiotics which sit inside you….”
My friend said, “Let’s go for a walk, my head’s hurting….”