12 March 2009

Critters Great and Small

Disclaimer: I just want to say from the get-go: the following stream-of-consciousness ramblings are not intended to offend anyone be they vegetarian, vegan, sympathetic omnivore or hard-core carnivore. These are just some weird thoughts I've had running through my head.

When I was about ten years of age I decided to become a vegetarian. I can't recall my specific reasons but I think it must have had something to do with my love of and gift for attracting animals. I've always had a gift for putting animals at ease, especially scared animals stuck up a tree, or hiding under the house/bed, etc. And animals love me. Of course, I'm speaking of typical pets like dogs, cats, ferrets, hamsters, ya know, small mammals. They love me. I don't think I've ever met a single furry critter that didn't love me like magnets love the refrigerator door. I can't tell you how many times I've had people, whose homes I was visiting for the first time, express amazement that their extremely anti-social critter was curled up in my lap. Now, to be honest, I've lived in the country for a large part of my life and so my shoes will naturally have great smells attached to them. I understand that to a city animal the scent of a raccoon or possum is fascinating. But even without that particular nose candy I've always had a knack for the furry critters of the world. And when I hit puberty around 9-10 years of age I became conscious of the link between the 10 dogs and cats in my bedroom and the hundred cows out in the fields. So, I decided to quit eating meat.

I think it lasted 3 months. The lure of barbecued hamburgers was just too strong for me to resist. Like my initial decision to give up meat I don't remember the specific thought process that went into the decision. I just remember craving a good, grilled burger. Now that 20 years have passed I think the fact that really decided me was that cats, dogs, etc., were/are small, affectionate and familiar. Cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs and fish were/are unfamiliar and, as far as I've ever seen since then, completely uncaring about human companionship. I think my ten-year-old mind figured that if they didn't care for me then I had no reason to care for them. Does that make sense?

Now that I'm older and I, along with most of the world, am much world environmentally conscious I think about how the overall meat and poultry industries are affecting our planet. Being that I'm from cattle country I'll bring up cow flatulence. Strange as it may seem, I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Does it really hurt the atmosphere? I can't help but think it does. Sure, one group in one field doesn't mean much. But there are millions upon millions of cattle the world over; that's gotta add up to a helluva lot of methane. And, lest we forget, in many parts of the world acres and acres of oxygen-producing, animal habitat-providing forests are obliterated for the sake of cattle raising. So that's two big strikes against cows.

Where am I going with this? I don't know, as usual. I'm not going to declare myself a vegetarian. But I have cut back on my meat consumption. To be honest, it's not been that hard for me. I've never been a lusty carnivore. If it's there, and it's cooked right and I'm in the mood for it I'll eat it. It's a hit-or-miss affair with me. I'm usually much more interested in grains, vegetables and anything with a disgusting amount of sugar in it. Still, I'm left with a lingering, nagging sense of doubt about the meat consumed in my home. Back in the days of pre-history early humans had to eat meat, it's what we did to survive. Our teeth, and the teeth of animals the world over, are proof of this. But now? Ummm, not so much. We don't need to eat meat anymore. It's no longer required. Our mastery of agriculture has provided us with all the food we will ever need. There are plenty of protein-rich foods that negate the need to ingest meat of any kind. So, I'm left with a big question: are those of us who continue, for whatever reason, to eat meat fighting a battle that we will inevitably, if slowly, lose?


mrsb said...

A few years ago, I read this AMAZING book called Harvest for Hope by Jane Goodall (yes, the chimp lady!). It changed the way I eat forever.

It explains the whole process of how cattle affect the earth, how people have harmed the planet through cutting down forests, etc. and what we can do about it.

Best of all, it's never preachy or finger pointy. It just gives you the facts, gives you options on how you can make a difference, and lets you be.

The one big suggestion was, if you don't give up meat completely, to think about giving up 10% of what you eat. Have a meatless day or maybe just cut down on the size of your meat portions. We've done that, and it was totally easy.

Marion said...

Very interesting post! You have summed up my feelings about consuming meat really well. I find, as I get older, I can't digest that barbecued steak or hamburger as easily and I feel much better on a meal that focuses on fresh vegetables and grains. I can't even eat sugary foods anymore.

I live in ranching country, and have wondered myself about the huge herds that wander everywhere here and the methane gas produced.

I have also found something very interesting in that most of the producers here pride themselves on the humane treatment of their herds and poultry. Much different from my experiences so far, with farms where I once lived. The treatment animals received on those places almost did make me a vegetarian.

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

Went through a serious long-distance running regime about three summers ago; long about then I cut my meat consumption DRASTICALLY, primarily because the quality of the slop-fed pig we were proffered was garbage meat...

Could tell in me sweat when too much salt had been ingested, or meat vs. veggies and beans had been the diet.

Still, I love meat. I agree I eat less of it, but always listen to my body when craving any food. One thing I consume so negligably as to be almost non-ingested is refined sugar. Just never cared for it... Color Me Bizarre!

According to many Native American Traditions, I probably should not consume any Foul (birds etc.), given mt Spirit Animal is Swan; I don't care much for the G.M O's passed off by Tyson etc as chickens these days, but turkey, or any game bird... Different feather! :)

Rabbit meat is another good choice... cheap and easy and prolific to raise. I love seafood...

Guess I'll never make vegan... But will always consume my share of vegetables-- trust that!

Livia Indica said...

Hey Mrs. B., that sounds like a very interesting book. I think the cutting way back on meat consumption is a great idea for everyone.

Marion, I agree with you about the changing ways of treating the animals. I know it's by no means universal but there's does seem to be a growing trend toward treating animals a little better.

Cygnus, wow, you really are a sporting type!! You're right, when our body is really needing something we should answer that call. It's just hard sometimes, for me at least, to identify what my body really needs as opposed to what I'm just used to giving it. Still a work in progress in that respect.

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

I Likes The Work...


Thanks, Liv!

P.S. Sorry abuot the trip... give it a go around June 27 thru July 5 or 6...?!? I'll keep you posted...

Missed you!:)

Livia Indica said...

Cool. Even if I can't make it I really want you to see the wonder of the Ozarks.