Eating meat will save the planet.
Not eating meat will save the planet.
Nothing will save the planet.
When we discuss any one of these ideas we should, at this point in time, be discussing them with the underlying assumption that we have already destroyed the planet, or have at least harmed it to a grave extent.
We’re living in a decadent times. I don’t know anyone of the 16% of us who live in the so-called First World who could argue with that.
The other 84% of the planet continues to do what they have always done, which is to survive the decadence and oppression of the rich.
Modern civilization has created for us lucky few an endless fountain of creature comforts and entertainment that keep us cozy in our personal bubbles. We have learned how to pump out food-like substances that gratify our every disgusting lizard-brained craving, such as the Dorito Taco Supreme and Donut Burger.
We live in a world of ridiculous over-consumption. When I say “We” I mean all of us living in a fantasy land constructed on the backs of migrant labor and from the tiny dark hands of child slavery.
We don’t care how many small backs are broken, as long as we get our shiny new iPhone and our favorite bar of milk chocolate with almonds.
Fuck Externalities! Sieze the Day! Live Life to the Fullest!
We easily forget that every externality is a being or a resource or a place on this planet that we pollute when we consume.
We keep inventing garbage to stuff into our fat faces, and it is killing both us and this planet. None of can stop this downward spiral.
Or can we?
There is only one practice that I can think of that has any hope of saving the planet, and it is not recycling. It is not relying on a politician or a young girl or a well written book or a some new sustainable method of manufacturing solar panels that functions as road pavement or roofing.
None of those things matter in the least if we don’t practice this fundamental human action in order to create real change. We need to begin this practice on a personal level and then spread it out amongst all of our communities.
The practice is simple but profound:
If we can understand the impact of our consumption and the foolishness of our unconscious desires, and then work toward understanding what it is that we truly want from our brief lives, than we can become something better than a hungry ghost that mindlessly and aimlessly consumes everything in its path.
We need to reconnect to the pulse of the planet.
What does this have to do with meat?
Right now there is a false war being waged between vegan and carnivore.
The real war is between sustainable food and unsustainable food.
Take the Impossible Burger for example. What we have here is a manufactured product that takes millions of dollars in capital to even begin to produce, and then even when it is produced perfectly it is still just junk food. Just processed garbage that leaves us fat, weak, and prone to cardiovascular disease. I wrote more about my thoughts on this junk food here: The Possible Burger
It’s just more crap we can stuff in our fat faces to feel better about ourselves.
On the other hand we have a farm that grazes sheep. The sheep becomes food through the process of slaughter and butchering. It is something every person can learn with a handful of tools, practice, and mentoring.
The meat itself is of the highest quality; the organic grasses transform into high micronutrient and Omega 3 fatty acid content in the meat. The sheep transmute the inedible grasses, which comprise 20 to 40% of the terrestrial surface of the planet, into the highest quality of meat that our human bodies can easily digest.
Meat is the true superfood.
There are many informative articles by very intelligent authors that scientifically explain how the regenerative process of grazing ruminants on grasslands can help us save the planet.
But I don’t believe that facts alone can sway the overall momentum behind our impressive consumption habits.
I believe that if we don’t address the reasons behind why we consume the way we do, we can’t make any true changes in our consumption pattern habits.
And essentially, we the 16%, consume to fill up the emptiness in our lives. We consume to become happy for a moment. We consume to smother the fear of what the future holds.
That is why the concept of going on a diet generally fails. Food is one of our primary ways to feel good about our lives. and if we associate health or happiness with a certain type of food, we can’t feel good unless we consume what we desire.
That is the crux of any food fad including veganism.
I became vegetarian when I was about 15 for many reasons, but largely in part because I read Frances Moore Lappe’s “Diet for a Small Planet” and felt the need to save the planet.
I also felt compassion for my fellow creatures.
Now, though, after decades of living close to the land, managing farm fields and harvesting my own animals and vegetables, I realize that the compassion I felt for animals was far from the reality of how nature literally works every single day. I was primarily raised on a diet of Disney and Duck Tales, and these cartoons don’t allow a young person to create real connections to the natural world.
Everything dies — that is not the unusual part of our agricultural endeavors. The unusual part of what we do to grow food is how badly we treat the planet, including the soil, the plants, and the animals that make up the entire soil biotic circle of life.
It also includes the workers in many aspects of the industry.
Instead of working within that planetary circle of life, we use factory made chemicals to bypass the hassle of using proper land management and biology. The startling thing is that we call this “conventional agriculture” instead of what it is, which is “chemical agriculture”. And now we have created genetic engineering, which is simply taking our devastating ability to manipulate the natural world to its inevitable conclusion.
We ignore 4 billion years of evolution at our own peril.
But we don’t care, because that Donut Taco Burger Slider fills, for a moment, that emptiness inside us that causes us to feel sad.
And where does that emptiness originate from?
I believe it originates from being cut off from that natural circle of life that sustains us all.
In that way, our consumption is driven by the absence of connection to nature, which in turn drives more disconnection from nature and more consumption. And in that sense eating processed food is very much like being an alcoholic in a downward spiral.
Veganism is driven by the same disconnection and attempt to fill that same emptiness, only instead of just mindless consumption it uses an ethical framework in order to justify a type of consumption that supposedly is better for the planet, or at the very least better for the animals that we consume.
They get one thing right — If everyone became vegan it would be better for factory-farmed animals because they would not exist.
Factory farming not only disconnects the animals from the earth, but also the farmer, the crops grown to feed the livestock, and ultimately the consumer who suffers ill health.
The only positives of factory farming is cheap meat, so that we can enjoy a semblance of the flavors that we love.
I doubt if there is any purpose in trying to shame the factory farmer or the consumer of fast food. We all know it’s not exactly right. We know it’s harmful to everything, and yet we continue to consume it.
Why? Because we need to keep filling that empty hole in our soul where nature once lived.
And the more we consume the fast food or raise turkeys in barns cut off from the fresh air, the more desensitized we get to the need for that connection.
I believe that the only way that we can become aware of our consumption is to become connected to nature in order to truly see what our unconscious consumption does to the planet.
What do we do when we finally understand the need for this reconnection?
I believe it is imperative to begin to understand where all of our food comes from, to get a sense of how our life impacts all other beings.
Choosing what to eat on a daily basis is one of the most important acts that we can do to change the world, but just as importantly it can change our selves. When we go out into the wide world and find out what kind of impact our food choices have on the planet then we begin to fill that void in our souls where connection is needed.
And once we begin to reconnect, we begin that upward cycle toward finding meaning and fulfillment in our day to day lives.
Not just food, but so much more. All of our consumptive choices impact the world on a daily basis, and it is our ethical duty to understand our footprint on this planet.
How are you going to reconnect today?