Vegan or Carnivore — We All Depend On A Layer of Corpses
Real animals don’t resemble anything that is created by Hollywood, Netflix, or the Disney Corporation.
Even our own human lives are so cut off from the raw reality of basic survival that we don’t have any real, tangible idea about what it means to be a physical human being living in nature. Society and our modern culture blanket us from the reality of starvation, thirst, bad weather, and presence of animals all around us. Only hunters, farmers, homesteaders, and other workers in the wild know what nature is truly like, while the city folk get their information and ideas from Disney movies. If you spend any time in nature, you know that it is a busy place, red in tooth and claw. Everything wants to eat you, and eventually you will want to eat anything. Without a supermarket to purchase your foods, you immediately begin to hunt and gather in order to survive.
A pinnacle of misunderstanding about the reality of nature’s teeth and claws comes in the form of a diet that attempts to exclude all animal products.
I don’t believe that is possible.
We need to remember that all insects and bugs and crawly things are animals, as well as all the microscopic creatures that we can’t see. It is safe to assume that the cycles of nature depend completely on the actions of animals, the death and decomposition of their corpses, the feces and wastes of their eating. the breeding and offspring that continue these cycles.
We disconnect our livestock from our land in order to better manage both with machinery.
This is not what a vegan, or any food idealist, wants to think about. But it is true — food ultimately comes from a layer of corpses and shit that make up our fertile topsoil. That, as well as other vegetable matter rotting down, and carbon based life of all sorts decomposing down to their bare elements, makes up the humus which supports our photosynthetic cousins, the plants, that translate the nuclear power of the sun into energy for the microbiology of the soil and herbivores. Farther up the trophic scale we find omnivores eating herbivores and bugs, and even farther up we find carnivores eating those omnivore opportunists.
Carnivores use the extremely nutrient dense meat and fat of other creatures to power their extravagant lifestyles, and they have no moral consciousness about those acts of killing. Morality is a human invention, which stems from the evolution of our brains and our burgeoning ability to perform acts outside of our animal instincts— including murder for no reason and hurting others for sadistic pleasure. Human beings alone have the impressive ability to be evil, and so we have to create a code of ethics in order to keep ourselves in line.
We alone have created monstrously complex systems of agriculture that span the globe and deny nature the ability to complete its precise and infinite processes. We put a plug in the natural cycle and call it progress. We shove animals of all sorts into barns and cages and call that efficiency and economics. We disconnect our livestock from our land in order to better manage both with machinery.
In short, man’s complex brain could be said to be characterized by an inability to recognize and work within the parameters of natural systems. We’re arrogant, and we think we can do it better. But we can’t, and when we try, we fail, sometimes tremendously and with far-reaching repercussions.
I was actually going to write this article about the lies and false information about animals that contaminates most movies. But then, as I began to catalogue these misleading falsities, I began to realize that this task was impossible to complete.
It isn’t that there is a certain amount of falsehoods in a movie about animals, it is that every moment in these movies is completely misinformed and lacking in knowledge about what animals are all about. With the knowledge gleaned from my decades spent in nature and raising animals and growing plants, it is quite clear that there is almost no accurate representation of nature in any fictional movie.
Take for instance the movie Okja. I have tried to write about the foolishness of taking this movie too seriously in the past, but the amount of inaccuracies contained within its long running time simply implodes my brain and I have to give up.
For instance, at the beginning of the movie the setup of the plot is that this large corporation found this one mutant pig and then successfully had it bred, and its offspring were going to be sent to a number of other farmers throughout the world for reasons that I can’t quite recall. Then, these pigs are called “a new species” when in fact they are nothing of the sort, just a new genetic line of pig. This Okja pig is a pig, and yet it looks like a hippo and acts like a cartoon dragon. There is nothing realistic going on here. We are told it will take 10 years to see this new line of pig, and given no reason for this. Normal pigs are fully grown at about 8 to 10 months. In fact, that is one of the benefits of raising pigs, that they reproduce quickly and have large litters. This is why pork and chicken can become so cheap to produce if raised in a factory farmed setting — their prolific nature.
Who is to say that any of those farms would still be in production in ten years, or that the same farmers would be farming that particular farm? Is the corporation funding them all that time? If so, why?
So, it is all a bunch of nonsense from the get-go. We are told that the Okja type pigs will be less impactful on the environment, and won’t poop much. Okay, why not? If they eat a lot of fibrous plant material, they will have to poop a lot, most likely. Why are they less impactful on the environment? All I am left with is questions, of which none are answered. And why is the Jake Gyllenhall veterinarian celebrity character portrayed as totally insane? Every animal I know would be extremely wary of that crazy ass motherfucker. Animals are very wary of strange behavior..
Cut to the first scene where the main character girl is blowing on what to me appears to be Common Milkweed seeds as they float away. I wasn’t aware that common milkweed grows in South Korea. Please let me know if it does.
So even if Okja had a bond with the girl, Okja would be long gone by now. Without some kind of fencing, a pig has a “root and move” instinct. This is evolution’s way of keeping them fed, as well as lessening the impact on the environment. If that Okja was truly a pig, it would have created wallows the size of small lakes and created a huge environmental impact around the farm. And that of course is just one giant pig.
I could go on and on with this movie. The point is simply this — this kind of movie, while being slightly more true to life then other movie because no animals are talking— is total fabrication. And that applies to most every other movie out there that includes animals.
And this nutrient-less fodder is where most urban and suburban humans, where the majority of humanity lives, gets their overall sense of what nature and animals are like, how they behave, and how they feel and act in nature.
On the flip side we have the Creature Features, like Jaws or Jurassic Park. These movies are also wildly ridiculous and full of silly inaccuracies. But they shape the way we perceive animals and our relationship with the animal world.
The idea that we can have a biotic world without the free agency of animals moving around, mating, pooping, and dying is basically a farce, a cartoon created in our minds via the proliferation of talking donkeys and hippo-pigs that we are force-fed. Most animals are constantly moving through the landscape to survive, and this movement through the landscape is what creates it, in many ways.
Many of the bushes along the hedgerows that grow along the fence lines of fields have been planted by birds or squirrels, pooping out seeds or burying nuts. The reason the topsoil is moist and friable is because of the movement and secretion of billions of worms and microscopic creatures. The roots of the hedgerow bushes tunnel through those openings and more and more animals set up shop on those superhighways. That is until the great snorting snout of a pig intrudes into this bustling metropolis and creates a cascade of catastrophes.
Over in the meadow, the cow munches on the grass, and thousands of grassroots are shed in response to this grazing, which is the plans defense mechanism when it loses grass. Those roots are consumed by animals however small, and those animals mate and die and create busy lives in their short spans. The topsoil layer grows, those inches of corpses and shit that supply all plant life with the nutrients needed to continue this endlessly beautiful circle of life on the planet.
In a world painted vegan, I can only assume that none of this is happening. This makes no sense to me, because factually, in a living soil, it is. Each taproot called a “carrot” creates a new micro-environment for the invisible zoo of life to proliferate; protozoa, worms, mushroom spore, bacteria held in nodules by nitrogen fixing plants, fungal strands known as hyphae decomposing — all food and fodder for the bustling microbiotic world, as well as some larger invertebrates and vertebrates.
If we declassify all this activity as animal activity, which we shouldn’t since it clearly is, then we can create a vegan agriculture, but we can’t do that. We can only work within the reality of this layer of corpses and shit, and understand our dependence on it more clearly every day.
What contemporary vegan ideologies really want to focus on “not harming” is the larger mammals, those larger then rodents and weasels in most cases, in order to assuage any guilt that they would feel at killing and eating mammals that remind them of humans. In general, worms and spiders don’t give us the warm fuzzies. This is the beginning of a real relationship with animals and nature, but it is not a mature understanding of where we stand in the cycle.
If we go back a few thousand years, we find herdsmen and woman as the primary food suppliers to the populace. Stationary crop agriculture was in its infancy, and herdspeople were creating perhaps the most sustainable agricultural system that ever existed on this planet. Their connection and bond with their animals was much higher then the hunters and gatherers had with their prey, since they lived with them every day and saw them born and live day to day, and more intense and dynamic than the stationary farmers with their livestock could ever be, because the herdspeople moved through the landscape. Thus, the relationship between herder and their herd was strong. Even though each animal became food, fiber, tools, clothes, medicines, and more in the end, each animal was respected and treated with the utmost of care.
Stationary agriculture was essentially invented in the Middle East so that we humans could store vast reservoirs of grain, and thus make endless quantities of beer, which fueled a stable and growing population that could be exploited to work for those in power. Not too much has changed since then, other then our homes and addictions. But let’s not get into that, right now.
Today, we have people who are raised on Disney movies saying they care, thinking they care, about how animals are treated, but perhaps these people are not considering that these animals could be treated better on a regeneratively farmed landscape then they would be in factory farm OR in nature. Nature is not kind to herds of animals. Animals are culled by predation and starvation, and become food for predators and scavengers, not slaughtered instantaneously without any foreknowledge in order to provide sustenance for humans.
In any case, what was once herdspeople moving animals across continents is now called Regenerative Farming, and involves moving animals throughout the farm landscape to fuel the cycles of birth and death that create the circle of life. The same type of relationship that existed between herdspeople and their herd is being formed now between animal, human, and the landscape on a Regenerative Farm.
Herds are healthy for humans and habitat
The Regenerative Farmer or Rancher is well aware of the play of life and death that happens in nature very day, every hour, even every minute. The scale of the animal is not so important as the respect given to the circle of life, and the effort needed to support it.
The beautiful aspect of the Regenerative Farm is that it is in no way like a Disney movie or a vegan sanctuary, both products of a highly disassociated lifestyle. Nor is it like Jaws or a factory farm, both products of disconnection and lack of respect toward nature. No, it is like the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of years that humankind lived with their herds of animals across the landscape of this planet. That practice alone has the ability to regenerate our soils without heavy inputs of chemicals and the fossil-fueled machinery that are needed in most crop farming situations.
To respect the animal is not to anthropomorphize the animal, it is to treat them with care and give them good lives to live, as well as utilizing all that they offer in the end. Only in a society that lives far apart from nature are we hesitant to even attempt to create this relationship, and go so far as to pretend that we can sidestep it completely and go vegan.
I applaud the vegans and vegetarians that chose their diet because they care about animals and the planet. I care deeply as well, but instead of watching movies, I have watched, listened, and learned from nature, and know that even the vegetable garden that I grow with nitrogen fixing cover crops and hay bales for mulch involves its own share of corpses and shit.
I do believe it is time to focus our energy on developing the new generations of herdspeople who will help heal the planet and provide abundant healthy food for all, instead of taking any cues from movies or fictions that we create out of thin air.
Herds are healthy for humans and habitat — we need to manage them with care in order to regenerate the ecological balance of our landscapes.