Friday, October 17, 2014

Wake Up All You Zombies -- Eat More Veggies!

Want some BBQ sauce with that?
Halloween month is here and the zombie rage is holding firm in Western culture!  In the past I honestly haven't been much of a zombie fan, with the exception of Zombieland (Harrelson at his best!), alas I now sense why zombies have become so omnipresent in our culture.  No, it's not that Jesus serves as the archetypal undead godman ruling secretly over the Christian right in our country; in fact, it's because at a base level we consumerist Americans cringe at the reality behind consuming the dead meat parts that we otherwise blindly enjoy.

I've been contemplating how to write a Goodness First article on vegetarianism for a while now, so ready or not, here we go.  Perhaps it's simply best to walk through my gradual transformation and challenge you to honestly confront these talking points for yourself.   I welcome your counterpoints, that is, if your zombie flesh-eating inner-self can stomach the gristle of integrity.

For decades I subscribed to an omnivorous diet having been indoctrinated since childhood by my family, marketed to by animal slaughtering businesses, and I most happily cooked and ate the wide variety of animal products western society makes available wrapped bloodless at the supermarket. Sadly, time is irreversible; I cannot ressurect the animals I've gnawed on, I can only move forward and minimize their future harm.

My recognition of being a zombie meat eater only came to me gradually over the course of two decades of adult life.  I realized that eating too much meat is unhealthy,  The preponderance of scientific studies indicate eating more fruits and vegetables is healthier than a diet overladen with meat. As as rational person, I subsequently reduced my animal flesh consumption and increased the amount of delicious plants in my life.  Eating vegetarian is nutritionally excellent!

Then, over the past few years I contemplated the morality of eating animals period. In spite of being conditioned to have meat a part of every meal, I decided to swear off the horror of killing near sapient creatures for my nutritional needs.  Of course the flesh of whale, dolphin, chimpanzee, and dog didn't show up in the grocery store very often, so it was a conviction easy to adhere to.  Eating vegetarian avoids eating creatures that are obviously intelligent!

As global warming surfaced as a dominant issue, it became quite evident to me humans were having a huge impact on the overall health of our living planet.  For example, wild animal species are going extinct at a rate a million time faster in recent centuries due to human expansion.  One of the most wasteful practices of our species is feeding billions of chickens, pigs, cattle and other enslaved creatures with plants we could instead harvest and eat directly.  Depending on the particular animal chunks you chew, the square footage of land needed to feed you can be reduced by nearly ten times.  Eating vegetarian is environmentally superior to eating omnivorous.

Nearly one year ago I stopped eating animals abruptly.  I had just finished reading the novel The Knife of Never Letting Go, a fictional telling of a planet colonized by humans.  In that tale a virus permitted all creatures to psychically read each others thoughts.  I enjoyed this pulp YA novel immensely and as any good story can, I was subsequently influenced to view my world differently.  I share a planet where animals have brains and can think.  They might not think like I do as a human, some might not even have a consciousness anything close to human, still all of these evolutionary cousins of mine were thinking and thriving in the life they led.  Certainly, plants also thrive in my world, alas one must draw a line in the sand someplace (perhaps one day I will be able to create delicious, nutritious food using a 3-d printer, alas not today)  Eating vegetarian prevents creatures that think from being killed!

And that's my story of how I defeated the zombie who lived within me.  Believe me, I fully understand the conundrum that omnivores face, since I was one so recently.  Like a religious cult, if you're told something often enough you will believe it without question.

Personally, I think the biggest obstacle to people reducing and eliminating animal parts in our lives is the mesmerizing idea that "meat tastes so good!" Vengeance, jealousy, anger and numerous other human traits equally feel good in the moment, alas, I dare to think we are better than such mindless evolutionary and societal programming.  There really is no rational reason to continue eating animal flesh, only misguided irrational ones.

Zombie culture will not change overnight, I admit; still, one by one, we can confront horrific arcane behaviors like animal consumption and slowly transform the abattoir behind the scenes of our society into a more ethical repertoire, and leave the killing for Hollywood to entertain us fictionally
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