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Vegetarians: Keep Your Paws Off My Meat!
Lately, I have encountered many vegetarian and vegan people who preach their opinions and views as some sort of categorical, undisputed truths. Their voices are getting louder and the putting down of meat eaters seems to be a new cool trend, especially amongst younger people; many who are ill informed and who cannot yet see other logical points of view, which do not coincide with their own. Myths are spread and I would like to counter some of those myths and to clear-up some of the confusion by providing another perspective on the meat eating topic – I am a wolf, after all.
To begin with, I would like to say that I have nothing against vegans and/or vegetarians. If You are a person who is able to live without eating meat, that is awesome! By no means am I being sarcastic here: if your environment and lifestyle enables You to stay away from eating meat, it is great. In general especially here in the western world, we eat a lot of meat: too much, yes. We raise so many cattle for slaughter that it is now increasing our greenhouse-gasses emissions and “shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more greenhouse-gas reduction than buying all locally sourced food” (“Super Freakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance”).
So, as the reader may see, I am not a one-sided deal. I believe in Balance and hence, I am writing this piece. I am not seeing much balance from the vegetarian side ... Often, I get the comment that I am insensible; that I am killing Life for my eating pleasures. Really? Do plants not have Life? Self-righteous vegetarians amaze me sometimes. I guess a plant needs to slap them across the face next time, for them to see the Life within.
That is Life though: if I would be walking through the savannah and a pack of hungry lions saw me – I’d most likely be dinner. Same way, if I am in the forest and I can catch a rabbit: I got dinner. I give thanks to Mother Earth and Wakan Tanka for the opportunity and the Life of that rabbit; I remind myself that one day some of my animal cousins will be feeding on my carcass as well and I keep going. I take what I need to survive from the Universe: nothing more, nothing less. Any excess/surplus I happen to have, I give away to those in need.
There is a clearer argument to make for meat eating people though. I remember being in Attawapiskat, a First Nations Cree community here in Northern Ontario. I was there in the middle of a January – temperatures where huddling somewhere around minus thirty to minus thirty-five degrees Celsius and all around all one could see was snow. I was bundled-up in my best mountaineering gear, carrying my big red thermos around at all times, filled with hot tea and still, I could not linger outside for more than about an hour. Then, I would have to go back inside the motel and defrost. Next time, I will remember to bring a face-mask: the wind was ferocious, cutting to the bones.
The lady at the motel I was staying laughed at me and asked:
“Are You a vegetarian?”
I looked at her strangely and said:
“No. Why would You think that?”
“Well, You’re so skinny and the cold is going right through You, You have to eat more game meat: bear, moose, deer; that’s what the Medicine Woman told me when I was having problems with the cold up here.”
Indeed, that is why for example the Inuit people and Eskimos eat so much meat and fat: it is needed to survive. It is not about eating venison at a five star restaurant with a glass of Chianti – sometimes, it is simply about survival. Not all people in this world live in an environment where many vegetables and fruits grow. Like the desert nomads who use camels for meat and milk – would anyone expect them to be vegetarians? What would they be eating? Cactuses and sand? On top of which, the skins and furs are also used for clothing: again, a matter of survival.
We really have to be a little realistic at times too. The Inuit hunt seals and whales. The latter they hunt for survival, unlike the Japanese fishing fleets, which hunt them for pleasure and their exotic appeal. Nobody can expect the Inuit to start farming on ice ...
What we eat depends in many cases on the lifestyle we lead and the environment we live in. For some people not eating meat is not much of a choice and at times it is simply a ridiculous thought. The people of the First Nations here in Canada have been trapping and hunting for centuries upon centuries. Vegetarian is not a word in their vocabulary. Actually there is a joke about this: for an aboriginal person, vegetarian means “bad hunter”.
So, let us please seek Balance. Let us see Life from other people’s perspectives so that we can judge better and not hold grudges against other people simply because we do not understand the lives they live. Let us respect our animal cousins, without whom we would not be able to survive. Let us be grateful for what Mother Earth provides for us and take only what we need: nothing more and nothing less.
May Wakan Tanka guide us All.
Note: My photograph, Timmins, Ontario January, 2011