Eating and Killing

If you think the blog title today is brutal, you must be a Fruitarian.  If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s for people who only eat fruit.  There are also strains of vegans that only eat food fallen naturally from a plant, and not harvested.  With me so far?  Everyone else in the world kills to eat.  That’s not brutal, it’s a reality of being an animal.  Some people don’t like the killing of mammals for food, which is perfectly understandable.  How many people have fundamental disagreements with the harvesting of wheat, or corn, or blueberries?  Made it to the end of this paragraph?  Good, you’ll see where I’m going.

I’ve been thinking over the concepts of food and life recently, and how we owe it to all living creatures to respect their livelihood.  Which includes killing them.  For an animal to provide sustenance to another animal is not cruelty, as I see it, it’s one revolution in the wheel of life.  If I could be returned to the earth to provide food for worms, plants, trees, that would be the best possible use of the crude matter of my body.  Animals, plants, people, we’re all made up of raw materials that don’t look like much on their own.  If you separated a human being out into constituent elements, you’d get a big puddle of water and a few piles of powders.  For an animal to eat and be eaten is the truest reflection of our part in a greater cycle called nature.  While I respect those who only eaten fallen food, it seems to be head-in-the-sand thinking.  If I can eat plants and animals with respect for them and in a way that contributes to the recycling of our constituent materials, I am playing a vital role in our planet’s ecosystem.

So far so good.  Except that the way humans eat now is antithetical to ecosystem stewardship.  And it’s not like I’m going to put on a tiger skin toga and go hunting and gathering in the San Diego suburbs.  So I do my part as well I can, eating well by eating plants and animals that have themselves eaten well.  I try to compost as much as possible since it doesn’t do the local ecosystem any good to send all those materials out to sea or to be buried in a landfill. 

Which brings us back to the title of the blog.  Is it illogical for me to be unwilling to kill an animal yet willing to eat it?  I’d say 99% of Americans are like me.  I’ll happily harvest plants, yet I’ve been carefully not killing or disturbing the mother spider in our shower, who has now had two batches of young ‘uns and has spread the word in the spider community so there are now two other egg-toting mother spiders in the corners.  I don’t want to be the one doing the killing, yet I need to admit that it’s happening to feed me.  If it’s in a respectful manner I’m okay with that.  Maybe most people don’t think about it when they buy a shrink-wrapped package of steaks from the grocery store, but they ought to. 

Food is good, and sustainable food is even better.

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Writer, architect, father, husband.

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One comment on “Eating and Killing
  1. Babs says:

    I agree that the key is eating food–plants or animals, that have themselves been fed well. That means "hold" the antibiotics, pesticides, animal by-product feed etc. On the other hand, I believe our forebearers–by thousands of years–had much shorter lifespans than we currently do and everything they ate was antibiotic and pesticide free so go figure! And, by the way, I think you can gently move madame spider and her offspring to a healthier and happier life out of doors where they have plenty of room to set up a new neighborhood.

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