A Savanna Life in a Technological World

Vegetarianism and Veganism (Part 1 I’m sure)

Vegetarianism and Veganism (Part 1 I’m sure)

I would never tell someone what they should eat. I consider propaganda of that nature to be intrusive, condescending, and dangerous. Trying to modify someone’s diet is a pernicious form of colonialism, or an abrogation of ones liberty as a free individual. That being said I am merely going to talk about it for a thousand words or so. But first…

The kids are going to wake up any second now, so I don’t have time to think up something cute to transition to the Almanac section, where I talk about what happened on the ranch although I would rather be talking about something else. That has been the story of the last month, I’ve been a little short on time. Starting to put in the new pipeline and fence, while I am not really cut out for construction or management. This includes my purchase of a 1973 Vermeer trencher. But when it is all done, we are going to have some sweet inftrastruture. I’ll leave it at that. For a while if I get a chance to post it is going to be short, one offs. But I am storing up ideas for the next series and excited about those. Back to diet.

As heirs to genes that have survived for billions of years, we are all perfectly capable of deciding what we should eat for ourselves. All we have to do is listen to our bodies. But that has become incredibly difficult as the volume of dietary propaganda as gone through the roof. The volume of this advertising now drowns out all the native feelings that once guided humans in their quest for food. A growing subset of this advertising is related to health and environment, and of course it is advertising. On the balance, those messages make us less healthy and degrade our environment. I spend a lot of time on the environment so I will talk less about that here, and focus on health.

These messages have the same condescending, dehumanizing, and violent message of any colonial action. When that colonial force has bombarded a given psyche to the extent that it can achieve a beachhead, that colonial force must solidify and hold their position by enlisting local support. This is how our conscious and intellectual properties are conscripted into the service, acting as a turn coat that suppresses the more ancient portions of our psyche.  

This sounds a little over the top, no one can tell me what to do, anti-science. But I don’t think it is. I am just suggesting that we should think about which science we let have the last word in our dietary debate. The best science for understanding diet (and most things that are important) is paleoecology. This includes subsets of paleoecology such as paleo and cultural anthropology. I would argue that paleoecology suggests there are Five Major Human Food Groups. They are listed below so that they rhyme and alliterate, not because one is necessarily more important than the others;

  1. Roots
  2. Fruits
  3. Meat
  4. Nuts
  5. Honey*

My hypothesis is that the human body, when actually listened to, is perfectly capable of consuming the above foods in more or less the right quantities, with a caveat that I will get to below. As such, be suspicious of ‘your body asking’ for a twinkie or Gastro-Explosian FlavoredTM Doritos. How would your body (an entity formed by evolution) know what those foods are? Maybe that is marketing and messaging mascarading as a biological feeling. But you know what? If you want to eat those foods you should. See how they affect your body. Don’t worry about what anyone else says, you are the only one you have to convince. Or fool. You are the only one that will benefit or suffer if you are right or wrong. Mostly.

When I was in my late teens or early twenties, I assumed that when I listened to my body, it would tell me that I was eating too much meat. This was not listening to my body, it was assuming, and listening to the messages we have been subjected to. Maybe you should eat less meat, but maybe for your health you should not. I won’t tell you either way.

To prove it, I admit that there is such a thing as eating too much meat and I sometimes do it. We of course have a freezer full of meat and for us it is often the cheapest and easiest option. I feel like I have a chunk of lead in my stomach, what I call ‘meat belly.’ Good information. Dial it back a little bit. If I feel like I can’t concentrate or settle and keep eating even after I am full, then I probably have what the Kalahari Bushman call ‘meat hunger.’ I dialed it back to far, no big deal. As meat producers I suggest that the best way to counter militant and colonial veganism is to neither prosletize nor go overboard on meat consumption ourselves.

But usually meat belly is best solved not by eating less meat but by excercising more. This is the other problem, diet can not be seen as an island but is intricately connected with other aspects of a hunter-gatherer life. The ones that come first to mind are excercise, relationships, and work. When you are messing up on those fronts, your body is going to be giving less reliable dietary queues.

Being the parent of a two year old has really emphasized the role of meat as a health food. It is amazing how much happier and more settled Abel is when he eats lots of meat. His midnight ‘haaam snaaaccks’ have become famous for their ability to passify late night temper tantrums and create restful sleep. If I was a hunter gatherer you better believe I would go hunting if my two year old was in the middle of a roll-on-the-ground temper tantrum. It would be so nice and quiet.

Another reason that I sometimes eat a little more meat than I should is that Hanna is mostly in charge of the food and I don’t dare say anything because she does such a good job. Maybe she would say that I could feed myself. Than I would be back to what Hanna calls ‘Nate food,’ what I eat when I am fending for myself. Hanna calls it ‘Nate food’ to distinguish it from ‘Food.’

Hanna was a vegetarian from when she was five until she was twenty-three. She became a vegetarian because her babysitter told her that eating meat destroys the rainforest. She stopped being a vegetarian because she was having a reoccuring dream about eating beautiful and delicious raw beef carpaccio. This is a great example of the sort of primal, holistic information that our bodies are capable of when our conscious intellectualizing is subdued for a moment.

My dogs are genetically wolves. Wolves are hyper-carnivores. Sure, they can survive on a diet of corn and soy. I can make them vegetarians, if I lock them out of nature, and if I am able to overlook their own preferences and individuality to the extent that I would be a sort of dictator. If I am severe enough, I can leave my raw steak platter on the ground while I barbeque, and no dog will touch it. They won’t touch that platter because they know how I feel about dogs that take my steak. But I am under no illusions. If you believe anything in this world, believe that if my dictatorial presence gets far enough away, those dogs will take that meat.

This is why I am not really worried about the sudden proliferation of vegetarian propaganda. As meat producers we have paleoecology on our side. If people are free from the confusing messages of modernity and are able to listen to the evolutionarily constructed queues regarding diet, than meat will be a significant component of the human diet forever. I guess that’s a big ‘if’ however.

*Note: I am listing these the foods that make up the caloric intake of humans, as they are listed in anthropological literature. Vegetables are fine too but contribute almost no calories to the human diet, so it is harder to get anthropological data about them. My suggestion, eat them using the same rules as the other things.

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