vegan folly

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From: Tom Sweetnam (
Date: Sat Sep 23 2000 - 07:29:41 PDT

Personally, I think that people who force their dogs and cats into a
vegetarian existence because of their own self-loathing at being carnivores,
is something more akin to mental illness than to a lifestyle ideology. Homo
Sapiens are carnivores by every physiological trait by which an animal may
be categorized as such. We have the dentition and binocular eyesight
distinct to carnivores, and even the most devote vegetarian on the planet
carries in his/her mouth the remnants of fangs, and in their cheeks the
remnants of snarl muscles, and even though we are evolving away from the
virtual aspects of a predatory existence, we are still hunters in almost
every aspect of our existence, predators in romance, business, and
recreation. When the virtual hunting aspect of a predator's life is removed
however, it makes do with substitutes. My vizsla, my bird dog, chases a
tennis ball, or more often than not snatches it out of thin air, because to
her it isn't really a tennis ball, it's a little yellow bird, one that has
to be pounced on, captured, and killed about 10,000 times a week. For we
two-legged critters, there's football serving the same purpose. Life is a
ball game.

If circumstances dictate, there are certain predators -I'm thinking of
coyotes and foxes here- that are omnivorous, that can make adjustments to a
diet of fruit and vegetable matter (or even scat in the arctic) if
absolutely necessary, but they do so for survival, and not because it's a
trendy quasi-spiritual lifestyle adjunct to the patchouli oil incense sticks
they keep back in the den. Aversion by some people to the killing of animals
for sustenance is an understandable evolutionary sensitivity, especially
since the closest most of us ever get to such unpleasantries is the meat
counter at Kroger. Yet this doesn't give a few vegetarians the wherewithal
to moralize over the natural order of things -over the "good" and "bad" of
natural phenomena, like predators consuming meat. Granted, there is no doubt
in any environmentalist's wordview that the landscape would be much better
off without cows (even I gave up eating red meat about ten years ago). Yet I
involve myself to a considerable degree with organizations fighting to
preserve a place for predators and predation in North America, and my
frequent forays into the wilderness remind me more and more every day that
predation and killing are the natural order of life on earth, and not
something to be absconded and moralized over by the queasy.

Predators are disappearing from North America because the same mindset that
projects as aspect of morality into the eating of meat by pet canines and
pet felines, is very much alive with the most redneck of ranchers and
hunters who see mountain lions, bears, coyotes, and wolves as "bad" and
"evil" because of their predatory compunction to kill big game animals and
livestock. They moralize over the natural order of things in other words,
just like vegetarians. To my mind, vegans who feed their cats cornmeal while
ignoring the mice and squirrels Fluffy piles up at the back door, only add
to this wholesale cognitive distortion. Projecting an aspect of morality
onto the eating of meat makes it that much easier to ignore the wholesale
extinction of meat-eaters from the natural landscape as well. Extinction
becomes OK because extinction in the case of meat-eaters is morally

predator at play:

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