By what methods do true predators hunt, trap or gather food?
Occasionally you will encounter someone pointing at his teeth and asking, “Oh yeah? Well what are these for?” It may be tempting to answer, “From the looks of it, sending your dentist to the Caribbean.” If you are engaged in a real conversation , however, you’ll want to share a few facts with your friend.
We’re talking about the evolution of humans, not what we’ve done since learning to read and write and keep animals in cages. Certainly, we had our teeth, guts and hands long before we had tribes and enslaved (“domesticated”) creatures. It follows that our soft, little hands are hardly suited to any sort of dexterous hunting. Ever seen a kung fu movie where the master grabs a fish out of the water with his bare hand? There’s a reason such a scene is meant to impress us: catching a fish with our bodies alone is very, very hard.
The same is true for deer. Ever outrun one? Sneak up on one and tackle it? Of course not. Yet deer are a favorite source of food for real predators. You, though? You’re a slow, smelly, clumsy, upright human. You weren’t built like a wolf, a jaguar, a hawk or any other viscous killing machine.
You are built like a playful, joyous monkey. You should be proud of this.
Images of Mighty Man as the primal hunter are absurd. We simply are not built for (“have not evolved the necessary appendages and abilities for”) hunting and killing. We cannot even cram chunks of corpses into our mouths without knives to cut for us. The very item, steak knife, is a shining reminder of how pitiful our hands and teeth are at rending flesh.
“Ah-hah!” You might say, if you’re prone to such noises. “But we have Mighty Tools and we have Smart Communication. We build nets and use sticks and organize hunting parties. We use this superiority of mind to deceive and entrap our prey. We do not need talons or beaks or the ability to consume uncooked flesh without puking up the worms and bacteria found in it. Our minds have transcended our bodies, and it is our brilliant and unique intelligence which makes us such great hunters.”
Well, that point of view would make a lot of sense, except for one thing: the order of evolution. Long before we threw rocks and spears, we evolved these delicate little hands with (relatively) soft little fingernails. Before we realized we had to cook our meat in order to digest it, we evolved stomachs that work best on fruits, nuts and leafy greens. We evolved the intelligence to use fire long before we used it cooking corpses which, otherwise, sicken and kill us.
Here’s a word that is sure to make your palms sweat, your heart race and your mouth go dry: dentists. I love dentists, and not just because dental appointments are a good excuse for me to call off work the rest of the afternoon. Dentistry is an in-your-face reminder that our teeth are soft, cavity-prone, misshapen little nubs. Want to see our huge, scary, killer teeth in action? Ask your grandfather to sink his vicious chompers into an uncooked, unskinned cow rump. It won’t be pretty. It might remind you of caramel apple night at the nursing home.
Comparative anatomy is, in fact, one of the better arguments in favor of eating a plant-based diet.
Why does it matter to honestly reflect on your food? Contrasting bond-building with meat-eating.
The food on our plates radiates information upward and, if the message can make it through the thick, pink, mind-controlling layers of our tongues, it may very well lodge in our brains (likely into a wrinkle next to the Indiana Jones theme song).
What messages are your meals radiating?
Think of Valentine’s Day on Snargleplexon. The buttered corpse of the Gerber Baby mouths an organic apple crammed in his maw. Two green aliens coo over each other while, on their plates, the ribs of other human babies lay steaming, slathered in barbecue sauce.
Silly, isn’t it? Grotesque, even. Certainly not romantic.
Yet plenty of human couples renew their bonds over steak, veal and chicken dinners on anniversaries, during first dates, on holidays, and in celebration of other major events such as graduation, retirement, births and even, maybe as the ultimate in irony, at funerals where we grieve the loss of a loved one.
How is a “traditional” steak dinner any less disturbing or comical than the Snargleplexonians munching on human infants? The charred remains of a raped and murdered mother send a strong message, but is anyone listening when that mother is “just a cow?” It would pain us to contemplate the misery she endured.
So what do most of us do? Most of us block out those thoughts. There we sit, in love, holding hands and misquoting bad poetry while below us the salty, pink pools of diluted blood leak across our plates.
Why It Matters
We are not machines. Thoughts are not compartmentalized units of cogitation. They do not sit neatly in one activity, cleanly boxed-in with no spill-over into the next. Consciousness is messy and defies entrapment. Thoughts wander. Feelings simmer for hours, weeks, years. We fall into habits, and through habits we reinforce whatever stokes them.
Turning a blind eye to the suffering of the weak, to those most vulnerable, means becoming callous and indifferent in other areas as well. Rehearsing a state of mind multiple times per day makes it easier to enter that state. Denying and repressing thoughts of the suffering your culinary whims are causing will spill into other parts of your life.
The result of training is reflexive action. You cannot control your reflexes. Why would you train yourself to reflexively deny and repress feelings of compassion? Compassion aside, why would you train yourself to ignore the truth? What kind of man is afraid to look at the consequences of his actions?
If thinking about your dinner disturbs you, and you eat it anyway, something is very wrong.
What does it say about us if we are afraid to contemplate the origins of that which give us the greatest pleasure?
Kick the animal bits off your plate and replace them with tasty plant alternatives. It’s easy. It’s cheap. It’s fun to eat something new and different.
Romance, friendship, family bonds, and the meals over which they all blossom, must be an expression of joy – all the way to their sources. When you eat vegan meals, you are free.
What arguments could you present to a highly sentient and aggressive alien invader that he should not kill and eat you? Here’s your handbook.
A voracious, all-powerful alien from the planet Snargleplexon is about to throw you and your family into a souped-up wood chipper. He gives you a few minutes to convince him why he should not. This is not out of charity or mercy. The delay is only because his sausage press, known as the Happy Happy Humane Human Protein Mercyplexer 9000, takes a few minutes to warm up.
Besides telling him you’re an aspiring heavy metal guitarist and the universe will be that much poorer without your sweet riffs, can you convince him of mercy? What arguments could you present to a highly sentient and aggressive invader that he should not kill you? When you pose absolutely no threat and he derives great pleasure from devouring your charred remains, what words could possibly sway him toward compassion?
In real life one cannot simply shoot coworkers to “solve” a conflict (though the temptation never quite abates). For this reason, the Snargleplexonians have been rendered invulnerable to physical attack. You also cannot bribe them: what do they care about our money? You cannot guilt them into mercy. They are immune to guilt. So what do you do? You have to appeal to both logic and emotion, and the only way your message will sink in is when it’s delivered with humor and compassion.
This is the handbook for such a situation. By no coincidence, the handbook works out great for vegans who are bombarded with so-called jokes such as, “I didn’t claw my way to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables.” That’s right. You didn’t. You don’t even have claws. Go eat a banana.
You can reach Snargleplexon via both snargleplexon.com and spacevegans.com. You can even reach the Facebook Snargleplexon page or find our illustrious humanoid leader tweeting non-stop.