Stars, Animal Rights, and Lactose Intolerance

Last night I went out for a walk and began to think, as I usually do when I go out on walks. Before I got across the street, however, I noticed that the stars were absolutely brilliant that night. I am not one to have a special fascination about the stars. As I then thought about the stars instead of whatever it was that had been in my mind before, I realized that if I lived in most any other place I would probably get bored of the stars very quickly.

Ketchikan is one of the rainiest places on Earth, and I would say it's certainly one of the wettest that doesn't go through rainy seasons or monsoons that make other places very wet. As you can imagine, even when it's not raining, the sky is usually overcast anyways, so being able to see the stars any good amount is a rarity. So because of their rarity, my vision of the sky was a blessing, at least for a few wondrous moments before I returned to the standard euphoria of my night-walks. I found only beauty in the stars- nothing more. I found nothing philosophic in the stars- no deep thought or inspiration. This is because the stars have nothing to offer me, nothing to touch, nothing that could ever be real to me. I find inspiration and thought philosophic in humanity and most of all in my self.

Continuing on my walk, in some way or another I came to thinking about food. This isn't too surprising, considering how hunger has increased so much in the world recently. I believe that a major way that we in the developed world can reduce the suffering of those in need is by changing what we eat. We do waste a lot of food through our garbage, but I believe the far more wasteful thing is that we eat so much meat. I think it's interesting that many radical stands I've come to in my thought are the result of completely different paths of reasoning than the majority of those taking the stand. I have talked much about environmentalism on this blog before, and it can be safe to say that I am suspicious of fanaticism surrounding the protection of the natural world. My opinions on this carry over to animal rights issues to a large extent as well. The majority of vegetarians and certainly vegans have the diet they do mainly because of some remorse they feel about the killing of animals. I feel absolutely no remorse about eating meat.

My father is lactose intolerant, basically meaning that he cannot eat any milk products. My grandmother and aunt are lactose intolerant as well, and if I remember correctly, my dad became lactose intolerant when he was around twenty. That means that I could still easily acquire this condition, and as I thought about that I thought that maybe, perhaps, it might be a good thing for me to become lactose intolerant. I absolutely love milk products and I've witnessed most of my life the troubles that come with checking ingredients for whey, not using milk in cooking and asking the waitress to please remember to have no cheese on the dish. And yet, I still think there would be a silver lining in getting this condition. Why? It would be because I would no longer be supporting cows.

There is an elementary scientific principle learned by most high school freshmen that within a food chain, it takes ten times as much energy to support a species one level higher on the food chain than the species below it. Plants simply take sunlight, water and nutrients in the soil. When herbivores eat the plants, they not only take all the energy that the plants they eat used, but they also expend much in energy on their own existence, requiring them to eat even more. When a pig is made into pork chops, the pork chops you eat could have been manifested in corn with ten times as much energy, were it not for the pig. Eating less meat is really about cutting out the middle man.

A lot of things in life are really about efficiency- about taking things down to the lowest common denominator. This is why I wish to gradually eat less and less meat and maybe even become a vegetarian. Even when we have cows eating grass -something that we obviously don't eat- the vast land required to support cattle takes away area that could be used to grow much greater amounts of grain. Maybe we could even use corn ethanol for fuel if we were able to grow much more corn- and you know how I feel about corn ethanol. In the seas, maybe instead of fish farms (which are disgusting and produce horrible food, by the way) we should have algae farms, which will not only suck up tons of carbon dioxide, but may also provide fuel. Algae can be turned into oil and a company in New Zealand has found an incredible efficient way to do it. The trick is to get that method out of its monopoly and to have algae farms spring up in oceans everywhere.

The simple truth is that we eat too much meat. Ever since the neolithic revolution, humanity has been meant to eat plants- a wonderfully docile and stable food source. I don't oppose eating animals because they're fluffy and cute or have feelings, but I think it's wrong for the rich to make the poor suffer so needlessly when it is their diet that is to blame. As for me, I will be trying to move towards becoming a vegetarian for the sake of common sense. I can only hope that enough people will follow suit to make a difference in what we produce from nature's bounty. If enough people see the waste that goes into supporting so much meat, we may eventually be rolling in food- plain good old photosynthesizing food.


  1. Are you a vegan dude? Right on if so!

  2. I wish I had the will or cultural background to be vegan... but I don't. Well, nevermind. I'll say that for being a vegetarian, but I'd never want to be a vegan. I'll just have to be content with limiting my meat intake.


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