Having left behind the ways of our cavemen ancestors and risen above our backward-thinking, corpse-chewing peers it’s easy to forget the food chain still exists. While our meat-eating friends and family spend their days hunting rabbits and boar to make stew and loincloths we spend our time absorbed in the arts, full on renaissancing. But beyond enlightened humans the food chain does still exist. Dung beetles are still eaten by chaffinches which in turn are eaten by horses which in turn are eaten by bears which in turn are eaten by sharks which in turn are eaten by Roy Scheider. All of which leaves us with the kind of no-right-answer moral dilemma us Zeroes live for: What to feed our pets.
Some pets are natural vegetarians (rabbits, rhinoceroses, presidents of student unions) so give us no trouble at all. But many are omnivores (mice, hamsters, goldfish) and carnivores (cats, snakes, polar bears). So what are we going to do? Should we feed them big dirty-bad death meat? Should we kill them slowly with carrots?
Let’s go back to our Why Thoughs, our reasons for going veggie ourselves. Let’s start with the morality of the thing. If we’re saying veggieness if a moral choice, it could be argued it’s morally unjust to force our morality onto animals who are unlikely to share it. But then it could also be argued that it’s not that animals disagree with our moral position but that morality doesn’t exist for them, that they don’t have a belief system to be compromised. If that’s the case then feeding them a vegan diet is no different to feeding them cheap shit or organic swank, or dressing them up as RBG for Halloween. It’s your basic “While you’re under my roof” tyranny that has crushed the souls of pets and teenagers for millennia. I’d say the veggies have it on morality, but only by a whisker.
Let’s look at the tiresome Yeah Buts, the arguments our meat-eating pals throw at us like we’ve never heard them before. Let’s look at what’s considered natural. It could be argued if we’re feeding omnivorous or carnivorous animals a veggie or vegan diet we’re going against their natural way of life. But look inside that can you bought Tiddles: It’s full of gravy and chicken and duck and beef and tuna. There’s no one going to tell me a cat naturally eats gravy and chicken and duck and beef and tuna. Tiddles doesn’t sneak out of the cat flap to hunt down cows at night. She’s not whipping up jugs of Bisto to go with them. She’s not scuba diving for tuna. There’s nothing natural about the food you’re giving Tiddles. If you want to stick to what’s natural you should be feeding her live mice and injured birds. Still, meat is broadly what carnivores eat, even if it’s from animals they wouldn’t recognise if they passed them on the street. I’d say the meat-feeders have it on nature, but only by a Whiskas.
Let’s look at nutrition. Paint-flinging semi-nudists Peta say cats and dogs can thrive on a vegetarian diet. The Vegan Society says they can go full-blown vegan. The pitchfork-wielding rest of the world says it can’t be done, but then they say that about us, mistaking their ignorance for knowledge. Middle roaders The Vegetarian Society says while dogs can cope on a vegetarian diet, cats are a little fussier, needing arachidonic acid, taurine and vitamins A and B12 which are only found in sufficient quantities in meat. Taurine deficiency, the Vegetarian Society says, can lead to irreversible blindness, which is the worst of all the blindnesses, But supplements are available and crammed into decent vegetarian and vegan pet food, and if you hit the Interweb’s forums you’ll find cat owner upon cat owner saying their vegan cats are not just fine but also dandy. And if we’ve learned anything about the Internet it’s that we can trust faceless strangers to deliver bias-free facts entirely free of agenda. So it seems it’s possible. Possibly. Depending on who you believe. I’d say it’s a draw on nutrition.
We’re not getting anywhere here. Let’s go back to the most basic of basics: As veggies, do we want to buy cans of dead animals? The pet food industry treats its animals about as well as the human food industry, which is to say they frighten and torture and kill them. If we buy cans of dead animals we’re giving our permission for that to continue, as we would be if we bought steak for ourselves. That doesn’t help decide if we could or should feed our pets veggie diets, but it wins a point for your basic veggie outrage.
So where does this leave us? Between morality, nature, nutrition and the slaughterhouse we’re about where we started, in the kind of irresolvable moral limbo we love. If we feed our pets meat, we’re wrong. If we don’t feed our pets meat, we’re still wrong. In conclusion, do what you like; I’m getting a rabbit.
How a spider spurred my veggie awakening and with it my wider Zero awakening and with it your wider Zero awakening and with it a general saving of animals, humanity and the planet.
Bits of animals are hidden everywhere: in marshmallows, in red food dye, in fake fingernails, even in meat and fish and everything. Swot up on what you need to miss out on.
Because even being ill is an ethical pickle for the self-righteous vegetarian. Between gelatine capsules and mandatory animal testing, you’re best just maintaining perfect health forever.
What should we feed our fellow omnivores? Should we force our morality on other creatures? Will a leopard ever want a bit of tofu? Just three of the questions I’m not all that into but wrote about anyway.
As Veganuary hit and I finished updating the Veggieness section of this here website, I was lightning-bolted by one of my many micro-epiphanies: Ever since Covid demanded I spend less time in the kitchen and more time in bed I’ve become a lousy, lazy vegan.
Veganuary aims to get people trying veganism for a month, drawing them in with time-limited new year faddishness. Last year it had more than half a million sign ups, with about 85% committing to cutting down on meat and dairy thereafter, and a solid 40% aiming to stay vegan for all time. That’s decent, given the most popular new year’s resolution – getting and using an annual gym membership – has a success rate of less than 3% I assume.
As with many hells, the road to veganism is paved with good intentions…
You’ll recall they made a stem cell burger a while back. It was funded by one of the guys from Google taking a break off reading your emails and spying on what you spaff to. He gave a few hundred grand to a couple of mad scientists taking a break off stitching hitchhikers’ mouths to hobos’ bumholes.
As you’ll recall I’ve been terribly ill, mummy’s brave little soldier keeping his chin up through the flu, a chest infection, a spot of whooping cough and very little in the way of blogging. Throughout this charming episode I’ve had a number of very helpful people explain it’s all down to my vegetarianism, there having been no documented cases of illness among meat eaters.
In the days before my epic post-qualifying/pre-job slouchfest, back when I was an overworked and increasingly tetchy student, I bashed out a few new year’s resolutions to fill up a bit of space on what was becoming a seriously neglected blog. However, comeuppances being what they are, I’m now forced to put some effort into doing whatever it was I said I’d do, and all to satisfy an audience of precisely no one. How I hate myself.
As the days count down and 2011 draws to a close I have some unfinished business to attend to, an outstanding resolution yet to be instood. I speak, of course, of Operation Parmesan, the unprecedented assault on the world of cuisine that will make the Hiroshima bombing look like an inappropriate historical event to make reference to.
It’s a hard and trying task, all this Zero business. All this research, all this protesting, all this motivating the troops and doing the groupies. At times I grow weary. People cannot live on self-righteousness alone. It can’t be all hard work and hand wringing and so from time to time I put down my tools, tramp down from the moral high ground to the sewer in which the rest of you live, and have a night off. A couple of nights ago I watched a film. Naturally, I was able to turn it pretty quickly into hard work and handwringing.
You’ll recall how I’ve been writing for my uni’s studentmag. It’s some full on proper do-gooding, converting everyone on campus to my splendid way of life and raising issues usually neglected by right-on students such as Fairtrade, vegetarianism, feminism, environmentalism… Oh. Right.