Sunday, 23 October 2016

Darwinian Vegetarianism

I am a practicing vegetarian but not your everyday typical run of the mill one. I consider myself a Darwinian Vegetarian and, as such I have a slightly different, some might say distorted, view of vegetarianism.
"A vegetarian is someone who abstains from the consumption of animal flesh"
You won’t find the term Darwinian (or Evolutionary) Vegetarian in the dictionary or even in Wikipedia. The term is all my own; I've never shared it before and it's my special gift to you.

"A Darwinian Vegetarian is a person who is nourished and survives by eating food sources that are freely available from the lowest level of the food chain"

I personally prefer to eat good vegetarian food, but if that's not available I will go up the food chain. So if I am at a swanky London party and there are no vegetarian canapés, I will probably just stick with the caviar – old fish eggs. The vegetarian society recognises that there are different degrees of vegetarianism. So let me introduce you to my Darwinian Vegetarian scale.

It basically goes from Ghandi, a fruitarian, all the way through to Hannibal Lector, a cannibal.
  • Fruitarians – only eat fruits so as not to kill the plant or tree. Ghandi looked under-nourished to me.
  • Vegans – don't eat flesh or any by-products that have caused harm to the animal - so no milk, eggs or honey. I kind of get the milk thing but vegans believe that taking honey is exploiting the worker bee – but that’s just life and applies to all of us.
  • Lacto Vegetarianseat dairy products but not eggs. We are the only mammal, along with cats, to drink another animal’s milk. I'm just thankful we do it from a bottle rather than directly from the teat.
  • Ovo Vegetarianseat eggs, both Chicken and Easter.
  • Pescatarianare the veggies who eat fish and crustaceans etc. Not to be confused with Presbyterians.
  • Pollo-pesco-ovo-lacto Vegetarian – the people who eat birds and fish but not mammals.
It's at this point that my scale veers from the normal boundaries of vegetarianism. We have those who eat all meat including mammals – but there are even degrees of meat eater.

When it was found out that Tesco were selling horse meat there was uproar but of course eating horse in France is the norm. When a Frenchman watches the Grand National they are not preying their horse wins they are thinking how well it would go with pommes frites, mutard and a nice claret.

I'm sure many of you would frown from eating cats or dogs – our pets. But there is a famous Vietnamese saying "a dog is not just for Christmas, there is usually some left over for Boxing Day".

Religion now comes into my Darwinian Vegetarian scale. Muslims and Jews won't eat pork and Hindus don't eat beef. My Hindu friend was okay with beef burgers though, said it wasn't pure beef. But on those grounds you could argue that a late night kebab is vegetarian. On a recent trip to Jamaica, I discovered that Rastafarians follow the Ital diet; they eat fish but not meat or dairy. I also like the Rastafarian saying "why drink and drive when you can smoke and fly", but I digress.

The final step on my Darwinian Vegetarian scale is human flesh – “long pig” as the Polynesian cannibals called it. Now cannibalism was practiced en-masse as late as 2006 in Papua New Guinea and just a few years ago a restaurant in Nigeria was found to be serving human flesh – the police found two heads in cellophane looking up at them out of the freezer. In cannibal circles they debate about whether it is okay to eat a relative or to eat enemies only – so there are even degrees of cannibalism!  

I'm not saying I expect to go to Tesco's and find human limbs in the meat isle. You’re sick to even think that. No I'm just saying that if there is no other food available, I'm not going to starve. Do you remember that plane crash in the Andes in the 1970s, when the survivors ate their frozen colleagues? As a Darwinian Vegetarian that makes perfectly good sense to me.

So here is a little game for you to play. Next time you have a dinner party and are chomping into your fillet of Kobe beef or rib-eye steak, imagine you are stranded with no food. Who around the dinner table would you eat first?  It's an important question and one best to agree on before you get into that situation. But do you go for the chubby guy, lots of meet even though a bit fatty, or go for the thin ones first - less nourishing. Also do you kill them outright and eat them all at once? Or do you do it limb by limb – but they do they complain. Or do you take a more egalitarian approach and offer a limb each in turn.

There’s a lot to think about. But please do consider my Darwinian Vegetarian. Be sensible only eat what you need to in order to survive.

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