In case you have forgotten the section of eco-niches
from the school biology course, here is a brief summary.
Plants are among the first links in the food chain. Plants use available sunlight, water and elements from the soil, and carbon dioxide from the air to convert them to glucose, which gives them the energy they need to live. Unlike plants, animals cannot synthesize food for themselves. They survive by eating plants or other animals.
Obviously, animals eat plants. But what’s not obvious is that plants eat animals. They grow thanks to them (google "fish emulsion"
). In my new book
, Critique of the Moral Protection of Vegetarianism, I call this transitivity.
Try to digest it
I will pause the collective cries of biologists and vegetarians to subside.
A transitive property means that if one element in a sequence is connected in a certain way with the second element, and the second element is similarly connected with the third, then the first and third elements are connected in the same way.
Take the hackneyed phrase "you are what you eat." Let's assume that instead we are “those whom we eat.” This makes the statement more personal, and also implies that the creatures we prepare are not just things.
What matters is how our food lives and dies. If we are the ones we eat, our food is those who eat our food. This means that we are the ones who feed on us.
Plants receive nutrients from the soil, which consists, among other things, of decomposed plant and animal debris. Thus, even those who believe that they eat exclusively plant foods, in fact, also eat the remains of animals. That is why it is impossible to be a vegetarian.
For reference, I was a “vegetarian” for about 20 years and almost a “vegan” for six years. I am not against these practices. It's not about that. But I think that many “vegetarians” and “vegans” could pay more attention to the lives of those creatures that we use as food.
For example, many vegetarians refer to the feelings of animals as a reason to refrain from eating them. But there is good reason to believe that plants also have feelings. In other words, they are aware of their environment and react to it, and they also react in a similar way to pleasant and unpleasant experiences.
Check out the work of these botanical scientists: Anthony Trevas, Stefano Mancuso, Daniel Chamovitz and Frantisek Balushka, if you do not believe me. They showed that plants have the same five senses as ours - and there are about 20 more
. They have a hormonal information processing system
that is homologous (comparable parts of compared biological objects are called homologous in biology) to the neural network of animals. They show clear signs of self-awareness and intentionality. And they can even learn and learn.
A word for skeptics
I suspect how some biologists can react: firstly, plants do not “eat” because “eating” involves eating - through chewing and swallowing - other forms of life. Secondly, although plants absorb substances from the soil, and these substances could come from animals, they are strictly inorganic: nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and trace amounts of other elements. They are constituents of processed minerals devoid of any residues of animal origin.
We can say that plants and animals “take”, “consume” or “use” substances, instead of the word “eat”. I think I'm just not picky about what the word “eating” means. The fact is that plants absorb carbon dioxide, sunlight, water and minerals, which are then used to build and maintain their body. Plants consume as much as they produce, and they do not care about the origin of the minerals they receive.
Regarding the second problem, why should it matter that the nutrients obtained from plants from animals are inorganic? Are we the ones we eat only if we get organic matter from creatures that become our food? I admit, I do not understand why we can be the ones we eat, only in this case. This bias strikes me as a biologist.
Then there is the argument that the processing of minerals "cleans" the nutrients from their animal origin. This is a controversial statement, and I do not think it matters. This is at the heart of how we view our relationship with food. It can be said that spiritual issues are at stake here, and not just biochemistry issues.
Changing our view of food
Let's look at our relationship with food in a different way, given the fact that we are part of a community of living things — plants and animals — that inhabit the place where we live.
We eat, and we can also be eaten. We are also part of the food chain! And the well-being of everyone depends on the well-being of all.
From this point of view, what Glenn Albrecht calls sumbyarianism (from the Greek word sumbioun - to live together) has its own benefit.
Sumbioculture is a form of permaculture, or sustainable agriculture. This is an organic and biodynamic way of farming that matches the health of entire ecosystems.
Sumbariarians eat in harmony with their ecosystem. Thus, they literally embody the idea that the well-being of our food, and therefore our own well-being, is a function of the health of the earth.
In order for our needs to be satisfied, the needs and interests of the land must be in the first place. And in those cases when it is difficult for us to obtain essential fatty acids, we can resort to the use of animals - to get meat, dairy products and so on.
Simply put, life in such an area - whether New England or the Australian outback - can lead to a greater dependence on animals for food.
All life is connected into a complex network of interdependent relationships between people, species and entire ecosystems. Each of us borrows, uses and returns nutrients. This cycle is what allows life to continue. The rich soil is fertile because it is filled with composted remains of the dead and the waste products of life.
Indeed, indigenous peoples often equate the veneration of their ancestors and the land of their ancestors with the celebration of the life-giving nature of the land. Think about the words of cultural ecologist and activist Melissa Nelson:
The bones of our ancestors became the soil, the soil grows our food, food feeds our bodies, and we become one in the literal and figurative sense with our native lands and territories.
Of course you may not agree with me. But it is worth noting that what I told about has conceptual roots that can be as ancient as humanity itself.