Early ancestors, vegetarians, parenthood, and ambivalence

I feel a ramble coming on. Thoughts are jumbling around in my mind about our earliest ancestors, vegetarians, parenthood, and ambivalence.

It all started with a tweet from a blogging friend, who I’ve mentioned before, Julia Munroe Martin, alias Wordsxo. Which is actually quite a clever, concise, and cryptic name if you think about it, unlike Random Thoughts from Midlife, which is bulky (I curse it every time I have to log in to make a comment on someone else’s blog), and non-descript, but probably every bit as descriptive of what is going on in this little section of the WWW.

Julia told me about the Cornell Lab’s live cams of the Great Blue Heron and Red-Tailed Hawk nests complete with noisy, hungry babies. Talk about a time drain, once I turn these on, I have a lot of trouble turning away unless mama or papa is sitting asleep atop the babes, which actually happens a fair amount of the time. The rest of the time, like the sparrows and starlings, the devoted parents spend trying to feed their ravenous chicks. (Is there a special name for baby blue herons, or baby hawks? Another side-trip, another diversion, another wild goose chase. I warned you about the rambling.) (And does the frappin’ period go inside or outside the parenthesis? This one always drives me crazy.)..

Back to finding my point. The baby birds in the live cams (or in the videos of big events like papa-drops-off-a-vole) are absolutely adorable fuzzy little charmers. The baby herons’ spiked hairdo’s and miniature long necks will make you laugh. The hawk babies’, with their soulful eyes invoke a desire to cradle one in your hands. Then mama or papa heron swings back and drops a fish into their midst. Or mama or papa hawk lay a rabbit across the nest. I don’t need to tell you what happens next. Hence, the ambivalence.

I was thinking about all of this last night as I was eating a juicy piece of steak.

I have no desire to debate the merits of vegetarianism. I know people who are vegetarian or vegan. I’ve considered it for myself at the very outer edges of my mind. But I don’t go there, because I want to be able to eat meat. Life seems easier to me if I am able to eat meat. So I don’t dwell on it.

Here’s the other thing, and where our ancestors all come in. You may think, like I do, that your ancestors are from England, or Germany, or Ireland, or Africa, or the far East, or any number of places. But the truth is, we all have ancestors who lived in the very earliest of time, dwelled among caves, hunted and gathered. Ate meat. I don’t claim to be an expert anthropologist, although that is on my what-to-be-in-another-lifetime list. And I don’t know if all human life stems back to one (I guess that actually should be two beings) or whether this miracle occurred in several different places on our planet. But I do know that spontaneous human creation is not happening today, nor did it happen in modern times.

If it were possible we would all find out that our roots go back to two, or four, or ten, or some number of the earliest of our ancestors who were men and women living in caves, building fires, and hunting and eating meat. It’s our heritage. And it’s part of our natural inclination.

We can talk about overcoming natural inclinations at some other time if you’d like.

So how do I make sense out of cute little heron babies attacking and devouring fish, or a hawk mother delicately feeding her fluffy chicks meat from the fur of a soft bunny rabbit who was probably minding its own business eating the lettuce in someone’s garden, or trying to get food for it’s now orphaned babies in a nest somewhere? How do I justify eating meat while loving little critters and big animals and all of nature at the same time?

I see now that I don’t really have a point at all, but a question.

Related post/s:

As the Nest Turns by Wordsxo

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25 Comments on “Early ancestors, vegetarians, parenthood, and ambivalence”

  1. I loved this post so much, so clever, you are with those observations about ancestors!! A very interesting take on the nestcams! And you are so sweet, too, to give me a shoutout!! Very cool, Christine, loved it. (p.s. we’re mostly vegetarians, haha, although we do eat fish as you read :)

  2. Okay, Christine, this sounds like me–the kinds of questions I wrestle with. I don’t know the answer(s)–I suppose they are plural. Now I just want to go watch the birds.

    Me? I eat meat, but I’m not a huge carnivore the way my partner Sara is. I could take it or leave it, for the most part. Then why don’t I leave it? Like you, I think it’s just easier, more convenient.

    Hugs,
    Kathy

    • CMSmith says:

      I hope you got a chance to watch the birds. Like I said, it can be a big time drain.

      Thanks for weighing in on the carnivore issue.

      Hugs to you too.

  3. I love how your ramble! Eating meat is one of those things that, unless you know your body does not like or want it, you should just stick with. As you say, it’s easier, simpler and except for eating lots and lots of it that is filled with growth hormones and antibiotics, probably won’t harm your health anymore than other things we eat.
    walk in beauty.

    • CMSmith says:

      Thanks Joss. I doubt I will ever devote the energy to shift all the way out of meat-eating. There are so many things that can harm us, sometimes I’m afraid to take a breath.

  4. MindMindful says:

    Rambling is good, haha. And the whole period thing? (I don’t know.). Maybe we should do BOTH; makes a cool graphic, I think.).

    • CMSmith says:

      I think it makes a cool graphic too. But then those English grammar guys (and I suspect they mostly were guys) who set down the rules, didn’t have all that great a sense of design from my perspective.

      • MindMindful says:

        haha! I do wish that there were keyboard keys that could emulate crayola effects though………….

  5. jolinapetersheim says:

    Sometimes I also contemplate becoming a vegetarian, mainly just because I love avocados and nuts and could live without a slab of juicy steak. My husband, on the other hand, needs his meat, and I sure do love a slow-cooked piece of venison over mashed potatoes. Sorry, Bambi.

    • CMSmith says:

      Well you can’t argue that meat makes getting the protein we need (plus some) easy. I’m also concerned about weight, and it seems to me that some of the lean meats like turkey are the most efficient sources of protein if you’re counting calories.

  6. nrhatch says:

    A vegetarian/vegan diet lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

    Something our ancestors didn’t have to worry about . . . because they never lived long enough before being eaten by a sabre tooth tiger. :D

  7. C Gendron says:

    I think the quantity of what we eat is probably more of an issue than whether it’s meat or not. Our ancestors didn’t have the luxury of overeating three times a day! I’ve tried going mostly vegetarian, and it’s not easy! I eat a lot of spinach etc… that have iron in them, and still managed to develop a low level of ferratin. So I went back to meat, but I keep it to the minimum amount required & choose local free range chicken and beef. I loved your post – thanks!

    • CMSmith says:

      Thanks for stopping by. There’s only so much we can do. It’s good that you’re doing the free-range thing. We go out to eat a lot and it just isn’t practical to limit it to that. I’ll have to keep my head in the sand.

  8. pattisj says:

    “Random Thoughts from Midlife” is what drew me to your blog the very first time.
    Here’s a link regarding parentheses and punctuation. I know I read a better explanation, but can’t seem to find it right now.

    http://www.dailywritingtips.com/15-purposes-for-parentheses/

    • CMSmith says:

      Thanks, Patti. I read the link. I thought it should be inside the parenthesis as well. I’m sure it’s in one of my style books. I just get lazy sometimes.

      • pattisj says:

        It’s hard to keep up with styles–which one is acceptable for which submission…it’s a lot more involved than I ever imagined!

      • CMSmith says:

        I know. I learned MLA for college papers, and then had to learn AP for news and feature writing. The nit-picky details drive me crazy.

  9. Uncanny you should write about this topic, Christine. I just had a conversation with my husband that sounded something like this, ‘You know, if I REALLY stopped to think about the meat I eat — where it comes from — I would VERY quickly become a vegetarian.’ You know, from my blog, that I am a huge animal lover. So as I’ve been doing research for my ranching family in my WIP (and thinking incessantly about baby calves and cute, furry-faced cows), I’ve had to disconnect that cuteness with the delight of iron red meat on my taste buds. Ugh.

    • CMSmith says:

      Your sentiment is probably true for more people than we care to realize. It’s a basic principle of nature called survival of the fittest. Human beings have made great efforts, and strides in many cases, to become civilized, but the truth is that we are animals. If I held disdain for carnivores, the number of creatures walking the earth, flying in the skies, and swimming in the seas that I could respect and admire would dramatically decrease.

      Life is never as clean, nice, and tidy as we human beings would like to pretend it to be.

  10. I’m very much a meat eater.

    I could swear I’ve heard a term used for a juvenile heron somewhere along the line….

  11. Robin says:

    I recently read that our ancestors were vegetarians and that our bodies were not really built for meat-eating. I read it in the book “The China Study.” I found this article:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-freston/shattering-the-meat-myth_b_214390.html

    The author has an ax to grind so to speak (she’s a vegan), but she quotes some pretty reliable sources.


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