I am a self confessed whole plant based eater. I am a champion of fibre and phyto-nutrients (alive nutrients) that are found in plants. I am a regenerative farmer who worships the goddess of soil. I am a true believer in equality.
These are all single-minded beliefs that are an attempt to segment my world into a manageable reality. Life seems easier in the black and white. This is good, that is bad!
However, the eternal grey and multicoloured pollock-esque mess of the real world very rarely allows for simple yes/no answers. One such dilemma is that of our relationship with animals. The immediate reaction of the majority towards this is to look at whether we should be eating meat or not. This shows how far we need to go to find balance in our relationship with the planet’s sentient beings.
Michael Pollan showed in his book ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma’ that eating meat and not eating meat is not a holy grail of preventing harm to animals. The monocropping of massive industrial farms is devastating to the animals of our planet (humans included) regardless of whether you are involved in veganism or carnism.
The deep tilling alone destroys huge numbers of soil dwelling animals, not to mention the hostile environment modern agriculture created to destroy practically all the habitats in which animals called their home in the natural world to begin with.
We need to rewild, restore and regenerate our world. The planet-changing power of the machines we have created are now able to impact the world on a scale that is so damaging that we can hollow out mountains, poison whole countries, acidify all oceans, pollute the whole sky and many other unthinkable terrors that we are yet to be sophisticated enough to measure.
The unyielding desire for ever bigger machines means that part of the true challenge is finding the more human-scale. Although there are 7.5 billion humans on the planet, a number that is set to rise further, particularly in the western world, we have lost the connection to our soils and food production.
The most productive food systems are those that are under farmer cooperative models with lots of people and attention giving to it. However, the mass migration of urban workers to the fields is not going to happen imminently, if ever. The solution is to nurture a healthy relationship between humans and animals.
My understanding of human history is that for most of our hunter gathering existence we were always living on the edge of starvation. The modern romantic view is that our hunter gatherer ancestors were so adept at feeding themselves that prehistoric man would look exactly like the Mcdonalds-man of today. A full menu of meat snacks through the day, just with a little more effort than using the drive through.
In reality it seems that most hunting parties would come back empty handed and the whole plant food diets of the gatherers would be what keep the majority of the tribe alive.
This myth of our enduring dominance over animals drives the disjointed view of the man in nature today. It is this rebalancing of our role as guardians of the soil and the animal’s habitats that will allow us to design our place in the complex, but beautiful, system where we work with nature to create our food.
A place where the debate of whether to eat an animal will still be present but the respect and ritual of the experience will never again be in doubt. A place where the heavy and destructive lifting that to today is done in a devastating manner by cantankerous machines will be replaced by that of a harmonious relationship with animals. They will work our land, feed our soils and manage our weeds in a ballet across the land to match that of Swanlake. The intertwining of complex pathways across the land, through the air and below our feet will bring amaze and wonder. More importantly, it will bring balance and abundance to a world that is today on the edge of contamination and depletion.
This is part of many conversations we are exploring in the Regenerative Planet podcast. I shared the space with VicVeganEats and had a beautiful dialogue as to the nature of our relationship with animals and nature. Check it out – https://youtu.be/XIOzCcFhFC4