Food For Thought
April 2005:I am a dyed-in-the wool vegetarian. I do not eat animals because I do not associate them with food. Just as you would not bite into a stone, a camera or a shirt, I would never dream of putting dead animals in my mouth. But my vegetarianism has nothing to do with religion, nor do I make value judgements on those who eat meat; apart from stating with some confidence that Homo sapiens’ current meat-eating ways could end up harming the earth.
I have never been able to understand, however, why people shrink back in horror at nature’s ‘red-in-tooth-and-claw’ ways – exemplified by this tiger that stalked and killed a deer. There was no murder involved. No cruelty. No enmity. The tiger’s attitude to the deer must be likened to my attitude to bread, or potatoes.
Apart from sex, food and water have been the engines of species evolution, determining how we behave, look… and think.
We need to think about that.
Most of us are rapidly becoming disconnected from our foods. Super-markets, plastic-wrapped vegetables and bottled water makes it difficult to connect what we consume with the forest-soils and water, without which all essential supplies would vanish.
Unaware that forests and wetlands are the foundation of her state’s food and water security, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan recently accused the Prime Minister of India of caring more for Sariska’s tigers than her water-stressed people.
Someone forgot to inform her that Ranthambhore’s Banas river is one of 300 rivers, whose pure water originates from tiger forests. Nor did anyone tell her that the state government must be held responsible for the destruction of 90 per cent of Rajasthan’s wetlands, including Bharatpur’s fabled bird swamps. This is the cause of Rajasthan’s water woes.
Food is still the engine of species evolution. It still determines how we behave. But the direction in which Homo sapiens is likely to evolve – if elected leaders take to worshipping faucets and dams, rather than the biodiversity-rich ecosystems where fresh water originates – is anyone’s guess.
Bittu Sahgal, Editor, Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXV No. 2 April, 2005