One of the joys of writing is being able to create people you’d love to meet or who espouse causes near and dear to your heart. Such a character is Gwen Poisson. She’s a minor character in Festival of Death, the first novel in the Justinia Wright, P.I. series.
Harry Wright, the narrator in Festival of Death, says of her:
Gwen is forty. She stands five-four, with an average frame, and wears her dark chocolate hair in a pixie cut. She worked ten years out in Silicon Valley, another three as a professional hacker, before becoming a PI.
He could have added, she is warm, friendly, and faithful, Tina Wright feels a special kinship with her, she’s a vegan, and her favorite drink is cucumber-infused water.
Gwen does wage a quiet and continual campaign to convince Tina and Harry of the efficacy of veganism. She states the issue quite clearly in this comment to Tina over a pizza supper.
“We have to stop eating our fellow creatures,” Gwen said. “We are wiping out wild stocks; we are engaging in massive pollution of groundwater due to animal waste from feed lots; and excreted hormones, drugs, and antibiotics are wreaking havoc on wild animals — both on land and in the sea.”
Harry is quite sympathetic to Gwen’s position. In the forthcoming novella, “Love Out of Death”, we learn that Harry is cooking up quite a bit of a vegetarian storm because it’s best if one doesn’t eat something that has the 3 Bs: breath, blood, and brains. Tina, as with most of us, isn’t convinced.
While I must confess I’m still an ovo-lacto-carno vegetarian, Gwen espouses a dietary and lifestyle choice I admire and would like to make my own. I’ll admit meat can be pretty tasty. But vegetables and grains, fruits and nuts are pretty doggone tasty, as well.
But there is more to the issue than taste. There are the issues of pollution, extinction, cruelty, and negative energy.
As in the quote above from Gwen, the production of meat is the cause of mass pollution. Waste (i.e., excrement) pollutes our land and our water. Corporate farms and massive feedlots generate more waste than a farmer can use. It is pumped into holding tanks and often enough, the tanks leak. Not good for us or the environment.
Over fishing is destroying sea creatures in such alarming numbers it is quite possible our seas may be mostly barren in a few short years. Just as hunting wiped out the passenger pigeon, the dodo, and nearly wiped out the bison, over fishing is wiping out wild stocks of the ocean’s inhabitants. Fish farming is a possible solution, but it has it’s own issues and negative effects on wild inhabitants of the sea.
Living in a feedlot can’t be a pleasant experience. I’d hate to try it for even an hour. Yet we force animals against their nature to spend their lives in such caustic environments.
And this leads to my last issue, which is negative energy. When treated harshly, the animal holds within itself negative energy. Animals are not “dumb beasts”. They are surprisingly intelligent creatures. Pigs are smarter than dogs. Cows have a language of vocal sounds and body movements. Animals feel pain. They can get angry. They know who likes them and who doesn’t. They also know fear. Especially the fear of death, they smell at the slaughter house. Honestly, do you or I want to eat the hormones generated from the fear and anger of mistreated animals? Do I want that negative energy inside me?
Please don’t take this as a diatribe against farmers. Because that is not what I intend. Having lived amongst farmers, I know they struggle to make ends meet. They struggle to make a living. Often having to hold down another job in order to make the farm profitable. So, no, I’m not criticizing farmers. If anything, I’m blaming an economic system which doesn’t give the farmer a fair shake.
I think people are ultimately to blame. As Gwen points out in “Love out of Death”, there are simply too many people. Too many people on the planet means we can no longer humanely raise animals for meat to feed the burgeoning population. Our only alternative to effective feed the planet is to go vegetarian or vegan.
In addition, we in the West live in luxury. Even our poor are better off than most of the other inhabitants on this planet. I think the day has come where we need to start viewing meat as a luxury we can no longer afford.
Through Gwen Poisson, I have the opportunity to quietly present a position I think is beneficial to all humanity. We all want to eat. The amount of grain given to cows to fatten them up will feed a whole lot more people than that cow will.
Vegetarianism takes a bit to get used to simply because it is different, but it’s not impossible to do so. Hindus don’t eat meat and Indian cuisine is quite delectable. So it can be done. And done in style.
One of these days, I’m going to drop that carno. Stop eating things with the 3 Bs.