Aug 6, 2014

Nature Is Cruel - Accept It!

I have been motivated to write this blog post because I am sick and tired of vegans/vegetarians telling me that I, as an animal lover and wildlife artist, should be totally opposed to the hunting and eating of animals, or any use of animal products.

So I am writing this to argue my case as to why I am not opposed to hunting and eating animals.

First of all, there is this wide-spread illusion that anything "natural" is "good" and we humans screw it all up with our Man-made things and behaviors.

Stop this BS first of all. There are boatloads of natural things and behaviors that are not really good. Arsenic, cyanide, rattlesnake bites, man-o-war stings, many mushrooms ...get the picture? Really. Not everything "natural" is good for you or the environment.

Next is this silly idea that everything humans do is "unnatural" and bad. Sorry but, I believe humans are as much a part of Nature as any other creature on Earth. Sure, our behaviors can be bad for other living things sometimes. But so can the behaviors of "natural" creatures. For example, we think humans are "bad" and "unnatural" because we don't kill only for food. We kill for a lot of other reasons and we think that's somehow unnatural.

But we really aren't the only ones.

Animals regularly kill for things besides food. They kill out of fear, they kill for territory, for resources such as water and shelter, or for breeding rights ... or even for reasons unknown. Take African lions, for example. Male lions often kill lion cubs when they take over a pride. By killing all cubs they induce the female to breed again. This way the new male leader doesn't have the burden of raising another male's offspring, and he can sooner get to breeding and raising his own.

Lions will also kill cheetahs any chance they get. They don't eat them. So why do they kill them? Scientists speculate it could be because they compete for food and territory. But lions don't seem to have this same hatred for leopards, which also compete for food and territory. So, no one really knows why lions have it in for cheetahs.

OK, so now back to the vegan/vegetarian issue. Many people also have this illusion that humans should not eat meat because it is more cruel to animals than Nature is. For some reason we think a human killing an animal is worse than a wild animal killing an animal.


Nature is horribly cruel much of the time! Several years ago I wrote a couple of blog posts about why hunting and killing animals is not more cruel than Nature. Read those posts here.

I won't go over the whole thing here. You can read those posts for details. But to summarize, I said Nature is NOT nicer to wildlife. The "natural" way most animals die in the wild is miserable. They die slow and painful deaths from disease, parasites, and starvation. Even if they are lucky enough to die "quickly" from a predator attack, it's never pleasant and peaceful, and not always quick and merciful.

Nature shows no mercy.

People believe we humans are more cruel to animals than Nature. Yes, sometimes we can be. But that doesn't mean Nature is nice when dealing its deaths. People say we shouldn't eat meat because slaughterhouses are cruel. Yes, they can be. But they aren't always. And Nature isn't necessarily any better.

Do you ever watch wildlife documentaries? If not, you should. They will open your eyes to the reality of Nature. Slaughterhouses can be stressful to animals, and sometimes animals are injured, or don't die as quickly and humanely as we'd like. But let's take a look at some of the ways Nature kills animals.

Slow and agonizing deaths through starvation, disease, and parasites have already been mentioned. But what about those "quick" deaths by predators? Sure. Nice and peaceful. Stress-free and pain-free, right?

WARNING: Descriptions get gruesome here. Don't read on if you can't stomach some grizzly details.

Let's start with those beautiful wild cats everyone loves. They only kill for food, right? And they kill quickly, so there is no suffering. Snap of a neck and it's instantly over, right? (Let's ignore the fear and stress of being chased and caught) Well, we already talked about how lions kill for other reasons besides food. But even if the animal is killed for food it's not always quick. Wild cats often bring a young animal, like a baby antelope, back home for the cubs to "play" with. The practice of hunting this live baby animal can go on for hours or all day, the poor thing repeatedly knocked around, scared, stressed, and injured. In fact, many such practice prey animals die from stress and exhaustion rather than actually being killed by the cats. A wonderful way to spend your last day on Earth, eh?

OK, let's next talk about crocodiles and alligators. You've probably seen images of them jumping out of the water to snap the head of a zebra or wildebeest crossing the river. We think, oh, that's it! Instant death! But this is often not the case. Crocs and alligators are not really very good at killing their prey directly. They usually just grab the animal and pull it down to the bottom of the river to drown before eating it. Drowning is not fun. Sometimes the crocs/gators don't want to wait that long for the animal to drown, though. They sometimes use a method of spinning their bodies around in the water while holding their prey, literally twisting and ripping the limbs or chunks of the body off while the animal is still alive.

And my personal favorite (yes, sarcasm here) is the African Wild Dog. This "beautiful" spotted dog is actually incapable of killing prey. So they don't even try. They routinely eat their victims while still alive. And the best part is, they love the entrails most. They go for those first. They just drag the live animal down to the ground and then they dive into the abdomen or genital area to disembowel the hapless creature. Imagine what fun it must be to have your intestines literally pulled out through your anus while you're still alive! Yes, a happy day in the park!

OK, so you still think slaughterhouses are more cruel than Nature? At least we humans have a conscience. Most of us do not want animals to suffer. Laws have been passed to reduce the pain and suffering of food animals. There was even a movie made about Temple Grandin, a woman who devoted her life to improving the conditions for beef cattle. There are many activist groups as well. Yes, more work needs to be done. It's not perfect. But, the point is, at least we humans try. Nature makes no such effort because it just doesn't care.

Humans kill their food by shooting it through the heart, decapitating, or hitting it over the head with a sludge hammer. Not pretty. There is no pretty way to die. But would you rather see a buck get a bullet through the heart? Or watch a baby deer get "played with" for hours by young mountain lions? Would you rather see a chicken get its head cut off? Or watch a zebra get its legs ripped off while still alive?

So for all you vegans who think we're more cruel than Nature, we're not. I'm not saying things are good. I'm just saying Nature is not nicer. Nature can be far worse than humans sometimes. And, in reality, humans are part of Nature. So what we do is, in a sense, is perfectly natural.

The reality is, things kill things to eat and live. It was this way for billions of years before humans arrived on Earth. It will be this way for ages after we're gone. We are not unnatural. We are not a fluke. This is Earth. Accept it.

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