Sunday, January 31, 2010

Brett the Vet - Beginnings

In the Beginning signifies the end of something prior to the beginning:
The End allows a fresh start.
Somewhere in the middle is neither here nor there.
Introduction interrupts: Conclusion smoothes the way forward.
Forests are concealed in the seed from an uprooted tree.
Invisible rays vapourise into rainbow arcs from elusive pots of gold.
Spring wanders into winter and then fades from summer; interrupted by New Year.

Starting afresh after hibernation makes complete sense in the northern hemisphere. Dreaming up resolutions in southern climes means retreating from the heat.
Dormancy cold or hot can rejuvenate a weary routine.
The immemorial pattern of planets influencing the cycles of nature is more reassuring than a linear trajectory on the critical path. Renewal occurs every moment of every day (and night) even after fate intervenes.

The origins and adaptations of our domestic animals have been well documented. Developments can be traced to a blurred past where theories replace fact. Pieces of the puzzle become fewer. Gaps and projections fuse recorded history. Our view is never complete. Animal breeds are continuously being created and lost. The only certainty is that every advance guided by the hand of man can result in weakness and inferiority compared with natural selection. Wildness, we know, is saturated with vigour. Genetic variation is the essence of health. Biodiversity is the key to sustainability. And so, we have come full circle in the quest for vitality.

Rethinking past mistakes means first stepping back to survey the scene. Our living creations have been diminished to a pitiful collection of weak, susceptible specimens propped up by advances in western medicine. Apparent progress is inextricably linked with unacknowledged failures. Details of the expanding scale of industrialised livestock farming are concealed and ignored. What began, as respectful reaping of excess has become broad scale institutionalised cruelty. Its horrors are glossed over with fake advertising. Images of happy hens, plucky pigs, and carefree cows luxuriating in lush pastures are intentionally misleading. Past hunter-gatherer necessity preceded agricultural control of food resources. Nowadays the breeding of domestic animals is ignominiously termed ‘product growing’. The current situation is abhorrent to caring humans who are conscious of animal sentience and want to end routine violence towards animals.

Compassionate action has progressed beyond the hessian-draped, incense-infused recesses of complacent vegetarian obscurity. A surging market for healthier, safer, cheaper, kinder, sustainable alternatives to animal products has reached the glossy forefront of lifestyle enhancement. The fearfully imagined protein vacuum has been filled with nutritious innovations:

  • Seitan (wheat gluten), tofu, soya meat (textured vegetable protein); and new discoveries like tempeh, quorn, and meatless.
  • Milk substitutes extracted from soya, almonds, rice, and oats.
  • Non-dairy cheese and yoghurt.
  • Replacement products that mimic what eggs do in recipes.
  • Recently scientists were able to grow muscle tissue in a laboratory from cells collected from a pig. Commercial production of genuine meat protein without the need for cruelty to live animals is predicted within five years.

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