2019 Essays

Meat, Eggs, and Dairy as Metaphors of our Predicament

By Dr. Will Tuttle

Loon by visionary artist Madeleine Tuttle

It’s fascinating to look at animal-sourced foods and products as metaphors of our current situation. The animals whom we imprison in our mechanized herding operations, large and small, are reduced to commodities and to the profits and power that we can take by exploiting them.

Meat is the once-living flesh of these animals, the intelligent, amazingly coordinated muscles enabling them to run, swim, fly, mate, and articulate themselves through their lives and through the purposes they are born to fulfill as members of families and ecological webs of living meaning. From infancy, we are taught the narratives that steal their bodies, their purposes, and their sovereignty, and that destroy their lives so we can eat their muscles, tissues, and organs. The narratives propel us. The narratives we learn at daily meals become our flesh, and we find that as we imprison them for meat, our flesh becomes diseased. At a deeper level, we ourselves become meat to be consumed by industrial forces that consume the flesh of our purposes, and that enrich and fatten themselves with the muscles of our time, creativity, effort, and energy.

Eggs are the menstrual discharges of animals, the virtually infinite potential that can be fertilized to bring forth new life celebrating on this abundant Earth. From infancy we are taught the narratives that imprison helpless females and steal their creative potential, reducing them and their eggs to mere commodities, and ultimately reducing our creative capacities in the process. Like imprisoned hens, our creativity is stolen from us to be used by the institutions of wealth and dominance to distract and disempower us as we serve and promote the herding culture into which we’re born, like hens, and which exploits human people nearly as effectively as it exploits animal people.

Dairy products are the maternal lactations of young mothers and represent and constitute the loving care that nourishes babies in their critical first months of life. We are all compelled to eat the narratives that propel the sexual abuse of young females (and males for sperm), stealing their vulnerable offspring, and destroying the primary sacred social bond that runs through all of nature: that of the mother for her child. Like mother cows, our children are stolen from us by systems of violence, and we are milked relentlessly by the hard hands of an enforced economic system that reduces everything to commodifiable products.

Leather, wool, down, and fur are the protective coverings of animals that we steal from them. In so doing, we find our own protections increasingly destroyed, and we are reduced to being naked and vulnerable in the face of heartless economic, political, educational, and military systems of oppression.

The many ways we exploit animals represent, ironically, the many ways we are often exploited by the same herding apparatus that herds and imprisons animals and herds and imprisons us. As we waken from this harmful cultural trance and question the herding narratives we’ve internalized–and that exploit and destroy the bodies, creativity, and interconnected lives of animals and ecosystems–we gain the capacity to become healers and liberators, and to inspire a benevolent revolution of kindness and respect for all forms of life.

The way forward is through the ancient wisdom: to give to others what we’d like for ourselves. Stealing and destroying the flesh, eggs, mammary secretions, and skins of billions of animals is not just metaphoric; it is also concrete, causing immense unnecessary misery, pain, and suffering. Our suffering is also concrete. Our flesh (lives and energy), eggs (creativity), mammary secretions (feminine caring and children), and skin (protection) are stolen as we steal them from helpless animals. Fortunately, ever-increasing numbers of us are realizing these connections and together we are creating a world where animals, ecosystems, creativity, mothering, freedom, and caring are respected rather than being exploited. A plant-based world of abundance is available and ever-beckoning, if we can escape the fears that keep us trapped in the industrial-strength tribal ignorance, violence, and superstition that define our situation today.

Every day we are making progress. Every day, each one of us can contribute more, learn more, love more, heal more, awaken more, and liberate more. This is using our own flesh, eggs, and milk (bodies, creativity, and caring) wisely. This is our sacred obligation and the source of our effectiveness. longevity, and joy.

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