Where oceans meet

[ A heads-up after the event: Gail (of Wit’s End) immediately leapt in with what I think is crucial input as soon as this post was published. So please do read the comments section below, too! ]

I’ve recently been introduced to two things that demonstrate (to my satisfaction, anyway) that the universe is much stranger than I first thought. Mind you, my first thought was quite some time ago, now.

One of those things is that it’s possible for two very, very large — like, huge — bodies of water to coexist without mixing. Now, I’ve had a tequila sunrise (or nine) and it’s no surprise to me that liquids with different specific gravities interact in that way when they’re in a cylindrical container. But, this… ?

Two oceans meeting near Cape Leeuwin

Cape Leeuwin (latitude 34°22’S, longitude 115°08’E) marks the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. At various times of the year the differing ocean currents, waves and swell patterns are evident in the waters around the Cape. This can create unusual conditions in the nearby waters. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current circles Antarctica west to east, between 40 degrees and 70 degrees south. Its northern edge turns north and heads up along the western Australian coast. From May to September each year the Leeuwin Current transports warm tropical water southwards around Cape Leeuwin and along Western Australia’s southern coastline.

Photo of an information board at Cape Leeuwin, where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean.

Award yourself a gold star and a tick-vg if you spotted that the words in that last paragraph weren’t mine.

The other one of those ‘strange universe’ things is something that I find even more surprising: after decades of eating meat, an hour watching just one film has persuaded me to reconsider the habits of a lifetime.

Vegucated 'mortarboard' hat

A TED talk highlighted yesterday over on 350orbust (well worth watching — thanks, Christine) included a reference to the film Vegucated. Intrigued, was I, so I trundled off to watch it, and returned a changed man. Well, maybe that’s a bit ambitious, but I do now feel motivated to think more about what I eat, why I’m eating it, and to actively seek out vegan alternatives — something that I have never considered before.

Chart showing relationship between killer diseases and the consumption of unrefined plant food for twelve nations/ cultures..

More meat = more disease

Vegucated reinforces the betrayal of a society that has sold us all on the idea of having ‘consumer choice’ — but continues to withhold from us the information necessary to make informed choices. And on that point: don’t just take my word for it that this is a film well worth watching: there are many other reviews and quotes about it.

Einstein said

Einstein deliberated, and chose a vegetarian lifestyle

Our world is changing, and, one way or another, we must change with it. I believe that films like Vegucated are essential to help us to choose to move in the direction of a healthier, happier world.

If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian. — Paul McCartney, some time ago

Does ‘slaughterhouse’ really contain ‘laughter’? — Me, just now

About peNdantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
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43 Responses to Where oceans meet

  1. witsendnj says:

    I’ll watch it with an open mind, but in the meantime, consider that corrolation does not equal causation…and furthermorewhich, the meat today is so addled with hormones and anti-biotics and fake feed that it may not be the meat that is the problem, but the way it is raised. Check out Lierre, here’s a video interview about her book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNON5iNf07o
    but you might want to follow links in wiki about her.


    • pendantry says:

      It’s late, I’ve only watched the first five minutes of that video, but it’s clear from just that that this subject isn’t nearly as straightforward as Vegucated suggests.

      Why is everything always so complicated?


      • witsendnj says:

        Because there is too much knowledge in the world for any one person to grasp even a tiny bit of it; and because everyone likes to think they alone possess the truth, so they present their perspective as the one correct version. Lierre too falls into that trap, but it’s worth studying her experience and besides, she has written many other things about environmentalism of enormous value, some in collaboration with Derrick Jensen.


        • pendantry says:

          Thanks, Gail. I’ve watched that whole video now (‘The Vegetarian Myth’), and there are things Lierre Keith is saying that are totally in accord with the major themes in Vegucated — agreement that factory farming is abhorrent and must go; global capitalism must go; inequality must be addressed. Looks like I’ve got another book I need to read…


          • witsendnj says:

            There are several things that put me off of vegetarianism, not least of which is that cooking has been a passion of mine for many decades, there’s nothing I like better than throwing a dinner party for about 8 or 12, with divine food. It’s just so limiting if you can’t draw from all the ingredients. Of course some of the best are imported so it’s not sustainable, but whatever.
            The other thing that I don’t like about it is that it is usually presented as a moral imperative, which to me simply elevates humans over animals in a rather false and arrogant way. If it’s okay for animals to eat animals, why can’t humans? Because we’re better/smarter/more superior than animals?
            The “save the earth, raising meat is unsustainable” argument falls a little flat coming from pet-owning vegans and vegetarians, too. The amount of meat fed to cats and dogs is staggering.

            So in general I prefer a more holistic approach – reducing meat in the diet, but not eliminating it – and against factory farming. I like to think that if everyone gave up their lawn mower and substituted it with sheep, goats, cows and horses we would have a ready source of dairy and meat and lower the worst emissions – those that cause ozone – too.

            As a chicken farmer, I think they have it pretty darn good, except when the occasional fox sneaks into the pen, and then it’s a massacre.


  2. mikestasse says:

    Interesting about the currents…….. but I don’t buy the vegan thing! As someone else here pointed out, supermarket meat is CRAP, we don’t eat it, and neither should you.

    A friend of ours who’d been a vegetarian for years and years and lives sustainably like us started getting sick about two years ago. Slowly but surely, she went down hill, losing weight (and she’s already tiny) and having less and less energy. She went to every kind of alternative medicine place she knew about and even ‘real’ doctors. Got tested for everything, to no avail.

    I told her to eat some meat……. organic of course. Lo and behold, she got well again! I’m not claiming anything, and it worries me that she’s gone the other way now and hardly eating any veggies, but I reckon there’s value in a diverse diet, and certainly in not eating processed supermarket foods. I’m all for eating less meat (raising your own is one hell of an effort, trust me – and you have to kill it yourself to boot!), but we are omnivores after all. There are no silver bullets.


    • pendantry says:

      Perhaps if we were able to raise our own meat animals and slaughter them, things would be different. But as a Polish friend of mine once pointed out, our system (in the UK) ‘protects’ us from this: it’s illegal to raise a pig to eat, unless you have the right paperwork.


      • mikestasse says:

        What about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall… he raises his own pigs? There are no such rules in Australia, as long as it’s for your own consumption.


      • ccgwebmaster says:

        Not sure if it’s entirely illegal (different laws between Scotland and England) but the law is far more restrictive than when I was a child. My parents once kept a selection of livestock. They tried pigs only once as slaughter was problematic – someone lent them a .22 with advice to use it. A bad choice for a pig – the first ran around in distress after being shot (until the shotgun was used). It’s supposedly possible to use a knife if you know what you’re doing (you’d need to sever the carotoid artery to cause almost immediate loss of consciousness) but I think I’d prefer a more powerful bullet (the British can apparently not be trusted with guns now, but that’s another topic minefield).

        There is a theme running through this – to make people dependent upon and controlled by the system. Whether or not that is consciously designed for – I’m not quite sure (it must be to some extent – but was it really intended to make people so dependent as to greatly undermine the resilience of society against adversity?).

        Personally I feel that the governance of the UK (where I was born and grew up) fails me so completely that I do not consider myself bound to honour the implicit contract between citizen and society/government. One must however then confront the question of just how far one is prepared to go.

        Given the efforts that the powers that be put into suppressing even peaceful protest groups – the infiltration, misinformation, espionage and violence against them carried out using taxpayers money…


  3. ccgwebmaster says:

    Anti meat eating is a bit “in” with some people. Certainly there are lots of stupid things going on in the modern world – raising animals from crops farmed on land that could far more efficiently feed people (not quite as bad as feeding cars, but still), hormones and intensive breeding for the sole purpose of making animals grow unnaturally fat and fast, and so on.

    On the other hand, you have nomadic tribes that live from animals. Nomadic tribes, I emphasize, who have done this for thousands of years and that tend to have massively less impact on the earth than those same western ideologically minded individuals who say nobody should eat meat…

    Also in some landscapes animals have been raised for so long that the land and the animals have come into balance with each other – and both depend on the other to maintain status quo. Particularly on marginal landscapes that cannot support crops for human consumption, there is a strong case for raising animals – and arguably killing them and eating the meat.

    What I do find a little silly is the ridiculously small number of people who could kill their own animal to eat it though! How can so many people eat meat from industrial factory farms killed with indifference in a slaughterhouse – and yet not be capable of killing their own animal, where they know how it was looked after and how it died? Is it not hypocritical to eat meat if one is not prepared or able to kill the animal yourself?

    I eat meat. I don’t intend to change that (I can also look my dinner in the eyes first). Whatever one eats (and certainly our diets don’t need so much meat as many people eat), the first thing should be respect for it. Respect for the plant or animal that died to keep us alive – respect for the environment that we utterly depend upon to keep providing more plants and animals to keep us alive.

    I feel that many of the preaching type of vegetarian do not embody this respect. They embody ideology instead.

    I didn’t watch any of the clips at this point so apologies if I said anything redundantly.


    • pendantry says:

      I don’t believe that anything you have said here is redundant.

      “Is it not hypocritical to eat meat if one is not prepared or able to kill the animal yourself?”

      Yes, it is, I agree absolutely. My excuse for my own hypocrisy in this respect is that the society in which I live has never shown any inclination to encourage me to do the right thing. On the contrary — as Vegucated clearly shows — this society goes to great lengths in an entirely cynical effort to hide the reality; those making money from factory farming know full well that their sales would plummet like a stone were the ‘news’ media to regularly remind us what takes place in these monstrosities called ‘slaughterhouses’. Instead, we get reminders to support the brave troops fighting for our ‘freedom’, and constant nagging about how dangerous it is to walk in parks late at night because of all the hoodies and the muggers and the spordos, the motorheads, the geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads…

      … sorry, got carried away for a minute there.


        • pendantry says:

          Good link, thanks.

          Animal lovers said it was “heartless” to allow children to raise the sheep and then learn that it is to be sent to an abattoir for its meat to be auctioned.

          I actually think it’s more “heartless” to not educate chilluns about the reality; maybe if I had been taken to a slaughterhouse as a child instead of to a farm to pet all the nice animals, I might be more appreciative of the meat I eat. Of course that’s a shocking idea: subject those darling miniprehumans to such mental cruelty? What kind of a monster am I? And besides, that would never happen because it might be harmful to business interests. Silly me.

          Facebook groups in support of saving Marcus have attracted hundreds of supporters

          And there’s the problem with social media, and democracy, too, come to that. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s right.


  4. leavergirl says:

    Aw, tell me it ain’t so! The vegan cult got ya?
    Read Lierre Keith (skip the last part where she channels Andrea Dworkin). Then watch Alan Savory on TED. We need to covert fields to grasslands, not the other way around!


    • pendantry says:

      OK: “it ain’t so.” Gail has already introduced me to Lierre Keith (see her comment above), and to Alan Savory by Christine at 350 or bust. I’m all for converting fields to grass — but not for converting forest to grass, which is ever a danger when one allows the businesses of ranching and fast food burgers free rein. I haven’t had a McWimpyKingBurger(tm) for years, now.

      One good result, for me, for having watched Vegucated is that I’m now totally against factory farming, whereas before that was just a ‘meh’.


      • leavergirl says:

        Whew! You had me worried there for a moment. ;-) Yeah, factory farming is definitely so not meh. I once tried to persuade a vegan to team up with us omnivores to put a dent in this horrible practice. But alas, he was more interested in spouting his “truths.”

        P.S. Your 350 or bust link does not work. [Fixed; ginormous thanks for the heads-up! -p]


  5. Fascinating Blog post and great comments. Would love your permission to republish on Learning from Dogs? Paul


  6. Wyrd Smythe says:

    “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.” As someone who’s hunted and fished, that’s simply not true. I love hot dogs, and knowing exactly what’s in them and how they’re made…. doesn’t bother me in the least.

    I went vegan for three years after a college nutrition teacher scared me off white sugar, white flour and meat. I will say I still avoid white flour, but for some things there’s nothing better (bread sticks, buns, pizza crusts… the whole wheat versions are shite). I eventually went back to eating meat, because (a) I love the stuff and (2) I felt weak and lifeless (and, yes, I knew about the amino acids — I love Mexican, so I ate a lot of rice and beans and corn chips and salsa).

    Some are revolted by how meat is produced, which is very valid. The sad reality is that producing that much meat for that many requires… industrial methods, and those are rarely pretty. There is also the issue of humane treatment of animals, and that again is driven by scale. And the issue of cost/benefit — the energy required to produce meat is high. I do have the most sympathy for this point of view; it’s certainly a reasonable one to have.

    I suspect that eventually cloning technology will allow us to grow meat, and that will remove the issues of animal treatment and may even make the processing less onerous. I’m also not one who freaks out over GM foods or irradiated foods. Food is food and people are (IMO, obviously) impossibly and ridiculously squeamish when it comes to the basics such as food, waste and sex. (Maybe it helps to have actually spent time on a farm or to have hunted or fished and prepared ones own meat.)

    Another reason people seem to go vegan is health. Meat is viewed as less healthy. I dunno. Studies come out this way and that. I think so much of that depends on exposure and luck and genetics. We all know that 90-year-old guy who’s been smoking heavily since he was 12. I suppose for me it comes from viewing life as something to use up, not something to carefully preserve. Hunter S. Thompson has that great quote about how the object in life isn’t to arrive at the grave well-preserved, but used up. If you die healthy, you’ve wasted living.

    So, whatever, if you (generic you) want to go meat-free, that’s your call. You do need to know about mixing proteins to get a full complement of necessary amino acids. People should eat what they wanna eat. That includes me and my hot dogs.

    A final reason I see people choosing to go vegan is the PETA thing, and I have no sympathy for that point of view at all. I’m all for good treatment of animals, particularly the higher ones, but I’m sorry: cows and pigs and sheep and deer and fish and seafood and chicken and turkeys… them’s meant for eatin’. My dog agrees.

    I embrace my Apex Predatorhood!! :)


    • pendantry says:

      Thank you for taking the time to expound at such length.

      While I disagree with your position (just call me a bleeding heart animal lover), you’re entitled to your opinion. The only part that I think you really ought to reconsider is your assertion that ‘People should eat what they wanna eat.’ As stated, that doesn’t just condone cannibalism, it suggests that if Hannibal Lecter were to invite you to dinner, you would be prepared to marinade rather than bathe beforehand ;)


      • Wyrd Smythe says:

        A fair point! In my mind, any statement of freedom carries that implicit caveat about how, ‘your freedom stops where my nose starts.’ I can make it more explicit: People should eat what they wanna eat (so long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of others).

        I was a bad commenting citizen yesterday. I’d spent the day trying to catch up on blog reading and didn’t take the time to read the comments here. I’d assumed I was going to be the lone meat-eating wolf, but today I see I’m not alone.

        Whatever else, the fact remains that our bodies (as far as I know) cannot survive on just plant matter unless we take care to mix proteins appropriately (in order to get the complete complement of necessary amino acids). Unless one can believe in an innate human ability to select vegan food correctly, the evidence strongly suggests that humans are not designed to be herbivores. That doesn’t mean we can’t do it; obviously we can, especially with medical science knowledge.

        But it does mean that being vegan isn’t a natural human state.

        In fact, it is my understanding that, long ago, when humans first switched to being agrarian, we went through a great period of illness and adjustment as we struggled to take on this new source of food. Some feel gluten allergies harken back to this change.

        WRT factory farms… how do you feed a planet of 7 billion (short billion) without industrial strength methods? One interesting proposal I’ve read about involves converting one or more high-rise buildings to multi-level farms. Light pipe technology can bring in real sunlight, or artificial lighting can be used. The contained environment provides a unique opportunity for material reuse (re-cycling water, for example), and the actual land footprint is small. It also brings fresh food directly into the city; local produce!


        • pendantry says:

          When all the fossoil is gone, in the not too distant future, I don’t think that there will be very much food to go around at all. We have enough to go around now and that isn’t distributed properly: 25,000 people starve to death every day. We’re mining topsoil for food. We aren’t investing the remaining fossoil in renewable energy systems, as we should be doing if we had any sense in our heads at all (ignoring, for the sake of argument, that it’s not already too late since it takes 4-5 decades to convert all the infrastructure). There are so very many ways in which our society is badly flawed, and few of even those that we admit to are being seriously looked at, let alone addressed.

          Multi-level farms sound like a great idea, but at present we’re not even making a concerted effort to switch to composting toilets, which would be a necessary first step. And if those farms are factory farming animals such that unwanted male chicks are churned up live as shown in Vegucated, well, what kind of vile creatures are we?

          If there is to be a future for humanity, I would personally prefer that it was comprised of Eloi* rather than Morlocks, but we seem to be headed the other way.

          * Well, ok, make that ‘Eloi who have retained a sense of curiosity’.


          • Wyrd Smythe says:

            I think we agree on more than otherwise. You raise what I see as distinct, but related, issues. The topic of oil is a huge one; few realize how many other sectors depend on petroleum (plastics, tires, et many alii). One hope is that algae experiments work out. Right now, gas has such a huge bank for its buck, we’ve found it impossible to resist. Our tune will change when it runs out.

            Feeding the world is another biggie. Oil is important, but perhaps not necessary given possible alternatives. I’ve always heard we had the resources, but not the political will. People tend to be fairly short-sighted both in time and in space. We care most about what’s happening to us right now.

            There is the idea that people get that the world would be a much better place if everyone would just do “X”. And they’re often right, the world would be a better place. The problem is that getting everyone to do “X” is problematic. Our unwillingness to march in step (unless we want to) is almost a defining human characteristic. We’re social animals by nature all while devoting much belief and effort into our individuality and freedom.

            I’d say that Eloi and Morlocks are iconic memes, yin and yang, two poles of concept. As Captain Kirk found out when separated into a Goodie and a Baddie, you need both to be successful. I hope we manage to keep the best of both. It’s inevitable that we drag in some of the bad (“cost of freedom” and all that).


          • pendantry says:

            All good points, thanks for making them. Yes, you’re right, I think we do agree more than not. But I can dream, can’t I?…


          • Wyrd Smythe says:

            Nothing wrong with dreams,… except that they can lead to Weltschmerz.

            (One of my favorite lines from Hamlet is, “I could be bounded in a nut shell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.” I’ve always related to the idea that physical space isn’t as important as your mental space. I’m definitely one who lives in my own head. A lot!)

            ((“Bounded in a Nut Shell” would be a great name for a blog…. calling dibs!!))


          • pendantry says:

            Weltschmerz, schmeltschmerz. That’s a terrific quote. Race ya!


          • Wyrd Smythe says:

            D’oh!! You won! :D

            Now I’m really gonna have to see if I can get “Bounded in a Nutshell” or risk not even finishing last!


  7. Pingback: Oceans and Minds. | Learning from Dogs

  8. Patrice Ayme says:

    [Elision of duplicate comment, posted on Learning from Dogs, available here. The Internet is a wonderful thing; as with many tools, we haven’t quite yet figured out how best to use them. And yes, that ‘we’ does include me. :P]


    • pendantry says:

      “After all, we evolved as carnivores, just as our best friends the dogs…”

      I suspect that the reason this subject causes so much strife is the subtle difference between omnivores and carnivores. Those with a knee-jerk reflex against the thought of being told what to do are more likely to claim as you do so as to justify their choices. Those who consider that we humans eat far more meat than our bodies need might choose the former.

      Yes, we need meat to be healthy. But McTuckyKingBurgers ™ in the quantity most consume, given access and sparkly advertising? No.


    • Patrice Ayme says:

      As it turns out, Mister, I published the comment on YOUR site FIRST. You can check the time stamps. I found your post interesting, and I commented.

      I thought later that the same it would interest Paul and his readers. So, as it is it, you just censored a comment I made on your site. Why don’t you ask Paul to remove your article from his site as well? Is not that “duplicate”?

      If I shake someone hand, like I just did yours, it’s distinctly disagreable to hear next that this is intolerable, because i shook Paul’s hand next. I would be curious to learn how you construe what strikes me as a complete lack of courtesy. Do you think that the Internet is a place to be gross? As It is, I was always courteous to you, and never censored you on my site, or anybody else. I would not dream to be that uneducated.

      A hint for you about how to use the Internet: just apply common courtesy. If people salute you, don’t censor them, as you did me.


  9. Dear Pendantry, my vieuws are that I like what I see and read here so I subscribed to your Wibble. Cheers, Cécile Hessels


  10. A lot to digest between the post and comments. Although I am not much of a carnivore and stay away from most processed food I’m not one to preach about having the perfect diet. You have made the first step though towards better health and longevity – awareness. I would and do recommend staying away from the factory farm red meats.


    • pendantry says:

      I find it quite astonishing that government, which exists — in theory at least — to protect the people, seems instead hell-bent on protecting business interests regardless of the impact upon the people. It’s situations like this that convince me that democracy is broken, since the health of the many clearly does not rate highly against the wealth of the few.


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