Why it's impossible to not actually be a cannibal

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Dr Steve Stankevicius refutes the contention that it is impossible to be vegetarian because all things involve the transfer of matter. 

A DIZZYING NUMBER of publications recently ran a piece titled 'Why it’s impossible to actually be a vegetarian'.

Within it, philosopher Andrew Smith argued that because ecosystems tend to involve the transfer of matter from both plant to animal and animal to plant, plants are made of the same stuff as meat; ergo, you can’t be a vegetarian.

The amount of meat eaters proudly sharing this article has been bewildering. Just as “you are what you eat”, it also seems you are what you read: stupid.

No vegetarian with their basic faculties intact believes vegetables have some eternal vegginess about them — that the atoms that comprise fruit have and will always be a part of fruit. Nor will they drop their next piece of broccoli for bacon if they are reminded of the impermanent nature of stuff in this world. Whatever the motivations, implications and ramifications, vegetarians do not eat meat. Plain and simple.

Homo sapiens have lived and died on this planet for about the past two hundred thousand years. Just as we’ve eaten plants and animals to move, think, grow and repair, we have returned them to the wider environment by excreting waste and decomposing once succumbing to our mortality. So why wasn’t the article titled “Why it’s impossible to not actually be a cannibal'? How about 'Why it’s impossible to not actually drink someone’s piss' or 'Why it’s impossible to not actually breath someone’s farts'?

But why stop there? It’s also impossible to not actually eat stars, since the heavy elements that comprise life – carbon, nitrogen and oxygen – were once forged within the furnaces of dying stellar masses. And did you know, it’s impossible to actually be a heterosexual? Some of the carbon that makes up your partner has once been a part of someone of your own gender. Every time I kiss a girl’s lips, I’m also fellating some dead dude’s junk.

It’s impossible to actually vote for a Republican, since Trump’s and Cruz’s bodies are riddled with Democratic cells. It’s impossible to actually be a Muslim, because we all have Jewish blood running through our veins. It’s impossible to actually be happy, as the dopamine and serotonin involved with your next smile have also helped give rise to pain and grief.

It’s impossible to be an individual. It’s impossible to be human. It’s impossible to be anything but the singularity that spawned the cosmos. It’s impossible to be you. Mind blown? I hope not.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Banter on 29 April 2016.

You can follow Dr Steve Stankevicius on his blog or on Twitter @scepticalshrink. 

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