Cold climate Vegans?

In a natural world, cold climates are not conducive to human survival without the use of animal products.

The natural products that are purely plant based, cotton, hemp, etc, provide little insulation capability. No matter how thick a cotton jacket is, it will not keep you as warm as even a thin wooly jumper. Its a simple enough reason of course; cotton is derived from a hot-climate plant, its primary purpose is to dispel heat, not to trap it. Wool, like all hair and fur from animals, is a response to its environment, as is blubber and fat, a response to the problem of trapping in heat in a cold climate. As a consequence, animals from warm climates do not generally have much body fat, and have skins that are thin, can perspire and are not naturally warming. Hair (or fur) covering is minimal. Humans are a warm climate animal.

Despite this, there is not a single instance of any traditional human grouping or society that is vegan. Even the surviving tribes within the Amazon rain forest hunt and use animals: for eating, for clothing, for shelter. There is no single indigenous human grouping that is vegan. None.

Humans are remarkably omnivorous. We will eat anything, and if it doesn’t taste good first time round, we find a way to remove the unpleasantness. We will even eat plants and animals that contain, sometimes potentially fatal, poisons, we just prepare them the right way. It is absolutely astounding what we will eat. Humans are also inveterate explorers, extending their reach, the areas within which they have colonised every land mass (aside from Antarctica) well before “the modern era”. Everywhere European, Chinese, Indian explorers went in the millennia before the modern era, they found other human beings already living there; humans who had come there thousands, if not tens-of-thousands of years previously.

Humans adapt to their environment by exploiting it. We seem to only change in small ways: though some biological characteristics (skin colour, body fat, etc) have emerged based on environmental pressures, this hasn’t changed our basic makeup or essential genetic coherence with each other. We remain one species: Australian Aboriginals can breed with Africans, can breed with Native Americans, can breed with Europeans, can breed with Indians, can breed with Asians, can breed with Inuit, can breed with… We are, still, one interbreeding species.

How do we adapt? We take the clothing of the plants and animals around us, skins, the furs, fibres, and use this for shelter, for food. Inuit survive for thousands of years in the Arctic regions despite little (if any) vegetable intake in their diets: it is too cold for vegetables, and the plants that do survive there (mainly Tundra grass) do not provide material, such as hair, fur, body fat, food, that humans need in these environments.

In a very real sense, we take on all and any of the characteristics of the animals that are around us, and as we have migrated to colder regions, we use the animals we find there. Animals themselves, long before we arrived, have adapted, have evolved to fit within these colder climates; and we exploit those adaptions, in a sense we become those animals. Life travels and adapts.

All traditional cultures have acknowledged and understood this extraordinary dependency and relationship which we have towards the animals around us. We have honoured them, worshiped them, seen them as the supernatural spirits that move through the world enabling us to survive. We have seen them as embodying the very capabilities that enables us to survive; we have gods with animal heads, shamans throwing over the furs of animals, the rainbow serpent of the dreaming.

There is no other animal in nature that has built such a network of relationship between themselves and other organisms. We have singular, or simple partnerships between different species, but nothing like the web that exists with human beings at their centre, and the organisms, plants and animals, around us. That dependency still exists today. It is not so much that human beings are an apex-predator, as our relationship with animals is far beyond, far more complex than predation; and has been for I suspect longer than we can imagine. We will explore this relationship in considerable detail in further chapters, as this is a relationship we have to understand as our capabilities now are so far beyond where we started this journey from.

Vegan ideology not only denies, but wilfully ignores, this fundamental characteristic of humanity and our relationship with the natural world. It would consign this to history, to a relic of a superseded past. It must also condemn all and every known indigenous community on the planet, for each and every one of these eat and use animals. Vegan ideology does not seek for an “ethical” or a “natural” use of animals and their products, but abnegates the validity of any such relationship. A properly, universally applied Vegan ideology would extinguish these cultures and lifestyles. It would, in its stead, replace these products with synthetic, oil-based products, a glorification of man’s post-industrial “disruption”; in a very real manner, vegan lifestyles absolutely require a close collusion with the oil industry, for there is no other material that can be exploited to produce the material we need to live.

The only natural environment a vegan lifestyle does fit is a narrow band of the Earth’s tropical zone, a zone where the temperature is never too cold, and yet even here no human culture of the past has been vegan. Temperate and cold climate zones require either an extensive use of synthetic materials for clothing that would provide the necessary warmth, or we would have to vacate them as it is impossible to live in these regions otherwise. And even within these environments, the jungles of Africa, of the Amazon basin, we find humans using, killing, eating, animals.

Return to: Veganism, An Unnatural Ideology

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