There’s a scene from the movie, Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, wherein the local African cattle kill and eat several wild hyenas. Almost immediately after ingesting the animal flesh the cows begin to stumble and drop dead. As gruesome as the whole scenario was, it seems symbolic of the first day, one million years ago (or so), also in Africa, when pre-human primates came across or killed another animal and decided to eat its dead flesh. As with the scene from the installment of the Exorcist, the event represented an innocent plant-eater’s first brush with evil.
Unfortunately for all other life to follow, humans did not have an immediate sickened reaction and drop dead like the cattle in the film. Nothing stopped the greedy proto-humans from continuing with their aberrational carnivorous crimes against nature. Instead, the killing and consumption of their fellow animals, bolstered by the lust for power and control, became routine, tradition, and finally enshrined. Now, here we are today (both the unthinking omnivore and the ethical vegetarian alike) paying the penance for our ancestors’ acts.
Yes, there was an original sin, but it had nothing to do with eating apples or any other fruit, nor anything that grew on trees or in the ground for that matter. It had to do with trying to mimic natural predators who’ve had millennia over us primates to adapt physically and psychologically into the role of carrion scavenger or killer. Not that nature’s carnivores were ever evil, but why would we want to emulate such undesirable and offensive behavior?
That first bloody bite of carrion, the first mouth-watering morsel of tender flesh was all it took; all she wrote. Fast-forward a million years—game over.
The proud human followed a path from hand-to-mouth, from feed lot to oil field, changing everything from Earth’s biodiversity to its very climate.
A lot has been made about humans being the only species to cause a mass extinction. But when all is said and done, some may say that we’re not the first species to have a role in a mass extinction; that the over-population of methane producing microbes, methanogens, might have factored in to the third mass extinction event, the Permian extinction. Still the fact remains that humans have the dubious distinction of being the one species to knowingly bring en entire era (in our case, the Age of Mammals—the most diverse in Earth’s history) to a close. Despite ample warning and time to modify our behavior, our species seems bent on making the same mistakes right up to the living end. Not only did the freeways and highways not miraculously clear at the first sign that our carbon over-output was changing the planet’s atmosphere, but relatively few people (relative to the over-all burgeoning human population, anyway) are swearing off carrion after learning that meat production is responsible for an even greater carbon (and methane) footprint.
And it all leads back to that first fateful bloody bite. Mother Nature was too nice to us. If she had made that early proto-human urp it all back up again, projectile-vomit at the very thought of it, or experience some repellant natural reaction, we could all have been spared a lot of misery at the hands of Homo Horribilus Rex, the two-legged mutant, meat-eating monster.