Meatless Monday – The Organ Grinder

The cartoon image of an organ grinder (street musician) and a monkey (gimmick to draw more crowds and money) has come to mean one in power versus the one under his/her control. This Meatless Monday post looks at real life organ grinders (hunters) and monkeys (primates).

With vegetarianism and veganism trending, there is much focus on meat-free diets, its benefits and numerous recipes. But what of other perspectives? Some of the issues concerning the consumption of animal products have implications on health, ecology and the perpetuation of evil (oh that sounds so harsh!) i.e. illegal trade, corruption, etc.

As I’ve said before, animal rights issues are often discussed in conjunction with meat-free diets. Social, economic and political environments present the following as limited yet viable choices for some to earn a living:

  • elephant poaching for ivory
  • the mining of animal parts for traditional medicinal use
  • bush meat

There are those who need the money and those who have the power that make these types of animal trades possible.

Humans belong to the primate group which includes apes and monkeys and we share over 90% of our DNA with some of its members (e.g. chimpanzees). It’s the humans trading in bushmeat that is contributing to the endangered population of apes and monkeys in Africa. Bushmeat, like caviar and lobster, are elitist foods. The bush refers to the forest and meat to the animals found in it. While dealing in ‘monkey meat‘ (or other endangered species) can be lucrative to hunters, there are also unsvaoury consequences.

The recent outbreak of ebola is partially credited to the eating of infected monkeys. And as every high school science project and popular articles will attest, mass killing of animals is not environmentally friendly as it disturbs the delicate balance of ecology. People willing to pay good money for the prestige of eating bushmeat and the hunters willing to accommodate them perpetuates this illegal trade and the corruption needed to sustain it.

The burgeoning palm oil industry (an all-purpose oil used in food as well as cosmetics and cleaning products) is also endangering the habitat and population of orangutans in Borneo.

Cutting down on meat from one’s diet for one day a week, on a regular basis or forever is one thing to help discourage the business of marketable animal meat. Other things that can be done are:

  • Be the change...” Don’t eat some and there won’t be none. Clearly go monkey meatless.
  • Knowledge is power. Become aware of the issue and spread the word.
  • Get active. Seek out organizations that support the cause i.e. sign a petition, volunteer or whatever floats your boat.
  • Abstinence. Avoid products containing unsustainable palm oil and check food labels for sustainable palm oil sources.

Bushmeat Crisis Task Force
Chimpanzees & Bushmeat: 101
Orangutans and oil palm plantations
Say No To Palm Oil – What Can I Do?
Bushmeat – Ape Alliance
BBC News – Ebola: Is bushmeat behind the outbreak?


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