Sunday, January 25, 2009
A beef about cow flatulence
I’m alarmed by trends showing a steady increase in vegetarians because I wonder what we’re going to do with all the cows once we’ve all stopped eating meat.
And that’s going to be a real problem because they’d make terrible zoo exhibits. They’re not entertaining like monkeys. They’re not exotic like gorillas. You can’t race them and although I’ve never attempted it I imagine trying to ride one would be like spending time sitting on a stalled school bus.
When you think about it, the only thing a cow’s really good at is devoting its every waking moment to trying to make itself tastier for people like me who enjoy a good steak once in a while.
But while cows are thriving, it seems we meat eaters are being systematically culled from the herd. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in 200 teens now identify themselves as vegetarians.
It’s a lifestyle I admire, but won’t succumb to, which is about how I feel about people who get and go to work everyday. I eat lots of delicious salads, gorge on seafood and try not to eat too much red meat.
But sometimes nothing satisfies like a big juicy steak or cheese burger. I’m a Weber Grill man because I love the ritual involved in cooking the meals. I think it dishonors a really good steak to just slap it on a frying pan or singe it in a broiler.
In high summer Weber men like me devote nearly a full hour of beer-sipping preparation to the eight or so minutes it takes to cook a good steak. When it’s done to medium rare, I summon the family out on to porch. We say a little grace thanking God for the food and always ask that He get some grub for those without. We don’t get all political and specify that He give them healthy things like broccoli or carrots.
Just, we pray, fill up their bellies.
I’ve wondered if I should say a little prayer for the cow that gave its life for us to eat it, but I never do and won’t until someone persuades me we’re praying to a cow God.
One of my favorite philosophical bumper stickers reads, “If God had intended man to be vegetarians, why did He make animals out of meat?” It’s a good question.
I consider myself somewhat of an expert on cows because I frequently travel by train from my western Pennsylvania home through miles of rich farmland to New York.
If you’ve never taken Amtrak, you need to understand that there are often hour-long episodes where the locomotive is perfectly still. Sometimes they explain why, often not. During these times of tedium, I read, type on my laptop, chat with my seat mate, doodle on a notebook and wonder what kind of insanity makes me want to travel by train instead of airplane, bus or pack mule, all forms of travel which must be speedier than Amtrak.
And more often than not, I’m stuck staring at the ample backside of a cow. I contemplate its existence. What must it be like to be a cow?
It seems perfectly boring. They just stand there chewing the grass. But who am I to judge? Sometimes the cows look up at me and my fellow passengers and they must think our Amtrak existence is perfectly boring.
I’m always fascinated by stories that relate how cow flatulence is among the leading contributors of methane gas that’s wreaking havoc on our ozone layer. Or is it reeking havoc?
Anyway, one recent study says each cow emits 200 to 400 quarts of methane gas per day, or 50 million metric tons per year (times are tough, but I hope I never get the opportunity to put “cow fart counter” on my resume).
Thus, it’s not a stretch to say meat eaters are on the front line of helping to limit the amount of deadly flatulence in the air, at least those of us who don’t include a big plate of beans on the side.
And what would happen to all the cows if we stopped eating them? The farmers who tend them would let them go free. They’d roam the countryside. They’d wind up clogging the highways and parks. We’d be overrun with cows.
So it’s probably all for the greater good that the natural order is maintained.
The last thing any of us needs is to have a big stupid animal lazing around the property doing nothing but polluting the atmosphere with his big piles of outrageous bullcrap.
That’s my job.