Wednesday 22 February 2012

The Lion King, The Circle of Life, and Me

So, I watched The Lion King for only the second time in my life the other weekend (I know, I know, it's amazing and everyone's seen it a kajillion times. What can I say? Other than 1) Boy Disney film! and 2) We didn't own it! I have seen Aladdin about 5 million times though...) and I was definitely into it and looking for its relation to Hamlet which, I'm sorry, but it's really not that similar to Hamlet. Aside from the lack of Shakespeare disappointment, though, I really really enjoyed it, and it did make me wonder how appropriate it was to kind of fancy a lion... (Mustafa is hooooot, you guys!)

Cartoon bestiality aside though, The Lion King did make me think about things a lot more than it was probably designed to do, because I am a crazy person with an overactive brain (and not overactive in a good productive way, just overactive in a 'let's overanalyse disney films while life passes me by' kind of way'.) So anyway, this whole circle of life thing. Mustafa's all like 'you have to respect the land, and just take what you need from it so that it can all renew itself in a healthy way' and it's like, the antelope eat the grass, and the lions eat the antelope, but that's ok, because when the lions die, they go back into the earth and help the grass to grow! And it's all organic and lovely, and then Scar comes along and does what he does (we've all seen The Lion King, right?!) and he allows the hyenas, and, well, everyone, just take what they want without giving anything back, and everything turns to shit.

And so, you know what I'm thinking when I'm reading this? The way we live now, the way we consume the earth's resources and just buy and eat and buy and eat, is kind of like Scar's way of doing things. We just continually take and take, and give nothing back to the earth, so that if we're not careful, we're going to make the earth look like some hyenas came along and fucked everything up. Dammit, we are those hyenas! The thing is, when we can just go down to a supermarket and just buy whatever we want for not very much money, where is the benefit of thinking about where that stuff has come from? Why should we think about 'the circle of life' when we can get whatever we want, whenever we want it; and never face any consequences for having such conveniences?

And, (and here's where I really get down to what I've been thinking) where's the incentive in thinking and caring about factory farming, when it means that we can get meat and eggs and oh man, cheese, for affordable prices, without having to know where they have come from. I mean, if a few animals (ok, millions) have to suffer so that I can have a nice juicy burger, why the hell should I care about it? The answer is, of course, that I should- and I do, only I don't care enough not to eat the yummy burger-especially if there's some cheese, or mmm, just a little bit of bacon on the top! But here's the thing about factory farming- it desperately doesn't respect the circle of life. From what I understand of it, the circle of life is about sharing everything with every being (human or not), and not taking any more than is your due. But we do that, all the time- as much meat as we can handle, which isn't even very good for us anyway; and we eat it because we like it. It's not because we've earned it, having hunted some animal for the best part of the day, and it's not like we even need to eat it- we eat it because we're used to having what we want, and we don't want to not have what we want because, you know, we're greedy (and when I say we, I obviously mean me.)

So. I mean, what can I conclude from all of this? Do I want to say that the only meat we should be eating is that which we've hunted down, killed for ourselves, and thoroughly earned? And that we should let animals roam free and have a good life before we eat them? That kind of is what I want to say, only I realise that the world has kind of moved on from that way of doing things, and whether or not I think it's right isn't going to change anything. The only thing I can realistically change is myself, and my own habits, and the best way I can think of to start is by giving up meat for Lent (not that I am in any way religious, but a 40 day trial isn't a bad way to go, I think). After that, who knows? I'd like to think I could be a vegetarian forever, but I don't know that I can. But I'm still taking this first step, to be just a little bit more respectful of the circle of life. Vegetarians, do you have any amazing recipes that I must try that will convert me to your ways/keep me from going hungry for the next few weeks? Let me know in the comments, and I'll probably give them a go!


  1. Man, but meat is soooo good. Also bad for you (according to my voice teacher, who's one of those raw people). But soooo good.

    Also -- LION KING. If I might quote 3rd Rock from the Sun:

    Officer Don: "Hamlet? The story is as old as time. Pretty-boy son has a rich daddy and a good-looking mommy. The uncle knocks off daddy, marries mommy, and cuts pretty-boy out of the action. So junior goes crazy and he kills them all. Not a pretty story...but there it is."

    Tommy: "Isn't that the plot of The Lion King?"

    1. Meat is good. But then also, animals are really really cute and lovely and deserving of life! It's a tricky one, I'll admit. (One of my favourite ways to put myself off meat is to think of it as dead rotting flesh, because, well, ew.)

      Yay Third Rock from the Sun! Except that absolutely isn't the plot of The Lion King! Sarabi would never marry Scar!

    2. She was KIND of with him, though. And MUFASA AS A GHOST TALKING TO SIMBA. COME ON.

    3. Hmmm... Hmmm. Well. Yes. There is that. I still say that Sarabi would not do Scar though because he's evil and GROSS! And he whacked her across the face! NO!

  2. Yay giving up meat for Lent! Yay!!!! *applause*

    I bet you by the end you won't even miss it. ;-)

    1. This is my plan! I don't know, we'll see. I was pretty much a vegetarian at University, so I don't think it'll be that hard- it's just my mum always bloody trying to foist meat upon me!

  3. Hooray for over-thinking Disney stuff. My favorite. But keep in mind even though Mufasa is all "circle of life you guys" he did make the hyenas live in an elephant graveyard. Weren't they part of this circle of life?

    Also congrats on making the decision to give up something for Lent and you make a lot of good points about how bad factory farming is. (You should read Omnivore's Dilemma.) Though I have to second Alice's comment of "Man, but meat is soooo good". Meat isn't something I could give up because pork is delicious.

    1. Hehehehe, I thought you might appreciate that! Next up, the cultural sensitivity/insensitivity of Aladdin! (Not really. But we could actually talk about that, because that's a thing.) The Hyenas are excluded from lovely lionland (can't actually remember its name...) because they don't respect the circle of life though! Like human people now! Mustafa would banish all of us!

      I should read Omnivore's Dilemma! And Eating Animals. And anything that will stop me eating animals. Meat is great though, I agree. I kind of hate pork though, although I do love bacon! I'm more about the beef and chicken...

    2. Yes, next over-thinking Disney topic: insensitivity in Aladdin!

      But weren't the hyenas just starving? Isn't what Scar offered them just food? Seems like a pretty basic thing to want.

      I don't know that Omnivore's Dilemma will make you want to not eat meat. It will make you want to avoid factory farms, but seek our sustainable, local meat options. Eating Animals and Skinny Bitch I've both heard will make you want to give up meat, so those might be good ones for you to try. I haven't read either though so I can't say how good they are. From what I've heard they are preachy.

    3. Yeah, but when the hyenas get food, there's no moderation to it, and they just go crazy and there's not enough to go around and "the circle of liiiiiiiiife!" just doesn't work anymore! So they have to just go away.

      Skinny Bitch is sooooo preachy, but it's the kind of thing I want to hear so I don't mind it! I might try and seek out Eating Animals and Omnivore's Dilemma... Or I might just read the books I have (that's just crazy talk!)

  4. I was obsessed with The Lion King when it came out when I was a child. I watched it all the time when I was eight or so. I think it's as Hamlet as you can get without scaring children for life.

    I like your no meat for Lent plan. I'll include some recipes that I love in my email. I agree that we can really only do the best that we can do to benefit the earth. There are some things that can be bought locally and I think that supporting local growers/farmers is a good idea. But some things are just not that accessible. It's a shame.

    1. I think you may be right about The Lion King being as Hamlet as you can get without being scarring! Good thinking :)

  5. This, this, a thousand times this! My reasons for not eating meat are best summarized by Eating Animals. So just read that and pretend I said all the smart things.

  6. I never made the connection between Lion King and Hamlet... Do I have to give my English Major License back now? :)

    Good luck on the vegetarianism! I was raised by vegetarian parents, so I've never had to struggle to maintain it. But I totally understand how giving up something you love to eat would be difficult. This is why I can't be vegan; I love cheese too much to function without it.

    One of my favorite meals to cook is vegetarian tacos:
    -take a can of black beans (not the refried ones), put into either a non-stick pan or one with a thin coating of olive oil.
    -Add several spoonfuls of your favorite salsa, as well as garlic powder and cumin to taste.
    -Let cook for about ten minutes, stirring, until it smells delicious.
    -Pop in a taco and add lettuce, tomato, sour cream, cheese, etc on top.

    Goes great with my favorite (and really simple) guacamole recipe: avocado, lime, crushed fresh garlic, and salt/pepper to taste.

    Ta da!


  7. So many tasty veggie recipes, I don't know where to start! This one is tasty:

    I also make a mean summer veg risotto with mange tout/peas/spinach/asparagus/mushrooms (or whatever your preferred veg are - roast squash works well, for example).

    Oh, and our default easy veggie dish (bearing in mind my boyfriend is a meat-eater but shares veggie meals with me every other night) is chickpea stew:

    tin chickpeas
    tin tomatoes
    lime juice

    Throw the above in a pan and leave to simmer while you prepare rice or couscous to accompany. And that's it. You can add more veg (I like a bit of onion and courgette in there) or other types of bean, make it more spicy, or more herby. It's really simple and tasty.

    Hope you enjoy trying some of these recipes out!