Cycle of Life - Some Thoughts

Cooking chicken soup is a very mind floating experience; loads of time to contemplate all sorts of things while chopping mushrooms, ginger and onions.

It is amazing how cultures half a world apart consider the same thing as health providing. Whenever I had a cold cropping up as a child back in Germany, or I was recovering from an illness I was treated to a lovely hot bowl of chicken soup. It is an age old remedy that was passed down through the generations. A friend of mine who didn’t have the healthiest of lifestyles when she was younger turned ‘Chicken Soup Freak’ when her little boy was bringing home all those viruses from nursery.

She swears that the weekly dose of soup bubbling on the hob all winter prevented them from getting any colds.

And now I learned that the same thing happens in China. The recipe is entirely different – apart from the chicken. It’s not beef or fish stock, it is chicken.

As you all know me: I can become quite missionary about things and I started to promote the soup wherever I could. We are living in England after all, the country with a constantly warm humid climate that helps sustain viruses and bacteria better than almost any other country in the world. I did so until I talked to vegetarians, suggesting that vegetable stock instead of chicken might work as well.

Wait a minute!

Wasn’t it the chicken that made the main ingredient? I consider the Chinese version even more effective because they use onions, ginger and Goji berries as well - all ingredients known to be beneficial for the immune system and to help against colds. But apparently the German version works as well without those things – hence the chicken must have the biggest impact of all ingredients.

Since then, whenever I am cooking this soup, my thoughts are drawn to what it means to be vegetarian.

I obviously I am not a vegetarian and when conversations drift into this direction I usually am considering my statements very carefully depending on the audience.

Luckily all my vegetarian friends handle this matter in a ‘live and let live’ kind of way. If invited I have no problem with their hospitality since the vegetarian recipes are really yummy and I don’t need meat every day. And if I throw a party I always have plenty of vegg, fruit and pulses anyway. In this friendly environment it is not a problem for me to claim that I never would want to become a vegetarian.

Some vegetarians however are rather rigid in their beliefs and in this case it is better to go down the ‘weak’ route. Pretending that I would like to be a vegetarian, but that my meat loving family background and my weak character so far kept me from becoming one, gives them the edge and they can feel superior, looking down on me poor thing. Although that saves me the hassle of a row and the party to become uncomfortable, I usually have to endure their missionary efforts to win me over to their side.

Obviously people become vegetarian for various reasons and some religious groups even incorporate all of those into their belief system. Many can’t bear the thought of being part in the killing of an animal. Don’t get me wrong: This is a very noble thing! However I have my doubts that this is a powerful enough reason to become vegetarian, unless one is very strict -  I will come back to this later.

Others believe they can safe the world if the production of meat would stop and with that the exhaling of greenhouse gases from farm animals. Well, given that cows eat a lot of veggy matter they do fart a lot. And some people are hoping that not eating meat would do their bodies good, even going as far as considering meat as a poisonous drug that should be forbidden by governments.

Hmmm, all very powerful stuff!

And again, please don’t get me wrong: It is not my intention to convert vegetarians back to meat eaters. I just would like to give you my point of view which is not a very popular one, but nevertheless might yield the one or the other truth.

I would like people to consider the options and then to make up their own minds. If you would decide to become a vegetarian – or a meat eater for that matter – then do it for the right reasons.

The wrong reason would be: Because all your friends are, or somebody very cool is.

The right reason would be: Because you want to and you are feeling good about it!

So back to the ‘not wanting to be part in the killing of animals’ thing. Especially teenagers can be rather squeamish about these cute little baby animals: How could somebody ever want to kill them?

Well, what they don’t understand yet and what they can’t be protected from forever, is that the world is not a cute place. Cats hunt birds – bad cat, Lions hunt Wildebeest – oh well, the Lion’s cubs are cute and need to eat, birds hunting worm – Eeee, yeiks, worm are yucky, good bird. Where to draw the line?

I took the lives of many animals. A lot of them were pity kills because the animal was injured or sick, but some of them were deliberate. When I was a teenager we had an injured owl which needed feeding. We were told by a falconer that it is essential that they get fur and bones so that they can produce pellets to spit out. So we bought white mice which were the only ones available for purchase. White mice are not the owl’s usual prey and it seemed that this silly owl didn’t recognise them as such. So we had to kill the mice before we could hand-feed them to the owl – what this lazy little bugger thoroughly enjoyed, and when after a few weeks the injuries had healed off, we left the window open and he vanished into thin air without a ‘Thank You’.

Well, and what does that mean for myself? For me: Eating animals?

I have taken a decision in that matter a long time ago: I will do my best to learn how mother ‘Nature’ would do it, and then act upon it.

All that yucky stuff like worms and ants do more good for our world than anything else. Just that they are not cute, so we poison them as soon as they dare entering our houses – which we planted bang in the middle of their territory. See, I do eat chicken, but I am feeding my ants at the perimeter of my house. They love tuna and biscuits. So they stay outside and have a living. I have at least two ants nest in plant pots in my conservatory. They are not harming the plant, are minding their own business and they are very interesting companions.

It seems that I am not a vegetarian because I am drawing my line a bit differently.

We have evolved as omnivorous animals. Whether we like it or not: We are not so much different from pigs. In severe emergencies even civilised humans resort to cannibalism. We can live rather well on a non-meat diet, but we can live even better on a non-vegg diet, given that we consume the whole animal. Inuit are the best example.

Vegetarians are not mutants. Truly vegetarian humans would have to evolve naturally over many, many generations and would be so much more dependent on a lasting environment as we are as omnivorous creatures.

I think that there are so many vegetarians living a sustainable life, is down to globalisation. A lot of the food supplies they need are sampled from all over the world. Our European ancestors would have had problems to get hold of soy for example. And probably it is good that they didn’t. Soy plays a major role as protein rich meat replacement and according to some sources bears considerable risks However true or not true these sources are; I have first hand information of a friend who has an oestrogen susceptible breast cancer that she is not allowed any soy products because of the similarity in chemical structure to oestrogen. This information did tempt me for a moment to use it against menopausal symptoms until I realised, that I probably shouldn’t feed that stuff to hubby in order not to undermine his fight against man boobs.

There are quite a few examples supporting my theory that the human body performs better with a mixed diet. One of them which struck me most is the account of Martina Navratilova in her book Shape Your Self – An inspirational Guide To Achieving Your Personal Best. She writes on page 46-47:

… In 1990 I began to think seriously about being a vegetarian because I love animals - … and said goodbye to most animal foods, with the exception of eggs and some dairy on occasion. I remained a vegetarian for about seven years. During this time I felt good about myself, better than I ever had, because I wasn’t eating anything that could walk, run, swim, or fly. I could watch the movie Babe and not feel guilty!

Although I liked the ‘vegetarian me’, I eventually had a stamina problem. I struggled to get through a match, practically running out of steam midway. I was probably not taking in enough protein to replace the normal loss of muscle after my matches, and my body was therefore in a chronically worn-down, torn-down state. To make matters worse, I ate some bad eggs, got sick, and could not stomach eggs for years afterward. So I had to liberalise my diet by reintroducing more animal food into the mix. These supplied the material for the muscle repair, and my energy levels shot up fast. It was amazing. …

This is something I experienced myself. I used to think that when I am working out, I need carbohydrates to fuel the engine.  Wrong! Well, not entirely wrong but not the whole truth either. Since I am cutting back on refined sugars and topping up on protein I am like a roly-poly, whereas before I had a lot of injuries, muscle aches and lack of energy.

And it’s not just the protein that plays a role in the game. There are micronutrients like iron and some other stuff which come in meat in a very digestible form. The BBC series ‘Truth About Food’ was picking up on this matter with a test.

I know that all the above are just examples and not proving anything. However, these examples are reasons to think about it, and to look at further studies and findings. They show that each body is working differently and that what is good for one person does not have to be for another, and that hence we shouldn’t follow a trend like a sheep its herd.

And then there is this final matter of fairness. I sometimes get asked: How would you feel if you would get eaten?

I actually I wouldn’t mind being eaten by, let’s say: A Tiger. Not that this would be my dream death - and I am aware that this might sound a bit pretentious, given that I am living in an area of the world where there are no predators chasing humans - but I am serious: Should the shit hit the fan and on a holiday trip to Africa I should fall prey to a big cat, I would quite like the thought that there are cubs out there in the wilderness having a good head start because they got hold of a tough old German lady to nibble on. This image gives me more peace of mind than the idea of being embalmed and looking good for as long as possible while lying in my dark grave.

There is a wonderful German poem from Theodor Fontane. It is so beautiful that luckily it got translated into many languages. The family mentioned in this story actually exists as did the original pear tree. It is the story of an old squire who generously distributed pears to the children of the village and who on his death bed commanded that a pear would be buried with him. Knowing his stingy son, he foresaw a drying up of the pear supply for the children and took measures in his hands for the last time.

So after a while a little pear tree grew out of the grave and developed into a wonderful fruit bearing specimen serving the children for many years to come.

It is a very soothing thought that at the end of my life, I will give it all back. All the little wiggly worms and ants I helped preserve will do their work to make me go back to where I belong, and chickens will pick the grass that hopefully will grow a bit greener and then other people will cook a nice chicken soup to get well through the cough season and the circle is closed.

Articles on Lifestyle

Haldi KumKum

Live & Let Live
Why: "How 2 Kitchen"

Money, Money, ...

Motivation & Fun
Who's listening?
Eureka Moments
Inspiration vs. Motivation
The real Teese
Tummy & Co
Nine Words
Cycle of Life - Some Thoughts
Internet and Branding
Brilliant Business Women
The Typecast Trap
Garden without Fuss
Mills & Boon
About Veg
Pushing the Limits
About Criticism
Forum on RFOS
Bringing it together
...Bringing it together-Part 2

Time Management
Relationships: Cliché!?
Incredible List of Rules

The Invention of Lying

Nerds VS. Dilettantes
Knitting 21st Century Style
A Network Is A Home
Serious Game
Networking Strategy

Milsoms - Kesgrave Hall
Court Restaurant London

Techie Stuff
IL and the Internet


To Sumatra as Eco Tourist

Bad Nenndorf
Two Gals no Men: Wellbeing

A Posh Day Out!
A Market Day Out!

Fuerteventura 2009
Travel Diary
Travel Read

Fuerteventura 2008
Fuerte - The Island
Fuerte - Dirary & Club Life
Fuerte - Shopping
Fuerte - Jet Ski
Fuerte - What else?

Tuebingen 2008
A Day out in Town
The Gallery

Natural History Museum
What I Pack
Lowestoft Airfestival

Back to Top
Copyright 2007
Author: Rika