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All right, I'll admit that the last time I read Romeo & Juliet I was brushing up on my Cliff's notes for a high school paper (AP English, thankyouverymuch).
I did very much enjoy Baz Luhrman's movie version fromst my Tween years. Leo's performance was second only to his turn as Arnie in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. (“I could go at any time.”)
The following dialogue between Tybalt and Romeo, in my likely misinterpretation, reminds me much of the modern-day Vegan (Tybalt, who desperately misunderstands Romeo) versus the “Conscientious Omnovore” (A term Whole 9, the Paleo Wunderkinds, got to before I could.) While I don't envision a desperate Omnivore offing a crazed, Tryptophan-deficient Vegan, let's just suspend our disbelief, take the following quote out of context and enjoy the ride:
Tybalt (The Vegan):
“Romeo, the hate I bear thee can afford/
No better term than this – Thou art a villain.”
(Aside: Tybalt is frustrated because he thinks Romeo shouldn't be participating in the perpetuation of factory-farming horrors or causing pain to any sentient creature; he knows not the difference between an uneducated consumer and a Conscientious Omnivore. He also hath a few insulin and estrogen issues due to overconsumption of bananas and soy burgers. Secretly, however, methinks he secretly loathes his inherent position at the top of the food chain.)
Romeo (The Conscientious Omnivore):
“Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee/
Doth much excuse the appertaining rage/
To such a greeting: [vegan] am I none;/
Therefore farewell; I see thou know'st me not.”
(Aside: Romeo is devastated that Tybalt sees not the bigger picture; he gratefully accepts his position at the top of the food chain and the yoke of his responsibility to be true and tender to it. Romeo is rational; this is because his body is fortified with B-vitamins and amino acids. He thinks Tybalt may need a few Turkey-borne Seratonin precursors, but alas, 'tis too late.)
We all know where it goes from here. Romeo the Omnivore wants not to engage further with Tybalt the Vegan, but to continue building topsoil using rotational grazing practices and perpetuating the resulting biodiversity. Romeo the Omnivore understands that the staples of Tybalt's vegan diet – soy and grains – not only destroy acres of land and topsoil, but are the selfsame crops that feed the factory farm animals.
Tybalt's anguished state may not only be a result of malnutrition. Nay, it is the ego-shattering realization that he is complicit in the thing he hates most. He is part of the machine.
Romeo the Omnivore is part of the solution.
At this point Good ‘Ole Bill Shakespeare takes his leave from my interpretation of the plot, but I do believe I'm on to something here.
We know how good grass-fed, grass-finished, pastured animals are for the preservation of the environment and for the people who gratefully eat their meat, drink mineral-rich broths made from their bones, and facilitate their ability to maintain the cycle of plant and animal life on this planet.
This doesn't have to end with Claire Danes drinking poison. No, we can do better. We can educate; we can continue to bring the most current research in health and environmentalism to the forefront; and most of all, we can at least give our Norton Anthology a cursory glance before we write a blog post like this one.
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