Why Plant Based Meat Substitute

Many have been asking me why all of a sudden I have started eating plant based meat substitutes. For quite a few years now I have been disturbed by the many reports of ranchers teaming up with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in our western states to kill off all kinds of wildlife, including our beloved wolves, bears and wild horses so that their precious cattle won’t have any competition on public lands. I of course am an avid user of our national forest land with all it’s beautiful mountains and trails. I think it is appalling that the ranchers get to graze their cattle on public lands, their cattle make a mess out of the land and the trails for everyone else and on top of all that the welfare ranchers as I call them get all upset when a wild animal takes one of their stock.

Free Range Cattle

Of course what the ranchers and the BLM keep hidden is the fact, according to this article by Wild Earth Guardians and many others, that less than one quarter of one percent of livestock is killed by predators, that’s 0.23%. And most western states even reimburse the ranchers for their losses, which is why they don’t even bother to try to find non-lethal methods to coexist with the wildlife. There isn’t much reporting in the lame stream media about it so it isn’t well known that the BLM regularly rounds up our wild horses with helicopters who dare live on public land, frequently causing horrific injury and even running them to death in their effort to corral them for slaughter and sale to foreign countries including Mexico, just to please the welfare ranchers and their interests. Wolves,  coyotes and mountain lions are trapped, poisoned and killed in all manner of inhumane and torturous methods that should be illegal in civilized society.

That doesn’t even begin to address the horrific way the livestock is treated, just read this article by the Washington Post… If you can bear to, I assure you that if you do you will never look at your steak the same again.

I had kind of resolved to come up with something tangible I could do to help conserve our precious wildlife when I retired from full time employment but up until now I hadn’t really found anything I could do besides write about it.  Well when the Covid-19 virus hit there were reports that with the restaurants all closed the ranchers were really struggling which of course didn’t hurt my feelings at all.

Then as the news media began warning of meat shortages, a story I had seen about plant based meat came to mind… Why should I worry about a meat shortage if I can find a suitable substitute? It wasn’t hard to find, Walmart and Safeway both carry several brands so decided to try it and went out to purchase some. When I opened the package I was surprised to find that the patties and sausages look just like real meat. Throw it on the grill for 8-10  minutes and you have yourself a decent meal! And much to my surprise they are actually pretty good! And you can even feel good that you are eating something good for your health!

Now I have a way to fight back against the meat industry, I don’t have to purchase their products. If enough of us who care follow suit we can put the meat industry out of business. No longer will there be any reason to slaughter our wildlife, no reason to subject millions of domestic animals to a dreadful life of confinement and abuse at the slaughter houses. Our national forests can once again be sanctuaries for our cherished wildlife and pristine wilderness for the enjoyment of visitors for generations to come. I urge you, please give the plant based meat a try, the furry critters are depending on you!

I of course will continue to look for other more direct ways to help conserve our wildlife, but in the meantime this is a good start that I can feel good about.

Distant Herd and Unrelated Rant

Distant Herd of Mule Deer

The sun was shining when I went to take the trash out this morning and warm rays streaming down upon my face tilted the scales towards another hike this morning. I was thinking about just going for a bike ride this afternoon but I know myself too well… If I don’t get moving before about 7:00 I can be pretty sure I’m not going to get going! I’m a morning person, always have been…

Well a few steps down the trail almost had me wishing I had stayed home! It wasn’t nearly as warm on the mountain as it was in my sheltered back yard and the wind was Distant Herd of Mule Deerjust whipping! Fortunately my jacket has a hood or I might have gotten frost bite on my ears. On the other hand, in wind like that I’m pretty sure any ideas of a bike ride would have been abandoned for sure.

Thought it was going to be a photography shut out until just as I was making the final turn to go back to the parking lot. As I scanned the terrain I spotted the mule deer herd in the distance, contentedly grazing on mountain grass. There was no way I was  going to get close to them though, you can see from the pictures that they were well aware of my presence at least 100 yards away!

Now I want to talk about something else that absolutely infuriated me yesterday. Late last light an article by the local online news site Out There Colorado alerted me to a policy enacted by Colorado Fish and Wildlife (CFW) mandating that starting in July a hunting or fishing license will be required to visit wildlife areas. Reasoning provided by CFW states “By policy, state wildlife areas are acquired with hunter and angler dollars, and are intended specifically to provide wildlife habitat and wildlife-related recreation,” said Southeast Regional Manager Brett Ackerman. “This rule is aimed at curtailing non-wildlife-related use of these properties.”.

The policy alone infuriates me enough, but the comments following the piece were even more maddening, the bulk of which lauded the new policy because basically “hunters fund these areas” and hikers and climbers, photographers and tourists have no right to be there. First of all, how is a nature hike or wildlife photography or birding considered non-wildlife use of the land?

Secondly I am sick and tired of the BS spewed by hunters that they are the only ones who have a right to the land because they are the ones who pay for it. A quick check on the Colorado funding page indicates that only 34% of the state budget comes from passes, fees and permits, a figure which does not indicate how much of that 34% is comprised of hunting and fishing licenses versus entry fees, daily and weekly visitation permits, and commercial license fees paid by professional photography and film companies for special use. A full 34%, equaling the entire portion paid for by fees is funded by the Colorado state lottery and Great Outdoors Colorado. The Federal Government kicks in another 10% of the budget of which of course is funded by the U.S. taxpayer and the remaining 22% is funded by additional non-hunting resources.

If you consider only “wildlife management”, which is not defined by the Colorado funding site, 68% is funded by license fees and permits, which again is not itemized so that we can learn how much exactly hunters are actually paying. Incidentally, the Colorado Department of Education devotes half of it’s site to education about birding, hiking, climbing, camping, and wildlife watching without disturbing the animals. I  guess that half of the site will have to be eliminated in favor of only hunting and fishing if this decision is allowed to stand.

The entire premise that hunters pay for public wild lands stems from the North American Model mostly inspired by Teddy Roosevelt over 100 years ago, to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat from over hunting and development. One hundred years ago hiking, mountain climbing, mountain biking, birding, camping and photography were not really a thing and were of course not given any consideration at the time. This article in the Mountain Lion Foundation  gives an indication of how much things have changed in over a century, stating that “94% of total funding for wildlife conservation and management come from the non-hunting public”. Another thoughtful article provided by WyoFile provides a similar figure, indicating that 95% of the funding for wildlife related agencies comes from the non-hunting public. This article from NPR cites a study by U.S. Fish and Wildlife that reveals only 5% of Americans 16 and older actually hunt. Other studies, especially in areas like Yellowstone in Wyoming and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, show just how much revenue the states and municipalities benefit from wildlife tourism, a figure that far exceeds the paltry sums collected by the states from hunters.

The idea that a miniscule 5% of the American populace should control the nation’s wildlife is a concept that has gone the way of the 19th century. It is well past time that the vast majority of nature loving Americans be given a voice in how our wildlife is preserved. Hopefully this egregious ruling will be quickly overturned in court and millions of Coloradoans and out of state visitors will be able to continue enjoying their land in their own way. If we continue to be denied a voice in decisions about our precious wildlife I urge you to make your voice heard at the ballot box. If our wildlife officials won’t listen, we need to vote in officials who will listen.

The Coyote

After a couple day’s rest I was feeling a bit better but today’s trek was still a bit of a mental struggle… I was starting to wish I had just stayed home when just then I spotted a couple of ears sticking up above a nearby ridge line. I didn’t know if the critter would go down into the ravine or come up and run along the top for a photo op but I got the camera ready anyway. Set to ISO 400 and middle focus zone I figured I’d be ready for whatever turn the scene might take.

Colorado Rocky Mountain Coyote running free

Well as luck would have it a coyote cleared the ridge, immediately spotted us and started to trot along the ridge line towards her home in the thick brush below. I just held the back button focus down and blazed away until my camera’s buffer was full. Then I shot a couple more for good measure.  Afterwards a quick check on my LCD screen looked promising. Exposure looked good and the images mostly looked sharp, even when zoomed in with the touch screen 🙂

My joy at spotting this beautiful animal is tempered by sadness from some of the information I’ve been reading lately, though. Some people are afraid of coyotes… I don’t know why, they are afraid of people, prefer to eat small rodents or rabbits, and pretty much bother no one. Of course there is the odd city person who moves to the mountains, insists on living in the countryside in wildlife habitat and is then stunned to find out he can’t leave his shih tzu out in the yard at night, and of course there are the welfare ranchers who demand to be able to graze their sheep on public national forest land in predator country while not giving a damn about the wildlife or the people who enjoy watching them… but for the most part the wildlife prefers to mind it’s own business, bothering no one and performing their God given task of keeping the rodent population down.

I have known for quite some time that there is no shortage of hunters who love nothing

Colorado Rocky Mountain Coyote

more that blasting away at our beloved wildlife, not to mention people’s pets, a lady in her driveway, other hunters and pretty much anything else that moves, but I had no idea the depth of depravity that is condoned in some states until I recently read an article in Mountain Journal called “A Death Of Ethics: Is Hunting Destroying Itself?”. Apparently in many states predators including wolves, which were protected until Obama sold them out, are considered nuisance animals and can be killed without limit and not even afforded minimum animal cruelty protections.

The article describes all the horrible methods used by sadists in these backward states to destroy these innocent creatures including but not limited to, strangling them in snares, stomach shooting them to cause the slowest and most painful death, and running them down with snowmobiles. Apparently the latter is a preferred family activity in Wyoming as parents teach their children the joy of chasing down a terrified animal and running over it multiple times until it is finally dead. Personally I think that parents that teach their children this kind of cruelty should be charged with child abuse and their children placed in foster homes. The article is long and difficult to read but is an excellent in depth scientific study complete with names and history and useful resources that I highly recommend everyone read who cares about wildlife and our wilderness heritage.

Lest we continue to devolve into a nation of barbarians I hope kinder and more sane people will vote out the politicians who allow these practices in favor of leaders who understand that these animals are valuable sentient creatures who deserve to be treated humanely just as domestic animals are. In addition to their important function of limiting rodent populations, these animals are precious to many people who just want to have the wilderness experience by viewing them. Please contact your representatives today to demand change. Please help to insure that future generations will be able to experience what I was able to witness today… A beautiful example of God’s creation, running free in the beautiful countryside of our great nation.

As always these images and more are available for purchase on my website as wall art and cool gift items including useful household items, tech gadgets, apparel and more! Give the link a click and explore over a thousand great wilderness images created by #swkrullimaging!