People have been eating meat for years — perhaps even centuries. But along the magnificent shores of the pristine Rhind River here in progressive Germany, I came across an intentional community dedicated to supporting the meaten lifestyle — in which the participants eat no vegetable matter of any kind.
“We are strict meatatarians,” said Herbert von Essen, the founder of the community and author of the meaten manifesto, The Flesh and the Word. “It takes a lot of support, in a culture where vegetables are hidden in the diet everywhere. You could say we do this for ethical reasons, but most people do it for health. Meat is actually very good for you. It is quite nutritious.”
Charismatic, compelling and eloquent, von Essen explained, “People are meat. That’s the basis of the diet. You are what you eat. So eat meat.”
But ethics play into the movement in a big way, he said. Most meatatarians feel instinctively that it’s clearly murder to gash a living, thriving plant away from the Earth at the base of its stalk at the very peak of its existence, leaving its roots to whither helplessly in the ground beneath an oozing stub, and then to thrust it into boiling water while it’s still alive. Or worse yet — to eat it raw, crushing live cells between the bare animal teeth of a human being.
I was intrigued. What he said seemed to make so much sense, like everything else here in the pragmatic country of Germany, where nothing sticks and the windows all open. And the women, who strolled around nude, were beautiful. The warm and hospitable meatatarians invited me to stay for a few days to learn more about their social movement, so that I could then spread the word on the Internet and throughout the American media, and possibly plant the story in the Washington Times. It seemed like a great cause to propagandize.
On the day I arrived, lunch consisted of a delightful sausage salad, as well as hammus sandwiches served on hearty whole meat bread. It was quite satisfying. Germany has the finest breads anywhere in the world, most of which I can’t eat due to my wheat allergy. I felt so at home.
To drink, we had freshly brewed iced bees, sweetened with honey. Sugar, a vegetable product, is strictly forbidden here.
“But don’t you get tired of meat?” I asked.
“Never. Meat is actually very diverse,” said von Essen, who is also author of The Flesh Pot: Meaten Cuisine For You, published earlier this year by Slaughterhouse Press in Chicago. “Tonight for dinner we’ll have kidney chutney, tripe and goat’s eyes. Tomorrow we’ll have tongue, pig’s feet and scrapple, with blood pudding for dessert. One of the benefits of meatatarianism is the great variety,” he said. “Some of us were vegetarians. It was boring, horrendous.”
Breakfast might consist of a hot bowl of goat meal — always made from organic rolled goats — or some horn flakes and half an antelope, plus toasted whole meat bread without butter. And for lunch, Jell-o is served as a main dish. “Jell-o is meat, I bet you didn’t know that,” von Essen said. “It’s made of animal hoofs. It’s quite nutritious. We also eat marshmallows for the same reason. But only if they’re sugar free.”
But strangely, “Strict meatatarians don’t eat any dairy products,” he explained. “They’re very bad for you. Your instincts should tell you that,” he said admonishingly. “Would you just go up to cow and suck on her nipple? Think about it. And we don’t eat eggs. They’re disgusting, oozy and in fact they’re abortions, and strictly speaking, they’re not actually meat.” I won’t get into it in this article, but the meatatarians are against abortion.
Brown lice and toadfu were on the menu for the next night’s dinner. I missed broccoli, but knew better than to ask, so I discussed the toadfu, taking copious notes. “It’s made of pure toads,” he answered, as I scribbled away. “The texture is excellent and silky. We make it right here. It’s the community’s most profitable product. Not a shred of soy in the stuff, and it has tons more flavor than the original.”
Raised in the 60s, von Essen said it was the disgusting texture of tofu, served to him forcefully by his parents night after night after night as he starved from protein deficiency, that made him consider taking up the meaten diet as a way of life. The year his parents lived at The Farm in Tennessee, all he ate was texturized vegetable protein.
When I asked about chicken, though, von Essen became noticeably disturbed. He looked at me as though I had asked about incest in his family, and his eyes bulged and I noticed he had a triple chin which was taking on a distinctly red pallor. The vibes, which, as a Pisces and trained professional psychic, I can always feel quite distinctly, became intense. I became nervous, and wanted bite into an apple. But then he broke the silence.
“We don’t eat chicken,” he said. “It’s disgusting. Too many vegetarians eat chicken and we’re pretty sure it’s a vegetable.”
A huge controversy erupted at the 1996 International Meaten Convention when someone pointed out that cows, which most meatens eat heartily, only consume plants. This came as a tremendous blow to the pride of the steak-eating men, some of whom had no idea. One threw up on the spot as someone described witnessing cows chewing the same green grass over and over again as they worked it through their stomachs. “They were just staring at me sideways, and chewing and chewing.” said the witness. “It was my worst nightmare.”
A controversial motion was made to eliminate cows from the official list of meat products. “One guy actually started crying when it came out that cows are vegetarians. He couldn’t take it,” said one attendee. “He must have been a Taurus.”
However, after a lengthy debate that ended at 4:36 am the next morning (someone, cast a chart please…) a deal was arranged in which cows were allowed to remain on the list of meat, but sheep, which also eat only vegetables, were kicked off. “They behave more like vegetables, so it seemed to make sense,” said another conference attendee. “But really it was political. They were just scape-goating sheep. Millions of animals eat only vegetables. It’s actually quite disgusting when you think about it.”
The meatatarian movement has clearly lost some of the solidarity it enjoyed in the early 90s, when the flesh-eating people of the world were united and all ate at the same table. One of the first factions to split off was the Mackerelbiotic movement, of which participants only eat mackerel. Founded by Fishio Sushi in 1991, Mackerelbiotic theory stresses the importance of proper food combining.
Sushi, who was visiting the meaten community at the time I was there, explained, “Well, you can eat mackerel with mackerel, but we don’t advise combining mackerel and mackerel in the same meal, especially if you eat mackerel, but if you eat some mackerel beforehand it’s probably okay. And never eat mackerel in the morning, and never for dessert. And with Mackerelbiotics, you can eat anything, as long as it’s mackerel and you balance it with the right amount of mackerel.”
I thought, “Holy smokes!”
Next to split off were the Humanitarians, who only eat other people. The Humanitarian diet includes specialties like baby back ribs, smoked lung, sour kraut, macho chips, manburgers, vegetarian soup and cheeken salad. Another favorite is stuffed nostrils. They also eat each other. There are many Humanitarians in East Germany, and the famous Menschenfleisch restaurant does a brisk business in Berlin, catering to the literary crowd.
But by far the strangest of the meatatarian lot are the Meaten Vegans, which, as a group, traces its heritage back to the 60s and will only eat meat products that are made of pure vegetables. They’re the ones on line at the health food store with a shopping basket full of Wonderburgers, Tofu Pups, Fakin’ Bacon, Peking “Duck,” and Wheatmeat.
At the outrageous, historical 1997 Meaten Convention, the Frankfurter Alliance tried to throw out the Meaten Vegans for eating Tofu Pups, but failed. The Frankfurter Alliance is the closely allied group that protects the business interests of manufacturers of bratwurst, knockwurst, liverwurst, weinerwurst, weisswurst and ordinary hot dogs. Briefly, from 1978-1979, hamburger manufacturers were allowed in. But they were kicked out when they were caught eating their hamburgers with pickles.
Business in the meatatarian market appears to be booming. Bear & Company is about to release the Totem Animal Cookbook, and its popular Animal Cards deck is an easy way to use divination to make up the menu for any meal. And Neale Donald Walsh is currently channeling Book Four, after God began lengthy discourse about why eating everything is good.
“What a great story,” I said. “My readers will eat this up.”
“You’re not going to print this, are you?” von Essen asked, taking on a strange gleam in his eye and clearly salivating. Then I ran for my life, suspecting he might be a humanitarian.++
Eric Francis does astrological dietary counseling and refuses to get his stargazing license. This article is based on a radio script co-written with David Wilcox, who is about to become really, really famous.