Vegetarian Dinosaurs

Veganasaurby Geoffrey Smagacz6/18/15
Is Steven Spielberg pushing that conceit again in his latest Jurassic Park picture, Jurassic World, that sees the vegetarian dinosaurs as gentle giants, but the carnivores as mean-spirited man eaters?  From watching the trailers and then the movie, unfortunately, yes.

In the first Jurassic Park, the wee ones, hiding in a tree, practically rub noses with one of the behemoths munching leaves.  They relax because “he’s one of the good ones”; the monster only eats vegetables.  It sneezes on the two innocents, and the audience titters.

Yes, this scene serves as comic relief for the audience after witnessing a particularly stressful scene.  But why does Mr. Spielberg perpetuate this well-worn myth; doesn’t he know what a cliché it is?  Though immensely entertaining, one has to wonder if these movies principally function as vegan propaganda.

For example, doesn’t Mr. Spielberg know that the two most dangerous animals in Africa – that is, the animals that kill the most humans – are the “herbivorific” hippo and water buffalo?  How can that be?  They only eat vegetables!  Little children should beware.

And how about that poor fellow in Africa stalking elephants with his camera, recently trampled to death by a bull elephant, also an herbivore?  And yet Spielberg has his Jurassic Park tourists in Jurassic World unconcernedly weaving in and out and around the legs of massive brontosauruses and stegosauruses?

What world does Spielberg live in?  The next time he visits his summer house near Yosemite National Park, he should find a herd of American Buffalo (they’re plenteous around there), and approach them, particularly one of the male bulls at rutting time.  Try to pat his head and see what happens.  Afterward, he can shake his finger at the beast and say, “You shouldn’t act like that.  Don’t you know you’re a vegetarian?”

I got my first unhealthy dose of vegans about 30 years ago, volunteering at a food coop in Buffalo, New York.  Then, I was, I admit, a vegetarian – and also an atheist.  These two vegan ladies that I worked with were the hands-down nastiest individuals I’d ever encountered in my short life up until then.

I started eating chicken and fish immediately thereafter but continued to avoid the red stuff until a particular incident.  An old school chum from a devout Catholic family invited me to dinner, and from the moment I arrived I could feel a palpable tension between the wayward daughter, who had become a vegan, and the mother, preparing T-bone steaks.

What am I going to do?  I thought.  How am I going to handle this?  I hadn’t eaten red meat in five years.  If I said anything, I’d only aggravate the strain.  I decided to zip it.  We gathered.  They prayed.  The daughter had her vegan meal and I tucked into a delicious steak, and I’ve been eating meat in moderation ever since.

In Matthew 4:4, Christ makes it clear.  It’s not what goes into a man’s mouth that defiles him, it’s what comes out of it.  Evil starts in the human heart.  It’s not the meat that’s going to make us mean or the lack of meat that will make us gentle.

So, Mr. Spielberg, next Jurassic Park movie, throw in a foot stomping brontosaurus with an attitude.  It’ll make me think of those vegans in Buffalo.


Mr. Smagacz is author of A Waste of Shame and Other Sad Tales of the Appalachian Foothills.  The book won the 2014 Independent Publisher gold medal for Mid-Atlantic Best Regional Fiction. • (1421 views)

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11 Responses to Vegetarian Dinosaurs

  1. oldguy says:

    I think it helpful to always think of meat only existing in packages found at the store.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    There are millions of vegetarians across Asia.They do not moan and bitch and are not sanctimonious about it, even though most of them do not eat meat for religious reasons.

    Western vegetarians are another kettle of fish. They have even come up with different tiers of vegetarian-ness so they may determine how holy they are. Of course, they are not only sparing other creatures, they are now saving the planet and are doubly blessed. And if you don’t believe them just ask them. They probably don’t have children for the same reason so we do have something to be thankful for.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    In Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game”, the hunter Jeremy Rainsford suggests the cape buffalo as the most dangerous game. General Zarkov demurs, but of course his alternative turns out to be his fellow men. In one short story I read involving some revived dinosaurs, a group of animal-rights activists decides to release some. One ends up being squashed by a sauropod, and another decides to release a nice, harmless Velociraptor.

  4. Steve Lancaster says:

    I learned in the jungle of Vietnam and the hills around Camp Pendleton that mother nature does not want you there!

    She will put the only rock in hundreds of yards underneath your back when you try to sleep, she will send all number of spiders, snakes and creepy crawly things to bite, sting and annoy you.

    Like it or not, man is not a resident of “nature” our place is in the city. It is only in the cities of our world that the technological innovation occurs. That does not mean that cities are safe, but we know who and where the predators are.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’d always heard that the hippo is the most dangerous animal in Africa.

    I suspect the reason Spielberg featured T-rex as the bad guy and the “veggiesaur” as the harmless animal was because it made for good cinema. It’s logical because I can tell you when I’m out hiking that I have no fear of the rabbits and deer that I come across but am wary of the bears, coyotes, and the cougars. Sure, not ever herbivore is harmless, but for the purposes of movie-making, it makes sense to have that dichotomy.

    But I wonder if Spielberg didn’t go for this shtick because, A) It’s how Michael Crichton (no environmental wacko himself) wrote it (I can’t remember, it’s been a long time since I read the book), or B) It was just a generally logical plot point.

    Still, this is the guy who erased the guns from “ET.” It’s certainly possible the whole “veggiesaur” thing was a conscious or unconscious promotion of veganism.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Mike Resnick once described an encounter he had with a hippo. They’re pretty harmless unless you get between them and water. Of course, the fact that there might be water behind them could be irrelevant if there’s water behind you, and that’s what they see. Deer cause a lot of car accidents (it happened to us once on the way home from the IUSFC New Year’s Party in Bloomington), and they occasionally are fatal.

      I think the key is that most herbivores are harmless if you don’t go after them (or run into them in a high-speed vehicle). Carnivores can sometimes hunt you, which makes them more dangerous in that sense.

      • Dear Timothy, perhaps you missed this hippo encounter with a boat.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Su7GkqwxG08

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I think it’s likely true (if we did a count) that most herbivores are mostly harmless to humans. But some (such as moose and hippos) will come after you. I think you can include many herd animals in this. I can stand near a rabbit and it will just scamper away. That’s not likely true of water buffalo, elephants, and many other herbivores. One may mean no harm. But many of these animals aren’t taking any chances. And if they’re bigger than you, they may squash you.

        I think the danger with the hippo is his territorial instinct. I don’t think it is just a matter of getting between him and the water. It is the fact (as you see in that video) that you were on his patch of water.

  6. Rosalys says:

    The thing to remember about wild animals is that they are wild. Even an herbivore whose main method of defense is flight, can and will attack if cornered. Even many (not all) carnivores are wary of mankind and their first choice is to leave. Just don’t block their way of escape. Nature isn’t always pretty! Folks who have watched too many Disney nature films can get the wrong idea. People mean FOOD to animals. With some they have learned to expect you to provide it. With others you are just today’s lunch. If you are lucky enough that they like vegetation they just want you to leave them alone.

    It was the carnivorous tyrannosaurus rex who saved the day at the end of Jurassic Parkthe movie.

    Our daughter had a boyfriend once who was a vegan. He was a pasty looking thing.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I think the key difference between predators and herbivores is that the former will seek out prey (often including us) to eat them, whereas the latter are only dangerous if threatened. Of course, some are awfully easy to threaten (in their own minds, such as they are, anyway).

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