The first passion I ever had in my life was Star Trek. techwear cargo pants That show with the silly costumes and the weird aliens contained so much intelligence that people were able to go beyond the 60’s hairstyles and the flashy uniforms to get to the message. It helped me when my parents were fighting, gave me an escape from being an isolated teen, you name it. Star Trek taught me about ethics, tolerance, etc… Many fans can relate. Star Trek fans, in fact, were my first “family”. They took me in and accepted me, therefore reducing my own social alienation and I met my first Vegetarian and Vegan friends. That was the early 90s.
Thirty years later, I am a passionate and relentless Vegan. It is my lifestyle, my raison d’etre. I consider Veganism the path humans have to take to evolve spiritually, physically, mentally. It is the only sustainable way we will be continuing on this planet. So how does Star Trek fit into this?
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, i felt compelled to revisit my old favorites and see how my perception has changed (or not and realize, geez i am older!). It is fair to say that a Vegan’s vision of the world is not as clouded by the persistent lies of the food industry, pharmaceutical industry, corporate bought politicians and their cohorts and the general conditioning in all of society as most non-Vegans’ is. Even liberals, with their progressive ideas about the environment, health care, women’s rights, etc.., fail, for the most part, to see the connection between what is on their plates and the movements they fight for.
I felt compelled to revisit Star Trek after many years and was stunned to discover that the very first season of ST:TNG contains this line from First Officer William Riker (played by Jonathan Frakes): “We no longer enslave animals for food purposes“. How did I ever miss this line? Last time I saw that episode (“Lonely Among Us” Season 1), I was still a well conditioned meat eater and had no clue about animal cruelty, the environment or the cost of junk food. The original title of this blog was in fact “Why we don’t connect the dots when we have the facts” which I may still write. But I felt more inclined to go over the mythology of Star Trek and how his creator Gene Roddenberry influenced his two creations (Original Trek and Next Gen). What I realized is how much of his philosophy got washed down by his successors. I am not attacking Rick Berman who co-produced the Next Generation and co-created Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise, but something along the way got lost or put to the side.
Gene Roddenberry created Mr. Spock and allowed actor Leonard Nimoy to help him develop the personality and culture of his creation. The Vulcans went on to evolve into this elegant, sober and logical civilization which is still the most beloved one by the fans. However, on Star Trek: Enterprise, a clear effort was made to tarnish their ethics which really bothered a lot of fans including myself and served no purpose (but that is a long story). According to the original show, Vulcans are Vegans (or at least Vegetarians, it is never stated clearly in the original show although T’Pol (Enterprise) is known as a Vegetarian) and they are also not driven by their emotions. It is interesting to note that the eating of meat is associated with aggression and violence. Therefore it makes perfect sense that Vulcans, who are peace lovers and diplomats, would be Vegans or Vegetarians. Gene Roddenberry was a Buddhist AND a Vegetarian and that is definitely reflected in how the Vulcans were created. They follow a code of logic which seeks to embrace all life forms but they look at everything with detachment and peace. This is not dissimilar to Buddhism’s ideals of peace and commitment to include animals as well. It falls then that Gene was a visionary. Fans called Gene Roddenberry “The Great Bird of The Galaxy” (Bird is fitting).
He embraced women’s rights as well. In the very first pilot of Star Trek, “The Cage”, (with Jeffrey Hunter, pilot rejected by the network as being too “cerebral”), women were wearing pants, not mini-skirts. Captain Pike’s (Jeffrey Hunter) first officer was a woman (Majel Barrett). The original pilot was more visionary than its second pilot with Kirk. The mini-skirts and silly hairstyles showed up on Pilot #2 (with Shatner) but Gene managed to keep a woman on the bridge (and an African one!) however restricted he was by 60’s conventions and the television network. He had liberal ideas and included also a (then Communist) Russian on his bridge in season two (Chekov played by Walter Koenig). This was also the first TV show to be clearly multiracial and inclusive, although still sexist. The only two times animals are mentioned as (potential) food in the show are when a supernatural teenager transforms fake turkeys into real ones (according to the cook) to piss off Captain Kirk and the Tribbles (remember the cute furry breading nightmare?) invade Kirk’s chicken sandwich which had just been created by the replicator machine (and therefore no animal was ever killed for his meal). On the show, the food looks more like small pieces of starches or plastic than anything else. It doesn’t look very appetizing but it is clearly cruelty free!