Prosciutto Nuovo – No “Speck,” All “Veggie”

Written by Dr Klaus L E Kaiser

Do the terms Prosciutto or Speck have any meaning to you? They should!

True prosciutto is one of many Italian delicacies, especially that from Parma region, a kind of air-dried bacon that melts on your tongue. As common for bacon, it has small parts of fat. In the context here, “Speck“ is the German term for the fat in cured bacon that makes the delicacy even smoother. You can buy the original prosciutto at high-end deli shops in the U.S., including the west coast (nothing but the finest for them, ever). IMHO, even steadfast vegetarians would savor it.

Now, horror of horrors, a “veggie version” prosciutto may be coming to your local deli soon. This novel delicacy is not to excite your taste buds with new impressions, oh no, not at all. Its sole raison d’etre is to save the world from the climate Armageddon (supposedly) approaching at a meteoric speed and its (claimed) cause:  rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere resulting from mankind’s meat consumption, etc.

Case in point, one of Germany’s largest sausage manufacturers claims that its “vegetarian sausages” are in increasing demand. If I get this right and judging by the (claimed) current consumer trends, sausage and hamburger meat may soon consist entirely of cellulose fiber, or similar substances. If nothing else, that food ought to provide next to no calories, i.e., may be as healthy as the food in hell.

Hell (on Earth)

In former times, hell was often depicted as Lucifer with a three-pronged lance to point you in the direction of purgatory. Nowadays though, it seems, magazine illustrators prefer more “natural” visions of hell, like renditions of predatory species that have been on the prowl some long time ago (or still are ??), like the famed Scottish loch-type monsters.

Hell on Earth may have looked in the eyes of a carnivore’s staple as the squid in the image of the newly discovered Storr Lochs (Scotland) sea monster. That lovely predator, now competing for ill repute with and ready to displace “Nessie” of Loch Ness fame is simply more proof of the meat-loving environment on earth. This Starr Lochs ichthyosaur had certainly more teeth than required to chew on a bunch of sea weeds!

Diversity of ichthyosaurs (By Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.com), compiled by Levi bernardo (Own workFile:Stenopterygius BW.jpg) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Diversity of ichthyosaurs (By Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.com), compiled by Levi bernardo (Own workFile:Stenopterygius BW.jpg) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Ichthyosaurs

Those ichthyosaur critters had their heyday in the Jurassic Period (a geological term) of some 200 million years ago, when land-based dinosaurs were roaming the earth in large numbers as well. Few of them were “toothless wonders,” rather the opposite. Most were rather voracious animals with mandibles covered with teeth, carnivores that were keen to devour next to anything reminiscent of meat.

Probably the most famous site for ichthyosaur fossils is the area of Holzmaden in southwestern Germany. Over the last 200 years or so, many of the ichthyosaur skeletons from that area have found their way into natural history museums all over the world. If you can’t find a real one in a museum of your choice, you are likely to see one of the many plastic replicas that look just as authentic as the originals. There is also the respected Hauff museum of the prehistoric world, close to the Autobahn E8 in Germany that has an impressive collection of petrified relics from that period.

Now, what can the ichthyosaurs teach us? There is one simple answer:

Carnivores are on top of the food chain; if you don’t believe me, just ask some polar bears.

The Food Chain

The food chain starts with what’s called the “primary producers.” Those are primitive organisms, like, algae, bacteria, and other “low life” organisms. They are abundant, reproduce rapidly, and are predated upon higher trophic level organisms, like snails on land, or minuscule zooplankton in water, such as the shrimp-like daphnia species. Every species on top of one organism feeds on the prey of the level below—only to become prey for the next higher level of hungry meat eaters.

That system has been in place on earth for a billion years or more and it is not going to change any time soon, neither by U.N. decree nor anyone else’s desires. In fact, many proponents of the “veggie” lifestyle do not mind consuming meat (including fowl and fish) at all. In their minds, what counts most is how you feel about eating it.

Guess what:  I still prefer the real McCoy.

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About the Author

Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser is a professional scientist with a Ph.D. in chemistry from the Technical University, Munich, Germany. He has worked as a research scientist and project chief at Environment Canada‘s Canada Centre for Inland Waters for over 30 years and is currently Director of Research at TerraBase Inc. He is author of nearly 300 publications in scientific journals, government and agency reports, books, computer programs, trade magazines, and newspaper articles. Dr. Kaiser has been president of the International Association for Great Lakes Research, a peer reviewer of numerous scientific papers for several journals, Editor-in-Chief of the Water Quality Research Journal of Canada for nearly a decade, and an adjunct professor. He has contributed to a variety of scientific projects and reports and has made many presentations at national and international conferences.