Can you imagine a world without cows? In 1535, Francisco Coronado brought cows into what is now the U.S. He crossed the border 40 miles south of Benson, Arizona, with horses and cows. They say he went as far as Kansas – looking for a good veterinarian, I guess.
In the ensuing five centuries, the domestic bovine has mooed itself into virtually every county in the Western hemisphere. But, for the sake of our initial question, say that we had been conquered by marauding Latvians, Amazonian dart blowers or a powerful vegetarian brokerage firm in Fiji who did not bring cattle into the country and/or prohibited their importation.
My first observation is: There would be no Big Macs! Beef, milk or cheese would not be available in abundance. Would we try to domesticate deer, buffalo, elk, wild goats or moose? We’d hear, “Pork, it’s what’s for dinner!” “Where’s the mutton?” “Goat, the other white meat!” “Got Okra?” and “Certified Angus Drumstick.”
“I’ll have a fungus burger with shredded styrofoam and a side of those Thistle Poppers.”
“Does your horsemeat pudding come with splashguards?”
“I’ll have some cold mutton gravy with hair in it.”
I’m assuming goat milk would become the pasteurized drink of choice. Chicken would become the biggest source of animal protein unless we were able to tame sperm whales. Shetland pony tenderloin would be served at good steakhouses.
Our eating habits would become boring to many epicureans. They’d be yearning for a big, succulent, juicy, mouth-watering, medium rare, right off the grill … What? Gizzard? Camel hump? Dog leg? Cornish hamster?
America would still have millions on millions of acres of foothills, forest, prairies and rolling country covered with grass. Without cattle to utilize the countryside, I’m sure farmers would run sheep or goats on the less arable ground. Then the West would look like the Australian outback or Alamo, Nevada.
We’d be importing insulin made from yak pancreas. Leather upholstery, boots and baseballs would all be made of naugahyde.
Roy Rogers would have stayed in Iowa and become the Soybean Balladeer. Trevor Brazile would have become a professional golfer, and I would be a former reptile veterinarian and swineherd Poet:
ODE TO THE PIG
Who brings us ribs and pork
Oh, how I long to trade my ham
For sirloin on a fork. PD