Hunter vs. Gatherer
I will be going to the city where I grew up in a month or two for a few days. When I left, I wasn't a vegan – I was a lapsing vegetarian. I'll be seeing a couple friends – they may not even know; one of them isn't on Facebook (gasp!).
So I've been thinking a lot about where I'll eat, how I'll eat, what I'll tell people if I eat at their homes. Do I take food with me? Am I going to be a royal pain to everyone? Most likely! But I'll take the ribbing from my brothers and I'll explain things to my friends.
One of my brothers is an avid hunter, and has been for a number of years. He only hunts what his family needs, he butchers and wraps it himself. Years ago, when I lived there, he used to give me venison from time to time and I'd cook it in a stew for my family. It was good and I enjoyed it. I wouldn't eat it now, but it was good meat and even then I felt better knowing that it hadn't been factory farmed, that up until that fateful moment when my brother saw and shot it, that deer had lived wild, not in some mass production farm living an awful life until slaughter day.
Everything is degrees. Do I want to see deer shot by hunters? No. But I really, really don't want to see cattle, and pigs and chickens living in tiny pens, some never even seeing the light of day, and then becoming someone's “healthy” dinner. I think, at the very least, we should take responsibility for what we are eating, rather than making it some else's problem. In that respect, my brother and his wife are ahead of me. They make most everything from scratch with good ingredients (I do not do this!) and when my brother wants meat for his family he goes out and gets it himself. At least that deer has a fighting chance. That deer lives in its natural habitat, eats what it's supposed to eat, has young and lives its deer life like God or Nature intended. That deer has a chance to get away from my hunter brother and if it doesn't – well it still got to be a deer.
Do I condone hunting you say? Nope. But when my son told me he'd like his uncle to teach him how to hunt I wasn't nearly as horrified as I would have been had he told me he'd gotten a job in a slaughter house, or even a factory farm. I know at least that if his uncle takes him hunting the rules will be followed and no animal will die a horrible death (yeah, I know, death is always horrible you'll say, but some are so much worse than others). Degrees.
There is an incredible disconnect going into the grocery store and buying meat that is nicely packaged on white styrofoam. You put it into your cart or your basket, and you take it home and make dinner out of it. You know it's an animal, but you didn't go out into the woods, or the plains or wherever and go get that pork chop. Cognitive dissonance. Google it. It's a thing and we've all suffered from it. There's no accountability when the “messiness” has all been done far away in some facility – then you really don't need to think about your pork chop, beyond which recipe you're going to use to prepare it.
I can remember when my kids were little, taking them to a petting zoo. They pet the piglets, and the calves, and the baby chicks and it was all lovely and we had a great time. Memories were made. Pictures were taken. It was adorable. And never once, in that entire day, did my brain remind me that an adorable animal was at home cooking in my crock pot. We went to the petting zoo, enjoyed the day and then went home and ate one.
Degrees. If my son learns to hunt, then so be it. Life is about choices and that is and will be his choice. If he bags a deer, I won't be thrilled, but I will know that he at least is making the connection about where his food comes from, and how it gets to his dinner plate. The grocery store just can't teach that kind of lesson.