So much has been written on this topic – what could i possibly have to offer? no moral/philosophic issues here – only personal experiences & ruminations. This continues themes begun in my last post on hunting.
At Sandhill, we take pride in our food and feel that eating what we grow is the healthiest of all – which includes homegrown meat. Currently, most of the meat we eat is venison (with some homegrown chicken & turkey). Ok, the venison is not exactly homegrown– it is harvested on ours and surrounding land.
Why eat meat at all? We have plenty sources of protein in our diet – especially tempeh (homemade) and dried beans. We usually grow our own black and pinto beans (& sometimes red or white beans ); however, the deer also like our beans and frequently, they eat so many that we do not have enough. Recently, I noted that the organic black beans we purchased through our food buying club came from China! That’s outrageous! Eating local venison feels much more righteous and sustainable than beans from China.
Further: we feel that we are in touch with our bodies, diet, and how well we digest foods: most of us note that we digest homegrown meat better than beans (& especially imported ones!).
A curious observation: we have many visitors/interns here, who are vegetarians or vegans: quite a few try the venison. Somehow, eating meat from wild rather than domesticated animals appears more in line with their values. Why? I’m not sure – i suspect that folx feel weird about eating animals with names (most of us farmers name our animals) – maybe like eating pets? I often respond: “i’d rather eat an animal that i’ve scratched behind the ears…(ie. had a personal relationship with), which is true – but i’m also consciously pushing them to examine their assumptions).
Most of us have not had the opportunity to eat wild and/or sustainably harvested meat. I grew up a farm that raised animals – we butchered our own poultry, hogs, and beef. The line between domestic and wild animals is blurred for me; however, a vegetarian’s preference for wild game also feels consistent.
Here’s an ongoing personal dilemma: prior to 4 weeks ago, i had not hunted for 42 years – the actual killing was a lasting negative experience. Yet when i field dressed and supervised butchering 3 weeks ago, I enjoyed it – having my hands in blood & guts was PRIMAL – & somehow more enjoyable than harvesting broccoli or carrots – is that weird?
I don’t know – but it’s me. To meat or not to meat: in my world, there is no high moral ground here…