A few years ago, when I was still flirting with early burnout and urinary insufficiency as a high school English teacher, I ran into one of my students at the grocery store.
“Oh, Mr. Liere,” he said sarcastically, noting the rib eye steaks in my grocery cart, “You didn’t kill anything for your dinner tonight?”
This student had recently overheard me telling my class that I ate mostly fish and game that I had killed myself, and he was appalled at the idea.
“No, Darren,” I replied, “I let someone else kill dinner tonight.”
I’d love to say my answer changed his outlook on hunting – or food consumption in general – but I don’t think it did much more than make him stop popping his gum for a few seconds. I don’t think he would ever see any similarity between my venison burger and his Big Mac.
I’m pretty sure he and an ever-increasing majority of the population think that steaks, chops, burgers and roasts just grow in cellophane-covered polystyrene trays and ship to grocery store displays once they’re have reached the desired shape and size. I’m pretty sure a lot of people think hot dogs grow like that somewhere and pepperoni on their pizzas was invented by Papa Murphy.
The fact that I prefer to source my own wild meat – meat without additives – is a difficult concept for many to grasp. They think I’m uncivilized because I’d rather know where my meat came from and how it was handled, and I’d rather know that my animal died quickly in its natural habitat, not knowing its life was over.
If someone wants to be a vegetarian, that’s fine with me. I’m sorry for their choice, though, because I think the grease from a good steak or hamburger running down your chin is one of life’s most pleasurable experiences, as is the smell of ribs pork over a charcoal fire on a summer evening.
I think some people don’t eat meat because they think it’s a healthier alternative; maybe it is. Their decision. If eating meat shortens my life, so be it. White flour, sugar and beer probably also shorten my life, but what’s the point of living without pleasure?
Others believe that by abstaining from meat, their hands and souls are not defiled by the blood of an animal; they’d be appalled to learn that no matter what, there’s a bunch of guts out there somewhere. These are the people I take issue with.
To raise those soybeans, grapes, carrots, and corn so coveted by dedicated vegans, animals died from habitat loss, food loss, and the stress of trying to keep up with neighbors. noisy humans with cats and dogs.
Nobody wants deer and rabbits to eat their gardens, but every time we plant a vineyard or build a house in the country, we disrupt the food source for the earth’s original inhabitants. If they leave, they concentrate on shrinking habitat and are susceptible to disease, predation, and the steel-belted radials which are perhaps the most efficient predator of all. Many will die, but obviously that doesn’t count because you don’t always see that happen.
If they don’t leave, however – if they stay and feed on the petunias – we complain. For heaven’s sake, we can’t let wild animals eat our petunias! We complain to our fish and wildlife departments to “DO SOMETHING! And while hunting seasons weren’t created to save the world’s petunias, an unmanaged deer population would certainly create all sorts of problems for owners.
In South Africa there are thousands of hectares of vineyards where impalas, springboks, giraffes and zebras once roamed, but the fact that they were killed or fled to make way for the vines obviously does not diminish the a vegan’s appreciation of a rugged South African. merlot.
There are those who lament the decimation of massive bison herds, but no one wants a few hundred thousand bison in the neighborhood. Wolves are beautiful – noble, almost mystical animals, just like cougars…until they grab Fifi by the back porch…then there’s another outcry for “DO SOMETHING!”
Unfortunately, you can’t have it both ways.