Call it lack of ambition, but meat hasn’t been a huge part of my diet this summer. Not only is it a pain to find without plastic wrapping, but the truth of the matter is that I just don’t eat that much meat. I’ve had moral problems with it for years, but the kind of moral problems that are only a pain when you really think about them.
A few years back, I took a wonderful moral philosophy course that touched on a fascinating thought experiment by Alastair Norcross. If you don’t want to read the essay, you could listen to this brief summary I found on youtube.
Did you pick up the slight hints of veganism in that essay? Yeah, me too. So whether or not you eat meat, I’m not here to judge or push opinions. Zero waste is about living intentionally- what could be more intentional than critically reflecting on what we do and why? I continued to eat meat sparingly after studying this essay, but once I made the transition to zero waste, I decided to really push myself to make all the changes I had considered in the past- that included forgoing the consumption of my furry friends.
Wait a second though… What does this have to do with zero waste?
Well, raising animals for food is expensive resource-wise, and in addition to being costly, its apparently quite detrimental to our lovely little planet; Cowspiracy is a documentary that points the environmental finger directly at the cattle industry. So when you take that into consideration, plus all the packaging and waste along the line of production, you can see where the trash would start to pile up, or more so, the cost would start to pile up. Okay, so maybe eating factory-farmed meat isn’t the most sustainable option- where does that leave us? Veganism? Rabbit food?
Perhaps not. Where are all my hunters at?
My issue with farm factory meat comes from the disrespect in which the animals are treated, as well as the waste that comes with their treatment. And while I don’t believe it’s right treating animals as a means to an end, I’m also not about to start romanticizing nature. Animals kill animals, people. Things die. They get hurt, they feel pain, and they suffer- with or without our help. Now before you jump down my throat here, understand this. I respect animals just as much, and often more than people, given their lack of prejudice. If a storm knocks down a tree, it wasn’t out of malice, that’s just the nature of the storm. If a bear kills a hiker because they stood between her and her cub, she wasn’t acting in spite, it’s just in her nature. We, on the other hand, feel a wide range of emotions and desires for a wide range of reasons, and we have the capacity to make decisions that do not cause harm, despite that being our nature, and we still don’t make those decisions. Don’t give me that look, it’s true. Our intelligence is not a valid reason to consume other animals and dominate our surroundings no matter the cost, its actually the reason we should be doing the exact opposite.
I’m starting to sound vegan, aren’t I.
Well, I’m not vegan, because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with hunting, in essence. If I were to ever take up hunting, it would be because I think there’s an opportunity there to develop a truly beautiful and intimate relationship with nature. A raw give and take of pain, struggle, hunger, and fresh air; holding a paramount respect for animals while also acknowledging that life and death are realities of the world we live in. Maybe I’m idealizing hunting. Maybe not. Maybe that sort of respect for an animal and all it can provide has been lost because we can access meats and leathers with ease. Maybe hunting is the answer for that lost respect.
We don’t need to be eating meat anymore, so maybe if you had to go out and kill an animal to make some burgers, you’d think twice about how badly you really need it. And in a sort of tandem consequential way, maybe if you did value meat that much, hunting would force you to develop a more personal and real relationship with animals and nature. The scars and flecks on the hide of a deer would tell the story of a life, and you would have no choice but to acknowledge that.
I’m not going to speak on the “bad” and “good” hunters out there, we all know there’s a right and a wrong way to do everything. Life, death, and pain are natural, and if you have the guts to take a life (or indirectly cause the taking of a life), I just hope you have the guts to confront yourself on your reasons and dig up some respect and understanding in the meantime.
And in case you’re wondering, I haven’t tried my hand at hunting. I’ve had discussions and conversations for hours on end with a brilliant friend of mine, and I can safely say that the wild game I have tried came from a place of respect and understanding for the value of a life and the cost of a bullet.