Thursday, November 19, 2015

Of Two Minds

I was raised in a gun culture.  People owned guns.  Many people hunted.  I learned gun safety as soon as I could walk.  I shot my first gun, with my parents and grandfather, at a range, when I was 5.  Got kicked on my baby ass, too.  Learned how to avoid that in the future.  I've never hunted, but I'm hell on targets.

I learned about the environment, I learned where meat came from and how.  I learned about herd management and ecology, and how hunting and animal predators work to keep the ecology sound.

My vegetarianism is in some ways a weakness.  The reason for it is plain and simple.  If I can't kill it and butcher it myself, I have no right to eat it.  That's my moral imperative.  And I know I can't.

If my stomach does flip-flops at the idea of eating meat, or fish, or fowl, and I physically can't eat it -- and now I get sick from it whether I know it's there or not -- that is weakness.  Yes, I realized this early on and have taught myself how to be a very competent gatherer and farmer, but if there is nothing to gather, and there are things to hunt, I am not a survivor if I can't kill it, butcher it, cook it and eat it.

I leave it to the hunters and fishers and other apex predators to manage the herds of deer and elk, the various fish and bird populations, and thus the streams and lakes and forests and plains, to keep all of it balanced and healthy.  I leave it to human and other apex predators to reduce and control invasive species, such as geese in the Netherlands and carp heading rapidly towards the great lakes.

Andrew Zimmern, of Bizarre Foods, does a wonderful job of introducing people to the whole idea of hunting, to how it works and what it's for and to what he calls "alternative protein sources."  I can't be offended at the most explicit scenes because they show responsible predation and he is right.  Eat those carp.  Eat those geese.  Learn about the environment.  Know where your food comes from, and how it gets to your table, and how to manage for a sustainable supply.

We have taken away so much from nature for human gain, it's necessary for us to act to preserve the environment we have and to keep the balance in it.  I can't get mad at responsible hunters.   I admire them.  Responsible hunters are great conservationists, maybe the best.

There is no need to raise animals for meat.  It's not necessary for humans nutritionally, there are plenty of other really good things to eat, and it would benefit the environment and all the people who live on this planet enormously if we just stopped raising animals for food purposes, especially for meat.

I understand the hunter, but disagree with the rancher.  Does this make my ethics specious?  How about my stomach?  Am I weak for knowing what must be done to take care of the environment yet being utterly unable to take part in it?   Am I strong for adhering to principle?  I don't know, but I am still a vegetarian.

No comments:

Post a Comment