Sunday, June 21, 2020

I Wish I Could Be a Hunter

My hunter friend, Julie.

I have a lot of admiration for vegans.

Ok, you're probably reading that first sentence and then looking back at the title, then back at the first sentence, and becoming very confused. A post about wanting to hunt but starting with admiration for vegans?

But hopefully, as you read more, you'll understand.

I have a lot of admiration for vegans. I think its important that people be ethical with the food they eat, and think about not only nurturing their body, but making sure that they are considering the ethics behind that nourishment. And I think its great that the vegan movement has brought more awareness of the ethics of meat eating specifically to the forefront of our society.

I personally could never be a vegan, nor do I have a desire to be. My body doesn't tolerate a vegan diet. I have a very sensitive stomach, and vegan proteins in general don't agree with it. Add to that that my kids are picky eaters, and have now refused to eat lentils and beans are more or less a no go. Our meals at home nearly always are animal protein based. Because that's what works for us. And, to be honest, I don't think most bodies are able to get enough nutrients from a vegan diet, especially because vegan protein sources are some of the hardest to digest and with the least bioavailability, making vegan diets lacking in vitamin B12 and other things.

So though I don't want to be vegan, I admire the pursuit of food ethics that vegans have, and I have learned a lot about many of the problems in our food sources.

One of the biggest problems out there is factory farming. In factory farming, animals are kept in horrible conditions until their dying day, and then often even their death is done in a very cruel way. Add to that forced pregnancies, sick animals that need to be constantly fed a diet of antibiotics to survive, hormone shots, etc. I could go on and on about the problems with factory farming but that isn't the point of my post. Any research can show you what I'm talking about.

In addition to the ethical issues with factory farming, there is the very real disconnect that comes from buying pre-packaged plastic wrapped meat from the grocery store. People may know in theory that they are eating an animal, but you don't really feel it when it comes neatly packaged like that.

As a forager, over the years I've joined many homesteading and foraging groups, and I have so much admiration for the hunters in that group. Contrary to what many people think, the people there are not cruel barbaric people who want to hurt animals, but rather, they hunt to feed their family and don't let any of the animal go to waste.

Hearing them talk about hunting, about how the animal has the perfect idyllic life in the wild, just as nature intended, until they are quickly taken down by a rifle or a bow, makes me realize that this is pretty much the ideal way to eat meat. The animal doesn't suffer, because the goal of the hunter is to make one perfect shot that will kill the animal instantly. (Usually less experienced hunters go with a more professional one, so that if, worst case scenario, they don't get a clean shot the first time, and just injure the animal, then the more experienced one will make an additional shot to bring down the animal immediately.)

And while you can say that one can buy from small farmers whose animals are raised more ethically, that usually can be quite cost prohibitive and there often still is the disconnect from the fact that you're eating an actual animal and not just "meat".

I've heard many hunters specifically thank the animal for feeding their family as they are butchering it, and I think it is beautiful.

When I say I want to be a hunter, its not because killing an animal won't bother me. Because it will. It would. But I think that is important. I think it should bother you that an animal is dying for you to nourish your body, while at the same time acknowledging that this is what your body needs.

So why do I just say that I wish I could be a hunter, and not just go hunting?

Well, two reasons.

Number one is that where I live, hunting is relatively difficult. Many of the animals that would otherwise be suitable for hunting here are protected species, and therefore forbidden from being shot. For example, most larger mammals here were endangered so laws were enacted to protect them. No gazelles, deer, antelope, any of those can be hunted here.

Then there's the other thing. The thing I don't talk about on my blog, but its a religious thing. My religion doesn't allow standard methods of hunting. So bow hunting and rifle hunting are off limits to me. Hunting that would be allowed by my religion would involve trapping without injuring the animal, and then slaughtering them in a specific religion approved way, and then prepare the meat in a way according to my religion. I don't know how to do this certain religiously approved meat slaughtering method, nor the meat preparation, but I've started the process of looking for a teacher to teach it to me.

My friend Heather, forager, fisher, and hunter.
(Fishing is also allowed, but I don't live anywhere near water so it isn't so doable for me.)

My goal is that once I learn how to do this religiously approved slaughter, I'll then start trapping. There are many birds here that are pests and a nuisance and totally legal to trap and kill, and then I'll be able to be a hunter, my way.

Yes, it'll probably turn my stomach. Yes, it'll probably bother me. But I think that that's a good thing. Because I think its important to be aware that an animal is dying for you to be able to eat.

I want to be a hunter, because I think that that's the perfect balance between ethics in food, frugal living, and nourishing my body and my family's bodies. And hopefully, one day soon, I'll be able to do so in a way that works with my religious faith and the laws where I live.

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