Monday, January 04, 2010

Why Hunting is the Most Animal Friendly Way to Eat Meat

First off, I want to start with an immediate DISCLAIMER before I anger any vegan or vegetarian readers.  I am definitely not saying that hunting is more animal friendly than not eating meat at all.  But some people do definitely choose to eat meat, and it is to those readers that I speak.  If you are a vegetarian or vegan, I respect your lifestyle choices, but do not choose them for myself.  If this post might offend you, please just wait for the next one.

With that said, I want to argue that hunting your meat is the most animal friendly and a most permacultured way to eat meat.   I'll start off with the easy argument.  I think most people who read my blog will agree that eating factory-farmed meat is a very unfriendly and costly way to get your animal protein.  These animals are mostly fed with corn products that could instead be used to feed hungry people, most of the animals are raised in horrid conditions, and the potential for diseased and dangerous meat cannot be understated.

Next we have natural and free-range raised animals.  These animals clearly live under better conditions, eat a more natural diet, and have less potential for diseases such as salmonella.  If you are too squeamish to hunt, I do suggest eating naturally and free-range raised animals instead of factory farmed ones.

Now, we come to the heart of my argument.  Why do I say that hunting is more animal friendly than naturally raised animals?  The way I see it, a hunted animal lives its entire life out the way nature intended it to.  It roams its territory, eats what it has evolved to eat, and interacts with nature the way it most naturally can.  Right up until the hunter puts an end to its life, it is as free as any animal can hope to be, even more so than free-range raised animals.  Also, a hunted animal is almost always killed just as humanely as a naturally raised one might be slaughtered.  Most hunters that I know have a great deal of respect for the animals that they stalk, and they will not take a shot at what they are hunting unless they know they can bring it down cleanly.  I would argue that most hunted animals never know what hits them.  Finally, I want to make it clear that I am of course talking about animals that are hunted for food, such as deer, elk, birds, etc.  Sport hunting, just for the kill, is something I cannot support.  If an animal is giving its life, it should be for something more than just a trophy on the wall.

Finally, I would like to address a possibly obvious question that I imagine might be in your thoughts, because it came up in mine.  You might be asking "But I can't possibly hunt all of the meat that I eat.  Chickens aren't wild, and I love beef too but there are no wild cows either, what about them?"  I agree, I think it would be very difficult to maintain the level of meat consumption that most Americans have if everyone only hunted.  And I think this is a good thing.  Instead of using hunting to replace all of your current level of meat consumption, I think it would be a good idea to think of it as a way to lower your meat consumption.  If you only eat the meat that you hunt, you'll have to make up the difference with fruits and vegetables, which will make your diet much better.  By limiting yourself to the animals you might be able to hunt, you are correcting your diet to that which you evolved to eat, which is one that only occasionally consisted of meat.  But if you don't want to lower the amount of meat that you eat, I do of course encourage you to seek out healthy, naturally-raised, free-range animals whenever you can.

Hopefully I don't raise too much controversy with this post.  I wrote it because I do plan to start hunting someday, and ideally I would like to make what I hunt the mainstay of my meat intake.  I will of course occasionally eat some chickens that I have raised, or I might splurge and purchase some beef from a rancher that I develop a personal relationship with, but for the most part once I am on my homestead, I want to supply my own meat by hunting.  Let me know your thoughts on meat consumption and hunting, and thanks for reading!


  1. Hey Kyle- I haven't kept up on blogs since the new year began. I'm about to catch up on all your posts...

    I absolutely agree with you on this. I have never been hunting in my life, though. Up until a few months ago I had this self-righteous attitude about the immorality of hunting, but I realized the hypocrisy of it.

    I've been trying to find someone to teach me the ways of hunting. There are so many deer around here ,and everyone complains about them ravaging the garden. Meanwhile we're overgrazing huge areas to feed cows... and venison is lean and delicious to boot!

    Good post. I think perspectives like this, while perhaps unpopular in some permie circles, are important.

  2. Thanks Mark,

    I've missed your comments. I hope you had a great time in Puerto Rico. Send me an email, or leave a comment, and tell me about your time there.

    I've also never gone hunting, and I'm in the same situation... I'm looking for a mentor. And I agree, I think this could be very unpopular with some permies, but I think see hunting as a way to REDUCE my meat intake. If I only rely on that which I hunt as a source of protein, I'll have to count on fruits and vegetables as the mainstay of my diet, and meat will be the occasional treat.

    Thanks for coming back and reading Mark, I really appreciate your dedication as part of my audience.