I find that a lot of the issues surrounding animal rights nowadays are pretty polarizing. On one side, we have organizations like PETA that grab headlines with crazy stunts. On the other hand, we have people like Ted Nugent screaming about how many animals he mercilessly slayed.
I find that the vegans are preaching to the vegan choir, and the hunting, consumptive users are preaching to Ted Nugent.
And, with that scenario, it is impossible to make any progress.
Johnathan Safran Foer, in his book Eating Animals laid out an extraordinary story about a vegan that helped build a slaughterhouse. Basically this vegan wanted the ability to help build and design an ethical(ish) slaughterhouse. This viewpoint is similar to my personal objective on hunting.
1. Global Veganism just ain’t happenin.
Do I wish that tomorrow, the World would be vegan? Yes. Absolutely. We would very quickly improve a lot of the health issues we all face, as well as make inroads on curing hunger, and potentially reverse climate change, as well as countless other benefits.
But we all know that just about will not happen. So, once we can accept that, we need to ask ourselves the next question.
If the World isn’t vegan, what is the next best moral position?
I always figure that if a hunter can go into the wild, and humanely harvest a mature, legal animal, that is okay. If that hunter can use that animal to feed his family for a long time, that too is okay. But if the taking and eating of that wild animal prevents that family from buying mass-produced, factory-farmed meat, than that is great!
That single moose may keep 10 cattle from unimaginable living conditions.
Therefore, to me, that is the better moral position.
2. It’s closer to the natural order
I was not around in the paleo days. I don’t really know if our ancestors ate mastodon or maize-tofu burgers with a sweet chili glaze.
But I do know this, if you yourself hike into the wilderness, humanely take an animal, field dress it, hike it all out, and prepare that grass-fed, humanely-raised meat – that is how it should be.
If you are going to eat meat, this just seems like the way to go.
3. It’s better for people and the animals too
Mass-produced beef today is pumped full of hormones, antibiotics, and other goodies. Cancerous meat is sold for human consumption. The list goes on and on with ways that modern meat is full of junk that people should not be eating.
Wild animals are much healthier.
And, this means less demand on CAFOs for animal-sourced protein which in turn makes it better for the cows/pigs/etc. Might not be so good for the deer in the crosshairs, but if the hunter is legal and ethical, the deer’s days were probably numbered anyway, given the rise of healthy wolf and other predator populations.
4. On Trophy Hunting, Trapping, Bear Baiting and Exotic Sport hunts
I lived in Alaska for about five years. That place was magical in just about every conceivable way. The hardest part of living there? Animals are regarded pretty poorly by the “consumptive” crowd.
It is one of only two states (Maine being the other) that allows bear baiting – the act of deliberately leaving out piles of food and sweets to attract bears, while the hunter “window shops” and finally shoots the one he or she wants.
It is a state where you can shoot wolves and bears out of airplanes. It is a state where you can place leg hold traps right on the side of public hiking trails.
These are just a fraction of the backwards policies on animal use in Alaska.
If you hunt only for the trophy (typically antlers or a head to mount on the wall) you are a pretty shitty person.
Yeah, I said it. It is one thing if you take an animal and respect it, and consume it in a way that prevents the suffering of other animals. It’s another thing entirely if you take an animal just to have it’s head hanging on your wall, or it’s hide beneath your feet.
That is the line this vegan takes on hunting. If it is needed to feed you and your family, or if you choose that meat as a healthier alternative AND you harvest the animal in a humane manner, I am OK with that.
If you take the animal just for something to look at, than that is completely wrong. Or, if you hunt animals in other countries, ticking off some weird passport of exotic animals, that is completely wrong too.
You may remember the above story that went viral last Summer. It was a great example of what I am talking about. This type of hunting is just plain stupid and wasteful, and if I was a hunter I would be outraged. People like the Texas Cheerleader are making you all look like crazy people.
So, in closing yes I support hunting. But only with a focus on being ethical and legal, and only if the meat is for consumption not some stupid rack on your living room wall.
Share your thoughts in the comments below!