I grew up weeping at rodeo’s. I cried when King Kong fell off the Empire State Building. My friend had a Doberman and I was sure the dog was starving because I could see its ribs and I insisted that my parents buy dog food for the poor animal. I couldn’t watch nature documentaries because in the end, the mama bunny would lose its babies to the coyotes. And I didn’t grow up in Greenwhich Village where my hippy liberal parents would have praised my sensitiveness. My dad would sometimes scratch his head in wonderment, but he was never mean and he never teased me. Much. But yeah, I was sensitive.
Maybe it’s because I’m a writer. I could imagine the tragedy playing out when the coyote ate the bunny, the lone rabbit, alone, missing her children, pining under a cold sky.
But I still ate meat. And I didn’t think much about the sorrow, the horror, the inhumanity that is the meat industry. If you eat meat, something had to die for you to do so, and someone else had to kill it and someone else had to butcher. You are eating flesh that was once alive, but is now dead and cooked.
Factory farming is wrong. It is a holocaust. It is unsustainable. And I’m sure there are people who could tour a factory farm and then eat at the next McDonald’s and not care. I am not one of those people. The reason why I flirt with being a vegan\vegetarian is that it is sustainable and nothing had to die for me to eat. Yes, broccoli did give its little broccoli life for me to eat, so yeah, part of life is killing other things to eat, but I would imagine the broccoli stalks around the one I harvest aren’t sad for the life of their fallen brethren. I’ve never heard an orphaned broccoli cry.
I went hunting this past week. I helped hunters shoot animals from hundreds of yards away. I helped them spread apart the legs, cut out the anus, disembowel the animal and then hung it up to bleed out. I helped kill a doe, who was still lactating, and a young buck, in his prime. Both are dead. I held the buck’s warm heart in my hands and watched the dark, dark blood drip across my skin. When I kill my first deer, next year, I will take a bite out of the heart because that is what my father did when he killed his first deer.
This is not a happy story. Killing, death, the sorrow of the hunt, these are hard stories to tell. And it’s a crime that we are a society of carnivores but only a fraction ever really understand the horror of killing to eat. If you find hunting deplorable, I would suggest you evaluate your consumption of meat.
And that’s why I’m hunting. I have eaten meat all my life other people have killed, and if I’m to eat meat, I need to be a part of the killing. Yes, I feel bad. Yes, I am still sensitive. Yes, when I saw a fawn on the road, lost, confused, because most likely, her mother had been shot, I felt terrible. But even with the trauma, that fawn is going to have a better life than the millions of animals now being processed through the holocaust engines of the factory farming industry. If I feel bad enough, maybe I’ll stop eating meat. Until that happens, I’m a hypocrite if I don’t at least kill and butcher one animal. Yes, it’s symbolic. No, I’m not saying everyone who eats meat needs to hunt. I’m saying I need to do this.
The irony is that all the meat we eat is ruining our health. Yes, I’ll quote the famous China Study, where the closer you can to eat a vegan diet, the more likely you are to avoid some of the major diseases we have. Raw vegan is the way to eat, but it’s a big commitment. Meat is easy, fills you up, tastes good, is a nice source of quick protein, but in the end, it’s a bloody business. But now I understand the story more, and like I said, it’s a hard story. A hard story to tell.