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Hunting philosophy for (and by) almost everyone

A philosopher I am not.

Not in the academic sense, at least. My formal education in the subject consists of a single undergraduate class—“Reason and Argument”—which left me impressed by the contortions through which the human animal is willing to put its gray matter.

So, some fifteen months ago, when I saw a “call for abstracts” for a new anthology of philosophical essays on hunting, I had reason to doubt my suitability as a contributor. The editor welcomed abstracts from philosophy, of course, and also from a number of other disciplines—such as anthropology, political theory, and theology—in which I was equally unqualified.

Yet there was this one little phrase. They also welcomed abstracts from “thoughtful hunters.”

After a few helpful email exchanges with the editor, Nathan Kowalsky of the University of Alberta, I said, “What the heck. Why not?” and shot from the hip, firing off a 250-word description of the 4,500-word essay I would write if he and his colleagues wanted me to.

A month later, I got word that they did.

Hello. Time to step up to the plate and deliver “Hunting Like a Vegetarian: Same Ethics, Different Flavors.”

Jump a year ahead and here we are: the book, Hunting: In Search of the Wild Life, has just been released, as part of Wiley-Blackwell’s series Philosophy for Everyone.

My complimentary copy hasn’t arrived yet, so I can’t give you a review.

What I can do is tell you that the mix of voices is remarkable. In addition to contributions from a fascinating group of folks who, unlike me, are trained in philosophy (including environmentalist and vegan Lisa Kretz and weapons fanatic Jesús Ilundáin-Agurruza), there are essays, for example, by Canadian zoologist Valerius Geist, Algonquin hunter Jacob Wawatie, and historian and bird-trap builder Paula Young Lee.

I can also point you to the partial preview available on Google Books.

And I can point you to the first review of the book (review copies go out early), posted on Sustainablog by Justin Van Kleeck who, appropriately enough to my way of thinking, is vegan.

Enjoy! And I promise: my next post will not be about books, present or future.

Note: If you end up with a copy of the book in hand, and decide to read my essay, two small caveats. First, it is a smidge drier than my average blog post. Second, no sooner had the editing been finalized than I learned that some of the greenhouse gas figures given in the U.N. report Livestock’s Long Shadow, which I reference early in the essay, had been discredited. Ah well, it’s the spirit of the thing that counts.

A small idea sprouts wings

Two years ago, it was small.

Just a glimmer of an idea. Nothing more than a flicker of movement, caught out of the corner of my mind’s eye.

Bold one moment, it would dash into full view like a blustery red squirrel. Furtive the next moment, it would skitter off into the mental underbrush. (I have underbrush to spare. A tidy parkland my mind is not.)

Within a few months, I realized it wasn’t going away. So I started reading up on it: How exactly does one go about getting a book published?

But I won’t bore you with the tedious details.

Fast forward to earlier this year: as I mentioned back in April, I found a book agent—and not just any agent, but the patient, insightful, and tenacious Laurie Abkemeier (aka Agent Obvious)—who thought I had an idea worth pursuing. Together we crafted a proposal, which she then shopped around to editors.

Just over two weeks ago, Laurie emailed me with the news. We had a publisher. (Friday the 13th is my new favorite day.) We just had to keep it under our hats until the details of the contract got ironed out.

Now it’s official.

The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance will be published by Pegasus Books!

I’m psyched. I’m grateful for the support and encouragement of all my friends and family, in person and online. And I’m looking forward to working with the fine folks at Pegasus on the next leg of the journey.