“Is this venison?”
Our friend had just spooned several meatballs onto his plate. I replied that yes, indeed, it was. Sensing an edge to the question, I decided not to elaborate on how I’d shot the five-point buck within a half-mile of the house that November.
“I don’t mind,” he said and nodded toward his wife, to whom he was about to pass the serving bowl. She did mind.
She didn’t comment. She just passed on the meatballs. And she is no vegetarian. I didn’t inquire into her reasons, but the moment got me thinking.
I know a lot of meat-eaters who won’t eat wild game. Maybe they don’t like the flavor (or think they don’t). Maybe they don’t like the idea of eating a species for which they have a particular Disneyfied fondness—deer, say. Maybe they believe industrial beef is safer or healthier than meat processed in a hunter’s kitchen. Or maybe they just don’t like hunting.
But here’s the thing. I know other people—some of them near-vegetarians—who won’t eat any meat except wild game. Or who will only eat meat—wild or domestic—if they know how the animal lived and died.
I find the contrast intriguing.
Personally, I prefer to know the origins of my meat. I hunt, aiming to kill with swift mercy. When the gods of the hunt smile on me and a deer comes my way, I’m always shocked by the immediacy of the encounter with the death that sustains life.
And Cath and I buy locally-raised chickens, some of them raised by fellow ex-vegetarians. We don’t buy meat from who-knows-where.
If you’re an omnivore, do you like to know as much as possible about your meat, even to the point of knowing what the animal’s face looked like? Or would you rather it be anonymously churned out by the Big Meat Factory in the Sky? Do you care about the dignity of the animal’s life and death, its ecological footprint, or the attitude of the person who raised or hunted it?
If you’re a vegetarian, do certain kinds of meat seem more acceptable to you than others?
© 2010 Tovar Cerulli