31st October 2010

Why Hunting Your Own Food is A Sustainable Solution to the Meat Industry Problem


I’m about to make myself all kinds of unpopular with this post. But living with a a guy who was taught by his Dad how to hunt and how to do it humanely and to use all the meat and hide, I feel it needs to be said. We’ve all seen Food, Inc. and have seen how the way that the meat industry packages meat and distributes it leads to salmonella and E.coli outbreaks, as well as being all kinds of environmentally unsustainable.

Hunting, with the proper use of the meat and proper respect to the animal (very important), is much more sustainable and better for you than buying food industry-produced meat at the supermarket. If you are going to be an omnivore, even just supplementing your diet with your own hunted meat will vastly reduce your grocery carbon footprint.

First off, it is important to learn how to shoot properly and where to shoot an animal so that they feel a minimal amount of pain and die quickly and humanely. Some hunters get excited when they see an animal and just shoot at it rather than targeting and shooting, which wounds the animal and both leads to a frustrating chase for the hunter (which you are legally obligated to do in Canada – you can incur all kinds of fines for wounding an animal) and a slower death for the animal.

In Ontario, you have to take a hunting course in order to get your license, and they teach you all about this stuff. To get a good idea on where to aim on a deer, check this page. If you live in an area where you do not need to get a license or undergo this training, it is up to you to make sure you know where to aim for the most humane kill shot.

Targeting is equally important to getting quality meat out of the animal, especially if you are using shot that can scatter. Defiling the meat detracts from the whole purpose of hunting your own food in the first place.

Secondly, learn to shoot, mostly for the same reasons we mention above. You can’t target effectively if you don’t know how where to aim a gun to pinpoint your precise target. There are shooting clubs in rural areas that hold shooting practice with clay targets. These are an inexpensive way to train yourself.

When you do kill an animal, use all the meat and hide where viable. If you are a first-timer, take the animal to a butcher; more experienced hunters can teach you butchery in the field as you gain more experience. If you shoot a deer, you can preserve the meat in cubes for cooking in stews, or have a butcher make it into sausages for use throughout the year.

Hides can go to a local tannery (leather maker). One deer can generally feed a family for at least a few months, as long as everyone is willing to eat it. While kids generally won’t be, if you can pledge to yourself to just eat what you hunt and fish, or vegetarian if you don’t have wild meat available to you, you will not only have a better diet with less preservatives but you’ll be cutting the meat industry out of your diet, and out of your pocketbook.

Hunting is only an inhumane blood sport when we do it for fun rather than doing it for food. If you keep that in mind as your end goal, you’ll be a lot further ahead than if you bought a load of cheap meat at the store that was raised and killed inhumanely in a factory farm. You can also buy organic meat, but it doesn’t get much more organic than wild.

The argument against hunting has always been that it is senseless killing of an animal. If you learn how to shoot properly and use that animal for food, it simply isn’t the case at all. What is more senseless is the meat industry’s raising of chickens in conditions where they don’t even see the outside of a chicken house, feeding cattle and pigs their ground-up relatives, and the scores of other abuses that the meat industry visits on its animals and, ultimately, the consumers of those animals. Getting back to the land after reading Fast Food Nation and viewing Food, Inc. doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

This article has 7 comments

  1. ed

    Why hunt when vegans live longer than omnivores though? Yes hunting your meat is the lesser of two evils but why kill at all when you can live longer on a plant based diet.

    And why on earth are you showing a picture of fox hunting which is hunting for “sport” and not for subsistence. In fox hunting the dogs chase a fox to its den and then rip it to shreds. People do this for the “thrill” of seeing a fox torn apart alive.

    I came to this website to get info on buying a mattress but I am really turned off by this shoddy justification for hunting. There are very few societies on earth that can justify a NEED for hunting animals and the author of this blog is clearly not one of them. If you’re using a computer with web access you surely have access to healthier alternatives to dead animals.

  2. Susan

    Agree with the other comment – came to scope out the mattresses, am now leaving because of this post and the lack of ethics it represents. It’s cruel and inhumane to kill an animal, no matter what your justification for it may be.

  3. TT

    I never usually comment on blogs…..but I really had to “pipe in” on this one….in defense for the author and Essentia due to the other comments posted. People have a right to their opinions, perfectly fine…and can comment on what they want….but to say that they are not buying a mattress now due to a blog post…which again is opinion and does not necessarily hold the views of Essentia as a mattress company is pretty ridiculous. It’s a blog for Goodness sake!

  4. Angela

    It really wasn’t my purpose to offend. It was my purpose to show that hunting your own meat is a more sustainable solution than purchasing meat that is inhumanely raised by the factory farms of the meat industry – no offense was meant. I do not agree with hunting solely for sport, if I didn’t make that clear enough in the post let me do so here.

  5. Julia

    Wow, what a great blog. Really, this is an important conversation. I am someone who has lived as both a vegetarian (even dabbled in veganism) and as an omnivore. For years I have questioned what is the best human diet out there. I have had discussions (heated, opinionated, passionate and otherwise with many) and I’ve read a lot of books, articles, etc on the subject. After many years of this, I am now firmly omnivorous, with strong caveats…no factory/industrially raised animal products, no farmed fish, no battery raised chickens or eggs. Only organically-fed, free-range, grass-fed, humanely-raised domesticated animals, and also game meats. i.e animals that have led good lives and have been part of an ecosystem, not boxed off into feedlots, isolated from the cycle of life.

    It’s not always easy to figure out, but I now know my local farmer and how her farm is run (and how the animals area treated), and I know how and who hunts the animals I eat. I am taking the time to be conscious about the food energy I take in and where it comes from.

    This I recognize, is a luxury in today’s industrialized food system, but it is one that we as consumers need to keep asking for in purchasing power and our conversations.

    So why not vegetarian? Because it simply isn’t sustainable. For the vegans out there, precisely where do you think your produce gets the nutrients to grow from? From other vegetables? Well, yes, some (nitrogen fixers), but certainly not all! Nutrients come from one of two ways: animal manure, or petroleum products. I know which one I’d rather support. It’s called basic ecology – life makes life, and veganism simply ignores that cycle.

    Before you vegans go off seething with anger, try reading “Vegetarian Myth” (written by a vegan), “Nourishing Traditions” and “Omnivore’s Dilemma”. They will rock your world, and point out, if nothing else, that the most long-lived populations of the world, with the best dental and bone structures, lowest rates of heart disease, diabetes and cancer are NOT vegans… they consistently ate/eat milk products (usually yogurt and/or other cultured products). And where do milk products come from? Not carrots.

    And the health benefits of animal fats…
    corporate interests have led us to believe they are harmful. Far more harmful are vegetable fats. Just look at the Inuit – no heart disease from a steady diet of marine mammals and fish. Now, with the introduction of processed foods with vegetable fats…epidemic heart disease and diabetes. Just one of many examples of meat eating cultures that thrive on traditional meat diets and very little vegetable matter.

    Animals should certainly be treated respectfully. And I know that there is the question of whether killing is respectful. But if you want to remove yourself from that equation, you’ll need to build yourself a rocket and find a different planet, with an entirely different way of producing food. Because no matter how you slice it, animals are affected by our consumption of food on this planet. But they are also incredible providers to the cycle of life on earth. You can’t just put them into a big field on one side of the world, with humans on the other. Would that be ‘natural’?

    Ask yourself, really ask yourself? What is my disdain for meat-eating? I think you’ll find it is far more about culture than it is about nature.

  6. Jacks Mood

    Wow, it sounds like Julia really knows what she is talking about. No wonder people stopped commenting on this post, she just nailed it… end of discussion. I’d say between the arguments presented by Angela in this post and by Julia in her comment this debate is pretty much over.

  7. Monique

    hey! kind of late to the party, but I agree that hunting is extremely beneficial (I’m writing a research paper on it now) and as long as you do everything as humanely and are rule abiding, like you said, it is perfectly fine. Hunting helps with population control and increases economic profit. You and your family are using every bit of the meat and skin you can which is what you should do, so go you. I think that’s awesome. It’s better to know exactly where the meat came from and that it was properly executed. Most people who are against it haven’t done their research!

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