Well, at least, that's the plan at some point in the future. My brother-in-law (also Ben) and I were talking last night about meat (and my vegetarianity) and we totally see eye-to-eye, but he still eats meat and I don't. And I explained, rather obviously to him probably, that I didn't mind so much about the animal lives lost to produce meat, but that I did mind a) about their treatment and health and b) about the environment.
I have eaten chicken a couple times since the fall, and turkey twice, and it was because they were local, "organic" (greenwashed and impotent though that word has become, I do still believe that choosing it is a loud way to vote with my money), and free range. In at least of two of those cases, we in fact know the producer personally.
I still miss meat. Beef most of all. But that's the one thing I can't find a way to justify; even when beef is well-treated and grass-fed and all of that other good stuff, it still produces methane, and lots of it.
Now I know that this is not a particularly balanced approach - my wife called it "boycotting" meat, which I think is an apt label. I'm not eating meat, basically, because too many other people are. I could be more balanced about it, and frankly anyone who knows me knows that I will likely be a meat eater again one day (by virtue of my fickleness), but I think I do better, in some ways, as a fervent fundamentalist than a laid-back liberal. It's easier.
I started re-listening to the CBC's excellent series Have Your Meat and Eat It Too enjoying the re-affirmations of the conclusions I've drawn, and feeling good again about being a vegetarian. In the third episode, though, are some of the most compelling interviews, with people like Joel Salatin and Michael Pollan
...and the gist of what they say is twofold:
- in nature, ecosystems are dependent on animals: without animals, farms need chemical fertilizers to enrich the soil
- governments support the current meat production system by subsidizing corn and soy, which are fed to animals.
In other words, it may be possible to eat meat - and maybe actually help small ecosystems thrive - if we look to smaller producers who have created closed systems within which animals play a crucial role.
Back to hunting, then: my thinking is that those are animals which have led as natural a life as they can have had (making "free range" and "organic" look pretty ridiculous), and that becoming part of the food chain again - in a direct way - I am probably doing much less damage, both to ecosystems and to the global environment, than buying produced meat, regardless of the source. In fact, if it was part of a cull, I might even be contributing to an ecosystem by keeping it in balance.
[addendum: apparently they've discovered that curry spices reduce methane in ruminants! so curried beef is better for the environment...?