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Venison and Moral Dilemmas

| 12/10/2009 10:38:35 AM

A photo of Mishelle ShepardThe knives come out again, and handy hubby begins the sharpening ritual. This time the beast to butcher is not an ugly feral pig but a spectacularly graceful deer, maybe the very same one I gaze at often from my office window. I am forced to deal anew with my own hypocrisy and those attitudes and habits born of convenience.

The “cute” animals, why is it so much harder to eat them? Why don’t we consider dogs or horses to be fair game at the table while other cultures do? Why do so many more people eat and enjoy turkey, than say, rabbit? Rabbit meat is delicious, taste kind of like ... chicken.

We don’t have many deer around here, not nearly as many as you would think, and I wonder why that is. I’ve seen more deer grazing in the suburbs of the east coast than I have ever witnessed on the vast acreage and sprawling countryside of all East Texas. Is that because we are over-hunting them? Or because they don’t appreciate sharing their wilderness space with cattle? Or because the coyote take down too many of their young? Or are there just as many of them hidden from sight – necessarily more wary of humans out here than those in the east coast suburbs who know they won’t get shot?

Hours, days, yes, ok, an entire lifetime could go by ruminating over such questions, which always take me back again to why I consider these issues over the plight of the cute deer, but not of the ugly pig?

Once I’ve had enough of such mental flagellation, I relate these thoughts to handy hubby: I know he will put it all into perspective for me. His eyes screw up after my five minute soliloquy where I again repeat maybe I should not eat animals, I am not willing to kill many of them or even see them killed. It is terribly hypocritical, and I should be ashamed that I can live my life in such a way! There’s no logic to eating the ugly animals only, so evidently the only logic is to eat none of them.

The vultures and crows are squawking “die, die, die” as they circle over the deer’s entrails. Handy Hubby listens absent-mindedly while carrying in parts of the carcass. When I am at last done and leave a space for his reply, he cocks his head back over his shoulder, a hind quarter balanced on the other one, and he says, “So because I have no interest, aptitude, will, or sense for growing cucumbers, I better stop eatin’ ’em, it sounds like, and by your kind of logic I have to give up veggies in general?” He LOVES a good broccoli almost as much as he loves a good steak.

S.M.R. Saia
12/16/2009 9:05:55 AM

I got a chuckle out of this! Thanks! Have you read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma? It's hundreds of pages of much the same mental flaggelation that you describe.

S.M.R. Saia
12/16/2009 9:04:02 AM

I got a chuckle out of this! Thanks! Have you read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma? It's hundreds of pages of much the same mental flaggelation that you describe.

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