The Mindful Carnivore
My book—The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance—has begun to build bridges, earning praise from vegetarians, hunters, and non-hunting omnivores alike.
One reader said she hoped the book would help her and her devout vegetarian husband talk about her health-based decision to eat some meat. A lifelong hunter wrote to say that he wanted his vegetarian sister to read it; he was hopeful that it might help the two of them find common ground. A father expressed similar hopes for being able to talk with his daughter.
At twenty, moved by the compassionate words of Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh and concerned about the ecological impacts of meat, I became a vegetarian. Soon I went vegan.
Almost a decade later, having moved back to a rural community from New York City, I realized that all food has its costs. From habitat destruction to grain combines that inadvertently mince rabbits to the shooting of deer in soybean and lettuce fields, crop production is far from harmless. Even in our own organic garden, my wife and I were battling ravenous insects and fence-defying woodchucks. I began to see that the question wasn’t what we ate but how that food came to our plates.
A few years later, my doctor (a naturopath) and my wife—who was studying holistic health and nutrition—suggested that we shift our diet. My health improved when we started eating dairy and eggs. It improved still more when we started eating chicken and fish.
Searching for ethical, ecologically responsible ways to come to terms with my food, I began to contemplate the unthinkable: hunting. Two years later, I took up a deer rifle.
In the book, my personal story blends with history, religion, philosophy, and ecology as I explore our most elemental relationship with nature: food. (For order information, click here.)
Over the past three years, my blog has brought omnivores, vegetarians, hunters, and non-hunters into dialogue with one another. It is a place for celebrating all the ways we are sustained by the larger-than-human natural world. A place for asking questions. A place for not being too sure any of us has all the answers. A place for listening, learning, and laughing, especially at ourselves, peculiar animals that we are.