- One whose meat source comes from thyne own two hands or from the hands of a fellow hunter.
- One who does not eat mass-produced meat.
- One who does not trust the governmental standards for what passes as "fit" for human consumption.
Clad in camo, as is my norm, I think nothing of asking the waitress for the vegetarian options. She, understandably so, looks at me with a sense of confusion for why would someone dressed as I was ask for options that don't contain meat? She, the bold lass she be, voices her incertitude, loud enough for all to hear, as if challenging my life of hypocrisy.
I tell her that I am indeed a hunter but I am, for all purposes that shall be explained here, a "public vegetarian".
She sneers at that, claiming that she used to be a vegan and there's no such thing as public vegetarianism. I pack up my things to leave, no sense in giving money to a woman who so judges the eating habits of patrons.
Before I make my leave, I tell her I am a wildgameitarian, the only meat I trust to eat is that which I've killed. She looks at me, puzzled for a moment. I take this time to ask her if she eats meat in her post-vegan life.
Looking extremely uncomfortable, she admits, in a smaller voice this time, yes, I eat meat.
Standing as straight as possible, I voice the quandary even though I already know the answer, do you kill it yourself?
She pretends not to hear, busying herself with a decaffeinated coffee pot. I make my way to the door but before I reach the exit, she is aside me, answering so only I could hear, no I could never bring myself to kill what I eat. I buy it at the grocery store, where nothing seems to get hurt.
This great disconnection between dinner and from whence it came has plagued my hunting life and has become a more acute pain since my husband began his foray into farming. The majority of people simply do not know where their meals come from or the work involved, the sacrifices made, the lies told.
Last July, due to an empty freezer, I was standing at the grocery store, buying a package of beef for tacos that night when I suddenly realized I had no idea what I was buying. I didn't know where the cow came from, where it had lived, if it had been diseased, under what circumstances it died, or who had touched it in the process to become the saran-wrapped package laying in my hand. I thought back to conversations I had had with individuals who prefer this way of meat procurement because it's less real, it's gentle, it doesn't make buyers feel as if it were ever a living, breathing animal.
I dropped the package and realized I was a complete hypocrite.
Before I spiraled into a murky pit of self-loathing, I rationalized that beyond our biweekly trips to town to interact with civilization, summer cook outs, or holidays, I really did not over-imbibe on store-bought meat and I almost completely had given up chicken since Hubby's year-long employment at a large chicken factory had marred my vision of the industry, but still, I realized, that wasn't enough.
How could I go on living my life, proclaiming the wonders of wild game, when I myself was still eating mystery meat? So, I made a choice and conjured an ism for my particular way of life, which, as you can probably tell, is wildgameitarianism.
Wildgameitarianism can also be referred to as Public Vegetarianism because eating establishments on the whole do not allow guests to bring along their own venison nor do they themselves kill animals on premises that they themselves have hunted.
When I arrived home, I informed my bacon-loving husband that as of that day, the degree of separation between myself and the meat I eat would no longer exceed one. Zero being me providing myself meat, one being someone I know gifting their hunting meat to me.
At first, he was taken aback. Once I explained it, he started to understand. Months have gone by, and while he still has yet to abide by the guidelines of Wildgameitarianism, I have overheard him tell his friends of my decision. This conversation generally follows the same dialogue past the what, whys, and whens; he never fails to tell them how proud he is of me.
Thus far, I feel healthier, I've lost a little weight, and I no longer feel extremely gross after exiting a steakhouse or restaurant. I've become a better hunter, more passionate, for I know that I need to fill the freezer for the year to come.
And to answer the questions I've gotten:
- Yes, I will eat meat that someone I know has killed so long as I help in the processing.
- Yes, I would definitely eat beef again if:
- I raised, fed, and butchered it myself.
- A rancher who raises cattle 100% grass-fed would let me choose a cow, kill it, and butcher it.
- Yes, I actually don't eat bacon but I do have wild boar bacon that a friend of mine killed so all is not lost in that area, thank goodness.
- Yes, this is difficult in a public setting because literally everything at every restaurant has meat in it (seriously, try to go to your favorite restaurant and ask about the veggie options- they range from nothing to grilled cheese and salads).
- No, I'm not sure how long this adventure will last but I have absolutely no desire for a steak, I'm not sure that it would even taste good at this point, so if that's a benchmark, I'm planning on doing this for a while, if not for the rest of my life.
- Yes, part of me wants to move to Alaska so I can partake in sustenance hunting.
Winter is upon us, snow has already begun to fly, dropping to earth with the same force as the mercury on the temperature. My bed is warm but my deer tag remains unfilled, along with it my freezer and hungry belly. So venture forth I must, bow in hand, to live as my ancestors did, off the land, dining on fare free of chemicals, hormones, and, for lack of a more eloquent term, crap.