Could You Hunt Your Own Meat?

Posted on January 14, 2010 by Courtney


As an environmentally-minded person, one of the biggest decisions you must make is whether or not to eat meat. Here at The Greenists, we’re aware that a vegetarian diet is much less taxing on the planet than an omnivorous one, and we know how much better it is to eat locally-grown food, but we do not judge others if they choose to eat meat. Heck, I still eat meat, though I’ve cut down my consumption of chicken and pork to only a couple of times a week. I do stay away from red meat, partially because of cholesterol concerns.

Anyway, I just finished reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a popular and somewhat controversial book by Michael Pollan, and I recommend reading it if you’re curious about where your food comes from, or about food in general. In the book, Pollan narrates his quest to track a meal from start to finish, from the live animals to the slaughter to the processing to the plate. It gave me a lot to think about when I visit the grocery store, to say the least.

But it was the last part of the book — the part where Pollan goes hunting for his own meat — that stuck with me the most.

Pollan makes the argument that if you eat meat, you must come to terms with the fact that your dinner is comprised of something that once had a face. It’s not something many of us like to think about — the steaks and chickens you see at the grocery store or in restaurants are so nicely packaged that it’s easy to push the grisly reality out of our minds. But, according to Pollan and many philosophers, if you are able to down a juicy pork loin, then you also should be able to kill a pig.

I have never been hunting, partially because the opportunity has never come up, but mostly because I just couldn’t do it. I can’t look at an animal peacefully grazing and then pick up a gun and kill it, even for the expressed purpose of eating it. I’m aware that this makes me a huge hypocrite; some would even call me immoral. But I do see the logic in Pollan’s argument — eating meat means that something has to die, and that’s something all meat-eaters have stomach, both literally and figuratively.

So my question to you, dear readers, is this: Do you agree that if you eat meat, you should also be willing to pick up a weapon and kill the animal yourself? Is it immoral or unethical to push the slaughter out of your mind? If any of you are like me — meat-eaters but not hunters — would you consider killing your own food? Could you do it? Or would you just give up meat? Does the willingness to kill make any difference?

I’m very interested to see what you all think, but again, please be respectful. The Greenists is a place where we present people with information and encourage them to think about their choices, not preach about what you should and shouldn’t do. Please keep this in mind if you choose to leave a comment. Thank you.


  1. Nope, don’t think I could do it. I shot a rabbit once a couple summers ago and still regret it!!

    January 14th, 2010 at 8:30 am
    Comment by Mrs. Money
  2. The only thing I’ve ever eaten that I killed myself is fish and that’s certainly less traumatic than pulling a trigger. My dad is an avid hunter and I’ve watched him filet deer for future consumption so I don’t have a real problem with it. I believe I could do it if I had to but why would I ever want to? I’m lazy and grocery stores are convenient.

    I do think it’s important to know where your food comes from, though.

    January 14th, 2010 at 10:25 am
    Comment by Julie
  3. Way back when, I raised chickens for meat and butchered some of them myself, just to prove I could do it. I’m not a hunter, but if hunger threatened, I’m sure I could learn to hunt. Hopefully, I would do it with gratitude.

    January 14th, 2010 at 9:09 pm
    Comment by Abby
  4. Yeah, I could do it. And I think you could to, if you were hungry enough. I’d prefer it that way, actually. At least we’d know where it came from.

    I have a friend who is a long-time vegetarian and I was surprised to see a rifle case on his couch one day and even more surprised to learn that it was for hunting. He’ll eat meat only if he kills it himself. I’m not sure he’s gotten anything yet as the rifle is vintage, has no scope and requires him to get pretty close to his target.

    January 15th, 2010 at 1:02 pm
    Comment by mickey
  5. Could I do it, no. Do I eat meat, yes. BUT I eat humane meat. We eat bison for red meat, the bison is local and I have researched the family that raises them. Our chicken is also humane raised by a family, I even interviewed the dad. It costs us $15 a pound for the chicken but to me it’s worth it.

    I think if you are sure that your meat was raised humanely and you eat less it’s fine for the environment and ethically.

    January 17th, 2010 at 1:47 am
    Comment by Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green
  6. I have been hunting many, many times and never killed much of anything. The fun is in going, not necessarily in bringing home game.

    As a young man, I had little trouble with killing, I just didn’t like cleaning the stuff once I killed it. As I’ve grown older, I guess I’ve gotten soft because the idea of killing animals has grown more distasteful.

    I have no problem with killing a critter that presents a danger or nuisance, but the idea of hunting rabbits, birds or deer is much less interesting than it was 30 years ago. I still might enjoy a good walk in the woods with a gun in my hand, but I would probably just watch the game and tell myself the were too far away anyhow.

    January 17th, 2010 at 8:36 pm
    Comment by BillyO
  7. I could definitely kill a fish. Possibly a chicken or other bird…but there’s no way I could kill a mammal. And I’m a meat eater…but I won’t eat any babies like veal or lamb (or rabbit for that matter).

    Does having the awareness that you’re eating a once-living creature count for anything? I sort of feel like it should. Feeling a little guilty – and also thankful to the animal for giving its life – at least expresses an awareness and slight respect of what has gone down. Maybe I’m trying to rationalize my hypocrisy…

    January 21st, 2010 at 9:40 pm
    Comment by Mel Heth
  8. We eat meat in my house and my husband and son hunt and fish. My husband sees the process through the entire way, from shooting it with his bow, and the butchering process…as well as making jerky and sausage. It takes forever to get it all cleaned just right and packaged, but we do it all ourselves. He only hunts hog and deer, but we eat chicken and other meat. True, he doesn’t kill them and we don’t butcher those animals ourselves, but we could if we had to. I agree with Mel on the respect and thanks we have for the animals which nurish our family.

    I think it’s funny the hubs will hunt with a video camera as much as he does a bow and arrow. There was a doe with twins he video taped all season long and never once took a shot at them otherwise. He doesn’t have the blood thirst or the need to kill anything that moves for which I’m glad. LOL Three deer will feed us for at least a year (along with other meat thrown in here and there)so there’s no need to ever kill more than those 3.

    March 24th, 2010 at 4:16 am
    Comment by Monique

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