Having to juggle a part time job in my previous business, I still get to meet lots of interesting people from outside the game pursuits community. Only last week I had an informal meeting with a chap, let’s call him John, who was sporting a tweed jacket. On conclusion of the business matters I had to ask if he was a shooting man. He looked a little perplexed until he realized it was his jacket that had triggered the question. John said he wasn’t, and simply liked the jacket but did admit to some clay shooting in his past. In my habitual way I instigated a conversation to discuss Fayre Game to support my earlier enquiry.
After a couple of minutes of the elevator pitch my new acquaintance informed me that he was actually a vegan. It’s always a distinct possibility that the person we might want to discuss our game pursuits with won’t share our enthusiasm but its not always obvious as to their reason for their dietary choice. The declaration certainly didn’t worry me or change my tempo. In fact, quite the opposite. John was obviously a reasonable man and didn’t strike me as someone who held naïve or radical views. I was keen to understand why he was a vegan and what it meant to him. I instantly responded with the statement “that’s really interesting”, and I absolutely meant it. I wanted to know what made him become vegan. Was it for health reasons or a decision based on animal welfare? Primarily for John it was the latter. We quickly ascertained that we both disagreed with intensive farming and likewise we struggled with the hypocrisy that many people (mainly celebrities) exhibited during the recent Extinction Rebellion protests in London. This topic however led me into asking John if he ate almonds, avocados or palm oil food products. He did. Being a bee keeper, I asked John if he ate honey, he doesn’t. This led the conversation, by me I must admit, into the ‘exploitation’ of bees to pollinate almond trees in the USA and the corruption for water rights in South America to water the avocado plantations. I highlighted the increased carbon footprint and costs for the year-round provision of some of these foods and I thought I had a slam dunk but it’s not about that.
John believes he is doing the right thing to improve the welfare of the animal kingdom. He does so with the knowledge he currently has. I’m sure he will now watch the Netflix series Rotten and will likely adjust some of his current eating habits to counter the contradictions I raised. Equally however, ‘we’ game eating carnivores need to constantly check our own behavior and ensure we make the most of the game we shoot. Using the whole carcass to make meals, soups and stocks is a small thing but shows that we do respect our quarry.
At the end of the day, conscientious vegans and hunter conservationists are peas from the same pod. We both feel passionately about animal welfare and conservation but come at it from different angles. Meat eaters apply an objective logic, often dispassionately, that suits us to support our passion. I venture to say that many vegans are less objective but that doesn’t dilute their argument or right to follow their path, as fortunately we live in a democratic society. Both sides need to respect each other’s views.