Vegetarianism and Bunny Stew

Posted: October 20, 2011 in Environment, Philosophical Debris, Survival Skills

I guess that I’m neither pro or con vegetarianism.  I’m very conscious of two restrictions that vegetarians have to be aware of.  The first is that some complex proteins are not easily gotten through strictly vegan diets and the hard core vegetarian has to have a knowledge of nutrition in order to have a complete diet.  The second is that, especially in our Canadian climate, without modern transportation and food processing, it would not be possible to be a vegetarian.  Access to vegetables in winter months would be difficult without imported foods in grocery stores or frozen/canned foods.  However, the vegetarian says, “I can, and so I do.”

I don’t have any issues with that, but as a survival instructor I tend to take my moral and value cues from nature, and if a vegetarian diet strays so far from what is practical, I feel that makes a strong argument in favour of eating meat.  The problem is not the eating of meat, but rather the way animals are treated, handled and wasted.  Slaughter houses are factories of cruel death and as a society we waste tremendous amounts of food, all of which is sacrificed life.

One of the activities I use with my survival group is the preparation of rabbit stew.  We start with live rabbits (purchased from a rabbit farm that specifically raises rabbits for food, not pets).  The animals have to be killed, skinned and cleaned, and are then cooked in a variety of ways.  My goal in this is partly to teach certain survival skills, but more-so to impart a sense of reverence about our food.  Many people don’t understand where their food comes from.  Bacon is a long way from sliced pig flesh, and eggs a far cry from chicken ovaries.  It’s easy to forget that hamburger meat comes from cows that were slaughtered in a slaughterhouse.  Reacquainting people with the entire process produces a greater respect for food.  I don’t believe that we have to stop eating meat, but I do think that we must have a greater awareness, respect and reverence for the lives that we dispatch in order to get our food.  That awareness is more likely to translate into less waste and more humane methods of processing our food, affirming the link that we have with the other living things on this planet.

During the cooking stage, there were quite a few comments marveling that the meat was recently hopping around.  “Hard to believe,” many said.  It shouldn’t be; it should be thoroughly understood.

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