Today I turned on NPR and the Splendid Table was on. Not my favorite NPR program, I’m more of a “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me”, kinda person. However, the guest was a cookbook author Jesse Griffiths. Never heard of him but as he started talking I knew I wouldn’t be jumping on Amazon to order his cookbook. I’m sure he is a nice guy and very sincere in what he believes but at the same time it was a little unsettling to try and follow his reasoning.
If you haven’t heard of him his latest book is “Afield: A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish”. When I turned on the radio he was talking about the virtues of hunting. Nope, I won’t be buying his book.
Before I go into what he was saying I think I need to admit to the fact that years ago in my very unenlightened and unaware days I went hunting and yes, I shot and killed a pheasant. I am not proud of it and I really wish I could say that after taking the life of that beautiful bird I immediately realized what I had done and instantly became vegan. I didn’t. At the time I could quote you all of the reasons for hunting: it controls the animal population preventing animals from starving to death, it is better than going to the store and buying meat someone else killed, hunters actually care more about animals than most people…. and on and on. None of it true or logical but I didn’t know that at the time.
Anyway the thing that really grabbed my attention in the interview today was when he said that if someone isn’t emotionally impacted by hunting then they shouldn’t be doing it. He went on to talk about how it is important to respect that a life was just taken and that the animal did not know his day would end like this. Somewhere along the interview thanking the killed animal was mentioned. Now again, I do believe that this author was very sincere and that just like the way I thought so many years ago that hunting was natural, he really believes in what he does. What was hard for me to understand was that he appeared to know that the animal’s life had value and he was killing, not just hunting but killing an aware being that wanted to continue to live. And yet, to him, because it resulted in a meal it was justified. He talked about the importance of a good meal and how a good meal is about more than the food. Very sensitive but misses the fact that a sentient being that wanted to live, that may have others back home waiting on him or her to return, was killed purely to provide a dining experience.
I don’t know if I should be hopeful or saddened by hearing that interview. Part of me wants to believe that maybe hunters are starting to have more awareness of what they are actually doing. I thought I heard that somehow during this interview. Or maybe that is just what I want to believe. Or should I be saddened because a clearly intelligent and somewhat sensitive person can acknowledge the gravity of death but still believe it is justified as long as everyone enjoys the meal.