Vegan vs. Meat Eater

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As a hunter, the question comes up all the time: how can I justify the killing of animals for food? My reply varies according to the circumstances, particularly to whether or not the person is actually willing to hear my response. Recently, I was posed this question while promoting my new book, Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter, at a Greenlight Bookstore event in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Here’s what happened.

And here’s the pamphlet he asked me to read:

Being short on substance, veganism try to sell itself through Hollywood glitz. Inside, noted intellectual Pamela Anderson explains her views on eating meat, and Robert Maguire reminisces about eating chicken and imagining the bird’s life “and all that kind of stuff.”


17 Responses to “Vegan vs. Meat Eater”

  1. ben long

    Nicely played, Mr. Rinella. I appreciate both of you treated each other with respect. Methinks vegans should also remember that all eating is an exchange of energy and an exchange of life that requires some violence. A soybean field that supports vegan lives is an enormous, longterm act of violence to an ecosystem, impacting every creature from deer right down to the roots and microbes. By comparison, killing a deer in a forest is one brief act of violence that leaves the ecosystem utterly intact.

  2. toad

    I have found that when talking about group ideology this is most all the times true. We as hunters really don’t care if someone doesn’t hunt. We may wish they did but if they don’t it’s their decision. On the other hand those that don’t hunt or eat meat want to force their values on us as hunters. If you don’t want to hunt or eat meat fine it’s your decision, just like wanting to hunt and fish and eat the animals and fish that I take is my decision.

  3. mikecfry

    Very well handled sir. Actually an admirable exchange on both parts. It`s comforting to see people exchange views on the topic in such a mutually respectful way – all too often that`s not the case. While i disagree with the questioner`s view, I admire his openness to read your book, and hopefully his receptiveness to gain a new perspective.

  4. gaford

    Thanks for all of this, Steven. You’ve given me some renewed insight. I value the point that because you hunt, because you fish, because you are out there where it all happens, you experience a level of connection to you and your prey’s natural environment that folks pushing a shopping cart will not get in the grocery store. I hope I can communicate this the next time someone calls me into question for hunting and fishing.

  5. Hurckles

    As always, very well played. My boss is not a fan of hunting, when she knows it’s what I’m doing that weekend; she likes to give me a little jab about how cruel it is. I just remind her that I watched her eat meat for lunch, so there’s really no need for debate. In a way, like you said, I can respect vegans more than anti-hunters, who tend to be hypocrites. I’m wondering if that gentleman was expecting such a well said and educated response to his “comment.” the best way to handle people like that is with respect. I don’t flaunt my hunting. If I wore camo out in the bush that day I change at my car…not that I’m ashamed, I just respect the opinions of others and do what I do on my own time. I can’t stand making a beer and snack run before the Penn State game and seeing a guy in full camo walking through the grocery store. Yeah man, I was just in a tree too, but I’m not making myself a calling card for public confrontation. When people challenge me, I’m respectful and try to make my point with respect. If you get through to them great, if not, at least you didn’t tarnish their opinion of hunting through your own personal interactions. Of course it’s good vegans have celebrities to endorse their cause…although when you Google pam Anderson I’m sure you’ll find more sex tapes than PETA connections, but hey, if that’s the goodwill ambassador they want, more power to them.

  6. sserebrennikov78

    Nature has laws. Some things are hot, others are cold. Some things are hard, others are soft. Some animals hunt, others are hunted. Everything around us exists according to these laws. Nature made us omnivours. We are supposed to eat meat. We were given tools like teeth, and hands, that help us rip meat apart and consume it. Nature also made us the most efficient predator on earth. Our eyes are positioned on front of our head, so we can calculate distance to prey. We walk on two legs, so we can use our hands to hunt prey with weapons. Our brain is developed to help us produce tools for successfull hunts.
    Nature has laws. We all know what happens when we break those laws. We get punished. Try putting your finger in a pot of boiling water, or stepping off a cliff. Humans are designed to eat meat. When we stop doing that, we stop getting valuable nutrition into our bodies. Humans are designed to hunt. Who are we to tell nature that we will stop doing what we are supposed to be doing by design. When we stopped hunting we got punished. We became fat, we became weak, we forgot our traditions and skills that we aquired during tens of thousands of years throughout our history. But what’s more important, we became dependant on agriculture for our food. Of course they dont want you to hunt for food. They want to control your food supply, so they can control you.

  7. CL3

    Stephen: You were remarkably calm is your response!

    When the vegan gentleman uttered the words “innocent animal” my mind immediately went to a thought Allen Morris Jones has in his book “A Quiet Place of Violence;” If we as humans try to apply the idea of “innocence” onto animals like deer, it implies that that same animal could be guilty of something, which we know is not possible. To hunt is the original activity (or project as Jones call it in his book). It is how we are all here, continuing to struggle our own human-ness.

    Keep fighting the good fight.

  8. Hurckles

    can’t stop watching it. you responded in a way, right off the top of your head, that i would have needed an hour to come up with, clearly it comes from the heart, again, thank you Steve, for being our ambassador out there!

  9. mtfree

    It saddens me that hunters and woodsman have to defend our traditions, our beliefs and our lives. But it fills me with great joy knowing that there is somebody like you Steve and your crew of authors, filming crews, family and this community fighting to preserve our heritage.
    It would have been very easy to fall into a argument, to prove some anti hunting non meat eating agenda, that hunters are nothing more then knuckle dragging cavemen. And for the fact that you did not fall for it, but in turn “invited” him to dinner, makes me proud to share our traditions and beliefs not just with you, but with all hunters.

    Thank you for everything you stand for and for making the rest of us look as intelligent as you.

  10. paws

    The next time this situation occurs .may I suggest you direct the vegan to a book called primal body primal mind .It explains exactly why humans should eat wild game and fish.

  11. T Hunts

    I too say “GOOD JOB” Steven. It sometimes is hard to express the reverence and love of the animals that we hunt. Most people have no idea as to how a hunter feels joy and a bit of sadness at the same time. Here in Oklahoma our wildlife department is SOLELY supported by the sales of hunting and fishing licenses. That usually helps me explain when I ask non-hunters what have they put in the kitty for the wildlife?

  12. jasonb

    Wow, your good!

    how can vegans be healthy??

    The only time I was approached by an anti hunter – I mean just flat told me I was a barbarian for hunting deer – I was at a comm college turning in some instructor hours form the fire station. This lady weighed in around 200 lbs, she had me beat in weight. Anyoen knows me knows I can really be an arse sometmes. I looked at her when she finished and told her I would reallly listen to what she had to say if she was a vegan. She said how do you knwo I am not? I told her there was no way in hades she got that fat eating salads. Then to leave me alone as I choose to get my meat by hunting and not a drivethru.

    Lady still works there, still fat, and still has not said one word about hunting to me going on 15 yrs.

    You are truly goo with your words and ability to talk to folks and make em at least get some idea of an understanding. Keep up the books and shows.

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