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How to Convince a Vegetarian to Eat Wild Game

Many people avoid meat on health, moral or environmental grounds, but according to the author, there is no excuse to not eat wild game.


It seems to me that there is an increasing number of restricted diets everywhere I go, and all sorts of custom diets popping up. There are the lacto-ovo-vegetarians who won’t eat animal flesh of any kind but will eat cheese and eggs; there are the lacto-vegetarians who eat dairy products but not eggs and then there are the vegans who don’t eat anything involving animal products of any kind. But it gets even more nuanced from there. There are pescatarians who won’t eat animal flesh but will eat fish flesh; there are raw foodists who won’t eat anything cooked above 115 degrees and there are macrobiotics who favor Asian vegetables and avoid refined sugars and oils. And don’t forget the flexitarians, who are vegetarians that eat meat when they just can’t take it anymore. There are so many heavy-handed food rules floating around that it is often hard to keep up. The famed line from The Simpsons: “I’m a level five vegan—I don’t eat anything that casts a shadow,” doesn’t seem too far-fetched anymore.

Typically, people avoid meat on either health, moral or environmental grounds. I can understand why people avoid foods from factory farms, which are mired in problems and alarming conditions. But, in my opinion, there is no excuse to not eat wild game. Here is why.

Humans are genetically hardwired to be omnivores: Food takes longer to pass through the stomach in herbivores because of the slow digestion of cellulose-rich and fibrous foods. The small intestine is shorter in carnivores. In humans, it is about half the length between gorillas and lions—pure vegetarians and pure carnivores—with digestive enzymes to match. Our bodies took their shape throughout evolution because of our balanced consumption of vegetable and animal protein. Had our hominid ancestors not hunted, adding meat to the tough herbage in their diets, we might have wound up with bodies like gorillas.

Our ancestors' choice to eat meat also made us smarter. Many people, both vegetarians and omnivores, mistakenly blame animal fat for human health problems, but fat is good when consumed from wild animals, which contains a greater abundance of long-chain fatty acids necessary for brain development. Intramuscular saturated fat—the marbling that we pursue in modern feedlot agriculture—is what is notoriously unhealthy. Structural fat, rather than adipose fat, can only be found in animals with access to an adequate variety of seeds and leaves.

No food is more in tune with the seasons than game meat: More than any other food, wild game cannot be harvested until it is ready. It is seasonal, local and organic. We eat animals, animals eat animals and plants, plants draw from the dirt and we eventually turn to dirt. It is a beautiful cycle, and it is an unavoidable one. Those who roam the farmers' market and pride themselves as locavores should consider being true locavores in every sense and harvest wild game as their main source of protein.

Harvesting wild game is among the most sustainable things one can do: People who harvest game meat are helping keep the wildlife populations at a healthy level. If an environment goes above its carrying capacity, the land suffers and the deer starve and end up in urban areas as road kill. It is better off enjoyed at a table of thankful eaters.

And more than just sustainable, a wild-game diet is much better for the environment than one comprised of domestic animals or many processed foods. Without a doubt, the carbon footprint on a cow is high. One cow burns eight barrels of oil in its lifetime, in part because it has to be transported to feedlots. It is easier to bring the cows to the feed than the feed to the cows because they convert feed at 7 to 1. For this, I understand why some avoid farmed meat on environmental grounds. But there are dozens of fish varieties that are overfished, caught or farmed in ways that harm other marine life and the environment. And most soy alternatives travel long distances and require significant packaging. No food source has a cleaner carbon footprint than game meat taken from your local region.

Moreover, protein alternatives are misleading: More animals die to make cheese than to make two venison backstraps. Most cheese cannot exist without rennet, complex enzymes taken from the dried and cleaned stomachs of young animals. Vegetarian rennet is something that is commonly favored among vegetarians, but it is widely misunderstood. Ask any dairy farmer that produces cheese using real rennet and they will share a monologue of frustration. “What do you think happens to baby goats who can’t be used for milk or their rennet?” Quite simply, they are wasted.

The simple answer is that, as omnivores, humans are able to consume a great variety of seeds, nuts, fruits and protein. We once ate a range of seeds, fruits and nuts along with animal and vegetable proteins. But after the adoption of an agrarian, settled life, there was less time for hunting and gathering those things. And so our diet changed to one of mostly corn and corn-fed meat, which, when coupled with our sedentary lifestyles lead to countless diseases specific to developed nations. The answer is not to create even more extreme circumstances and restrictions on our diet, but to look at the differences between out diet and that of our ancestors, who instinctively pursued the food that was best suited for our genes. The answer is wild game.

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19 Responses to How to Convince a Vegetarian to Eat Wild Game

joe wrote:
February 02, 2012

small game fish and bird ect but that maybe a full time job.

Kary Martin wrote:
December 28, 2011

I will defend anyones rights to hunt, as I myself was once an avid hunter and sportsman. I currently live on a ranch filthy with game and regularly allow many people to hunt it. I however am now a vegetarian, not due to fear or prejudice or ignorance at all but because of an informed and carefull choice as to what kind of lifstyles are healthier. Properly done a vegetarian lifstyle is healthier, and this has been supported by many including the likes of Kellogg, Colan Cambell(author of China study) McDugall(Presidant Clinton's physician) and Howard Lyman( to name a few. And according to two separate studies our U.S. government did with the Seventh Day Advantist, a people known for their vegetarian lifstyle, they determind that a vegetarian can live up to 12 years longer than a person that is not. Cancer and like diseases are being treated successfully around the world simply by a change of diet. It is proven that the only source of cholesterol is from animals. And it is also becoming more and more apparent that it is a major contributor of heart disease diabeties and many others as well. The space limits me as how much Im able to include. Moral reasons??? We know for a fact that the rain forests are being cut down to make room to raise more cattle. This is a fact that many are not willing to accept. Spiritual reasons??? Lets just say that the quote made about man given dominance over the animal and to subdue them was given before the entrance of sin and therefore killing was not part of this command. The command wasnt given by God to eat meat until after the flood, and then only certain animals were to be eaten. Notice the lifespan of the people after the flood. Read Daniel Chapter 1. In closing, if you want to eat meat then do so, but dont say that it is the uninformed that wont join you at the dinner table. P.S. I am a supporter of the NRA and what it stands for. Thankyou...

Amit wrote:
December 07, 2011

Well said! Reposted on fbook.

Sharon wrote:
November 12, 2011

A really good article. Well articulated and intelligently put forth without any attitude. I have always considered it not quite normal to eat only vegetables; I have never caught on to the soy craze, thinking it was a whole lot of processing for something considered so healthy. I am a good shot with a rifle, but can't imagine myself ever actually hunting and killing my own dinner. I know that seems hypocritical; maybe it is, and maybe through necessity I would be able to do so. I have several friends who hunt their own game and I admire them for it; but God bless the local butcher. As for beef, I have never been big on beef; I like pork in moderation and can't resist roasted chicken. Availability and cost have a lot to do with my diet; otherwise I would catch and eat fish and raise my own hens. Maybe in another life.

Simon wrote:
July 21, 2011

Great and informative article, but it should have been left at the "here is some information" level . The title itself is somewhat derogatory as it implies that the author feels there is something wrong with vegetarians since they need to be “convinced” that their choice is faulty. This is not going to sit well with anyone that has made that choice. Whatever reason they may have must be respected and information such as is in this article should be presented in a purely factual and educational context, while leaving out opinion entirely. My girlfriend is vegetarian and I respect her choice to not eat meat and I understand why she doesn’t just as she respects the fact that I hunt. I explained my reasons in an informative way and because of the way I presented the facts she remained receptive to the info. Because of this, she is well educated as to the environmental benefits and also to the moral, ethical, and health benefits that come from harvesting and eating wild meat. She has said that if she were to ever eat meat again it would be wild game only. That said, I would never in any way attempt to push it on her or imply to her that her choice to not eat meat is a bad one! She is quite healthy as a matter of fact! Besides, as long as she isn’t eating my venison there is more for me LOL!

Michael A Barnett wrote:
July 07, 2011

As an NRA member for over 20 years, and a pescetarian for over 30, I have to say that to assume a person chooses not to eat meat out of ignorance is pretty short-sighted. My reasons for not eating game are my own, and they do not spew out from any sort of ignorance. Indeed, the choice is spiritual in nature (remember, Andy, that spirituality does not always mean Christianity, so Bible quotes can backfire to some folk), long thought out, and irreversible. Having said that, I don't expect or want anyone to follow in my path, as it is MY path. Eat what you want. I certainly would suggest wild game over farmed livestock, just like Ted Nugent would. I understand completely the role of hunting in wildlife conservation, and so do many other vegetarians (the first person to cry 'liberal seed eating PETA members' while reading my commentary shall be condemned to eat raw tofu forever... many of us know PETA for the terroristic organization that they are, and despise them for it). To attempt to convert a vegetarian using any of the above arguments will do exactly one thing: turn them away from the NRA. And we need as many people as members as we can get. We have an Amendment to defend, not an entree. Explain the true meaning of the Second to all, and let each individual choose their nutritional intake without any ribbing (yep, it's a pun) from the carnivores out there. You may choose to tell a vegetarian why YOU eat wild game, but to try and tell THEM to do so will only harm the NRA, and the Second Amendment, by alienating an ever-growing segment of the population.

Andy wrote:
June 28, 2011

@Allan A vegetarian for spiritual reasons? Genesis 27:3 "Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me [some] venison" and Genesis 1:26 "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." Good news: You can go back to eating meat!

Donald L. Davidson, DVM wrote:
June 25, 2011

Being a member of NRA and an avid hunter I am disappointed in your statement: "Offer a vegetarian some lean, healthy game meat that did not come from a factory farm... Your reference to "factory farm" is offensive and is obviosuly intended to imply that animals and meat from large farms is unhealthy. Just as the NRA battles "anti's" and claims they are misguided so is you in your reference to "factory farms". I am proud to inform you that I work on one of these large "factory farms" and the animals raised on our farms (as well as many other large farms) live in a welfare friendy environment and are provided the care and nutrition under the supervison of skilled herdspersons and veterinarians. They are more healthy and nutritious than farm animals raised in our past and many today on "non factory farms". Many of our employees are members of NRA and are hunters. We need to unite rather than separate to preserve our rights as we are fighting the same enemy. And you need to EDUCATE yourselve before you make these type of ignorant references (search National Pork Board, And lastly, if you and the NRA cannot find it in your future policies and print to do this then my only option would to no longer support the NRA as a member.

scott noble wrote:
June 21, 2011

As a person that works in animal agriculture and an avid hunter, I believe we should be careful not to throw either endeavor "under the bus." They both share common enemies and hunting is not going to feed our growing population by itself.

Michael wrote:
May 30, 2011

IL. lets residents arrow as many does as they want-at $13 ea.,it beats the heck out of store bought, ammonia washed beef. I put 11 in the freezer with a Cow Buffalo my wife and I harvested last year with our 4 daughters in SD. None of it goes to waste and we don't spend $50 a year on store bought meat!

Allan Cronshaw wrote:
May 20, 2011

You forgot those who are vegetarians for spiritual reasons -- i.e., as presented at

Dan wrote:
May 19, 2011

Very good article. I'm just curious I've never heard of any studies linking food allergies to the use of non-organic foods versus organic foods. It seems that the more we add chemicals, antibiotics, and growth hormones (among all other chemical additives) to (and remove natural bacteria from) our food sources the more food allergies and many other health issues have increased. Natural is always better in my well as in my freezer!

Ryan P. wrote:
May 19, 2011

Yeah, in WI the last few years that number has been limitless. Filled your doe tag? Just ask for another: free. As long as you shoot doe-buck-doe-buck-etc you can keep going until you run out of freezer space. Or just shoot all does and go forever, too. I don't particularly like it: it doesn't happen across a wide area evenly, so you end up with pockets of land where all the deer are just gone.

David G wrote:
May 19, 2011

I took five doe whitetails and one small bull elk this past season . This gave our family a lot of great healthy meat . We are allowed as many whitetail does as we want here in Kentucky . I'm going for 10 this season . If you do a good job processing ( take out all the white and silver ) it is some of the best tasting meat there is . Our freezer is nearly empty . Can't wait till opening day !

Willie Dvorak wrote:
May 19, 2011

Poppycock. Your tactics involve science and common sense and that is not the principles held by vegetarians. They don't hear a word of it and simply don't understand your comments. There arguments are based on fear and emotions. Dr Jamison of FL has spent his life studying activists. He says the only arguments that are effective against fear and emotion is to describe the activist as abnormal and immoral and put the burden of proof on their shoulders. Willie Dvorak Owner of Jim River Guide Service in Alaska and South Dakota

Au Natural wrote:
May 19, 2011

The author forgot to mention all the chemicals added to today's foods. When mixed together, who knows what their effects are? I stopped eating non organic domestic raised meat and eat mostly venison & wild caught fish. Most processed foods are garbage. We wonder why there are high rates of cancer, diabetes, autism and other diseases that were rare 50 years ago. The food we consume?

J wrote:
May 14, 2011

In ohio you can take many more than one deer, esp. if you add up all the hunting zones

Laura wrote:
May 12, 2011

It isn't a practical answer as laws now stand. One deer, one elk and one antelope a year is nowhere near enough to feed a family even conservatively, and that is all most states allow.

Brian Lynn wrote:
May 12, 2011