Louise Gray left her job as an environmental reporter to stalk and kill prey. And to fish, and gather mollusks. Concerned about the environmental impact of the commercial meat industry, and repelled by visits to slaughter houses, she vowed to eat only what she kills herself for one year, and write a book about her experiences.
The result, The Ethical Carnivore, My Year Killing to Eat, is a 320 page chronicle of her journey, and a study of the meat and fishing industries, and the state of our society. Unlike those who kill for sport, Gray only killed for food, preparing dinners for her friends with the meat she harvested herself, from wild sources. Her journey began with the difficult task of killing a beautiful white rabbit, which took uncomfortably long to die, and over which she was wracked with guilt and doubt. However, she quickly adapted to the hunter’s life, pursuing wild game all over England and Scotland for the next year. She harvested 21 distinct species of prey, culminating in the slaying of a magnificent stag in Scotland, which was her final hunt.
Along the way, in addition to acquiring and practicing the skills relevant to hunting animals, including shooting, stalking, field dressing, skinning and butchering, she met with and discussed the fishing and meat industries, and the environment, with a wide array of professionals, from farmers and slaughter house people to fishermen. She developed respect for fishermen and hunters, many of whom live close to nature, with a great love for the natural order of things. And she rejects the notion of holding slaughter house workers in contempt, but stresses the need to reform the meat industry, recommending higher standards for animal welfare, and the use of closed circuit televisions in slaughter houses. She’s also critical of commercial fishing, calling for reforms to lessen environmental impact.
After her year pursuing fish and wild game, Gray stopped hunting, and now eats a mostly vegetarian diet. She supports consumer responsibility, and recommends a big reduction in the amount of meat people eat, in addition to reforms to the industries that provide meat and fish to consumers.
Photo: The ethical carnivore / CNN