An anglers guide to navigating the ethics of wild food

It is strange how familiar it feels to fish, hunt, forage and butcher – even when doing it all for the first time. There’s a flow you get into…

butchering deer

And yet on the other hand, the process of hunting something, killing it, breaking it down and then eating it, is uncomfortable to most British people. Even many anglers.

Almost all of us would never do to animals what we have paid others to do on our behalf.

Imagine raising a pig: most of us couldn’t fathom treating it as factory farms do. The detachment we feel when supermarkets mediate this process shields us from the realities of meat production.

Hunting, fishing & wild game is an alternative option…

But hunting and fishing or buying wild sources of protein offer a way to eat wild and free animals.

If everybody had to kill to eat meat, there would be a lot more vegetarians. Meat is a product of death. It’s hard to hide from that when fishing, or hunting. I found shooting my first deer intense. I was confronted by the fact that I had shot a piece of metal into an animal. It was a good shot. But it got me thinking about what my standards might be for where I get my meat from, and how I think other animals should be treated.

There will be many that eat meat that will say they could never kill like this.

A detachment from the death involved in harvesting meat is pretty dangerous for animals. It’s what allows the cruelty of factory farming to go on at scale. Surely, it’s better to take more ownership of where your meat is from, and figure out what you personally are willing to do to an animal for its meat? Does turning a blind eye and saying you could have no part in it, actually mean you have no part in it?

Should we be asking “under what conditions will we eat meat?”

For me, I’ve decided to only buy free-range pork and chicken, to eat New Zealand lamb because I know it’s free-range, and to buy wild game for the freezer so I always have it, if I can’t find enough roadkill (that’s another story). I also eat vegetarian meals often. When it comes to fish, I don’t buy fish. No more fish and chips, or farmed smoked salmon etc. I catch my own fish, and I keep legal fish that I want to eat. At friend’s houses, I eat what I’m given to completely avoid the issue of having to say “I eat meat, but not the cheap stuff”, which is just too much to ask for me personally…

In an ideal world, I would like to hunt and fish for all my own protein.

kill what you eat

Hunting & fishing is a better way

There are animals out there living a life free from man’s designs. When you go hunting and fishing or to some extent when you buy wild game, you get to connect with that.

These mackerel roam the open seas in colossal, glimmering shoals. They travel huge distances and are full of electric energy. When you pull them out of the water, they are so vivid and beautiful, with black and blue stripes that imitate the movement of light on the surface of the water.

No human being, however great, or powerful, was ever so free as a fish.

John Ruskin

Experiencing hunting or fishing for your own food is just one of those experiences that feels right. It feels like things are in order and things are being done properly. It makes daily life beautiful.

Get some wild meat in you.

What if you could source your own meat from places that make you feel good, because you know the animals have been wild and free?

I recently recieved an order from LetsEatWild that included a mixture of game. Let’s consider the venison in particular:

wild game

The incredibly strong case for wild venison

  • The UK has a problem with excessive numbers of deer, they eat and kill saplings and prevent forest regrowth
  • There are no bears or wolves to manage numbers
  • The deer roam free their entire life, and die from being shot, which is better than being hit by a car or dying from disease or injury-induced starvation.
  • When you cook the meat, it gets bigger, not smaller. It hasn’t been pumped with water for supermarkets.
  • Health benefits are a bonus – incredibly low calorie and nutrient-dense

So, anglers and hunters especially, eating more wild meat and erradicating factory farmed meat from the diet is pretty easy and a great move.

Thanks to LetsEatWild for the fantastic selection of game sent to FISHMAG.

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