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For as long as we can remember, the conversation on Wiccan eating has been dominated by vegetarianism and veganism. Many Wiccans believe that these are the only ways to eat ethically and provide due respect for nature. Actually, there is no set decree that Wiccans must eat in a particular way. So is there such a thing as Wiccan hunting? You bet!
Meat-eating Wiccans are emerging from the shadows and stating loudly that animal consumption is not only Wiccan, but gives equal respect for animals. They argue that vegans and vegetarians don’t need to monopolize conversations about Wiccan eating.
Maybe you need to eat meat for medical reasons. Or maybe you just don’t want to give up bacon. Whatever the case, Wiccan omnivores demonstrate that there are ways to eat that minimize harm. We can eat meat but still give dignity to the life which provided your meal.
Let’s first take a look at some of the ethical arguments for eating meat, then look at ways in which you can include meat in honest ways (including hunting) in your Wiccan life.
Plants Are Living Beings Too
One of the most common arguments for vegetarianism is to prevent harm to animals. However, with a new perspective, we can view this as slightly ego-centric. This argument implicitly assumes that plants are either non-living or non-sentient.
As humans, we admire things which are closest to our form. We think that monkeys are very smart, pigs less so, and ants even less. Have you ever thought about why that is? Would you try to prevent a monkey from death more so than an ant? Why or why not?
Meat-eating Wiccans contend that their diet just puts all living beings on an equal playing field. Animals are equally as important as plants, not more so. Who’s to say that vegetables and fruits are any less alive than animals are? How do we know that the vegetable doesn’t feel pain when you harvest it?
Natural Cycle of Life and Death
As Wiccans, we strive to celebrate and honor the cycle of life and death which is present throughout the Universe. Imagine a lion hunting a zebra.
While death may be brutal or violent for the zebra, it is also life-sustaining for the lion. The lion is not vengeful or punishing. He is simply doing what he knows to be natural and that which allows him to live another day. No matter where you look in the animal kingdom, life is always consuming other life.
As humans, we are just one link in the universal food chain. As elsewhere in the animal kingdom, sometimes one animal dies so another animal continues to live. We are a part of nature and a part of the animal kingdom. Eating meat is just keeping our place in the food chain.
Connect to Nature
Eating meat can be an opportunity to connect with nature and recognize our place in the cycle of life and death. Hunting is a prime example. For all of time, humans have been hunting animals for consumption which is not an easy task. It requires observing the animal, knowing its habits, respecting its strength and speed, and finally overcoming it.
Hunting is by its very nature, becoming intimate with the animal. It requires appreciation for the animal’s skills and awe of its life-giving abilities.
In fact, hunters and vegetarians can agree in one area– that eating pre-packaged meat from the supermarket is less desirable. Eating animals without seeing them loses connection to nature. It is mindless consumption of flesh without regard to who the animal was or where it came from.
Hunting Can Be Compassionate
Oftentimes when hunting comes to mind, especially from people who have never hunted before, it brings up violent, brutish images. It seems inhumane. They may also picture people hunting for sport, which is a pure waste of life.
Hunting for food isn’t anything like that. In contrast to that brutal image, it is actually very humane and mindful. By eating what you have hunted, you form a special and sacred relationship. You don’t take the animal for granted.
Unlike meat from the supermarket, you have spent time with this animal and may have looked into its eyes. You know the animal intimately. You admire its power and strength. You are humbled by its sacrifice. You take a moment to thank it before eating and to wish it well in its journey in the spirit world.
Many Wiccans take hunting a step further and incorporate the slain animal into their covens. The animal is feasted upon as a way to revere the animal kingdom.
You also don’t have to hunt with a gun. You can also hunt with a bow which is often more agreeable (and more symbolic) to Wiccans. It is more basic, seems less aggressive, and is often made from natural elements.
After hunting an animal, you are entrusted with the whole animal. All of the animal– not just the muscle fiber which is what’s typically eaten. In this way, none of the animal goes to waste. Fat, bones, and offal can become flavorful and nutritious components of your meals, rather than throwaway scraps.
Just like the Native Americans, every part of the animal should be used. What better way to honor the animal than ensuring that not an ounce of its sacrifice is wasted?
Some hunters argue that meat eating is just more straightforward and truthful about its eating habits than veganism or vegetarianism. After all, many veggie foods are crafted specifically to resemble either meat or meat-based products.
Plant-based hot dogs, hamburgers, and sausages are all made to resemble meat dishes. Products offered by companies like Beyond Meat and the Impossible burger are famous because of their ability to resemble meat so closely. So why is vegetarian eating of meat lookalikes lauded? Many feel it’s better to just be truthful and just eat what your veggie food is imitating.
The cleanest things to eat are whole, unprocessed foods. Obviously this includes things like whole grains, fruits, and veggies. Did you ever think how fresh meat fits in? Hunted meat is organic, has no antibiotics, has no preservatives or sugars, and the animal from which it came roamed free and wild.
This is great for both your physical and mental health because eating food close to its natural state will keep your body healthy and your mind clear. Incorporating meat can also help Wiccans who find a pure vegetarian or vegan diet difficult due to anemia or other conditions.
Other Alternatives to Eating Meat but Not Hunting
Aside from hunting for your own meat, there are numerous ways in which you can preserve the sacred bond with fauna and keep true to your Wiccan principles. It’s entirely possible to consume meat and other animal products without causing undue harm.
Fishing is a great way to capture your food out in the wild without using any weapons. Use fishing as a way to relax, spend some time outdoors, and catch your dinner.
Raise Your Own Animals
If you have the space, this is a terrific option to take responsibility for your own meat consumption. Chickens, goats, rabbits, and ducks are all small animals which are relatively easy to raise on your own. In addition, you will ensure that the animal has a pleasant life and is raised and slaughtered according to your ethical standards. (Please note that some Wiccans object to raising animals, as they don’t believe animals should be raised purely for food purposes.)
If none of the options listed are possible, try to obtain local meat from other hunters or farmers in your area. Some cities have cooperatives which bring in goods from farms across the area to sell at a central location.
If local consumption isn’t possible, then strive for ethical consumption. Buy only organic, cage-free, pasture-raised, no antibiotics, and non GMO animal products. In the US, “organic” is the only legally defined label. It requires certification. So the other claims may or may not be true. To the best of your abilities, do some basic research on the company selling the meat. Verify if there is compassion while the animals are raised, and whether there are any allegations of animal mistreatment. Avoid purchasing meat from factory farms.
Reduce Meat Consumption
If all else fails, you can always reduce your meat consumption. Regardless of how it got to you, meat always means that an animal died to feed you. So please don’t take this sacrifice lightly. Eat meat as often as needed for your general health and well being, but avoid gluttony and wastefulness.