Tovar Cerulli’s The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance is an honest, straight forward recounting of one person’s journey from veganism into the realm of hunting. Throughout his journey, Cerulli confronts personal ethical dilemmas in his food choices and explains the thought processes that brought him into hunting.
More and more, people are thinking about the food they eat. We are considering the impacts of food production and we are looking into organic, sustainable, and locally grown and produced foods. Cerulli’s timely account of his transformative journey from vegetarianism to eating the flesh of animals he has hunted is a personal, unapologetic, and realistic look at what it truly means to connect to the meat we eat.
The Mindful Carnivore is a thoughtful account of Cerulli’s progression from a strictly vegan and self-described morally superior diet to one that includes meat. In an effort to make a real connection with the meat he eats, he begins to think about hunting. He enrolls in a hunter education course, talks with the few close friends and family members who do hunt, and begins the process of scouting and learning the land and the patterns of the animals that live upon it. The book follows his thoughtful questioning of what is right (or is least harmful) and culminates in his first kill, a clean shot on a whitetail buck in the woods of Vermont. Cerulli takes us through his shock of ending the life of such a majestic animal, the mechanics of field dressing, the meditative process of rendering meat from bone, and ultimately his acceptance of this wholesome relationship with nature.
The Mindful Carnivore is the perfect book for the reader who is interested in the origins of the food he eats, who is thinking about hunting, or who desires to understand the hunter. The book is also for the thoughtful hunter who can identify with the ethics involved in hunting. The Mindful Carnivore is a natural addition to the library that includes Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Wendell Berry’s many essays on the use of land.
In the end, Cerulli finds that his journey has been one of awareness, the kind of awareness that encourages us to “pause and reflect, to celebrate the food that reaches our plates, to respect the organisms we ingest and the people who bring them to our table.” As Cerulli summarizes: “hunting, of course, is not the only path to mindful eating…(but for him) hunting helps.”
Tovar is a one heck of a writer and if you are interested in his insights and his progression as a writer.