… or The Carnivore’s Dilemma.

Originally, I had thought to do a little post on yet another odd celebrity cookbook, this one by Ted (Cat Scratch Fever) Nugent and his wife, Shemane. I thought I might be able to write an entire piece on the cover photo alone. Or Her name. Shemane.

I was immediately drawn to the cover photo with its creepy magenta-red side lighting, as though the blood from an elk Ted had just shot was seeping from the carcass, onto the hood of the truck where it was tied, and over the headlamps like some macabre gel. They may have thought the light looked pretty, so they got out of the truck and had their son take a picture. Or used a self-timer. That seems a more appropriate technique given this book’s subtext of self-sufficiency.

I was also intrigued by the fact that, though Ted may be holding a long phallus of a rifle, Shemane holds an infinitely more sinister-looking instrument of torture. Something that might be a large hunting version of a tomato knife. And a spatula. Of course, with the spatula, she looks more the kill-it-and-griddle-it-type.

Kill It & Grill It is an entertaining read, whether one agrees with Nugent’s politics or not. Just take a look at an excerpt from Chapter 16: Limbrat Etouffée:

“Kill tree-dwelling vermin, remove PJs, take to flame, chow down. Drive safely. It’s really that simple to get a good meal of squirrel. Limbrat whackin’ is truly bigfun [sic] any ol’ way ya choose it– bow and arrow, pistol, rifle, scattergun, slingshot, falconry, grenades, and my favorite, flamethrower. How can ya go wrong? Squirrels are, after all, rodents, so have fun blasting away. That there exists a season or bag-limit on the little shits is mind-boggling to say the least.”

When he’s not busy telling Democratic presidential candidates to either sit on or fellate his AR-15 rifles, Nugent spends a good deal of time hunting his own animal protein. He reportedly has not bought meat for decades. He hunts, he shoots, he eats what he kills. Outspoken arch-conservative or not, he is a man of strong opinions. He’s caused me to take a moment and think about my own meat-eating ways.

I am a carnivore. Okay, I’m an omnivore. I could never give up bacon however I might try. But I’ve often thought about how far removed I am from the proteins I ingest. Would I, as an eater of animal flesh, be able to hunt down and kill my dinner?

In some cases, yes. If the animal isn’t cuddly. I have in the past hunted, killed, and dressed lake trout. Cold blooded animals can be offed by me, naturally, in cold blood. A chicken? I’ve never seen one in the wild but, though unpleasant the task might be, I think I could do it. Maybe it’s that animals whose eyes are on the sides of their heads are less unpleasant to slaughter due to the fact that they cannot look at you with both eyes at the same time.

I once had a lunch date with a man who turned out to be vegan. He was very pleased with his choice of lifestyle, as one should be. Having once dated a vegan in college, I knew that, no matter how wonderful this person might be, we could never have what I would consider a normal dating life. Vegetarianism I can happily accommodate. I eat vegetarian meals quite often. But the minute someone tells me I shouldn’t eat cheese or that consuming honey is morally wrong because it represents bee enslavement, I want to remark that I think narrow-bandwidth thinking and a joyless, hyper-sensitive lifestyle is morally wrong because it results in human boredom.

Fortunately, my lunch date was a bore, or not that cute. I can’t remember. My response to him was adolescent, at best. I ordered a pork dish and started talking about how, as Americans, we needed to start taking more responsibility for the meat products we eat and, should it become necessary, I would be willing look a cow in the eye and slaughter it on the spot.

It was perhaps the quickest lunch I’ve ever eaten outside a fast food restaurant.

And now I realize that, though my statement to the vegan was meant to provoke, it was utterly untrue. I don’t have the guts to kill any animal cute enough to name. Yet I will happily eat from its flesh if someone else has done the dirty work. I am a hypocrite, yes, but a hungry one.

Though I am not a fan of guns, Sean Hannity, the current war, or much of anything loved by Ted Nugent, I have to give a grudging amount of respect to anyone who puts his money where his mouth is. Or his mouth where his bow and arrow have been. He, by and large, feeds his family on what he himself kills. I go to the store and ask if the neatly packaged chops that were once part of whole animals had been humanely treated in their lifetime. Sometimes. Other times, I forget and am shamed. I am aware of my own hypocrisy. Nugent occasionally makes others aware of their own. The fact that Animal Rights activists (in this case, extremists) have issued death threats against Nugent’s children is a rather delicious irony.

By the time you read this post, I will be roaming the island of Santorini. Perhaps I might take the time to spear my own lavraki and throw it on a grill. Or perhaps one might catch me beating an octopus senseless on the rocks in order to tenderize its flesh in time for dinner. I doubt it. I’ll let someone with a little more animal integrity to that for me.

I will be living such an aimless lifestyle for the next to weeks.

Apart from the angry comments from vegans I am likely to receive as a result of this post, I am curious to know the thoughts of you out there who are experiencing the same, or similar, meat-eating moral dilemma.

I’ll see you in two weeks.

Kill It and Grill It 21 September,2007Michael Procopio

  • wendygee

    You totally crack me up! Where did u find this gem? The title alone is priceless…
    yes, I couldn’t kill animals…even those cute chicks…fishing is as far as I would care to go and even that act doesn’t happen without some guilt. But I do eat meat…after being a pescetarian for a year or so I tried eating some meat and felt like a vampire that hadn’t fed in a century…my body seems to need it…luckily there are folks like Ted, Shemane, Niman and Prather Ranch who can do the dirty work for us and resolve our “dilemma.”

  • Michael

    It does seem to be a moral dilemma, at least for most of society. Even though I eat meat, I don’t think I could “kill it & grill it” as they so poignantly put it.

  • Murali

    One funny thing about Nugent, speaking as a vegetarian, I find him more ethical than most other carnivores. If he truly hunts all his meat instead of buying it.

    Although I never put animal remains in my mouth, I have no real objection to the killing of the animal. It’s the torturing of it while it is still alive that I find repulsive. And torture is the hallmark of factory farms, which is what most commercial meat is.

    So you hunted and killed an animal? Does not really bother me. The thing had a chance to live a normal life (possibly in wilderness preserved by hunters).

    You buy meat at the supermarket? You disgust me.

    Although I have to say I am amused to hear someone say the apply a “cuteness” filter to determine whether they could kill an animal. All creatures feel pain. All yearn to live.

    Would you apply the analogous cuteness filter to human races? We are all the same creatures.

  • KiltBear

    You want removed? My husband knows folks who would not tell their kids that the bacon they were having with breakfast in the morning came from “Babe” of movie fame.

    I worked in Allentown PA for a while with a bunch of hunters. I learned to have the greatest respect for them. They killed it, they prepared, they ate it, AND they shared their venison jerky… YUM!

  • Wolf Ironhead

    “I was also intrigued by the fact that, though Ted may be holding a long
    phallus of a rifle, Shemane holds an infinitely more sinister-looking
    instrument of torture.” What is it with you Californians and penises? And it’s not an instrument of torture, it’s a frickin’ knife. If you cut cheese with it, is it still an instrument of torture? Incidentally, hunting an animal with a gun is infinitely more humane than hunting it with a bow and arrow. See, when you shoot a deer with a gun, it dies more or less instantaneously if you hit where you are aiming. A deer hit with an arrow, on the other hand, even if you hit it exactly where you are supposed to, causes the deer to haul balls as fast as possible until it collapses with exhaustion and lays down to bleed to death. Sometimes, it isn’t found, and goes to waste.


Michael Procopio

I am terribly fond of martinis, Edward Gorey, and sleeping with many pillows.
You are more than welcome to follow me on Twitter: @procopster

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor