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Book Review: The Mindful Carnivore – Tovar Cerulli

Donna Brown2 comments918 views
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About The Mindful Carnivore
The Mindful Carnivore

As a boy, Tovar Cerulli spent his summers fishing for trout and hunting bullfrogs. While still in high school, he began to experiment with vegetarianism. By the age of twenty he was a vegan. A decade later, in the face of declining health, he returned to omnivory and within a few years found himself headed into the woods, rifle in hand.

In this deeply personal narrative, Cerulli explores our nutritional connections with the larger-than-human world. From a fateful encounter with a brook trout to a rekindled relationship with the only hunter in his family, he traces the evolution of his dietary philosophy. Contemplating vegetable gardens, farm fields, and deer woods with intellectual and emotional candor, he stalks both food and meaning.

Cerulli’s tale brings nuance to conversations often dominated by black-and-white thinking. He sets contemporary debates in context by looking back over centuries of history, delving into our changing natural and cultural landscapes, and examining the shifting meanings of vegetarianism and hunting. In place of moral certainties, he offers questions.

Can hunters and vegetarians be motivated by similar values and instincts? In this time of intensifying concern over ecological degradation and animal welfare, how do we make peace with the fact that, even in growing organic vegetables, life is sustained by death?

At once compassionate and probing, The Mindful Carnivore invites us to reconsider what it means to eat.

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Review: The Mindful Carnivore

I’ve been quite fascinated by the questions about where our food comes from over the last couple of years and documentaries such as Food Inc and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals have only added to my interest.  Although I have weighed up my carnivore lifestyle numerous times over the last decade, I still keep returning to the meat counter or section.  So, what would Cerulli’s The Mindful Carnivore teach me about my attitudes?

I really don’t know what I expected about the book but it raised some real questions that I had never expected to address.  Cerulli spends a lot of time considering hunting: hunting for food, hunting for sport.  I have never hunted – I have no desire to hunt – but I’m aware of the hypocrisy I would present if I looked down on anyone who hunted for food.  Surely it shows more respect for the produce you eat than a schlep to the meat counter does?

Cerulli interweaves this tale of his personal history with food and, specifically, meat with factual information, personal anecdotes, quotations from various sources both pro and anti-hunting and both for and against vegetarianism.

All in all, this is a very very well-constructed book but neither aims to preach nor to condemn but simply to detail one man’s quest for answers about this particular and what he has discovered on the journey.  At times touching, at other times disturbing, this is an incredibly emotive book, yet still manages to keep a tight hold of the facts.

Verdict: 4/5

Source: Netgalley

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Donna Brown
Avid reader/audiobook listener, fan of podcasts, prone to the odd Netflix binge. Mum to six crazy and incredible rescue cats. Occasional writer of short stories and poetry.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Donna!
    Thanks for this wonderful book. Sometimes we must learn and have some knowledge about the things around us.

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