Babbs in the Woods: A Review on “The Mindful Carnivore”
It’s been called a meditation. It’s been called an unflinching account. I’m going to call it real life, a thing that happens when someone comes to terms with his mortality, his need to sustain himself and perhaps, a realization that he is genetically wired to hunt.
In his book, “The Mindful Carnivore,” Tovar Cerulli – former logger, carpenter, now a graduate student and published author – brings us quickly into his life as a child, on a stream fishing for trout with his father. He slowly shows us how he disconnects from eating animal protein, including fish and eggs.
He finds his soul mate, Cathy, and falls in love and together, he and his wife tend to their garden and live a lifestyle that sounds a lot like something you might find in Harmony, Indiana. Or maybe the setting in one of Nicholas Sparks’ books.
After about 10 years of veganism, Tovar, who is very good at describing his thought processes, begins to feel physically drained. He and Cathy start eating eggs, then fish and chicken. And then, he does something remarkable. He taps into something deep inside that pushes him to hunt. He writes, “Having concluded that I needed some animal protein in my diet and that some harm to animals was inevitable in even the gentlest forms of agriculture, integrity and alignment could only come from taking responsibility for at least a portion of the killing.”
He finds incredible mentors in his Uncle Mark and friend Richard. He learns to hunt by not only taking hunter education seriously, but also by spending what seems like thousands of hours in the woods. (This is probably where his meditation skills kick in.)
Again and again, he takes us out into the woods, and tells us where we’re going to sit and why. We see signs of deer. We can hear them as he describes their breath, their hooves, their rustlings through leaves.
After a few years, he finally tags his own deer. And then, he does something for which I have utmost respect – he finishes what he began – by processing the deer in his own kitchen. He also cooks it and presents to friends and family in what appears to be strong appreciation for the gift of game.
He also finds a kinship to people he knew and people he met and quickly bonded with, and perhaps this surprised him a bit.
Why read this book? Because it’s the type of book will take you out of yourself. And it challenges you to defend that which is probably wired within – the feeling that when you’re in the woods, with a bow or gun in hand, and you’ve prepared and done everything right and by that, I mean respectful, then it is time to hunt. If you’re not wired to be a hunter, maybe you’ll have more respect for what a lot of us feel … after spending some time in the woods with Tovar.