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My Year Killing to Eat

by Louise Gray

Pub Date: Nov. 22nd, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4729-3839-8
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Knowing where your food comes from is an important aspect of food culture for a growing segment of the American population. British environmental journalist Gray moves the idea into deeper territory.

In this riveting memoir, the author chronicles her year of eating mainly vegetables and only meat she caught, killed, and butchered herself. As an environmental journalist—among other positions, she was the environment correspondent for the Daily Telegraph from 2008 to 2013—the author had reported on climate change and how the farming of animals contributed to the problem, and she understands the issues regarding antibiotics in meat, water pollution, and animal welfare. As a farmer’s daughter, however, Gray was not convinced that the answer was to give up meat entirely. She begins with a conversation on the ethics of eating meat. “Ethics is the effort to live a moral life,” writes the author. “To me that meant understanding fully the consequences of my actions.” Gray devotes a chapter to each animal she killed and ate, a list that includes oysters, lobster, a variety of fish, rabbits, squirrel, sheep, a Berkshire pig, and a red deer. The author engagingly incorporates the viewpoints of chefs, slaughterhouse employees, animal welfare workers, gamekeepers, fishermen, and a woman who cooks roadkill, and she weaves in enticing descriptions of the landscapes she traveled while hunting. She also deftly deconstructs the romanticism of stories of meat eaters and reveals the realities of what it means to be a carnivore for us, the animals, and our environment. Of all the animals Gray consumed, the most numerous were fish, and her story about the state of the oceans is devastating. After reading one book reporting on the condition of the oceans, she writes, “reading it, you gasp in surprise at our stupidity.”

A courageous and important narrative offering an enlightened perspective on making informed choices about eating meat.