Review: The Mindful Carnivore

Review: The Mindful Carnivore

Julie Leibach
Published: 05/14/2012

The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian's Hunt for Sustenance
By Tovar Cerulli
Pegasus Books LLC, 281 pages, $26.95

Tovar Cerulli thought he’d crafted an Edenic lifestyle—until a showdown with a buck-toothed rodent helped change his mind. Vegans for years, Cerulli and his wife tried to tread lightly on the planet by buying local and organic and tending homegrown vegetables at their Vermont home. But wild thieves—woodchucks, for instance—raided their gardens. The idea of destroying the marauders turned Cerulli’s stomach, but so did another thought: If he wasn’t disposing of them, another farmer was. “They were doing the killing, keeping the blood off my hands,” he writes in The Mindful Carnivore. Unsettled by that reality—and ailing from a lack of protein—Cerulli plunges into a period of emotional introspection and reflection on food, where it comes from, and the part he plays. Seeking insight from family and friends, literature, and history, Cerulli reevaluates his personal philosophy on meat eating and hunting. Channeling his boyhood as an angler, he brings fish back into his diet, edging closer to mammals, namely deer. Eventually he sets off into the woods to face a hard truth: Death is integral to life, killing part of sustaining. “Eating fellow creatures made me palpably aware of my own physical presence, waking me to the obvious,” he writes. “I am also an animal who eats. I have a footprint here.”