My kids tell me that was all I managed to say last night, as I hit the brakes and slowed from 55 to 25 mph before making impact.
In the passenger seat, my wife threw up her hands as a defense against the huge moose possibly shattering the windshield. Instead, its legs went airborne as it flew off the road and down into a ditch.
We’d spent the afternoon driving from Fairbanks towards Valdez along the remote Richardson Highway. Dusk was falling at about 8:30 p.m. when the moose trotted out in front of us.
As I was checking my family and feeling incredibly relieved that no one was hurt, a hunter stopped by. “You killed a big cow,” he proclaimed after looking over the animal.
For the Alaskan State Patrol officer, it was the third moose of the night. As he explained, “There are only a few days left of hunting season and the moose are rutting right now so they are moving around a lot.”
Within a couple hours, four Native Alaskans arrived and started cutting up the carcass. They participate in a donation system that lets them keep the meat they remove.
After hearing I had killed the moose they thanked me for the meat. One of the older ones offered, “I can cut a piece for you and put it in a bag.”
I responded, “No, thank you. I’m a vegan.”
As soon as the word vegan passed my lips, her eyes grew big. She cocked her head to one side with her mouth open in a wide, toothless grin. At a loss for words, I mumbled a confession: “I feel sorry for the moose.”
She answered simply, “We need this meat to survive the winter.”
As we stood watching the men cut the legs from the body, she told me a little about their lives. I don’t fault them for subsisting on meat through the harsh winters – like their ancestors have for thousands of years.
I really do understand!
What I have a problem with – and protest everyday on this blog – is the gross overconsumption of meat by those who don’t need it to survive. As a species, we’re eating more meat than at any other time in recorded history.
In doing so, we’re devastating the ecosystem as seriously as any wild predator ravaging all the prey species lower on the food chain. The resulting imbalance is tragic.
Last week, the World Wildlife Fund’s damning report about the catastrophic damage caused by the meat industry led me to post:
“Our world [must] get meat, dairy, and egg consumption below 10% of our calories, ASAP.”
Personally, If I have my way, I’ll never be responsible for the death of another animal!