On eating roadkill

George Monbiot has written an article about how he recently ate roadkill: a grey squirrel. I think that if we must eat animals then roadkill is probably the most ethical of all the options since the animal is dead anyway. But in his article he describes how he was admonished for doing this by people who eat meat. These are people who presumably ignore the suffering of factory-farmed animals and their environmental consequences. The vast majority of chickens grown for meat in the UK are fed soya, a food humans can eat but which is instead fed to chickens that have short, painful lives, cramped in sheds with the space-equivalent each of an A4 piece of paper.

Surely eating the dead carcass of an animal that has known freedom is preferable to this?

I’ve always been interested in feeding humans, perhaps because I’m the daughter of an agricultural scientist, but what I find most fascinating is how much our culture impacts our food choices and how rigid it makes us. Most people would never dream of changing their evening meal from meat and three veg to something else, even though the something else may taste better and be better for our health. Meat and three veg is our culture, a habit, we know how it tastes, we know how to cook it.

The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) has a campaign to bring insects into our diet. The environmental consequences of eating insects are far lower than for livestock, insects are also very nutritious and yet the cultural barrier is huge. Would you be prepared to eat insects? I’m not sure how to change this, especially after reading the reactions to George Monbiot’s article which are mostly irrational. However one thing is certain, we can’t feed 9 billion people with the same diet that the average American eats today.

Here’s a good documentary about a man in the UK who eats roadkill on a regular basis.

29 responses to “On eating roadkill”

  1. May be illogical, but I haven’t eaten meat for over 40 years, but I still eat fish. This decision was based on the cruelty to animals and the drugs they were fed. As a cyclist I am sure I’ve eaten (involuntary) my fair share of insects, and I read somewhere we all do in some way. I remember some research on Indian vegans that said they survived on their diet because the impurities in the rice included insect bits for necessary trace elements.

    • That’s interesting about insects in rice. I think the only rational barrier to not eating insects is that they may have been exposed to pesticides.

  2. You’ll convince me one day! I totally agree about roadkill. Mum would never waste a rabbit if she saw one not too mangled. And insects are fine. Deep fried locusts are good, I had both ants and Witchetty Grubs in Oz when I was there.

    • Another Roadkill joke-
      ” A new Roadkill Cafe has opened near us. It’s called ‘ Wheels on Meals’.”
      In some U.S. states it is illegal to eat Roadkill. California, Oregon and Washington are some examples. In others, it is illegal to possess roadkill that is not reported to authorities. It is said that in Pennsylvania a man was arrested for trying to revive a possum by the side of the road ! Only in America…….

      • Brilliant Douglas; the imagination of legislatures to find the time to make roadkill eating illegal! Too many politicians needing work maybe?

    • I agree! I personally am hopeful that we’ll get to the point where we can produce meat in a lab relatively cheaply and so dispense with the need to raise and slaughter animals.

  3. Interesting concept. There is a fascinating book entitled, “The Wildest Woman in America,” about an octogenarian biologist/conservationist who lives on Cumberland Island and has existed for decades on roadkill. In Alaska, people have lotteries to determine who gets roadkill, mostly deer and moose.
    Rachel, I need your help. A few days ago I was on my dashboard looking at the blogs who follow me. I was shocked to see that I was not following about 60% of them. So I started following a cohort of the ones I knew about. Adding this group of new blogs all at once seems to have disabled my ability to follow any blogs since the follow function is now not present on anyone’s blog even yours right now. I also can’t determine who I am following whilst reading a post since the following icon in not there.
    My normal practice is to check out a blog when a new blogger follows me and if I like the blog, I follow it. Can WP restore my ability to do this? I obviously won’t do a group follow add again as I did google it and found that WP Help discussion saying WP will shut down the follow function if they feel a blogger has added too many new blogs to follow.

    • Cindy,

      The Follow button was just moved this week. You’re right, it is in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen now. They moved it partly to maintain consistency with the top toolbar across different screens and also because they wanted to add some extra functions there like the Customise and Edit links.

      I’ve checked your account and you should definitely be able to follow blogs. There is a limit to the total number of blogs you can follow but it’s really high – about 2000 I think. There is also a limit on how many blogs you can follow in a short time-frame. You likely hit this limit but it’s only temporary and you should be able to follow blogs again now.

      It doesn’t sound good that you were suddenly not following a heap of blogs. I have no idea how that happened. It sounds like a bug. Did you notice any patterns for which blogs dropped off your list? i.e. Were any of them self-hosted WordPress sites or all WordPress.com sites?

  4. PS- I added an email follow widget to my blog and just followed someone who started following me by clicking on a follow icon on the lower right of the their screen. Possibly the icon got moved as the follow icon on the top toolbar doesn’t seem to be there on my or anyone else’s blogs.

  5. I saw a lot of road kill on my travels this summer. Deer. Moose. Porcupine. Muskrat. Turtle. I’m not certain I would want to eat any of it. Well, I wouldn’t anyway. I’m vegetarian. You have no idea about the health of these animals. Or, what may have gotten to it first.

    • We have no idea about the health of factor farmed animals either. I don’t think they’re particularly healthy given the widespread use of antibiotics. I think as long as the meat is well-cooked it should be safe. No worse than a factory farm anyway. I wouldn’t eat it because I’ve lost the taste for meat.

  6. You are awesome Rachel! Thank you so much. I truly appreciate your help. And if you are so inclined check out, “The Wildest Woman in America and The Fight for Cumberland Island,” by Will Harlon. As I said she lives on road kill, is utterly self sufficient, has led the effort to study and save sea turtles. The book is written by a biologist named Will Harlan. It is an incredible story.

  7. Carl Hiaasen in his books about how weird Florida is (very) has a recurring character, Clinton Tyree, former honest (the one an only) governor of Florida who dines on roadkill. The books are fun, if weird.

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