Abuse & Cruelty Dating

What is your position on hunting?

Written by Louise

This is one of those questions on OKCupid that’s caused me a lot of trouble in the past. I’ve changed my answer more than once, and eventually realised I have to answer it honestly, just to be true to myself, even though my answer probably alienates the majority of people I match highly with.

The options are:

  • I approve of hunting for food and sport.
  • I approve of hunting for food only.
  • I do not approve of hunting at all.

To fully explain how my answers to this question have evolved, I probably need to make a confession. (Or maybe it’s just that I need to get it off my chest!) When I was 13, I went hunting, on my new pony, with the Devon and Somerset Staghounds.

It was the only time I ever went hunting, but that was because I didn’t enjoy it rather than on moral grounds. I was still a child – well, just about a teenager, but when I look back I definitely see a child who hadn’t learned how to form her own opinions – we’d recently moved to a very rural area in North Devon, and it was exciting and new after having spent most of my life in suburbia. I wanted to explore every facet of country life, and hunting seemed like ‘something country people do’, so I did.

To her credit, my mother (who I’m often critical of) kept her thoughts on hunting to herself, and let me go. I learned later that she was very much opposed to hunting, but she wanted to give me space to form my own opinions.

I discovered that hunting wasn’t really much fun. It was raining, for one thing – we were on Exmoor, after all – and I think it may have hailed at one point, and I’d never enjoyed riding in the rain. And hunting seemed to consist mainly of riding very fast from one place to another, sitting around for half an hour or so while the horses got fed up and fidgety, then galloping off to another place to do the same again. Not my idea of fun at all. I didn’t ‘see any action’, as hunters like to put it, and I’m grateful for that. In fact, I don’t think there even was any action that day, and I’m also grateful for that.

As the years passed, and I learned more about hunting as a sport, I became more opposed to it, and eventually became very vocal in my views on the sport itself and the moral and ethical values of the people who participate. I became vegetarian, and went through a phase of frequently pointing out to anyone in hearing distance that humans don’t need meat to live, so anyone eating it is making a choice to support the death and suffering of other species.

I must have mellowed somewhat as I’ve grown older because I’m not vocal any more. I’ve realised trying to force my moral values onto other people isn’t going to make them change. If people change, it’s because their views have been influenced by many different things, and living my life as a vegetarian, demonstrating that a healthy, varied and interesting diet is entirely possible without consuming animal products, is the best thing I can do to encourage that.

When I first joined OKCupid, early in 2015, I selected the third answer to that question:

  • I do not approve of hunting at all.

And it worked well. Or at least, it seemed to. Most of the people I have a high match percentage with are vegetarians, vegans, people who love animals and support animal welfare, and so on. We have a lot of things in common.

But match percentage clearly isn’t everything. I’ve found many of the people I match highly with are extreme and aggressive in their views. Some are activists. Some say things on their profiles like, “If you’re not a vegan, don’t even bother contacting me.”

With that one statement, you exclude the majority of the Earth’s population from your dating pool. It may work for you, but it certainly doesn’t work for me. And – even if I were fully vegan, which I’m not – I wouldn’t want to spend my time with someone who had such a negative attitude towards so many people.

After becoming involved with several discussions on FaceBook, where the abuse and cruelty of industrial farming was discussed, I even began to wonder if my own views weren’t wrong. Most of us know about the suffering of farmed animals, even if we choose to stick our heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening. I’ve seen videos of the mass slaughter of chickens by suffocation, cows so desperate to escape the terror of the slaughter house that they attempt to climb barriers, and even turn into the cattle prod because their fear is so great. And the male chicks … I don’t even want to think about what they do to the male chicks, but my mind will never let me forget it.

So, when I learn someone is a hunter, the first thing I want to know is what kind of hunter. Are they one of the braying masses, sitting high on their horses to chase a desperate and terrified animal for fun? Or are they someone who stalks wild animals quietly in the woods, waiting until they have a clear shot and a guaranteed kill? Do they take their kill home to eat?

Because, if I had a choice between a life of suffering that ended in the terror of a slaughterhouse, or a life of freedom that ended so suddenly that I didn’t even see it coming, I know which I would choose.

I would be happier if no-one ate meat, even if it did mean – as some people like to smugly point out – that I never saw a sheep or a cow, but I know that’s unrealistic. Our species has been eating meat for millions of years, and it’s too deeply ingrained in our cultures for that to change in any sort of a hurry. So, accepting that people do eat meat, I would be happier to know that animals for food weren’t made to suffer before they died.

With that thought in mind, how can I criticise people who choose to hunt their own food rather than relying on farmed meat?

I can’t.

So I changed my answer.

  • I approve of hunting for food only.

It will probably put off most of the activists and the vegans, and the people who really haven’t thought things through, but I don’t think they are really the people I want to date.

(Photo: Cute baby lambs in a field with their mummies. I wonder how long they have before they’re sent to the slaughterhouse.)

About the author

Louise

Animal lover, asexual, blogger, cyclist, daughter, dreamer, entrepreneur, expat, optimist, procrastinator, reader, realist, rescuer, runner, sister, writer ... Hate labels? Me too. Just read my blog.

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