Eating Roadkill: Vegan, Veganish, or Just Plain Gross?

Image credit: Homegrown Choppers and Vagabond Journey

OK, I'll admit it. I am a thoroughly confused TreeHugger. On the one hand, I recognize that sustainability needs to appeal to the masses if we have any hope of cutting carbon emissions at the rate necessary. So palatable mainstream solutions like Zip Car, high-tech organic farming, integrating solar with agriculture, or simply encouraging urban density have more chance of saving us than hoping we all start growing our own vegetables and learning how to hunt. On the other hand, there's a lot to be learned from intrepid back-to-the-landers about efficiency, waste and reprioritizing what is truly valuable. So it's in this spirit that I offer up my next post. And the subject, dear readers, is the delightful topic of how to eat roadkill. I know this is definitely at the extreme end of what most folks would consider acceptable, and it is hardly the stuff of mainstream sustainability. (After all, we'll have to do an awful lot of driving to feed the world on roadkill!) Nevertheless, I have a friend who used to eat pretty much vegan. The only exception she would make was eating the occasional roadkill deer that her friends would scavenge. Her argument was that she was not contributing to any market for meat, and the animal's death would otherwise have been completely in vain. This was her way of honoring the life of a fellow creature. (And she also got a tasty guilt-free meal of venison in the process.)

Of course, roadkill is hardly wasted in the classic sense—at least around our way it is usually snapped up by vultures, possums and other critters before anyone could haul it off to the dump. But we already know that roadkill creates roadkill by causing these scavengers to enter the highway, so the quicker the remains are cleared away the better. And if you're willing to make a meal out of the carcass, rather than have the local authorities cart it off, so much the better. Especially if that meal becomes a replacement for factory farmed beef.

Of course there are plenty of hygienic and safety issues involved in eating roadkill, so I am hardly advocating for anyone to go out and try it. According to eHow.com's article on How to Eat Roadkill, you need to learn how to recognize good meat from bad, you need to avoid animals with ruptured organs, and you need to cook the meat to a higher than usual temperature. And it goes without saying, you should exercise extreme caution during the harvesting process. Otherwise some dude with a pick up truck may end up cooking your remains for lunch.

As I said above, I'm not advocating roadkill as a solution to our food crisis. Given the risks, I'm not even suggesting you go out and try it. But I do think the fact that many people eat roadkill, and enjoy it, is a useful reminder to us all that waste is disgusting, that cheap and convenient meat is an oxymoron, and that, when it comes to lowering the impact of your diet, there are are many ways to skin a cat.

Tags: Animals | Food Safety | Local Food | Zero Waste