We are a deer meat family. I honestly can't remember the last time we had beef. Our freezer is packed full of ground deer, deer loins, deer sticks, deer salami, and deer sausage thanks to my father-in-law the hunter. I make venison chili, venison burgers, venison tacos, grilled venison loins, venison barley soup, and much more.
When I tell most people we eat deer, they shoot me a disgusted look and proceed to talk about how gross deer is, and sometimes tell me about how inhumae it is to kill an innocent animal. I ask these people if they eat meat. Most say yes. I then ask them if they know where their meat comes from. Most do not know.
I know where our meat comes from. I know the hunter who shot the deer. I know that the deer was not raised in a tiny stall and force fed a corn based diet and most likely shot up with antibiotics and growth hormones. The deer we eat have a healthy diet and are free to roam wherever they please. Deer meat is leaner and better for you. Take for instance this quote from livestrong.com,
"A three-ounce portion of cooked venison contains 3 g of total fat, 1 g of saturated fat and 95 mg of cholesterol. Even with the majority of fat trimmed off, an average three-ounce cut of cooked beef contains 15 g of total fat, 6 g of saturated fat and 74 mg of cholesterol."
To find out more about the nutritional values of venison and beef visit this link.
Okay, so you understand that deer is nutritionally better for you. Why else should you choose to consume venison over beef?
Eating venison is an environmentally friendly choice! Since deer are foragers they do not consume massive amounts of corn and farm raised grains, hence deer do not require massive amounts of polluted farmland to survive.
Eating venison is more humane than eating beef. As mentioned befored deer are able to roam freely whereas cattle are mostly forced to live in dirty CAFOS (contained animal feeding operations). Yes, to some shooting an innocent deer may seem vulgar and barbaric, but let's face it, deer must be hunted to prevent overpopulation. To find out more about Iowa's deer population please read, Deer in Iowa: A Historic Perspective.
I'm not telling everybody to go out and get a hunting license, but I am encouraging you to consider where the meat you consume comes from? Do you have a connection to it at all? Or, are you just buying it off the grocery store shelf? Venison may not be everybody's cup of tea, but there are ways to consume beef, chicken, and pork in more responsible ways. I encourage you to find a small family farm in your area and give them a visit. Pet the animals, shake the farmer's hand, breathe in the fresh country air, and know that you are doing your part to make food real again.