Hunting is increasingly popular amongst millennials, with Mark Zuckerberg claiming to eat only what he kills—and it makes more sense than you think.
Veganism has truly hit the mainstream. We’ve learned how to pronounce ‘tempeh,’ and increasingly see plant-based diets as responsible rather than eccentric. But at the same time as millennials discover a newfound interest in where food comes from, another trend is on the rise: hunting.
After decades of decline, hunting has seen a small burst of popularity in recent years. Since 2004, the number of hunting licenses in the US has risen by 500,000. And millennials, the very same ones proclaiming the health and environmental benefits of cutting back on animals products, are chiefly responsible for a recent uptake in hunting. This seems to be at odds with how they’re often perceived; tender snowflakes so afraid of the world that they won’t touch raw chicken.
A recent article in British newspaper The Times claims vegans go hunting as part of today’s obsession with “experiences.”
“It is all part of the hipster backlash against over digitalisation that has included the re-emergence of vinyl records, fixed-gear bicycles, typewriters, 35mm film cameras, board games and escape rooms,” writes Harry Wallop. “In an economy that has shifted from buying stuff to buying experiences, you can’t get much more experiential than slaughtering your Sunday lunch.”
It’s easy to evoke the tired stereotype that anyone under the age of 35 is so deprived of dopamine and human contact, thanks to their digital upbringing, that they turn to anything resembling an honest experience in order to reconnect with reality.
But the recent uptake in veganism was never thanks to a pathological hatred of eating animals—it was spurred by people wanting to eat responsibly. So it makes sense that, while some turn their backs in intensive farming and processed foods by cutting out meat, some also feel they should wake up the reality of killing animals for food by doing exactly that.
One of the key contradictions about this whole debate is concerning guns. It’s pretty much impossible to efficiently catch and kill an animal without one. (Farmers do hunt with dogs, but that’s mainly as a form of pest control, and can hardly be described as humane.)
Last year a Gallup poll made headlines after it revealed that Americans under the age of 30 are no more liberal on gun control than their parents or grandparents. In fact, those between the ages of 18 and 29 were only one percentage point more likely to favor stricter gun laws than the overall national average of 57 percent.
Millennials, it turns out, see guns as a necessity. And not in a paranoid, “someone might break into your house” kinda way, but because if you’re going to eat an animal, you should also take responsibility for its death. Sport is nothing more than a side note—the first and foremost consideration being what you’re killing and what you’re going to do with it. It’s like if someone got really into baking only to put the finished and freshly final product in the trash. The craft might be fun, but surely it’s all about making the end result more ethical?
For the so-called hipsters who hunt, it’s really about addressing our relationship with food. A generation has reached the end of the factory line—no longer able to turn away from the realities of intensive farming and what it’s done to our relationship with food—and have started to diversify their options. Over-dependence on one food source puts pressure on the rest of the ecosystem; there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the environmental and ethical crisis facing food production.
Veganism was never about a pathological hatred of using animals for food. For some, sure, but for many, it’s simply about taking responsibility. If that means taking matters into their own hands, then so be it.