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The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian's Hunt for Sustenance

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  323 ratings  ·  63 reviews
A vegan-turned-hunter explores the connections between humans and their food sources, inviting us to reconsider what it means to eat.

While still in high school, Tovar Cerulli began to experiment with vegetarianism. By the age of twenty, he was a vegan. Ten years later, in the face of declining health, he found himself heading into the woods, rifle in hand.

Through his perso
Hardcover, 281 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by Pegasus Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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3.72  · 
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 ·  323 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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Emily Park
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Throughout his life, Tovar Cerulli has spent more time outdoors and observing nature than most people do. His childhood gave him a deep appreciation of how each animal is important to the natural world, and he came away with a deep reverence for all kinds of life. His experiences with fishing as a child also gave him an understanding of where his food comes from, and how it connects him back to the wider world. As an adult, this awareness led to Cerulli be
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed some of the chapters, but the rest seemed to just drag on.

Definitely got me thinking more about how unmindful we can be about the choices we make regarding food.

I especially enjoyed his commentary on those who make an almost militant argument for vegetarianism or vegan lifestyles based on ethical issues. There are so many animals that end up dying in order to give us our wheat, greens, and other veggies.
Laura Martin
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ironically, I consumed this book with the voracious appetite of a mindless carnivore, finishing it in only a couple of days.

I initially picked up this book at a used and new bookstore in Burlington, and was attracted to both the title and the fact that it was written by a local author from Vermont. My interest in the title was sparked because of my sister, who has been living as a vegan for at least two years. Early in her transition, I had even considered becoming a vegan myself, torn between m
May 05, 2012 rated it liked it
I picked up this book because I have been trying to figure out the right balance for myself in eating meat/becoming a vegetarian. All that I have learned about processed foods and meat in the US has driven me toward a mostly vegetarian diet, yet I grew up hunting with my Dad and eating meat. I like meat and morally do not object to an animal's death, yet the methods in the country are awful and damaging.

So I was pleased to read a perspective from someone who didn't have a hunting background and
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this to be an incredible book. The author made emotional and logical travels which took him from a fisherman to a vegan growing his own vegetables and then back along the scale to someone considering deer hunting for both meat and as a way to fully experience the reality of life.

I agree with many of his conclusions, one of which is that many people are allowing others to take their burdens (you might be vegetarian but animals and insects and birds still made the sacrifice for you to get
Honesty I don't know how to feel about this book. Some parts had a really good flow and brought up interesting ideas, in others it repeated its self and at times you didn't realize what was happening until afterwords because of the weird way it was worded.

So it's a good idea for a book and some parts work really well, but the majority I just wanted to skip and really wish where cut out or redone.

Received from NetGallary.
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Do not read this book if you're looking for someone to tell you that omnivorism or vegetarianism is the right way to live. Cerulli talks about his decision to eat meat after years of being a vegetarian and then vegan and his almost daily struggles with his choices for the first few years. But he also talks about responsibility to the Earth and how people and animals affect the land. I found this honest, raw memoir really fascinating!
DeLene Beeland
May 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance (Pegasus Books, 2012), Cerulli beautifully chronicles his philosophical approach to eating and living. The book follows his journey from eschewing not only flesh but all animal products—such as milk and honey—to becoming, improbably, a hunter of deer in New England’s woods.

Rest assured, his journey is far from a navel-gazing or vain adventure. In his writing, Cerulli interweaves literary influences and meditations that span from Buddhi
Donna Brown
Mar 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
I’ve been quite fascinated by the questions about where our food comes from over the last couple of years and documentaries such as Food Inc and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals have only added to my interest. Although I have weighed up my carnivore lifestyle numerous times over the last decade, I still keep returning to the meat counter or section. So, what would Cerulli’s The Mindful Carnivore teach me about my attitudes?

I really don’t know what I expected about the book but it raised som
Dennis Schvejda
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
I “met” and “know” Tovar via Twitter, but with a 140 character limit, meeting and knowing are definitely subjective. The book is a gateway to knowing the man. Tovar Shares his life, his family, friends, and private thoughts. It’s also a synthesis on the subject, with the inclusion of facts and great quotes.

If I had picked up the book without any knowledge of the author, I frankly would have enjoyed the book as much – books that make you think are my favorite.

A tough subject? Indeed – hunting and
Samantha Strasser-Jones
I won this book from a free goodreads giveaway. At first I worried that I would not be able to get into this book, that I would find it slow and boring. I had never really read anything comparable. However I found the book quite interesting, and captivating. The author does a good job helping you see things from different points of view, examining different ways to look at the topic on hand. At times the author throws a lot of information and statistics at you at one time, which can be daunting, ...more
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I was so pleasantly surprised that it talked about so much more than just the basics of being a vegetarian vs being a "carnivore." There was a lot of unexpected substance to this book, and I learned a lot. At heart, it's about the author's moral journey with food, and along the way he introduces topics such as religion, spirituality, the history of vegetarianism, the history of hunting as a "sport," ecofeminism, and more. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is intereste ...more
Lindsay P
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I have to set this aside. I got past the point where it was helpful to me and I have realized I am not in the mood to get back to it anytime soon. However, I believe I will someday because the writing is nice, thoughtful, provocative, and the author presents some interesting research regarding American social history regarding land use and food production and ethics.
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing, eye-opening read. I wrote "good point" many a times in the margins throughout this book, both on the side of hunting and of veganism. Cerulli hits it right on the nail the principles by which I follow, and he worded it much more eloquently than I would ever be able to attempt. Highly recommended read.
Apr 23, 2018 rated it liked it
It was a good read with some interesting issues. Got me thinking. My criticism would be that it didn't always stay on point, and there seems to be a lot of "filler" and backstory. But I would still recommend it.
Yvonne Michaud
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Truly enjoyed the many perspectives Tovar brings into this book.
Dave Guia
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A surprisingly cheerful view of going through almost every type of diet known to anyone. I'd certainly like to have Tovar's spirit having to face some tough choices over all those years.

Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was fantastic. You really do appreciate and feel much more nourished when you've had a hand in where your food comes from. Whether it is hunting, raising livestock, picking berries, or growing all your vegetables and preserving the excess for winter.

I liked the frankness of his doctor, an admitedly "crunchy," telling him he needs animal protein. The journey of he and his wife experiencing feeding their bodies as they are meant to be fed and re-learning to trust what the human body hung
May 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Food books are tough . . . you've either got purely unbiased and factual (which is hard enough, and often reads drier than an Arab sandal) or heavily skewed to one perspective or the other (I'm looking at you, Jonathan Foer). The truth is, no one likes being beat over their head with a message, except maybe those who agree with that message wholeheartedly, and in that case, it's like preaching to the choir. (Again, looking at you, Jonathan Foer.) And what good is that?

This long-winded preamble i
John Anglin
Dec 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
A moving personal account of confronting the harsh realities of nature, realizing that humans are in fact part of and participate in nature, and finding one's place, morally and practically, in a world of consumption and living. I first picked up this book thinking it was going to be a combined personal account and dietary/environmental manifesto that was going to have answers for the many environmental, agricultural, and economic issues of today pertaining to food and where it comes from. It's ...more
Apr 08, 2012 rated it liked it

The Mindful Carnivore details the author's journey -- physical, spiritual and emotional -- from a vegan lifestyle to that of a full-fledged hunting/fishing carnivore. The book starts out well enough but, for myself at least, it bogged down too heavily in autobiographical detail in the middle and later chapters.

Tovar Cerulli is a thoughtful writer, and that comes across clearly in his reflection on food and our relationship to it, particularly in regards to what it means to eat the flesh of a

Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: eating-nutrition
Part memoir, part philosophical meandering, this book examines the ethics of hunting from a unique perspective: that of a former vegan turned reluctant hunter. Cerulli touches briefly on the nutritional deficiencies of veganism that drove him to begin eating animal products and eventually meat, but it is the process of developing his ethical position that makes up the majority of the book. His primary point--that a truly ethical philosophy of eating must confront the cyclical process of life, de ...more
Jill Carroll
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a thoughtful personal narrative from someone who eventually gave up being vegetarian and began eating meat, including meat from deer that he hunted. What I like about this book is its honesty--the author is very candid about his thoughts, feelings, reasonings, etc. during this transition in his life. Also, the presents the facts and history of hunting, food cultivation, logging, conservation, and other related things in an interesting and "honest" way in the sense that, in truth, the fac ...more
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There is much discussion these days on food, whether to become vegetarian or no and why or why not.
Tovar explores both worlds and presents a compelling story on why it is OK to eat meat, but not for the reasons that you might think.The key word in this title is "Mindful". Mindful eating whether it be plant or meat, is what we should be striving for. We need to become more aware of how we get our food, and what we are doing to the planet in order to get food. Food whether from meat or veggies com
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nutrition, animals
personal musings on ethical dilemmas pair with detailed descriptions of various rifles and reverent descriptions of knife handles. Cerulli brings an immersion of attention to each detail of his study, which serves to carry the reader along with him into the landscapes of forest and philosophy he treads. there is a lot of lingering self-doubt winding through the bright moments of decisive action, but it doesn't dilute the message, best expressed in the winding of two major thematic threads. on th ...more
Brenda Shelly
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
I read this book hoping it would give me some insight about what to feed my vegetarian daughter. The author is thoughtful, thoroughly considering the origins and impact of the choices he makes with food. Weighing every decision he makes.

He begins the loop as a young boy shooting a backyard bird, he journeys to full out veganism and somehow ends up hunting and fishing for proteins.

Though it did nothing for the vegetarian menu at our house, it reminded me that no matter what we choose to eat, th
Jessica Lewis
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
If I could give four and a half stars I most certainly would here as I am conflicted by my own rating choice. So far in my literary search this book has been the one that has resounded best. As it stands I'm a conflicted omnivore, which has been something few other books have been able to speak to. Most books in this category are firmly trenched in one way of life, and as much as I respect the writers and subscribers to each of these codes it wasn't until this book that I felt connected and reas ...more
a thoughtful and thoughprovoking book about what it means to be 'kill-free', what it REALLY costs to be a vegetarian or vegan and how it all works together. cerulli gives clear reasons for his path, and doesn't condemn anyone else for their path. he certainly enlightened me on a few topics. most revealing was the actual animal-life cost for growing vegetables. you think you aren't killing any animals when you eat organic brocolli? well, that farmer is, and it ends up in your hands. cerulli was V ...more
Tim Harris
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've been reading a lot of books about deer hunting lately as I contemplate taking it up. This one really hit home since I am a Zen Buddhist and was a vegan turned Paleo due to illness. I took up fishing and hunting for upland birds this past year and am seriously looking into whether or not to go after big game this fall to supplement my diet. This was the perfect book. Tovar came from exactly the same background as I did and so it was good to read his thought process on the whole thing and the ...more
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Tovar Cerulli has worked as a logger, carpenter, and freelance writer. His essays and articles have appeared in various publications, including Outdoor America and Northern Woodlands. In 2009, Cerulli was awarded a graduate school fellowship by the University of Massachusetts, where his research has focused on food, hunting, and human relationships with the natural world.

He lives in Vermont with h
“I still sought a respectful, holistic way of eating and living, my decision to hunt shaped by the same concerns that shaped my veganism. My inner aim had also been the same. Having concluded that I needed some animal protein in my diet and that some harm to animals was inevitable in even the gentlest forms of agriculture, integrity and alignment could only come from taking responsibility for at least a portion of the killing.” 0 likes
“Gardening reminds us to look deeply into our food, to contemplate our interactions with earth, plants, and animals, to see both the harmony and the harm.” 0 likes
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