Format Hardcover
Publication Date 02/15/12
ISBN 9781605982779
Trim Size / Pages 9.3 x 6.4 in / 320

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The Mindful Carnivore

A Vegetarian's Hunt for Sustenance

Tovar Cerulli

A vegan-turned-hunter reignites the connection between humans and our food sources and continues the dialogue begun by Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver.

"A personal tale of how one man comes to terms with the meat on his plate and a historical look at humanity's connection to animals.  The Mindful Carnivore delivers new insight in the too often simplistic vegetarian versus carnivore argument."  —Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer   A vegetarian-turned-hunter reignites the connection between humans and their food sources and continues the dialogue begun by Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver. As a boy, Tovar Cerulli spent his summers fishing for trout and hunting bullfrogs.  While still in high school, he began to experiment with vegetarianism.  By the age of twenty he was a vegan.  A decade later, in the face of declining health, he returned to omnivory and within a few years found himself heading into the woods, rifle in hand.  Through his personal quest, Cerulli bridges these disparate worldviews and questions moral certainties.  Are fishing and hunting barbaric, murderous anachronisms? Or can they be respectful ways for humans to connect with nature (and their food)? How harmless is vegetarianism? Can hunters and vegetarians be motivated by similar values and instincts? In this time of intensifying concern over ecological degradation and animal welfare, how do we make peace with the fact that, even by growing organic vegetables, life is sustained by death? Drawing on personal experience, philosophy, history, and religion, Cerulli shows how America's overly sanitized habits of consumption have disconnected us from our food, resulting in many of the spiritual and environmental crises we now face.

Tovar Cerulli awarded a graduate school fellowship by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2009, where he is researching diverse perspectives on human relationships with the natural world. He lives in Vermont with his wife, Catherine.  Visit his webiste at

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Endorsements & Reviews

“Bullseye! This coming-of-age story is right on target in equating living—and killing—with eating. Cerulli cuts through forests of argument by a thoughtful and thrilling narrative as he turns from vegan to hunter, stalking, killing and eating his first deer. We experience his growing awareness of what it means to be fully involved in the web of nature. With him we can wonder at its complex mystery and share in “mindful eating” as a sacred act. ” Betty Fussel, author of The Story of Corn and Raising Steaks
Pondering his stance on hunting and eating meat, a committed vegan delivers an entertaining and erudite meditation on his place in the natural world. Cerulli examines the politics of food and the contentious debates that have ambushed America’s conversation about the food supply. He assumes the role of the reasonable yet probing narrator, raising questions and pointing out the contradictions and truths contained within the multiple viewpoints he discusses. The refreshingly evenhanded tone allows readers to judge the author’s argument on the merits of his literary and personal evidence. Today’s noisy media environment often consists of rigid, uninformed viewpoints passed off as the sole truth. Cerulli provides a welcome antidote to the bluster. Kirkus Reviews
“Tovar Cerulli embarks on an unlikely journey from vegan to hunter, laying bare the complicated relationship we have with the food we eat, exposing the many myths and prejudices that pile up on our plates. Full of compassion, curiosity, and a nourishing eloquence, Mindful Carnivore is a healthy reminder that our choices matter and an invitation to vegetarians and carnivores alike to examine their paths to sustenance.”” Langdon Cook, author of Fat of the Land
“Cerulli offers penetrating insights into not only where our food comes from, but what our daily dietary choices say about who we are as human beings.” Hank Shaw, author of Hunt, Gather, Cook
“Within these pages Tovar Cerulli navigates our role in the cycle of life in a way that is spiritual, intuitive, and profoundly real. By witnessing his transformation from staunch vegan to thoughtful hunter, we are reminded that mindful hunting not only makes us stewards of the land, but thoughtful eaters and more awake human beings. Bravo!” Georgia Pellegrini, author of Girl Hunter and Food Heros
“Tovar Cerulli has written the book I’ve been waiting for.  It’s memoir, adventure story, and exploration.  His journey is from vegan to hunter, but it’s more than that.  It’s a journey into history, ethics, nutrition, ecology, and philosophy.  And doubt.  All while in pursuit of a deer.  It’s an entertaining read—in fact, it’s an entertaining ride—into human experience.  A savory morsel indeed.” Daniel Herman, Professor, Central Washington University