I would be remiss in writing a Southern cookbook without including some form of deer. Every year, sometimes not even waiting until the holidays, our father would trek off to the woods with his bow and arrow or guns and hunt for deer. When our mother dragged us along, we would wake up in the camp to see deer hanging by their ankles being gutted and blood dripping from their mouths. Other men, hunters, stood around, waiting to use the cleaning area, would chat and laugh with one another, one hand holding a cup of black coffee and the other a cigarette. These were cold, gory mornings. Sometimes, a pack of wild dogs could be heard in the distance and our mom told us not to wander too far off. Truthfully, we wanted to go as far away as possible.
It makes me flinch now to look at this picture of my father holding a dead doe’s antlers (also in my pre-vegan days). So, I ask, why even do a recipe on deer meat for vegans? It is for the same reason that there are veggie dogs, seitan and any other sort of meat sub you can think of. We humans are creatures of habit. Traditions enforce habits that distance us from the harsh truths that we had become aware of. They can force us not to think or to feel and blind or numb us to our compassion. I have seen people revert to eating animals and their by-products when they get together for whatever holiday, birthday, BBQ and even when getting a cold. The Southern tradition of deer hunting, taught to us by our ancestors, is one of those traditions.
If you are vegan or vegan-curious reading this blog and are dealing with the traditional holiday mealtimes, you are not alone. If you love to eat meat, enjoy the umami flavor, the texture, I understand. We had deer meat throughout the fall and winter and it was very hearty and filling. My father was usually the one who cooked it and we enjoyed it without regard to the animal(s) whose life was taken. Now, I do not desire to eat animals because I see how it takes an animal’s life and I find it revolting. However, we can now enjoy the flavors in a rich stew, jerky or a black pepper fry-up of “dear” meat and no one has to die for it. If you feel compelled to still get together with a bunch of your friends in the woods, as a lot of teenagers are these days, maybe you can still shoot animals but with cameras instead of guns. Recipe to be provided in next post.