Eating Roadkill Is Our Future, and That’s Okay
‘Why let it waste if it is still good?’
Earlier this month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into effect the Wildlife Traffic Safety Act, also known as the “roadkill bill.” The act will soon make it legal for drivers to take home and eat animals they accidentally kill or find dead on the road, provided they register that there’s been a collision on an app that the state uses to collect data about traffic accidents. Before the bill was signed, salvaging animals was a misdemeanor.
Eating roadkill is quietly going mainstream as food insecurity rises and the climate crisis mounts. With this bill, which mandates a pilot program to track collisions using an app by January 2022, California joins a list of 28 other states where it’s legal to eat some form of “salvaged meat” — the new law states that it’s wasteful not to. There’s a good chance the trend will continue.
Scientists are urging us to eat less meat because by one estimate the meat industry accounts for 14.5% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions globally. The alternatives for those who don’t want to go vegetarian are limited. There is sustainably-farmed meat, but not enough to satisfy growing global demands. Lab-grown meat, which is debatably more sustainable than conventional meat, is still too mushy and expensive to be palatable. And plant-based meat isn’t meat.
But roadkill most certainly is. It’s inherently sustainable, and there’s a lot of it. About 20,000 deer are killed each year on California’s roads alone. In California, salvaged meat from elk, pronghorn antelope, or wild pigs is fair game, too. John Ackler, legislative director to California Senator Bob Archuleta, who first introduced the bill, speculates the reason more states are legalizing salvaged meat is because people “are realizing there is too much waste in our society.”
“The meat from these wild animals is protein rich and can feed hungry families,” he tells OneZero. There’s no sense in letting it go to waste or, even worse, “charging people with a criminal offense for trying to act in a more sustainable way.”
California’s act states the legislation will make available “tens of thousands of pounds of a healthy, wild, big game food source that currently is wasted…