Although extremely cute and puckish, foxes have been a thorn in the side of farmers for centuries, snatching a hen here, a goose there, maybe even a small lamb or piglet if the opportunity arises.
As such, if you’ve ever had a few visits from a fox, you wouldn’t be the first to wonder if you could turn the tables, make the predator the prey, and cook yourself up a lovely fox stew, but fox meat isn’t exactly a menu staple in the West, so does that mean you can’t eat it?
Of course, fox hunting is no new “sport”, but you don’t hear of the riders eating the fox.
I mean, there’s no doubt that many are skinned, but those who experience significant trauma after a run-in with the hounds are likely simply discarded. So what’s the big idea here… Can you eat fox meat?
Is Fox Meat Edible?
You can eat fox meat, but just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should do something.
Extremely lean creatures, there isn’t much too foxes, and meat that is present is incredibly game-y, tough, and potent in its not entirely pleasant flavor profile.
Even if you’re a prolific carnivore that dines out on more normalized meats every day of the week, you’ll likely have a pretty tough time wrestling with that gristly fox chop on your plate — Prepare for an achy jaw!
The texture is particularly fibrous and dense, not unlike a terribly cooked steak that you’d send back to the chef with a few choice words of disappointment.
The only way to make fox meat slightly more palatable is to engage in some pretty intensive preparation.
How Would You Prepare Fox Meat?
I urge you not to go ahead with this off-the-wall meal plan for the reasons discussed above and more that we’ll dig into in a moment, but if you’re sure you want to stay the course and give fox meat a try, here’s what you need to know.
To save yourself chewing all night long, you’ll need to tenderize the cut with a meat mallet. This will loosen some of the fibrous structure and make eating it less of a chore.
Once tenderized, you’ll need to marinate the cut for 8 hours minimum, or, at the very least, make a saltwater solution and submerge it overnight.
Otherwise, your fox meat will have an unpleasant piscine aroma and flavor that’s sure to put you off both foxes and seafood for the foreseeable future.
A vinegar solution will be even more effective at minimizing these unpleasant aspects of fox as food, and a few carefully curated spices will help take the edge off this bizarre meat too, but it’s an awful lot of effort for what is sure to be a substandard dining experience.
Eating Fox Meat: Carnist’s Roulette
A slightly chewy cut isn’t the only problem you’ll face when you dine out on fox meat.
Much like any predator worth their salt, pretty much anything smaller than them is on the menu, and when they can’t snatch a plump chicken from a farm, they very much take advantage of this.
In Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, everybody’s favorite thief has a taste for the finer things in vulpine life — We’re talking chickens, ducks, and turkeys lifted from the farms of Boggis, Bunce, and Bean.
But in reality, they’ll settle for all manner of insects, carrion, and rodents… and yes that includes rats.
This rather, shall we say, eclectic diet often leads to some form of infection, infection that may carry over to you, the eater of the fox — How does rabies or intestinal parasites sound for dessert?
Granted, there are preparatory measures that minimize the risk of infection, but there is no way to completely guarantee a clean meal, which is a pretty good reason to leave these rouge renegades to their business.
Herbivores, on the other hand, only eat grass and other vegetation, which almost never carries disease, meaning their meat is much safer to eat.
A Cultural Aversion: Why We Don’t Eat Fox
As if intestinal parasites weren’t enough to make us think twice about eating fox meat, consider this… although there is certainly a feline quality to foxes, they are technically canines.
That’s right, folks — foxes are a species of dog, meaning as the meat hits your tongue, you’ll be haunted by the thought that this is what your hairy best buddy would taste like if you cooked them up and had them for dinner.
Of course, the consumption of dog meat isn’t condemned the world over. Certain parts of Asia are particularly fond of eating “man’s best friend”, but we Westerners typically have a long-standing cultural hangup regarding the issue.
This inability to see dogs as food over friends, combined with the risks mentioned earlier and no doubt a touch of instinct that warns us against eating predator meat, is why, generally speaking, we do not eat fox.
What’s more, the fox is seeing something of a resurgence in the hearts of the public.
Despite their history of pinching poultry from underprepared pens, more people than ever cite this red rascal as their favorite animal, and there are many efforts to curb fox hunting across the US and the UK.
In fact, fox hunting is actually illegal in the UK, yet there are really no measures in place to stop people from ignoring this ruling and heading out on a hunt anyway, and they do so under the guise of environmentalism.
Farmers and hunters argue that their practices are essential for keeping fox numbers down in the wild and that culling them is actually beneficial to their kind as resources aren’t spread as thin.
But advocates for animal rites call baloney on this approach, stating that with such a broad diet, there are plenty of natural resources around to support growing fox populations and that farmers should focus more on fox-proofing their property than shooting them.
Pair this sentiment with rapidly growing vegan and vegetarian communities across the States, and it doesn’t look like fox is going to become a common snack any time soon, but it’s not just those who don’t eat meat that keep fox off the menu.
Many meat eaters simply aren’t comfortable eating something so closely related to their dog, and even those who can shrug off these macabre notions as they tuck into a meal are not blind to the contradiction at play.
It begs the question, why are we okay slaughtering and eating some animals and not others?
It gets people thinking about the morality of carnism, which isn’t exactly an appetizing mental backdrop to a meaty meal.
Where Would You Get Fox Meat?
Although you might have some luck in far-flung specialty meat stores, the chances are that if you want to try some fox meat, you’re going to have to hunt the animal yourself or accidentally hit one with your car… either or.
Unfortunately, this means that you’ve got a HUGE task on your hands, as not only do you have to prepare the cuts, you have to, well… cut them.
And before that, you have to skin and bleed the fox, which not many will be able or have the stomach to accomplish.
Unless you’ve got a best friend who’s a butcher, it might all be a bit much of a muchness, especially as fox meat just isn’t that great.
My advice is to banish thoughts of this other, other red meat, and tuck into the classics, your beef, your chicken, your pork, or, better yet, drop the bloodlust altogether and go veggie or vegan.
It’s good for your health, your conscience, animals, and the planet!
The Fox Meat Scandal
On very isolated occasions, fox meat may find you, as was the case with select “donkey burgers” in recent years. Yep, you read that right, traces of fox meat were discovered in the meat blend of donkey burgers.
Thankfully, in this case, there was very little chance of infection, but it still makes you think pretty darn hard about your diet and the food you pick up from the store or butchers. This is just another reason to go vegan or veggie if you ask me!
In summation, yes, fox meat is edible, but it’s probably not worth the time and effort it takes to prepare it for consumption.
That said, if you happen across some fox meat that will otherwise go to waste, remember what you read here today.
Tenderize it A LOT, marinade or soak it overnight to do away with nasty fishy undertones, and make sure it’s completely cooked through, otherwise, you put yourself at risk of infection. Bon appétit… I guess.