Some Are More Equal Than Others

Monday, June 28, 2010

Picture: Voltapress on Etsy

There are far too many delicious things to be eaten for me to ever contemplate being a vegetarian (much as the idea has its appeal from time to time). But (and there always seems to be a but) is there a line to be drawn somewhere in terms of what animals can and should be eaten?

For some people, there are considerations about nose-to-tail eating, which seems to be an increasing trend (albeit one that, by its very name, puts me off the idea...). Others don’t care as long as it tastes good (with the occasional proviso of not wanting to know what it is... the answer to this, following a brilliant example set by people-of-people for their kids, is always “special chicken”). However, for me, the answer lacks any sort of logic (and sometimes consistency), and is borne of emotion, coloured by habit.

Some animals are just too appealing to consider eating. For me, this wobbly distinction is drawn along the lines of things found on farms are OK, while things found in forests, fields, under hedges and potentially kept as pets (real pets, not fatten-them-up-and-call-them-Kelvinator pets) are not. So lambs, pigs, cows and so on (however cute they might be able to look), still have a generic “food” tag, but rabbits, hedgehogs, deer and the like are an unthinkable idea. There is a murky middle ground in relation to certain birds. Ducks, in particular, are an issue. It doesn’t feel right to eat them, but when you taste pate before you know where it comes from, problems arise in giving it up. The practical solution (unless you’re a duck) is that if you’re already having it for pate, it would be disrespectful to not eat the rest of it. Preferably in pancakes.

But the thought that occurred to me during the week was what about the animals that I wouldn’t want to eat but where cuteness is clearly not a factor*. Like eels. There is often eel on the menu at Japanese restaurants, but the very thought of it gives me the collywobbles. I don’t think I’d even like to poke an eel, let alone eat one. However delicious it might turn out to be, I just can’t get past the idea of it. There is only one thing that I think eels are good for...

Picture: Pratten

Ultimately, just because you can doesn’t necessarily mean that you should...**

* And this is completely leaving aside things that shouldn’t be eaten because there aren’t many of them, as that just goes without saying. Although it might be a somewhat vexed question in itself, as rumour has it that there was once a proliferation of dodos...
** Unless it’s Iron Chef, in which case squirming can occur from a safe distance, with a cushion to hide behind should it prove necessary.

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