Okay. First it was Caviar, Next Foie Gras, now Lobster and Crab?
Stop me if I’ve told you this story before: Out with a group of friends and the new girlfriend of one begins lecturing the roommate of another about how ‘evil’ it is that she (roommate) is eating a hamburger. On and on she (new girl) prattles: smoking a cigarette, drinking a beer and wearing leather; reprimanding the poor dear with the burger. Never mind the second hand smoke we were forced to inhale; never mind her Natural American Spirit brand smokes do not support Native Americans anywhere. (Natural American Spirit cigarettes are owned by Reynolds. Yes, that Reynolds, not a Native American tribe, as many erroneously believe.) Her assumed superior ethical position as a “vegetarian” entitled her to lecture anyone eating meat about their inhumane treatment of sentient fellow creatures. Of course, I pointed out as frequently as possible that fish are not vegetables. She seemed okay with eating fish.
We are disconnected from the sources of our food and many of our consumables. It is a fact. One might be forgiven then for overlooking the possible inhumanity that begat one’s leather sandals. And, I have no bone to pick, not even a teensy weensy fishbone, with someone who chooses for health, religious, or any reason at all to cease consuming meat. But let’s just take big deep collective breath, gather our wits, and think for a minute. Despite what PETA might tell you, there are far more inhumane practices going on in the world than the boiling of lobsters. Even allowing for their position (and I will defend their right to voice it, forever) a rational person has to allow that any food consumption decision might be viewed as an individual choice in arbitrary line-drawing. I say it is arbitrary because I do not believe that makes it less important or less valuable or less value-driven. It is simply to signify that my evil is not your evil. Nor does it have to be.
One only has to visit a cattle farm or processor to understand that the shoes we wear were not made with leather from a cow that passed away peacefully from old age. The fish many of us eat may well have died a fairly gruesome death. Eggs are often harvested in pretty grim conditions for the poor hens. I applaud more humane farming practices. I believe people can and should think about societal costs and impacts and when it is feasible for them to do so, vote with their purchasing power. I choose local farmers' markets and independent shops whenever I can. The food is better, the service is better and I'm supporting someone with a face, not a distant corporate entity.
I believe we can and should re-think how we use resources that might serve more people and preserve or at least not irreparably harm our earth. But, when did we allow the likes of PETA to dictate values for the rest of us?
Another position, voiced by Anthony Bourdain (one of my favorite snarksters) goes something like this,
“Hey – I’ve got the opposable thumbs, I’m higher up on the food chain and if it wasn't smart enough to avoid ending up on my plate - I'm okay with calling it dinner.”