We could all use lessons in how to overcome Culturally Learned Eating Habits. If you have ever travelled to a foreign country you know that people in other cultures will sometimes eat something which, to your cultural environment, would, if you ate the same thing, taste bad at best and make you vomit at worst.
Culturally Learned Eating Habits tend to lead into arguments about what is food. These arguments also lead to disagreements over what is mistreatment of cattle, horses, chickens, pets, dolphins, whales and other marine mammals; not to mention the spectre of Cannibalism as a Food Source.
Some eastern cultures eat what westerners would call Pets as Food. Other cultures have been eating Dolphins, Whales and other Marine Mammals for centuries, yet they are condemned for this practice while westerners kill and eat all manner of animals without a thought for how those creatures ended up on their plate.
Culturally Learned Eating habits are very strong and show us how ridiculous we are when we condemn others for what they kill and eat. Is it OK to eat cats, dogs, monkeys, horses, rats, insects, lizards, dolphins, or humans? If you are not a vegetarian, then why not eat the flesh of these creatures also?
Are Humans “Natural” Carnivores? “Humans are Omnivores”
Are Humans “Natural” Carnivores? There are some who make this argument. There is nothing in the research of the history of humans that gives proof to that statement. Humans are omnivores, that is they can survive on either a mix of animal flesh and a plant-based diet or on a plant-based diet only. This article in Biology Online titled “Humans are Omnivores” gives us the background to argue that “All the available evidence indicates that the natural human diet is omnivorous and can include animal flesh.
Pets as Food
This is a horrible question for many people, yet, to some cultures, a cat or a dog is a legitimate food source. Other cultures find the concept of dog or cat-eating disgusting. Most of us think that what we eat, and the way they eat it, is the normal or correct pattern. Therefore anyone who eats different things is considered odd or even disgusting. Globalization has led to culinary conflicts as one culture’s delicacy is another culture’s taboo. To some a cat or a dog is a legitimate food source. Others find the concept of dog or cat-eating abhorrent. Is it right for cat or dog-loving countries to impose their cultural values on cat or dog eating societies?
Hindus consider cattle to be sacred and cattle-eating “western” (aka: USA, UK, EU) cultures offend them. How would “western” cultures react if Hindus began international public campaigns to re-educate westerners that it was unacceptable to eat cows? It is quite probable that these “westerners” would feel it an infringement of their “right” to eat burgers and hotdogs!
“The Christian pities the Jew and the Mussulman [Muslim], because they hold pork in abhorrence, and yet the Christian repulses the notion of touching horse-flesh. The Hindoo has an equal horror of beef. Mutton is by no means a cosmopolitan dish. … The Russians still abstain from pigeon … the Italians hold the rabbit in aversion. … The French eat on a small-scale frogs, and on a large-scale snails … which would be rejected by the English labourer, even if starving.”–Anonymous
There’s a thriving market for exotic animals as food.
Here you will find a list of Wholesale Meat Suppliers, Producers and Distributors of Exotic Meat. Just a few of the creatures on this website include, crocodile, locusts, python snake, rattlesnakes, scorpions, snails, wild boars, wildebeests, yak, kangaroo, zebra, worms and “other wild and exotic animals as food.”
If we are aware of these places, if we boycott them and ask our friends and neighbours to do the same, perhaps these practices will slow down or even stop.
(Solution: do NOT eat pets, exotic, or any other animals)
Dolphins, Whales and other Marine Mammals
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society writes that “The biggest killer of whales and dolphins across the world is the fishing net. There is no ocean where this is not a serious issue.”
Dolphins, Whales and other Marine Mammals are confined and, by this confinement, are mistreated in many so-called marine parks all around the world. Millions of people world-wide come to watch these creatures frolic in their too-tiny pools while at the same time there are others who make attempts to free these creatures and come to their aid. Both of these groups of people do these things at the same time they are eating their hamburgers.
Around the world there are protests against dolphin captivity. Yet, in some societies, people have been eating dolphins since early ancient history. Why is that not OK to so many people? Most people who want to save the dolphin continue to eat many cows. This is hypocrisy writ large; what is the difference?
In this strong commentary, You eat cows, we eat dolphins, Paul Scott blasts “the hypocrisy of attempting to label the horrifying slaughter of these caring, intelligent creatures (dolphins) as a moral repugnance all the while chewing on your hamburger.“
Cannibalism as a Food Source?
What About Cannibalism? Is it a legitimate and legal source of food? Some people might think this is a joke and if not, would gag at the prospect of eating human flesh. In some countries, including many states in the USA, cannibalism is not illegal. The feelings which motivate vegetarians not to eat animals are the same as those which motivate the culturally held negative view toward cannibals. What exactly constitutes a “cannibal”?
How many of you would eat another human after it dies? Why not? In some societies it is OK to eat cats, dogs, monkeys, horses and occasionally, humans. The majority of “western” humans probably will NOT knowingly eat a human hand however it is presented to them. And yet these same people will happily chow down on liver, kidneys, thighs, breasts and other body parts of culturally defined animals. Many of these same people would not have the heart to murder the animals they eat themselves.
The feelings which motivate vegetarians not to eat animals are exactly those which motivate the culturally held negative view of humans eating other humans. Cannibalism (also called anthropophagy) is currently rare but still in practice.
“Cannibalism was widespread in the past among humans in many parts of the world, continuing into the 19th century in some isolated South Pacific cultures, and to the present day in parts of tropical Africa. In a few cases in insular Melanesia, indigenous flesh-markets existed. Fiji was once known as the ‘Cannibal Isles’. Cannibalism has been well documented around the world, from Fiji to the Amazon Basin to the Congo to Māori New Zealand.”
Cannibalism is not illegal in many countries. Carmen M. Cusack J.D., wrote a controversial article titled: Placentaphagy and Embryophagy: An Analysis of Socially Deviant Behavior within Gender, Families, or the Home-Abstract. Her paper concluded that “the private, eccentric acts of placentophagy (placenta eating) and embryophagy (embryo eating) are not illegal…in the United States…” Both of these would be considered a form of cannibalism.
Cannibalism could be a very efficient means of disposing of the non-diseased dead. Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes a popular comic strip, even got into the act regarding cannibalism.
Calvin: Miss Wormwood, could we arrange our seats in a circle and have a little discussion? Specifically, I’d like to debate whether cannibalism ought to be grounds for leniency in murders, since it’s less wasteful. (Source: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Bill_Watterson)
“Drawing on the recollections of Wari’ elders who participated in consuming the dead…funerary cannibalism. Beth Conklin explores Wari’ conceptions of person, body, and spirit…to explain why the Wari’…preferred cannibalism over cremation. Her findings show why, in Wari’ terms, it was considered the most honorable and compassionate way of treating the dead.”
Excerpt from Consuming Grief: Compassionate Cannibalism in an Amazonian Society.
So next time you have that “leg of lamb”, that “filet of fish”, or “breast of turkey”, think about “breast of dog” sautéed and grilled exactly to your liking, “dolphin ala carte” or perhaps “boiled human heart”, with a touch of herbs and spices and served with a chilled burgundy.
Now that we are aware that people around the world will eat almost anything, and that one person’s delicacy is another person’s protest, we can blithely say, let us confine our eating habits to plants and fruits and leave the animals to frolic and play in their natural environments.
While we are on the subject of what to eat let us begin to look at some of the objections flesh-eaters often throw up for rejecting a vegetarian diet. These objections nearly always fall into the realm of myth and misconception.
Let’s follow the arrows again to learn how Nutrition Myths tend to swirl around vegetarians:
Debunking Nutrition Myths ->>>