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December 20, 2009

Don’t play with your food

Filed under: Philosophy,Vegetarianism — Mr. Henry @ 3:21 pm

Whoever thought vegetables would become the subject of such impassioned debate?

Arguing her points well, ChaChaHeels sent a long and very eloquent post about vegetarianism. For those who wish to eat responsibly, ethically, and nutritiously, it is not enough simply to avoid meat. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) lurk everywhere, sometimes even in organic crops. Seed DNA may have migrated (by accident? perhaps by design!), and if Monanto detects even a trace of their DNA in your seed, they’ll sue.

Mr. Henry appreciated the efforts of local farmers to raise meat using sustainable methods of farming, and he tries his best to buy those products even when it means paying more. eatingdog.jpg

The essence of the attack on meat is not really about sustainability, organic vs. local, or any the more intellectual arguments. When the vegetarian diet becomes more widely adopted, it will be because its proponents convince us that eating flesh is dirty. The cultural construct of clean versus dirty is perhaps the deepest of all taboos and most salient of culture markers. In Korea, China, and Vietnam, for example, it is perfectly acceptable to eat roast puppy.

Here Mr. Henry would like to assure his readers that he considers himself to be a man of open spirit and liberal imagination, tolerant and accepting of foreign traditions. After all, he is a seasoned traveler, well-lettered and well-read. He does not lightly vilify the manners and customs of other people.


If when breakfasting in Bangkok you elect to try the roast grubs, a local delicacy, Mr. Henry applauds your adventuresome spirit. There is nothing so beneficial as a hearty breakfast. But tucking into a savory slice of man’s best friend is a custom Mr. Henry has trouble accepting. Barbaric is a word that comes to mind. Puppies, after all, brim with playful love. The many virtues of the grub notwithstanding, surely puppies bring a greater measure of joy into the world.

Perhaps it comes down to this: Mr. Henry does not believe in playing with his food.


  1. Culturally, I am supposed to like organ meat (chittlings, livers, gizzards, sweet bread, etc…) squirrels, oppossums, and snake. All are probably considered disgusting or unclean by someone else on this planet. My personal preferences are for lean cuts of pork or beef, fowl and fish. I can’t eat rabbit because I’ve had them as pets. I could never knowingly eat a dog, a cat, monkey, rat, or a whale. I cannot imagine eating insects or rodents. But condemning a cuisine based on my personal prejudices would be small minded. Tastes evolve based on food availabliity, education, and local cultures. Educate others and provide a new food source and maybe you can convert them to a another cuisine.

    Comment by Jennie — December 21, 2009 @ 12:29 am

  2. Ah, yes. Let’s criticize the Eastern countries for “eating puppies”, which is not quite so widespread as people want to believe. Why is it when anyone wants to criticize other country’s eating choices, he/she first criticizes non-Western countries? The French eat horse meat and yet, that isn’t as reviled as eating dog meat. Before anyone judges any culture’s eating habits, much of which were created out of sheer necessity, let’s also look at the way we eat. I’m sure Hindus shudder with revulsion at American beef consumption.

    Comment by enygma — December 24, 2009 @ 10:51 am

  3. If it came down to clean vs dirty and we really thought about it, who’d eat eggs or shrimp?

    I was born in France, but I won’t eat horsemeat on principle; having been to Indonesia and dealt with the dogs they have there, however, I’d happily spay and neuter each of them with my bare hands if I could. They’re vermin.

    Comment by raincoaster — December 27, 2009 @ 12:24 am

  4. But then, I’m an awful person.

    Comment by raincoaster — December 27, 2009 @ 12:25 am

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