Observations about the universe, life, Lausanne and me

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What would I eat?

My girlfriend is a vegetarian - has been a vegetarian for a couple of years, in fact. I, on the other hand, rather enjoy eating dead animals.

Fortunately, we are both not very gung-ho about it - she doesn't scream bloody murder when my blood-stained fork touches her food, I don't try to smuggle animal-parts into her salad. In fact, the only reason why I am not a hundred percent happy with her decision to become a herbivore is that it severely limits the kinds of meals I can cook. I enjoy cooking, but I don't enjoy cooking for myself. As a result, I now eat mostly vegetarian too - except for sometimes frying some bacon to go with my vegetarian lasagna.

Anyway, to come to the point of this post, from time to time we talk about her decision not to eat mammals (she does eat fish and animal products like eggs and cheese) and my decision to cheerfully glomp down every edible member of our class, subphylum or indeed phylum I can find.

The question I then find myself struggling to answer is: "What would I eat", or, more accurately: "What would I kill to eat?"

The distinction between those two questions is clear. The answer to "What would I eat" is "Near damn anything". I would not, for example, be averse to trying a bit of "homme á la maison" - just for the bragging rights. But the poor guy (or girl preferably - being a horrible chauvinist I imagine girls would be more tender) would have to be dead already, I wouldn't kill somebody for my treat, seriously, officer!

Cannibalism is inherently unhealthy though, since eating human flesh provides an excellent vector for all manner of diseases. There is also the problem of acquisition, quality control and so on; if cannibalism were to become a fad, unscrupulous businessmen bumping off people "who wouldn't be missed" would not be far behind.

So no biftèque de cannibale for me.

So what would I kill to eat? Not a human, obviously, even if I don't like him or her very much. What about a chimpanzee? Hmm... always supposing that I am not in danger of starvation, and there are other animals around I could hunt, Cheeta and her friends would probably be safe from me. (Except maybe once, just to see how they taste like). But this is (and here my girlfriend crows with delight) a slippery slope. If I won't eat Cheeta, on account of her being as intelligent as a four-year old, would I eat her cousin King Louie the Orang-Utan? And if I won't eat him, would I...

But, cunning as we are, we won't fall into this trap, no siree. I refuse to see eating animals as something bad - except maybe in the ecological sense, in that producing a kilogram of meat consumes about ten times more resources than producing the same amount of grain (at least for now it does, I still dream of vat-grown steak...). But animals die, and animals also die if you clear an acre of forest to grow your grains or beans. And the cow I eat wouldn't have lived if there wasn't a demand for it's meat - and who are we to choose which animal gets to live?

The ones with the biggest brain, that's who, and I for one am on the side of the cows.


  1. Know who else is dreaming of vat-grown steak? PETA! Shocking, eh? (I don't approve, btw). If you come up with it in your lab with the alien hallways, you could make a million bucks: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/21/us/21meat.html?hp

    Until then, you'll have to stick with your day job... well, that and blogging. You're falling behind, my good man!

  2. Unfortunately plasma doesn't lend itself readily to the incubation of meat, artificial or otherwise... I'll have to stick with my solar cells.

    But, why are you against the growing of artificial meat, if I may ask? Offhand I cannot think of any reasons why it shouldn't be good for everybody: The meat -eaters are happy, science fiction geeks (an important demographic) like I are in heaven, and conscientious vegetarians should be all right with it too, shouldn't they?

  3. With that kind of reasoning, a cloned human being, being as human as you are, can be tortured and killed. Without us he wouldn't have been born so we have the right to kill him.

    Why go so far to bring the controversial cloning process into this argument? A childs parents can kill him or her with the same reasoning!

    Killing animals isn't humane and we all know it, but they are delicious! And that's the way it's been for so long. However, I do certainly wish for a time when we create meat that's 100% like animals' meat, so we can enjoy and let real animals live.

  4. Don't you think there is a difference between killing for food and torture? Or killing your own child?

    I would also dispute that killing animals isn't humane - this depends on your definition of humane! Indeed, the Oxford English Dictionary informs me that one of the definitions of humane is

    humane killer n. an instrument for the painless slaughter or destruction of animals.

    I do however agree wholeheartedly that I'd rather eat cloned meat from a Petri-dish than a poor cow - if the taste is the same and the environmental impact less.