Cruelty on the menu

May 8, 2008

Two weeks ago I attended a discussion that featured travel writer Tom Parker Bowles (yes, he’s an offspring of the famous Camilla Parker Bowles) who warned the audience to go to new places with open minds and not admonish local people in far flung places for their seemingly eccentric food choices. While Tom’s argument stood up to scrutiny when he was discussing eating bee pupa and sautéed snake, I had to take issue when he told us that he had eaten dog in China. By his own admission, Parker Bowles was aware that folk lore dictates that the more violent a dog’s death, the more esteemed the meat is by middle-aged men with impotency issues.

I personally must draw the line at supporting local foods that perpetuate ignorance that leads to avoidable cruelty. My huge pet peeve is shark fin soup. I live in Richmond Hill, a suburb of Toronto that has a very large, affluent Chinese population. As a result we also have a lot of highly esteemed Chinese restaurants. Regrettably, almost all of the authentically Chinese restaurants in my area also offer shark fin soup on their menus.

If you haven’t seen the movie Sharkwater you may not realize how the Chinese thirst for shark fin soup is harming our oceans. I urge you to learn about how shark finning is cruelly killing one of the earth’s longest surviving creatures and throwing the ocean’s balance out of kilter in the process.

I have a feeling that once you learn more about this senseless practice that you’ll join me in boycotting restaurants that serve shark fin soup and, if you have time, please send an email to the UN asking them to officially oppose this so-called industry.

You can read more about the anti-shark finning movement at these sites and blogs:

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Big Blue Log
Stop Shark FInning
CBC’s The Hour