Sunday, July 27, 2008

What's That On Your Plate?

Once upon a time, I wasn't a vegetarian.

One meat product I loved and still miss today is Jack-in-the-Box Tacos. They're amazing. Perfect taste. Perfect texture. I don't know what the hell they put in them, but I would love to eat one right now.

Back in the 1990's there was a rumor that Jack-in-the-Box used kangaroo meat in their tacos. I think we were supposed to be horrified and disgusted. I was thinking Pass me some of that kangaroo!
Yes. Kangaroos are cute. But so are cows! And baby lambs. Yet it's okay to eat a steak and lamb chops?

Personally though, I don't think what we eat should depend on any cuteness factor. It should be about how the animal is treated and slaughtered. How does raising and eating the animal effect the environment? Is the animal endangered or threatened? Is the whole animal used or is it needlessly wasted (as in shark fin soup)?

In terms of the whale issue, I'm against any killing of an animal that is endangered. I really don't give a crap what your excuse is; economical, cultural history, "scientific" research.......

But if a species of whale is not endangered or threatened, I don't go for the sentiment that whales are beautiful and majestic. Cows are beautiful and majestic too. Plus, we drink their milk. I mean that is incredibly rude. Thanks for the milk, Bessie. Now we're going to transform your baby into veal parmigiana.
Yesterday, Jack and I watched a National Geographic video about insect cuisine. I thought it was brilliant.

Okay, the idea of crunching on a cockroach or cricket does make me gag. But I wish we could all get over this.

Eating insects is healthier than eating cows. Hamburger is about 18% fat and 18% protein. Grasshopper is 60% protein and 6% fat.
It's better for the environment. Raising them takes up much less land. We could cut down on pesticides. Instead of spraying plants with chemicals, we could just grab the bugs off and put them in our cookie batter.

There's also the matter of saving fuel and eating locally. It's not easy to raise your own chickens in the suburbs. It would be very easy to raise your own insects.

Some of the original Australians eat bugs. While the new people are whining about the Bogong Moth invasion, the Aborigines are having a delicious feast. They also eat witchetty white grub and honey pot ants.

Ten grubs a day are enough for survival, and supposedly they taste pretty yummy.

As a vegetarian, would I personally eat a bug? Yes. I would have no moral difficulties with it. I wouldn't want anything too crunchy and it would have to well disguised. In other words, I wouldn't munch on a bag of crickets, but would be willing to try cookies made of mealworms or barbecued grub in a gourmet bush tucker restaurant.

Hey! I wonder if anyone is interested in coming up with a Jack-in-the-Box taco made out of bogong moths?


  1. Pass me the roo steak and hold the grasshoppers :P

  2. I have eaten bugs in Thailand, but I was drunk, so can't really recall, but I seem to think they tasted ok.

    I have eaten witchetty grubs, a big thick white bug, which live in tree trunks, and eats the wood, and they are nice sauteed and taste a little like a chestnut.

    kangaroo is delish - I eat it often and love it - especially because it is cute - cute stuff tastes so much better don't you think?
    I wonder if you can get baby seal anywheres?

  3. knobby: Where did you get the witchetty grub? Did you find it yourself?

    I wouldn't mind trying it. Maybe.

    Jayne: I don't think I could do grasshoppers. Maybe ground up, but not whole.

    Sometimes when I'm swimming, I joke and say I probably have eaten some of the ants swimming/drowning in the pool. I ask if that disqualifies me as vegetarian.

    Maybe I can be a bugitarian.

  4. ewwwwww bugs.
    interesting idea tho.
    however i think ill pass!

  5. No, I don't think so, I was at a remote community named Tjun Tjun Tjarra, (pronounced joon joon jarra - the 'oo' being pronounced as in 'poof'), and it was just some grubs someone offered me to try.

    They can be eaten raw and are supposed to be just as good.

  6. Thanks for the blogroll link - I've reciprocated. About the roo meat; people keep trying to persuade us to eat it as an alternative to the land-abusing Euro-stock we've imported here. However, there's a deep-seated aversion to it. This isn't sentimental, it's because roo meat is usually only found in the pet-meat section of the supermarket freezer. Urbanised Australians - which is 90% of us - have been indoctrinated to the idea that it's "unfit for human consumption", just like it says on the label. If you told people you were eating it they'd think you were crazy!

  7. Retarius,

    Interesting about the Roo meat. So, you associate it with pet food.

    It's hard to get past ideas like that.

    It sort of reminds me of Asians eating dogs. My parents were talking to the man who owned the local Chinese restaurant. They asked him if they truly ate dog in his country. He said yes. My parents asked what kind.

    He looked at them and said "It's just dog!"

    To us, a dog is a companion and we know all the different breeds. We have books about every breed.

    But if you're using an animal as food, it becomes more simplistic.

  8. retarius is correct; Australians see roo as pet meat and can't countenance eating it. However, things are changing; there's a couple of suppliers out there who provide human-grade roo meat all nicely packaged up, neatly cut, and even pre-marinated, for easy meals; and they're available in the ordinary supermarkets!

    I'm a fan of roo meat and eat it whenever I get my hands on it. I just need to take things one step further and start eating the ones that inhabit my own property!! (I'm on 100 rural acres in southern NSW).

    Not so sure about bugs tho'. I don't like things that go crunch!! (This includes cookies/biscuits and even chips, so at least I'm consistent). I found witchetty grubs when chopping down a borer-ridden blackwattle, but wasn't _quite_ game to eat them ... even though I grow my own native produce!! I'll try plants once, but I'm scared of grubs ... go figure :)