I wanna try a whale burger

Michael Evans discusses being at the top of the food chain.

Sitting atop the food chain is a hand-wringing place to be.

Oh, the daily angst of deciding which fellow beast from the animal kingdom should be slaughtered to ensure my survival.

Excuse my existential dilemma as I wipe the pork fat from my lips and devour a chicken leg before tossing the bone to the pooch at my feet. Lucky hound – how did he get to be domesticated rather than filleted anyway? Best not take him on holiday to Asia.

Funny how we humans make the rules about what we can – and can’t – eat.

Pigs, yes. Cows, yes. Dogs, no. Horse, no. Whale, no way.

But why not? Why shouldn’t I be able to eat dog, horse and, heaven forbid, whale?

Sound the alarm bells, set the greenies loose on my door and force-feed me grain to turn my liver into foie gras: I wanna try a whale burger.

I’m with him. I want to give it a shot. I haven’t eaten dog, but I have eaten horse, amongst other things.

Like any coast-hugging Sydneysider, I love gazing out to sea and catching a glimpse of a majestic breaching whale. But I also love a trip to the country and seeing cattle and sheep grazing.

Yes, I am uneasy at the sight of blood-stained water on TV when those Japanese boats start pinging harpoons into whales’ backs. But I am equally appalled at footage of how we slaughter cows, pigs and chickens for human consumption.

We’ve so removed any notion of animal slaughter from our meat consumption that it’s little wonder kids answer the question of where sausages come from with a deadpan: ”the supermarket”.

Culturally, we select which animals are fit for slaughter and consumption and which are not.

Every time I go hunting and post pictures, some wailing pinko goes spare at the “murder” of animals and asks why I don’t get my meat from the supermarket. My answer is that I prefer my meat fresh, not gasified…and if you don’t believe me go look it up.

Many Asians eat dog, a fact that disturbs a good number of us. Many of us aren’t keen on eating Skippy despite plenty of good reasons.

The recent European horsemeat scandal sparked outrage that quality beef was being substituted with meat straight from pony riding school. But why shouldn’t we eat horse? It’s standard fare throughout parts of Asia, Europe and South America: recipes for traditional Veronese horsemeat stew or Parisian pot-au-feu de cheval are easy to find online.

Is it because in Australia we’d rather see a 5 foot tall jockey thumping the nag’s hide with a strap to make that noble beast run faster?

Wikipedia reckons that in 732 AD, Pope Gregory III began a concerted effort to stop the ritual consumption of horsemeat as it was a common pagan practice.

Australia is, in fact, one of the world’s largest horsemeat exporters. We just don’t eat it here.

If there is a legitimate demand, why shouldn’t a regulated industry be allowed to meet that demand? Imagine the marketing opportunities of a Black Caviar burger!

Why do we feed dogs horse meat?

I know, I’ll be accused of wanting to dine on dolphin dumplings and wear baby seal fur coats. And of having a heart as cold as a John Dory’s privates.

But our choices appear culturally contrived. Historically, the Japanese and Icelanders have enjoyed a bit of whale blubber with their tea.

We as Australians find this troubling. (They probably don’t think much of us eating Vegemite.)

One argument that excites anti-whalers is that the mammals are endangered. It’s true 100 years ago we nearly fished them into extinction.

Today it’s estimated about seven of the 13 species of great whale, including the blue whale and the bowhead, are endangered. But some fin and Bryde’s whales and minke whales are abundant. Not that it’s as easy or accurate to count whales in the ocean as it is sheep in a paddock. A few years ago, one Japanese bureaucrat reportedly labelled minkes the cockroaches of the sea.

I’m not talking about allowing hunting of endangered species. Iceland, Norway and Japan have argued they want to hunt only abundant species of whales. Scepticism is appropriate – but many controversial industries operate in a regulated environment.

But if you stop whaling and numbers return to a healthy level, how do you then argue they should not be farmed when they are once again frolicking in abundant numbers?

Should we not farm whales simply because they are magnificent mammals? Are we letting emotion guide us?

Yes we should farm them. Greenpeace’s own numbers show that some species of whale are abundant.

  • Michael

    Japanese think lambs are cute and adorable. They don’t understand the kiwi roast lamb. And having helped with a farm kill and butchering as a kid I’m happy to eat meat.

    • Kopua Cowboy

      They are also horrified at the thought of killing deer, deer being sacred to Shinto, I believe. Om nom venison :)

  • Polish Pride

    Another slant is why do w need to eat any meat at all. There are an ever increasing number of vege meat products out there that could do away with the need to slaughter animals at all. Many of them are getting so good you couldn’t even tell the difference.

    • Kendall

      Seriously?? Hand in your man card!
      On another note remember meat was vital for us to evolve as humans. The vego’s lost that Darwinian game.

    • http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/ Whaleoil

      Bullshit, I bet I could tell the difference. If I want to eat vegetables I will do it vicariously through the animal I just killed.

    • LabTested

      … because slaughtering Broccoli is not as much fun as this

      • Polish Pride

        try doing it with a samurai sword.

    • Bunswalla

      PD I bet you a thousand pounds to a knob of goat poo you could not serve up two samples for me: one being seasoned and grilled rump steak, and the other being whatever appalling substitute you care to concoct and for me not to be able to tell which is which.

      Please stop spouting complete rubbish, it’s not remotely funny.

    • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

      That isn’t true. You need to look at iron absorption as well as iron content. The capacity of the body to absorb iron from red meat, compared with even white meat, let alone vegetables is breath taking. The vegetarians are too moved by the idea of never having to kill something to be open about this area of nutrition. Any woman who is pregnant and a vegetarian is doing her baby a monstrous disservice. More unintended consequences from the tendentious loons.

  • roxo

    When I was in Japan last time (my wife is Japanese) I went out of my way to eat whale sushi. The in-laws werent fussed but I had a couple of bits. And I will again – I liked it as did our kids. Dont see a problem – if you respect it then show it by using it same as you would with any meat you would find here.

  • Col

    I don’t think we need to protect the sheep as at this stage there is a few million running around out there, as for whales if the population is up and can do with a little killing ok.
    We really should be exporting possum meat, we have fucking millions and millions of these little critters!!!!

    • Bad__Cat

      That might upset the Aussies – I saw a TV program where their hero rescued one caught in a drainpipe.

  • Mediaan
  • Mediaan

    Hitler was a vegetarian.

  • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

    Come to China and try the food. I’ve practically eaten everything on four legs. It is the Koreans who regularly eat dog. I had to travel to the countryside to try it. All of the recently slaughtered and skinned dogs were up on the rack for me to see as I entered the restaurant and all of the Chinese were bashing the tables and slugging beijo in a vain attempt to freak me out. I am not easily perturbed however…
    I also ate bullfrog and snake. In China, you can spit the bones out on the table. This is necessary because they eat a lot of fish. The fish is mostly from lakes and they are farmed with fertility drugs and synthetic steroids to build up their size. As anyone who has tried a mud-flounder will tell you, fresh water fish have a lot of bones. I can imagine what would happen if they tried to serve fresh water fish like that in NZ…

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