[Warning: Disturbing Images]
Pig Organ Soup. Many of us tend to steer clear of this dish, be it dislike of its taste or simply not wanting to ingest pig innards. Be that as it may, we have become normalised to these innards and we all know of that one friend (at least)/family member who enjoys the delicacy. So since this doesn’t weird you out, maybe the ones below will.
Africa: Bushmeat, which is any wild meat from mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds. For instance, porcupines, monkeys, gorillas, rats and bats. Africans consume the meat raw (which is unsafe), boiled with soup, barbequed and other cooking methods.
Australia: Witchetty grubs – raw or cooked, or what we understand as the larvae of a large grey moth, is enjoyed by the Australian Indigenous Aborigines for over thousands of years. Scientists who were researching the grub described the cooked version as a “combination of scrambled eggs and probably a chocolate-like infusion”.
(right picture, via ye-travels)
Mongolia: Marmot, or what the locals call boodog, is a large squirrel-like mammal which the locals prepare by stuffing the carcass with hot stones and then blowtorched. A web source described the rodent’s taste as ‘beefy’.
Peru: Cuy, or what you might know as guinea pig. Unlike in the West and even in Singapore, Peruvians have never seen the mammal as pets and it has been staple in the Peru’s Andean diet for 5,000 years. The rodent is traditionally fried or grilled and eaten with your hands like a drumstick. The taste is said to be a crossover between rabbit and chicken, with a bonus of crispy skin.
(right picture, via Palau Dive Adventures)
Palau: Fruit bat soup is cooked by putting a whole washed bat (yes, with the fur on. Yes, bats, have fur) into boiling water with other ingredients and spices. Some like it, some hate it, some likened the meat to chicken while others can’t seem to find the words for it. In Seychelles, they have a similar dish known as fruit bat curry.
United Kingdom: Black pudding, animal blood in the form of a sausage, is as old as the civilised world and a British delicacy. It is also eaten by other cultures, for instance, French ‘boudin noir’ and Spanish ‘morcilla’.
These are just some examples. However, did you realise some meats stood out more than others? Why did certain protein sources invoke disgust? Why did you balk at some of the pictures? Why did the thought of eating guinea pigs and drinking fruit bat soup make us queasy while on the other hand, steak and pork is perfectly normal to consume? The answer is carnism.
Carnism is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals. This system distorts our thinking such that our natural empathy for the animals we consume is blocked, therefore we do not feel that our values are compromised nor that what we are doing is unethical. This is done through several defense mechanisms (a must-have for any oppressive system), such as denial, justification and cognitive distortions:
How is denial used as a carnist defense mechanism? We deny that there is a problem because the sight of trillions of farmed animals being slaughtered in an efficient manner is kept out of our view. The perfect example of out of sight, out of mind.
How is justification used as a carnist defense mechanism? We believe in the necessity of eating meat, dairy and eggs even though they have been debunked. This is due to marketing and holding on to age-old beliefs. Many studies have shown that meat is in fact, not necessary in one’s diet, nor is milk actually essential.
How is cognitive distortion used as a carnist defense mechanism? This is done through distorting our perception of meat, eggs and dairy. For instance, perceiving pigs as for eating and dogs as friends. This compartmentalisation results in differing feelings and behavior towards the animal.
What we’re trying to say is this. To us, consuming beloved furry guinea pigs is a giant no-no. To Westerners, eating pig innards may be seen as nasty. To dog lovers worldwide, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival is an abomination. But really, these are all just a warped approach towards our perception of meat-eating. The idea of rejecting one and accepting the other is all thanks to this carnist system.
Maybe you’re okay with that. But if the idea of being somewhat hypocritical bothers you, what can you do about it? Simple: go meatless. Coincidentally, today’s Independence From Meat Day – a perfect excuse to go meat-free.
By Violet Koh