June 23, 2006

Whaling and the ethics of meat

The debate on Whaling recently has interested me in terms of the ethics of eating meat – a subject I am fairly passionate about.

You see, there is a great deal of unease for many people, and I include myself here, about the idea of eating whale meat. However, if I hold true to my statements on meat–eating then I should have no problem with chewing a hunk of blue whale, right?

Well, no actually – and I am not sure why.

Let's take the first comment – many whales are endangered species and so to fish for them would be threatening their very existence. Ok, I am fine with this and am happy to say no to eating whale in this instance, and would apply the same rule to any animal or plant – if it's endangered then it's a no–no. Cod is a good example of something I look to avoid as the fish stocks have taken a hammering.

However, this lead me to my next thought, if it is not endangered, is it then ok? If the whale population is big enough to sustainably fish then by my reckoning we should be all enjoying juicy whale steaks.

Hmmmm. Not so easy now – I don't know if it is my western tastes imposing themselves here but I still feel uncomfortable about this. Perhaps I expose myself as a horrendous hypocrite here. Is it because I am unprepared to eat something widely recognised as a beautiful and intelligent creature? Well, pigs are pretty smart and I eat those. Pheasants and Deer are beautiful (pretty dumb though…) and I eat those. So why am I reticent about eating whale, or for that matter dolphin.

Is there a distinction between animals farmed and those in the wild that I feel is a problem – well, I'll eat wild boar, fish, pigeon and other game – so that's not it.

Perhaps this is all cultural and if I sat in a Japanese restaurant and was presented with a hunk 'o' Minki I would I would shrug and tuck in.

I just don't know as yet. If I am to stick to the principles discussed in previous posts then by all rights I will pick up the knife and fork and go for it. I am just not sure I am quite ready to take that challenge.

(no doubt, the whales aren't lining up to test me yet either!)


- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Would "humane" methods of killing factor in your decision?

    23 Jun 2006, 11:15

  2. Would we agree on 'humane'?

    I have no problem with hunting for food as such – I eat shot pheasant, rabbit and other game. So in that respect I ought to have no issue with hunting whale.

    Whale is not something you could 'farm' in the sense of sea bass or salmon (unless you had a very big pond!) so you would have to accept methods that some might class as 'inhumane' in order to have your whale.

    I have discussed in other posts that hunting is something that needs to be sustainable and managed – the slaughter of pheasant on corporate shooting days where thousands of birds are killed and only a very small percentage eaten is pretty horrific to me. I would take the same attitude to whales, to deer and in fact to any hunted animal. We do seem to have a propensity to senseless slaughter, which is something I could never condone.

    23 Jun 2006, 11:49


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