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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cultural Animal Commodities

Posted by Patrick Alan Coleman on Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 1:15 PM

The New York Times reports on the uproar over a Citibank promotion offering a 15% discount at a Singapore restaurant serving shark's fin soup. The story prompts The Huffingtom Post's "abolitionist vegan" Tim Terhaar to ask the following:

Is US treatment of chickens substantively different than Chinese treatment of sharks? Both practices are conducted in order to produce food. Neither food product is essential to a healthful human diet. In fact, consuming chicken or shark is not necessary in any way. In the case of chicken, it is relatively cheap and convenient. In the case of shark, it is a luxury good — a status symbol. In both cases, people buy a product which they know is the flesh of an animal which was, for all intents and purposes, tortured.

Are well-meaning omnivores just hypocritical assholes? Should we make a place in this world for traditional foods, no matter how "barbaric"? Discuss.

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