As everyone knows, whole swathes of the modern diet are prepared in a variety of unspeakable ways. Sausages containing sawdust, nuggets made with chicken feet - the unappetising rumours are too numerous to list here. We're aware of these things, and yet make considerable effort to avoid thinking too carefully about them when stuffing our faces.
Food with questionable ingredients is one thing, but there are dishes that are made in such terrible ways that you will forever find it impossible to disassociate the food with horror once you have heard what we put some of our dinners through. Here’s a few tasty treats that you won’t be able to eat ever again after finishing this article.
Lobster is delicious. One of life’s great joys, bursting with sweet and salty buttery meat that can rival anything that the land has to offer. Despite the enormous affection that the world has for lobster meat, it cannot be said that we afford the animal itself the same respect. 20 million are eaten every year around the world, and are usually prepared by being thrown into a boiling pot, or sliced down the middle, all whilst still living.
We now know that lobsters and crabs have extremely complex nervous systems, and are capable of feeling a great deal of pain and stress. They may be tasty, but the way we cook them is unappetising to say the least.
As a rule, people don’t like sharks. Thanks to “Jaws”, the majority of the world’s population live in terror of being eaten alive with every trip into the ocean. The reality is that between five and ten people are killed by sharks every year. We kill 100 million of them.
There is one major cause for this abject and unsustainable slaughter - the demand for shark fin soup. While the novelty of the idea may be appealing to some, the practise is both cruel and extremely damaging to the environment. Sharks are often captured and their fins removed at sea, with the still living sharks thrown back into the ocean, where they either drown or are eaten alive by the sea’s other residents. No soup justifies that.
More tender and succulent than regular beef, veal has been a favourite on American and European tables for many centuries. But however good it tastes, there’s no escaping its unethical origins.
After birth, male dairy calves are often punished for their lack of udders by being consigned to a veal crate. The crates allow for minimal movement and zero sunlight, meaning that the young cows spend the duration of their short lives in the dark, unable even to turn around. Veal crates are banned in many areas, including the UK and some states in America, but the practise is still prevalent - bad news for young male cows everywhere.
Literally translated as “fatty liver”, you could be forgiven for thinking that foie gras is just an exceptionally decadent type of pate. The reality is far more stomach churning. To create the dish, geese are force-fed fat enriched corn using long metal poles, until their livers swell to more than four times their normal size. The animals are then slaughtered and the livers prepared for plating.
In order to prevent the geese struggling during the process, the birds are placed in small wooden boxes with a hole for feeding. Foie Gras may be delicious, but it is definitely not a practise for the squeamish.
As a species, we seem pretty adept at finding new and inventive ways of being cruel to our food. While some unethical practises, like intensive farming, can be improved upon, the nature of some of these dishes means that they are innately horrible, however we dress them up. Perhaps, with hindsight, it’s best to avoid them altogether and order something that may be less tasty, but won’t eat at your conscience.