Celebrity Chefs revel in promoting exotic meat eating.

Celebrity chefs revel in eating exotic creatures when making TV shows abroad just to raise audience figures but they should give more thought to the message they are promoting.

With the ever increasing popularity of veganism and plant based food it is surprising that most celebrity chefs continue to revel in promoting exotic meat eating and even worse, insist on sampling any creature put in front of them.

This is particularly so when let loose in a foreign land with a TV crew and a director who wants some shocking footage to make us squirm and create outrage in order to attract publicity. Many chefs appear happy to go along with the fun of sampling some living or dead exotic creature regardless of the message it might send. But is it really necessary? A local restaurant near me recently received widespread free publicity across the media for their new menu of squirrel and muntjac shot by the chef himself to guarantee freshness and added interest to the story.

People love celebrity chefs, but their behaviour towards the various exotic animals they choose to eat can influence others to follow suit. They should have more responsibility to ensure the message they might portray with their antics takes into consideration animal welfare and rights. But being predominately committed meat eaters it doesn’t appear to cross their mind.

We love to see sights that make us squirm.

This sensation seeking follows the pattern of the celebrity “get me out of here” programme syndrome and on their safaris to exotic places, their producers and directors know the viewers love to see their stars eating any animal that moves to get a reaction.

No doubt they will counter that it is all in the pursuit of understanding cultural eating habits and pushing the boundaries of gastronomic delights, but of course this could be done without the chef participating. There is no necessity to give everything, no matter how nauseating, a try but better to just pass comment on it and in these Covid times with the alleged links of disease crossovers from eating wildlife it might be a time to discontinue such practices.

Many celebrity chefs have got into trouble.

Many chefs have rightly found themselves in trouble with animal lovers over their eating habits including chef Fearnley-Whittingstall. He is not ashamed about causing controversy by boasting he has eaten giraffe, fruit bats, and squirrels  as long as the animals are killed responsibly. He thankfully draws the line at eating endangered species which is good of him.

In an episode of Ainsley Harriott’s Street Food series he is shown in a Korean wet market manhandling and being frightened by a live snake destined for the pot, brushing it off his shoulder to fall to the concrete floor. He commented that he hates live snakes but enjoys eating them.

Gordon Ramsey received what was probably welcome publicity for one of his shows when visiting Cambodia. He attempted to eat a tarantula, a practice known locally as “a-ping.” He failed to get past a piece of crunchy leg so it was a wasted exercise, but it got the reaction required. Such publicity though has made the practice an Instagram must for tourists and has caused the spiders to become increasingly rare and closer to extinction locally.

Rick Stein is also not adverse to trying out anything offered to him especially if it has a marketable cringe factor for the programme such as eating animal eyeballs.  He got into trouble in 2015 when his BBC 2 programme featured him taking part in the cruel practice of feeding coffee beans to badly treated captive civet cats in Indonesia. The poor civets “produce” Kopi Luwak coffee by eating and secreting the coffee berries and of course he had to sample it.

This insistence on sampling and supporting the unnecessary eating of exotic creatures for the camera should be past its sell by date and is overused and celebrity chefs should give more thought to the implications of what they promote. And where are all the celebrity vegan and vegetarian chefs on prime time television?

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The mystery blind box craze.

The latest pop-up animal craze in China called mystery blind-box involves the on-line buying and sending of live animals by post in sealed boxes.

The latest pop-up fad that has recently reared its ugly head in China is the mystery animal box craze also known as “blind-box” which is even causing outrage in China itself which isn’t renowned for its animal welfare outlook. The craze started when a company sold mystery boxes containing ceramic figurines, but as always unscrupulous traders got involved and incredibly decided it was not a problem to use live animals instead.

Unbeliveably, the new craze involves ordering a box on-line containing a mystery live animal inside which is then sent by post to you so that you can excitedly open it to see what type of animal you have been sent. You really couldn’t make it up, but some idiot has, and recently 160 suffering puppies and kittens were found in a courier vehicle in Chengdu province, some of which unsurprisingly had died.  Other animals involved in the craze include tortoises, reptiles and small mammals like rats.

A local animal rescue centre, the Chengdu Aizhijia centre took charge of the animals and were treating 38 of them. A well known Chinese on-line e-commerce site named Taobao apparently has been advertising these mystery boxes.  

Animal crazes keep on coming.

Throughout the last few decades there has been a constant stream of animal focused crazes whether it be mice dipped in vats of dye to make them colourful, themed animal cafes involving otters, big cats and monkeys or Neknominate involving eating live goldfish and other creatures.

Dyed mice to make them more colourful.

We have had ‘pocket pets’, the popularity of which spread by social media all around the world with the obvious consequences. Then we had a celebrity led craze for “handbag” dogs which were just traditional toy breeds, but had to be carried in a bag instead of allowing them to be normal dogs. Not satisfied with handbag dogs someone had to go further by breeding miniscule dogs and invent the “Teacup” dog which literally could fit in a tea cup.

These fads and crazes keep on coming and as always at the expense of the animals involved and I dread what comes next.

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