Is it okay to eat these foods?
Is there such a thing as guilt-free veal? Sure, farmers are changing the ways calves are raised by giving them more room to move around. But eating veal is still skirting the line between socially acceptable and cruel. Unlike female calves which are raised to be dairy cows for milk, male calves are taken from their mothers shortly after birth. They live in a 22’’ X 54’’ crate (that’s the size of a regular office desk) that restrains them from lying down or stretching. And that pale pink colour of the meat? The calves are fed with a milk substance lacking in iron to keep them anaemic. There are some health repercussions too. Because calves are living in unhealthy conditions, they’re susceptible to diseases thus massive doses of antibiotics are injected into their flesh to keep them alive. These calves are brought to the slaughterhouse when they’re only 14 weeks old.
We’re familiar with images of farmers thrusting metal pipes down fluffy geese. But foie gras continues to be an inescapable dish on French menus. In order to make the birds gain weight, they’re force-fed with corn mash through a tube several times a day. Eventually, their livers become ten times their natural sizes. These birds struggle during the process, and the force-feeding injures their esophagus. Sometimes, it can even lead to death. Both sexes of geese are used in foie gras production but with ducks, females are raised for meat while the males are used for foie gras.
Soft shell crab
Soft shell crabs aren’t a species but blue crabs trapped in the process of molting their hard shells. Crabs have a thinner shell after molting, and fishermen will sell them as soft shell crabs. But the controversy is this: It is believed that some farmers speed up harvesting by cutting all the crabs’ legs to increase their growing process. Hence, crabs are forced to grow quickly so that farmers can obtain their soft shells.
The eggs of the sturgeon is indeed a rich man’s food because a can of Caspian Sea Beluga Caviar will set you back at least RM3,800 for just 100g. The increasing demand of caviar is blamed for the dwindling numbers of the once-abundant sturgeon in the Caspian – the primary source of the world’s caviar. In fact, restaurants may not be able to serve caviar ten years from now due to overfishing. Fret not, alternatives are available. Eggs from fishes such as capelin, lumpfish and salmon are processed like authentic caviar. Of course, the taste of these fish roes are briny unlike the smooth, buttery flavour of Beluga caviar but both eggs still provide a ‘popping’ mouthfeel.