Whale Meat, Like Cow but Controversial

I am currently on a sort of hiatus from travel here in London, as such I have a lot of time to sit with my feet up watching the telly. One of the things which has struck me from my pillowy vantage point, is the amount of advertising offering to let me help them help the world. This has made me question some of my beliefs, and reflect on some of the arguments/discussions I have had in the past.

I am not one to fold to convention, often to my detriment. I believe and embrace individual thinking, I admire those who possess it, and admonish the lack thereof in those too weak willed to think for themselves.

The advertising tells me that for a mere pittance, I can buy blankets for kids in this country, save the Pandas in that country, buy a toilet for this village, and educate a child in that village. There are so many causes in the world, how do you pick one? Why do you pick one? Why not pick them all and give everything you have to save those who cannot save themselves? The simple answer is, because we want our lives to be worthwhile, and to do that you cannot try to save everything and everyone from themselves.

One of the causes which sticks, and which I will attempt to discuss here, is saving the whales, it sticks because I have had a few discussions/arguments in the past with people who say things like “It’s terrible what the Japanese do to those poor whales”, To which I usually respond “How is that hamburger going down”.

I love whales, they are big beautiful creatures, almost mythical in their scale and scarcity, but the thing that irks me about the whale issue, is how blindly people follow it. Like I said, I love a good whale as much as the next guy, but if you’re going to spend your time and money trying to save one creature, why not save the humans? If you believe that animals are just as worthwhile to save as humans, then why is the whale so much more worth saving than say, the cow?

OK, you have made your choice, you had to choose at least one cause, and you want to save the whales, how very noble, just forget about the chickens and cows for now, forget about the pigs and lambs. You are the courageous carrier of the whale torch, you have the most sympathy for the “special” animals, the whales and pandas of the world, they are your cause. Perhaps though, you might stop and ask yourself, why is whale meat sacrosanct but other animals are fair game?

Whale Meat, like Cow but Controversial

Don’t get me wrong, I hate the idea of any animal having to die for my satisfaction, but I hate the idea of not eating bacon, hamburgers and roast chicken even more. As you may have figured out I am not a vegetarian. I was a vegetarian for two years, because I did not like the idea of animals dying, but then I realized that I really like the taste of meat, and that my mini crusade was not affecting anyone but me. Now I am a carnivore of the first degree, the way nature intended it.

Why No Whale Meat?

So the question is, what makes whale meat a no go, when steak is fine? This of course does not apply to vegetarians, unless you partake in dairy products, in which case you are part of the reason calves are removed from their mothers, so no moral high ground there. I have had a multitude of conversations where to disagree with consuming the flesh of these giant mammals instantly places one in the heartless category, yet not one conversation has shown me why one is OK to eat, but another is not.

The most common excuse for rallying against whale meat for consumption, is that whales are in shorter supply than cows, to which I would argue,

“The cow doesn’t give a shit how prolific its species is, it still sucks to be eaten”.

This argument only works if cows and whales actually gave a damn how well their species was doing, and as far as I am aware, they don’t.

Or

That you don’t actually care about the whales, but about how the loss of whales will affect your life, which is fine, as long as you stop wearing T-Shirts and using bumper stickers with smiling whale cartoons and taglines of “Whales are our friends”. Perhaps you could make up your own logo with the more honest slogan “Don’t kill whales ’cause your going to fuck up the food chain and deny me some great photo opportunities”.

The reason most people cry out to the media for saving whales, is some variation on the thought:

“They are big beautiful creatures with feelings, that are going to go extinct if we don’t help them”

Much like a cow really, except we bred the shit out of cows ’cause they taste so good. In reality, it has nothing to do with the whale itself, as I have said, the whale doesn’t care whether it goes extinct or not, it has no more or less desire than the cow to die.

Whale Meat, Like Cow

Lots of animals are eventually going to become extinct, including one day probably us. 99.9% of all creatures that have ever lived have gone extinct. It is the way of the world, it is evolution at its finest. If you profess to truly care about the whales pain and death, enough to be against whaling, then you have no option but to be vegan and feel the same way about every other animal, if this is not the case, well then you are a hypocritical specie-st.

I am not one to prescribe wholesale destruction of the planet, but I do think we should question our motives when deciding which life is more precious, which animal deserves our attention and which does not. It irks me when people blubber (pun intended) over whale meat while scoffing down a dead cow. It is hypocrisy at its finest, self deluded heroism made unquestionable by bleeding hearts unable to think for themselves.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to save the whales, but if you have such a desire, perhaps you might spare a second of your time, step away from the tie dying station, and give a thought to the poor old cow moseying on up to your dinner plate. Think about why you want to save one creature but barely think twice about eating another. What does it say about a person that they would cry and demonstrate about the life of a whale, without ever truly asking themselves why they actually give a damn.

If your gonna save the whale, save the cow too, if not, stop being so goddam whiny and eat your whale burger.

If you think I am wrong, let me know, if you think I am right, definitely let me know, but if you are going to say anything, at least justify it with a sound argument.

15 Comments
  • David
    Posted at 17:55h, 01 February Reply

    Farming vs non-farming: whales fall in the same category than lions, elephants, tigers, rhinos, pandas, gorillas, uran-utans, and tunas, but for the last one, some are trying to bread them but some others are making too much money with the last wild ones and finally, believe me, cows won’t go extinct for some times…

    I don’t want to be part of the last generation to see a living whales…or pandas or…
    I’m not veg but i like diversity more than fields of corn and cows and…corn…

    I’m well with you when you compare killing one or the other is no better…but we have to think beyond this action and foresee in the future what we want for our children?

    Voilà pour mes arguments, tout est une question de point de vue, et vive les baleines…vivantes!
    😉 David

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 18:25h, 01 February Reply

      Hi, Thanks for commenting David, everything you say is true, it will be a shame when the big animals disappear, But it will be a shame for us humans, not for the whales. I think the thing that bugs me is not people wanting to keep the whales around, but people who desire their survival without acknowledging the real reasons, which you have, so kudos to you 🙂

      I love nature and its denizens, but aside from the rarity of these creatures, they are no more sacred to me than a cow, which I happily and regularly wolf down.

  • holly chamberlain
    Posted at 23:51h, 01 February Reply

    love this argument… or shall we call it ‘conversation’ since nobody is angry yet! haha!
    i liken this to the human life debate. if we value life, do we value it in all of its forms? unborn, diseased, crippled, disabled, aged… some cannot survive on their own (i.e. unborn child) and we have set that as the criteria for ‘life’ yet we do not apply the same standard in all areas. i’m not suggesting we kill off the kids with cerebral palsy or the grandpa’s with dementia… i just wonder why we prefer them to babies? maybe old folks are the whales while unborn babies are the cows. “meh, there will always be another one.” i guess it makes sense that we allow ourselves to prioritize the value of human life as well as well as animal life.

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 08:24h, 02 February Reply

      Hi Holly, Thanks for commenting. I gotta say I’m pro choice all the way, in most things in life actually. With regards to whales, babies or old people, if you wanna eat them, go for it (whales), if you wanna die, that’s your choice (serious illness and such), and if you don’t want a baby, well I think the life of the fully formed lived in human (the mother) is more important than the bag of cells completely oblivious to its existence.

      It can seem like a harsh old world out there, but mostly because we judge others on our own standards, me included, it’s a hard thing not to do.

  • holly chamberlain
    Posted at 23:53h, 01 February Reply

    i hope mason ‘chooses life’ when i am old and decrepit! hahahaha i’ll have to start reminding him of my single mother sacrifices more frequently. 🙂 poor kid!

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 08:25h, 02 February Reply

      I’m sure he won’t be putting you down any time soon 🙂

  • mum
    Posted at 01:30h, 02 February Reply

    first I travelled a journey with my children, now my children ‘take’ me on their journey, how well I remember this little son of mine at 6 years old desperately trying to avoid walking on ants (this in Africa too)and my trepidation at having to tell him those beautiful cows in the fields were where the meat bought in the supermarket came from, his sadness !! and now I read how his feelings have grown, what a special time it has been to have you with me for these 2 months and share your thoughts and travels while you write them, a gift to treasure, love you lots Tykes xx

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 08:27h, 02 February Reply

      Hey mum, if ants tasted better, I think they would fear me as much as whales and cows :). It has been great to see you guys too. Love you.

  • Jill Miller
    Posted at 09:35h, 02 February Reply

    I love this post Tyrone on some many levels. I love how you have taken a serious topic and thrown your strong views in with some humour. I also loved how you put your views out there, not afraid of the comments you may receive (or may not receive if people are not open to question their own beliefs).. I am with you on this one, you can’t just save the whales and still eat your beef burger. Its interesting since I have been travelling, in particular when in India and Sri Lanka I learnt how good vegetarian foods is. Now I am 90% veg and still eat meat a couple times a week, where before I would eat steak 5 times a week and other meets 3-4 times a week. Its only since I realised how to cook good vegetarian food I have questioned my beliefs on killing animals for my desire. I’m still in two minds as we were hunters and gatheres from the start.

    • Tyrhone
      Posted at 13:28h, 02 February Reply

      Hi Jill, thanks for the lovely comment, and for getting the point of the post. Good on you for moving towards the vego route. I sometimes wish I had more will power so that I could go back to it, but like I said I do love meat, and there is no point doing something if your just going to chastise yourself for it, so I embrace it wholeheartedly. Still, when I drive past those trucks full of cows on the road, I can’t help but feel a pang of guilt.

      Last night I was thinking about the way people protest the Japanese whaling ships and India came to mind. Despite large parts of the country praising cows as holy animals, when was the last time you heard about Indians protesting at an abattoir? We seem incapable of letting people live by their own moral codes without pushing our personal agendas.

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Laura
    Posted at 14:31h, 21 December Reply

    Hi Tyrhone, I know you wrote this a while ago, but I’ve been reading Sarahs blog and clicked on this link, since as a marine biologist this is right up my street. Of course, this means I’ve written a massive reply… sorry about that!

    It’s just, there is so much wrong with this argument I don’t know where to start!

    Firstly, the comparison between eating whale meat and beef burgers is hugely invalid. While cows (and any other farmed animal) may not have the happiest lives in the world, they are generally killed humanely. Numerous rules and regulations exist to ensure that animal welfare in agriculture is a top priority. Slaughter methods are constantly examined and re-evaluated to see where improvements can be made.

    The current methods for killing whales, on the other hand, are horrifically cruel. I won’t go into too much detail here – if you are interested you only have to google ‘Tahji’ or watch ‘The Cove’. I challenge anyone to watch clips of modern whale drives and believe that the animals die in a humane manner.

    For me, and most people I know who have opinions on animal welfare, this is the number one reason that whale meat is a no no. Me, I am vegetarian. When I was young I wanted to save the poor little animals from the horrible factory farms. Now, I believe you can make a bigger contribution to animal welfare by eating high quality meat from your local butcher – supporting them instead of supermarket chains selling low welfare meat. I’ve even tried to go back to eating meat – but I just don’t want to. It freaks me out, and I just feel too guilty. I’m fine with that. I don’t care what animals other people eat; cows, chickens, bunnies, horses, dogs or cats – as long as they are humanely treated throughout their life and death.

    Your second argument, that whales don’t care if they become extinct… well, I just struggle to see the point you’re making here. The rainforest doesn’t care if we knock it down, the ocean doesn’t care if we pollute it to hell, yet it is generally accepted that further degradation of the planet should be prevented. Human beings ultimately dictate the future of every living being on this planet (barring some cataclysmic even like a supervolcano or asteroid), and as such is it not our responsibility to protect and preserve the land that we have stewardship over? Whale populations are so incredibly difficult to monitor, that any estimate of a ‘sustainable’ kill quota is invariably unsubstantiated. Once these whales are gone, nothing is going to bring them back.

    Yep, I do care about how the loss of whales will affect my life – the same way I care about how the loss of tigers, polar bears, and rainforests. One day, I want to see these animals. I want my grandchildren to have the opportunity to see them. What’s wrong with that?

    “If you profess to truly care about the whales pain and death, enough to be against whaling, then you have no option but to be vegan and feel the same way about every other animal, if this is not the case, well then you are a hypocritical specie-st.”

    Again, there is a huge difference in eating a high welfare chunk of cow, than a whale that has been slowly and painfully killed.

    A third argument, which you haven’t mentioned yet but I will, is that… nobody wants whale meat! It’s incredibly unhealthy with stupendously high levels to toxic mercury, and the Japanese government in particular just can’t shift it! Whales and dolphins are being fed to schoolchildren and prisoners – or they were, until worried parents called for it to be banned from school lunches. The Icelandic whaling trade is solely supported by tourism – in general, locals just aren’t interested. I’m opposed to any type of food production that results in mountains of waste that nobody can use.

    Again, sorry about the huge rant, I just couldn’t resist pitching in!

    • booth_1@hotmail.com
      Posted at 22:18h, 17 January Reply

      Hi laura, although you have an obvious right to an opinion I am afraid I do not agree with it. For one, I could show you ten slaughter and animal welfare videos to each of your whale videos which show cows do not have it better than whales.
      Secondly you are putting a spiritual worth to whales yet suggesting that that worth does not exist for cows, and the only reason for that is because there are more cows so it won’t affect us to kill them.
      Lastly, if there was no call for whale meat, there would be no whale hunting, just like if no one liked hamburgers we wouldn’t slaughter cows in the millions.
      A whale is a cow is a chicken, if it is ok to eat one, why not the other?

      You should have a read of Jims comment below for a more statistical view of things.
      And pitching in is welcomed, that’s how debates happen. 🙂
      booth_1@hotmail.com recently posted…What would eighty year old you do?My Profile

  • Kay
    Posted at 23:05h, 06 January Reply

    I agree. I feel no need to justify that. You have done it so well.

  • Jim Anzac
    Posted at 20:33h, 17 January Reply

    I appreciate the firm opinions, Laura, but your science is wobbly. First, whale death (time to cessation of all movement) after harpooning with explosive tips is well documented by peer reviewed publications. Contrary to what you say, it is routinely rapid. Even that is biased against whale culling, as cessation of movement is in all likelihood well after insensate status, as is true in cattle, for example.

    Second, no credible scientist will put a name to the idea that minke whale population estimates are just impossible: worse, even the most conservative estimates deem the current whale quotas admirably sustainable. For example, one thousand taken from a population of above 600 000 in the Southern Ocean.

    Indigenes across the globe have chased, speared and eaten whales since boats were first made. When did we moderns get to say they are all wrong?

    Finally, the heavy metals in the flesh argument fell over with the first round of actual, representative sampling. They are baleen, remember?

    No, the blogger was right in his assessment – folk object to minke whale slaughter principally because they are big, odd mammals with a genuine presence, and plenty of A list friends. Hey, the Hindi think that of cows………

    • booth_1@hotmail.com
      Posted at 22:07h, 17 January Reply

      Holy shit! Actual science to back up an argument as opposed to the usual flurry of words which in reality are little more than “but whales are our friends”. I applaude your efforts and comments, and not just because we are in agreement (although it helps).
      As much as I accept Lauras right to an opinion, it is fraught with non-sensical contradictions and affirmations of my original argument. There is no good case for whales over cows. Bravo Jim.
      booth_1@hotmail.com recently posted…What would eighty year old you do?My Profile

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