Things that should stay off your menu!
Next time you see something excitingly exotic in your menu card in a foreign restaurant or even in your own country, take a moment to think where it came from.
If it is true that ‘you are what you eat’, do you want to be some endangered species who is being exploited illegally and relentlessly and also has habitat destruction issues and natural predators to cope with?
We are at the top of the food chain and we are here for a reason. So let us apply that reason now. We thought of sustainable farming, species conservation, protective laws and rules. Inspite of all this millions of sharks, tigers, sea turtles, sea horses, rhinoceroses, sturgeons and many more animals are caught and killed each year for their eggs, meat, skin, body part, shells, bones, claws, teeth, horns etcetera.
Shark fin soup- It has no special taste, other than adding a cartilaginous structure to your soup and yet live sharks are caught and have their fin sawed off their backs and tossed back into the sea to bleed out and sink to their deaths. Sharks are indispensable to the marine ecosystem but at this rate they will vanish by the turn of the century, as finning and over-fishing is pushing them over the edge of extinction.
Tiger, rhinoceros and sea horse body parts – horns, reproductive organs, teeth, bones and even claws of these animals are used in illegal and traditional Chinese medicine that claims to remedy a number of problems ranging from sexual impotence to broken bones, asthma, incontinence etcetera. These claims have never been proven scientifically. As for curing impotence, rhino horns (essentially hair = keratin in our hair) and tiger’s reproductive organs, irritate the urethra and bring about a temporary cure but in the long run, it only damages the organ permanently, so think about it.
Sea turtles – they are caught, killed and sold for their skin (boots and bags), shells (combs and accessories), eggs and meat (food). These beautiful and graceful marine animals are under dire threat and for what? Go get a can of mock turtle meat and I bet you won’t be able to tell the difference! As for the bags, boots, combs and accessories; isn’t normal leather good enough for us? Do you really can’t do without a comb carved out of a sea turtle or tortoise shell or ivory (Elephant’steeth). Think of the trial of blood that follows it and maybe you’ll change your mind.
Sturgeons- due to the ever increasing demand for caviar, sturgeon fishing has given way to illegal hunting and smuggling of the eggs. 27 species of sturgeon are listed endangered by the CITES. Premium and tax on the sale of these eggs have landed them on the black market too. So if you think you are really affluent… pay those extra bucks and buy the certified and legally sold caviar. Going to the black market of illegal animal products really doesn’t spell out ‘high class’, it just implies lack of awareness and moral irresponsibility.
So next time you are out on a vacation to some place exotic or even dining in a fine restaurant, skip the shark fin soup and the turtle meat. Don’t buy duty free shark fins or shells or tiger and rhinoceros horns. Report the sale of such goods if you can to the local police. Things will not change in a day but at least you can make a start and make your contribution. For more information visit http://www.cites.org - the official website of CITES (Convention on International trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).