September 14, 2018

Food for Thought

There is a spectrum of ease/unease on which we can place any food item. Pictured above is a bunch of small fish deep-fried. Many people find the idea of eating a whole fish disturbing even though eating a whole oyster does not have the same effect. Why? Because oysters don’t look like us at all. They have no eyes and we don’t even know where their mouths are. (Swipe)

Now, many people also find the idea of eating chicken feet disturbing. Why? They don’t have eyes but their feet are eerily reminiscent of our own hands. (Swipe)

There is a popular cartoon character in Japan called Anpanman. The head of this superhero is a bread stuffed with sweet red bean paste (called “anpan” which is made up of “an,” the red bean part and “pan,” the bread). When he gets hungry, he simply tears off part of his own head and eats it. This scene is quite disturbing. (Swipe) Eating yourself goes beyond cannibalism. It would be at the very end of the spectrum of unease.

ost of us can eat beef and pork easily because we process it in such a way that it is completely removed from the original context. A piece of steak has no eyes, mouth, hands, legs, or even hair.

At the other end of this spectrum, I would say, are beans and grains. Unlike plants, they don’t even look like a lifeform. We do feel a bit sadder killing flowers because the flower parts resemble our heads and faces. Some plants actually move when you touch them, and that begins to uncomfortably remind us of ourselves. We feel sadder for trees because they are larger and their branches look like our arms, and the diameter of a tree trunk is similar to that of our torso. Some people hug trees for that reason.

If we line them all up, what we see is that the more the food resembles us, the more uncomfortable we feel about eating because we cannot help but anthropomorphize everything we see. So, if I have to reincarnate as a different lifeform, I would choose something that eerily reminds the humans of themselves

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