Eating lion meat. Would you?

seems to me that, if you're a carnivore, objecting to the consumption of lion meat is hypocritical

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By David Hammond

Earlier this week, I drove down to far south Homer Glen to visit Czimer's, a 100-year-old butcher shop specializing in game and seafood…particularly large game and seafood. Rich Czimer is a loquacious, eccentric gentleman, quite knowledgeable and committed to a business that has been in his family for a century.

Walking in, one of the first things I spotted in the freezer cabinet was lion, both as bratwurst and steak.

I posted a picture of the lion bratwurst, mentioned that I planned to buy some lion steaks, and got a lot of quizzical and sometimes angry responses on Instagram and Facebook, as well as in face-to-face conversations. People couldn't understand how this could be a good thing to do.

"These are all domestic animals here," Czimer told me, and he explained that his products have all passed state and federal inspections.

Now, truth be told, Czimer has had some trouble with the law, selling tiger meat (which is illegal) labeled as lion (which is legal). He got six months – and the further indignity of having his store torched by the Animal Liberation Front.

Lion meat is a farmed product, raised under controlled circumstances at licensed facilities, inspected by USDA, and in that sense the meat of the lion is the same as pork or beef.

Lions, however, are perceived as different than cows or pork.  That's because lions are "noble," "kings of the jungle," etc., portrayed on screen by the likable Simba and his family as well as a host of other regal beasts, including Hubert the Harris Lion and the MGM logo.

Such flattering and romanticized portrayals lead some to believe that lions are categorically different than other animals that we readily eat. Yet, they are all god's creatures, as are we. We just happen to be at the top of the food chain (thanks, mostly, to superior weaponry).

It seems to me that, if you're a carnivore, objecting to the consumption of lion meat is hypocritical. Pigs, we're told, are very intelligent and cows have beautiful eyes – maybe neither is as noble as the lion, but both deserve to live – and die for our dinner – as much as the lion does.

Pork and beef are tasty, but that culinary value is not a moral justification for slaughtering them, yet, that's all the justification most meat eaters (including me) require. So if lion is, indeed, tasty (and I have not as yet eaten the meat of this cat) why doesn't that same rationale apply? Why is it so wrong to eat lion meat, assuming it's raised in the same approved conditions as other livestock, and like those livestock, raised for no other reason than to be harvested.

Or maybe it's not a question of right or wrong, but of what one can comfortably put in one's mouth.


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David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: November 6th, 2013 6:49 AM

Some fish are carnivores. Do you avoid catfish? Shark? Shrimp and crabs, I believe, will eat pretty much anything. I'm totally with you on the need to reduce meat consumption and thus global warming, and beef is one of the biggest energy wasters in the food industry (very low yield to input). The most ecological diet is plant-based, and I try to do that...but I love a good burger. Incidentally, the lion I bought will likely be a one-time experience and is not part of any larger plan to despoil the planet (smile).

Marc Stopeck from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: November 1st, 2013 5:04 PM

David, ecologically speaking there is good reason not to eat predators, especially top predators like lions. Those 'harvested' lions were likely raised on beef which, in turn, was raised on grain which in turn was grown and harvested using petroleum based technology. As energy is transferred up the food chain 90% of it is lost at each rung. The amount of grain--and therefore the amount of petroleum--required to grow a pound of lion meat is substantially higher than what is needed to grow a pound of beef. I don't know where you stand on global warming, or the environment, but I wouldn't say that staying away from carnivore meat in order to save the planet is hypocritical.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 30th, 2013 7:33 PM

Didn't buy the lion bratwurst, Marlin, because I'd expect there's more than just lion in there. Incidentally, a startling percentage of fish sold at retail has been found to be mislabeled. I'm guessing we've all eaten a lot of "red snapper" that is not actually that fish.

Marlin Perkins Jr. from Omaha  

Posted: October 30th, 2013 3:12 PM

I have zero problem with farmed lion meat. However, I have a big problem with a butcher with a history of selling uninspected, mislabeled meat, much less intentionally skating on the wrong side of endangered species laws. At $16/lb, how confident are you that lion is the only species of kitty cat in that bratwurst?

Steak Burger from Oak Park  

Posted: October 30th, 2013 1:33 PM

Lion is good, once in a while. You're incorrect about one thing...we're at the top of the food chain thanks, entirely, to our ability to reason. Reason gives us the ability to create superior weaponry, & also the ability to track, catch, breed, & harvest the animal kingdom. It also gives us the ability to choose NOT to harvest a particular animal or to not eat a lion sausage. A link below us on the food chain are those humans who emote, rather than reason, their dismay about our food choices.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: October 30th, 2013 1:31 PM

This brings up the point that our strange fixation with beef, chicken and pork is largely unsustainable. As the world's population grows we are going to need to find ways to vary our intake of animal proteins and even reduce the amount that we consume. Not to mention that being somewhat adventuresome in a culinary sense is rewarding. Rabbit, duck and emu are quite good. even a little more adventuresome are squirrel, squab, possum and raccoon; all local and very good as well.

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