This NYC burger was named recently number one in the world. Maybe it is, maybe it ain’t.
What’s my problem? They can’t tell us what’s in it. I get it, it’s a chef’s secret, top ingredients, blah blah blah.
I’ve been down the vegan/vegetarian road before and lately, I am back to all inclusive diet with mindful choices. Though I was very passionate about my vegetarianism, I learned a thing or two over time that didn’t jive with me about this diet choice. Whenever my meat eating friends attacked me for yet another argument over what is evolutionarily right to eat and what is ethical to eat, one thing always made me stutter: the many ingredients of vegetarian food.
You must be truly conscious and careful not to make this mistake if you are vegetarian or vegan. Some vegetarian foods have more additives and non-food items than just a good ol’ piece of steak. Would I have been comfortable still to claim that vegetarianism is healthier? I could not. When my Tofurky had a bunch of ingredients I can’t pronounce, I lost that debate.
Curiously, when I speak to my friends from across the world, in English speaking countries like Canada, the U.S., England and Australia, they tend to be the only countries that speak of having to be conscious about what you’re eating. For my European friends, however, it’s all about the enjoyment of the taste. No one is really concerned about consumption of dairy products or meat. In fact, dairy, meat and carbs are their staple foods. A plate of meat is usually their appetizer, and cheese and bread for after dinner. I was gluten intolerant when I lived in Canada but when I visited France, I ate their delicious jambon au sandwich daily without any consequences.
North American culture is the only one that is truly concerned with what people should be eating. And they should. With ingredients longer and more scientific than a container of bleach, we should be careful what is in the food. Where animals are killed for mass consumption without appreciation of their taste or quality, perhaps vegetarianism is the way to make a statement in this part of the world. The most astonishing thing for me is that not all the world’s food industry is the same. In many parts of the world, whether in Europe or Asia, people are still going to their markets daily where they buy bread, cheese or meat from their neighbours who make those things—and they can still trust their products.
Here in Bali, someone walking a huge pig on a leash by the side of the road for tonight’s Babi Guling (local pork dish) or carrying a couple of chickens upside down on a scooter is a common sight. They are being killed for that night’s dinner, exactly the amount the family needs. And they kill by their own hands in their home.
The very fact that I question this number one burger in the world makes me sad that it has come to this. While other parts of the world are going about discussing just how good their milk and salt-cured meat are, we must constantly question where it came from, how it was made and what is in it with a critical eye. Once again, another reminder that perhaps going vegan is not enough. The problem is much much deeper than that.
Author: Tomomi Kojima
Editor: Travis May