Eating chicken vs eating dolphin

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 May, 2010, 12:00am

I am writing in response to the article 'Food for thought' (Young Post, March 22). It mentions the dolphin-killing practice in Taiji, Japan. The writer raised questions about eating dolphin meat but did not explain why eating it is wrong.

It has been a tradition for fishermen in Taiji to hunt dolphins and sell their meat to Japanese consumers. They don't really kill that many each year. And if they do not kill dolphins for sale, their economy will suffer.

I have two questions:

First, what is the difference between eating chicken meat and eating dolphin meat?

Second, when traditional cultural practices such as dolphin hunting clash with social values like environmental protection, how should that be tackled?

Wilson Wong Lap-ming

From the Editor

Thank you for your e-mail, Wilson, part of that issue is tackled on the Op-ed page today. As the world becomes more globalised it is inevitable that there will be clashes of culture. It poses a big problem, as animal lovers feel that they should protect animals - across the globe, while culturalists feel it is their right to do what they like within their own countries.

In an ideal world, no animals would be abused, or, indeed, even eaten. But the world we live in is far from ideal. In an ideal world it would be down to personal beliefs, but in a real world one people's personal beliefs can clash quite lethally with others'.

To answer your question about the difference between eating dolphin and chicken: Many dolphins are apex predators. Chickens, on the other hand, are prey. Because dolphins are at this point in the food chain, they do not produce many young during their lifetime and run the risk of becoming endangered - although they clearly are not. From a purely health point of view, eating marine predators is a bad idea. As we already know, fish that eat fish accumulate their poisons in their own meat. And it is the same with dolphins.

Susan, Editor