Visible Ethics

In an open-access study entitled “Making the Animals on the Plate Visible” published recently in the journal Food Ethics, authors Andy Lamey and Ike Sharpless examined the role the recipes of celebrity chefs play in dictating food choices and dietary ethics.

By looking at cookbooks and indexing the number of animal products used therein, the authors goai is, to have “taken a small step toward rendering the fate of food animals more visible.”

According to the researchers, “Whether they intend it or not, celebrity chefs’ food choices and public meal recommendations are ethically significant. Scrutiny of the animal ethics of celebrity chefs has lagged behind scrutiny of their stances on health issues, gender roles, and commercial endorsements.”

More honesty and clarity with regard to the existential reality behind food encourages both vegetarians and carnivores alike to make more thoughtful distinctions between animal consumption per se, and the various practices with which it is undertaken. A carnivorous chef that truly prizes whole-animal preparation will require significantly less animal-mortality in their cuisine.

To conduct their study the authors categorized 30 cookbooks by 26 different chefs according to the total number of animals included as ingredients in their recipes. They then pointed out what really should be obvious to any chef who has not completely objectified the animals they intend to consume, namely, that animals have limited quantities of specific body parts so recipes calling for multiple servings of certain cuts can require more individual animal deaths per meal.

“Perhaps the primary reason omnivorous books can differ so radically in the average number of animals they kill” the researchers noted, “is that the lives of food animals are widely regarded as too insignificant to warrant counting”.