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 ethics.
“By looking at the narratives of these books and indexing the number of animal lives that must be lost to follow the culinary recommendations of some of the world’s most influential chefs,” asserted the authors, “we hope to have taken a small step toward rendering the fate of food animals more visible. Whether they intend it or not, celebrity chefs’ food choices and public meal recommendations are ethically significant.”
According to the researchers, scrutiny of the animal ethics of celebrity chefs has, thus far, lagged behind scrutiny of their stances on health, gender roles, even endorsements. They hope their analysis will to add to the larger discussion of conscious carnivores calling for a greater distinction between the chefs that recommend animal use in a more objectified manner from those who might tend to focus more on whole animal preparations and help limit the quantities of animals bred for food.
“Regardless of how their audiences respond, chefs’ choices themselves send a message regarding what practices are acceptable when it comes to food and animals,” they write.
To conduct the study, Lamey and Sharpless 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 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”.