Fin, Maw or Flesh, It’s Death

At a wedding lunch of a friend, two of us were served vegetarian food. We took a peek at the non-vegetarian menu placed at the table and to our surprise, shark fin was listed on it, though the bride had mentioned earlier that she won’t be ordering it. When the dish came and after it was scooped into soup bowls for everyone other than us, a bowl was left untouched, as another friend at the table decided to boycott it.

The bowl of untouched soup went round and round on the dish ‘turntable’. I thought it should had been on a shark swimming round and round in the open seas instead. In a way, it was too late to protest against the soup, as it’s already there, but it was a show of no-support too – though the restaurant and guests might not get the message! It’s better to make a stronger statement by being fully vegetarian. In fact, my special dishes caught the attention of a fellow Buddhist stranger next to me, and I chatted with him on the six reasons to go meatless (see I kind of got him to agree that it’s better to eat less meat if any at all.

Ironically and perhaps semi-hypocritically, as he himself admitted later, when a dish of a huge boiled fish (which is not of a shark’s size of course) arrived, the same friend who shunned the fin soup ate parts of it. Hmmm… boycotting a shark’s fin but not a fish’s body? Which is worse? The loss of a fish’s whole body or just the fins, after the cruel extraction of which it is left to bleed to death, dumped onto the seabed? Why not just shun both dishes to cut demand for both fishes’ needless deaths? As I told my friend, why not join me and boycott all animal stuff? He grinned with me.

When the fish was half-jabbed by chopsticks and stripped of flesh, I snapped a photo of it with my phone. Someone remarked that I should snap it when it was whole and garnished well. I said, no, that it is better this way – as I want to capture a picture of a fish carcass in its unnatural ravaged state – to blog about it here! If I want to snap a whole fish, I would snap live fish swimming in the sea!

After the dinner, we found out that the shark fin soup on the menu was a misprint. It was fish maw instead. Now, what is that? It’s the air bladder of fish. Its main function is to receive and expel water and/or oxygen so that fish can ascend and descend in water. It’s made from a wide variety of fishes and is not cheap. (Well, it does costs sentient lives!)

Once again, is this animal product any less cruel? Not to me. Obviously, fish have to die for the maw to be removed. One might argue that sharks are endangered while other fish might not be. But this is clearly nonsense as any fish that is to be killed is an endangered animal in its own right. If humans are not an endangered species, would it be okay for an animal to devour you? I rest my case!