A brewery in Iceland is causing a stir following an announcement that it will be adding whale meal, a byproduct of processing the animal’s meat and oil, to one of its new brews that it claims will turn those who drink it into “true vikings.”
“This is a unique beer, brewed in collaboration with Hvalur hf. Whale beer will include, among other things, whale meal. Whale meal is very protein rich, and has almost no fat in it. That, along with the fact that no sugar is added makes this a very healthful drink, and people will be true Vikings drinking it,” said the brewery’s owner, Dabjartur Arilíusson.
The beer in question is being launched to coincide with the Icelandic mid-winter festival Thorrablot, which honors the Norse god Thor, and will at least only be sold for a limited time, according to the Independent.
Still, it’s drawn criticism from whale advocates who are disgusted that a company would stoop low enough to turn endangered fin whales into booze.
“Demand for this meat is in decline with fewer and fewer people eating it. Even so, reducing a beautiful, sentient whale to an ingredient on the side of a beer bottle is about as immoral and outrageous as it is possible to get,” said Vanessa Williams-Grey, head of Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s (WDC) Icelandic anti-whaling campaign.
“The brewery may claim that this is just a novelty product with a short shelf life, but what price the life of an endangered whale which might have lived to be 90 years?”
Japan’s long been in the spotlight for using a loophole in the whaling ban, but Iceland’s openly defying it. Iceland initially conducted a “scientific” whaling program, but withdrew from the International Whaling Commission in 1992 and resumed commercial whaling in 2006, targeting minke and fin whales, despite the dwindling demand for whale meat both in Iceland and in Japan, which had been a viable market.
Those who profit from the continued slaughter of whales are clearly trying to get creative with ways to pawn off whale meat no one wants. This isn’t the first time both countries have drawn the ire of whale lovers and conservationists over a novelty product. Last year, Tokyo-based Michinoku Farm pulled dog treats made of fin whales processed by Hvalur hf off the market after drawing international outrage. Hvalur hf also sparked controversy when it used whale-oil-based fuel to power the very ships it uses to go out and slaughter more whales.
Unfortunately, Iceland’s continued whaling hasn’t just hurt whales. WDC noted that Iceland has continued to ignore the potential for economic damage over public opposition to whaling and that it’s negatively impacting other industries that depend on whales being alive. The Icelandic Whale Watch Association and the Icelandic Travel Industry Association have reported a decline in whale watching because whales are increasingly difficult to find.
Hopefully people will decide they’re okay with merely being impostor vikings and this beer will be an epic failure.
It is reckless and immoral to kill an endangered whale to make a novelty beer. Please sign and share the petition asking Steðji Brewery to discontinue their plans to sell whale-meal beer.
Photo credit: Lori Mazzuca, AFSC/Kodiak via NOAA