Taste & See, a Latin-fusion restaurant in Wichita, Kansas, has cancelled plans to serve lion tonight as part of a special big-game tasting. Chef Jason Febres noted that pressure from animal-rights activists (including those of you who signed this Care2 petition) influenced his decision.
“We wish to note that the small percentage of people who genuinely and intelligently pleaded their case was what persuaded us to reconsider,” said Taste & See in a statement.
Taste & See did not disclose its supplier of lion meat, with Febres telling Bloomberg in an email that “due to the extreme response and threatening nature of some, I do not wish to subject anyone else to the barrage of anger that we have endured.”
The population of lions in Africa has been in steady decline for many years. Lion bones are used in traditional Asian medicine and demand for these has increased exports from South Africa to the East, adding to conservationists’ fears over trophy hunting for the big cats and to a further decrease in their numbers.
As Bloomberg details, while lion is off the Taste & See menu, there are plenty of other “exotic” animals still on it including kangaroo, Scottish hare, crocodile, alpaca, water buffalo, antelope and foie gras.
Earlier this year, California passed a law forbidding restaurants from serving foie gras, the livers of fattened geese and ducks. A number of restaurants have been exploiting loopholes in the law, serving foie gras as a “complimentary” part of a dish. At other “duckeasies,” customers-in-the-know can order foie gras by asking for it via a special “code name.”
However, it is still legal to eat African lion and a number of other animals, including kangaroo, in the US. Chef Brad Farmerie, of the Michelin-starred Public in New York, does serve kangaroo and notes that he has indeed received some angry criticism for doing so:
“We have fielded calls from ‘reactionists’ who were angry that we were serving these cute, cuddly creatures, and then got ‘raided’ by some government agents a few years back because kangaroo was accidentally included in a New York list of endangered animals.”
Getting lion off the Taste & See menu showed the results that online activism can have. But clearly, there will be more opportunities to question restaurants over the “exotic” fare they wish to serve on menus.
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Photo by Crazy Creatures