By: Julie Finigan Morris
Like millions of others around the world, I am mourning the death of chef and author Anthony Bourdain. His humor, intelligence and compassion for others was contagious. When I was a college student living in Europe, I used to love to jump on a train from my home base of Florence, Italy to explore other cities. I stayed in youth hostels and ate street food. I walked through the side streets. Watching Bourdain brought me back to those carefree days when exploration was the norm.
Bourdain encouraged us to eschew fancy hotel, resort- style vacations. He said if you ask the concierge for a recommendation, you know where not to go. (They’re no doubt getting kickbacks from the restaurant.) Try the smaller, hole-in-wall joints on side streets, the ones where the locals hang out and bring Grandma for her birthday.
I also loved that he celebrated carnivores. In his book Kitchen Confidential, he wrote “Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food.”
In an interview with Playboy Magazine, he had this to say about vegetarians:
“They make for bad travelers and bad guests. The notion that before you even set out to go to Thailand, you say, ‘I’m not interested,’ or you’re unwilling to try things that people take so personally and are so proud of and so generous with, I don’t understand that, and I think it’s rude.”
He didn’t mince words. Perhaps it’s because he traveled the world, understood other cultures and saw vegetarianism and veganism as a privilege, a choice that only wealthy people can make (unless it’s for religious reasons.)
“I don’t have any understanding of it. Being a vegan is a first-world phenomenon, completely self-indulgent,” Bourdain said.
Obviously, as a rancher I have an interest in people eating meat. But Bourdain taps into a larger issue than just financial gain for meat producers. He’s speaking about a larger truth: that nutritious and delicious food not only feeds our bodies, but creates a culture and builds traditions that feed our souls. Vegetables can certainly be a part of that, but meat has long been a staple of the human diet. Hunters and gatherers knew this. Meat is a nutrient-dense food that fuels our bodies and minds. It brings us together around a fire, a table, a celebration and nourishes us. Plus, it’s tastes so damn good! When rasied ethically and ecologically, as grassfed meat is, there’s just no downside. Bourdain knew his stuff, too. WHen asked if grassfed beef tasted better than corn-fed, he said this:
“No. I’m glad we have the option, though. It’s a positive thing that you’re seeing these people raising free-range, hormone-free, entirely grass-fed beef. I’m glad they’re out there, but I prefer an animal that is free-range, grass-fed and then finished with some healthy feed without drugs. I like a fatty fucking animal.” We agree. Just wish he could have tasted one of our fattened, properly finished grassfed burgers. Rest in peace, Anthony. Our table will miss you.