“Travel Channel” sending Vegetarians surfing

by in Blog 02/04/2015


Channel surfing that is! 

In the US with all of our TV viewing options we have a channel devoted entirely to tourist travel, the "TravelChannel". I used to enjoy some of the programming on this channel, taking me to interesting places I’ve never seen, introducing me to new cultures. But in the past year I’ve noticed a push toward travel shows dedicated to eating, and the menu is almost always meat.

I still tune in to some of these “eating” shows when they are featuring a location I’m interested in. I have to say that I’m really surprise, sometimes shocked, at how insensitive the shows cast and producers are toward nature. In Thailand (one of my favorite places in the world) , Andrew Zimmern of “Bizarre Foods” helps catch small lizards for a meal, and watched them being gutted as they are prepared just for him. He seems like a nice guy, but I get the impression he only cares about himself.

I can better understand the poor trying to survive. But for those who live a higher lifestyle and have more food choices, how could one be so selfish as to hunt down and gut a tiny lizard for a gram of meat?

In the opening of the Phucket episode, Mr. Zimmern gives the impression that eating insects and reptiles is normal in Thailand. Having lived in Thailand, most Thai people I know, vegetarian or not, will not eat insects or reptiles. I’ve never seen insects or reptiles on a menu or eaten in a restaurant. Nor are the popular in the many open markets. I presume he was only trying to make Thailand sound more exotic and far away from the US.

What’s bizarre about this Andrew guy is that he can’t handle the flavor of durian fruit, which I agree is smelly, but I think it’s delicious. Go figure. Kill and eat lizards no problem, but get that fresh fruit away from me! It’s another example that we train ourselves into believing what tastes good or bad. I suppose this is what we call having an “acquired taste” for a certain food.

TravelChannel has another program, “Man vs. Food”, where the host visits restaurants that offer food challenges. The challenge usually consists of completely consuming a typically astronomical serving in a single setting. The host is up for the challenge and gorges himself on a meal large enough to feed an African village for week. I guess this show is geared toward people who are unaffected by today’s economy and unconcerned with begin wasteful. Don’t forget, this is the “Travel” channel this show appears on.

I guess it’s good, in a sense, that TravelChannel shows animals getting fried alive and others graphically gutted in full view. It’s a good reminder of the realities of eating meat, and reaffirms my choice not to eat it. In the US most meat producers desperately try to hide these images so that people don’t get repulsed or begin to feel sorry for animals. And the over indulgence, these are all reminder of how people can be so self-centered and egotistical we can be. Seeing and smelling these animals being cut live and up close while reserving thought solely to their own consumption. Getting paid to overeat and waste food. Great reminders of how not to live.

I still would like to see TravelChannel get back to travel and add some programming that was in better taste. What do you think? Is this an issue for you as well in your country?


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