In part two of Fresh Off the Boat - Mongolia, Eddie checks out some questionable meat at a market in Ulan Bator, attends a massive outdoor metal festival, and learns how to make khorkhog at one of the country’s first truly modern restaurants.
This Guy Has Eaten Nothing but Raw Meat for 5 Years
How to Be Vegan in Prison
I am a vegan. Nineteen years deep into a lifelong commitment to avoid eating anything from an animal. In following this moral code I have found myself at protests turned riots, donning cow costumes at meat processing conventions, and creeping into slaughterhouses in complete darkness to film the inhumane treatment of animals. When I was arrested in 1998 and faced “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act” (AETA) charges that could have put me in prison for 82 years, I chose an underground life over a potential life sentence. I became a fugitive on the run from the FBI until 2005, when I was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison for releasing thousands of minks from fur farms.
While living on the lam I put as much effort into vegan dining as the FBI did into catching me. I ate seitan marinated in sesame ginger sauce and roasted red pepper hummus on sprouted grain pizza crust. I double-fisted dried strawberries and malted carob balls, drank rice shakes every morning and sipped kombucha every night. Agave nectar was my table sugar, and organic carrot-juice my wine.
Once I was thrown into a prison cell, this comfortable reality instantly evaporated. Three times a day, the slot on my cell door opened, delivering trays piled with every variety of animal flesh and byproduct. The trace amounts of iceberg lettuce barely pushed my caloric intake into the double digits. I launched a nightly letter-writing campaign, targeting anyone with influence. Everyone from the prison captain, to the kitchen manager, to Congressperson Barbara Boxer received my letters. My demands were simple: No meat, dairy, or eggs. In this one-sided negotiation process, leverage was in short supply.
After two years and seven prisons, I learned a thing or three about how to get meat-free food in prison.
Watching Three People Eat a $384,000 Burger Is Surprisingly Boring
As the world’s population hurtles towards an estimated nine billion by 2050, global food shortages are becoming a very real problem. In no sector is this more apparent than the meat industry. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that around 70 percent of all agricultural land on Earth is currently used for meat production. It also predicts the demand for meat will increase by more than two thirds in the next 40 years as the middle classes grow in newly industrialized countries in Asia and South America.
Aside from awful humanitarian and animal cruelty issues, the meat industry is thought to have a significant effect on global warming as belching, farting livestock produce huge quantities of methane—a greenhouse gas33 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. It’s obvious that the meat industry as we know it is unsustainable, but for the vast majority of us the prospect of turning vegetarian is pretty grim. Vegetables aren’t filling, Tofurkey tastes like wet Band-Aids, and the prospect of mass farming insects to squish into bugburgers makes me want to sew up my mouth and anus.
Fortunately, Professor Mark Post thinks he’s come up with a way for us to save the planet and gorge until we get the meat sweats. Unfortunately, it’s not all that cost effective yet.
Professor Mark Post.
By harvesting muscle tissue from a living cow, Professor Post is able to cut the tissue into individual muscle cells. Each cell can then yield up to one trillion more, which will then naturally join up to form new muscle tissue. Five years and approximately $384,000 after he started, Professor Post had created the world’s most expensive burger patty, ready for an unveiling and tasting ceremony in London. As the world’s media descended on the presentation in Hammersmith, I went along to see if “cultured beef” really was the savior the meat industry needs.
The burger comes in a sturdy red box with Wendy’s face stamped on it, her open-mouthed smile all made out of a single line. The box reads: “QUALITY IS OUR RECIPE,” which makes me imagine a chubby American burger chef holding up a recipe book with a picture of my burger on one page and “Ingredients: Quality” written in big font on the page beside it. I open the box and look at the baby nestled inside, waiting all alone, the weird cross-shaped X on top designed to create the illusion that the bun was freshly baked.
The food item itself smells different every time you sniff it. First, I remember walking on the beach, during those same years when I was fat and wore a big shirt because I didn’t want anyone to see my chub. If you sniff the center of the cross on top of the bun it kind of smells like the warm free bread they bring you in a basket at corporate chain restaurants like O’Charley’s or something, which is usually only good if you smash enough butter into it to make it not be bread anymore. Sniffing near the cheese reminds me of baseball for some reason; and the bacon, of course, smells like dead meat.
Munchies: Andrew Zimmern
You might know Andrew Zimmern from his Travel Channel show Bizarre Foods in which he wolfs down unsightly things halfway across the world. Maybe you’ve wondered what eats when he’s out with friends in New York. For this episode of Munchies, Andrew chose to start at Osteria Morini, where the most bizarre food on the table was an amazing rib eye carpaccio that had been aged for 120 days. Then they headed to Marc Forgione for one of the more interesting meals we’ve ever seen. We ended up at the kitchen of Barbuto, where Zimmern made Chinese chicken drumsticks for the legendary chef Jonathan Waxman. Enjoy.
Gorging on Wild Animals with the Sultans of Sausage
Here’s what you need to know about the Rhode Island Rumford Hunting and Fishing Club’s annual meat feast: it’s not for outsiders. This manbash is for swinging dicks. It’s for straight white men with beards and guns and shirts that read PETA: People for the Equal Treatment of Tasty Animals. It’s for men who wear backward baseball caps with polarized Oakleys resting on the bill, like they’re watching you, and the rest of this country, with the eyes in the backs of their heads.
It’s also not what you think. This particular gun club, which was founded in the 40s, has been doing the game dinner fundraiser for 30 years. Among other outdoorsy items, they raffle off rifles, guitars, and kayaks. But the main attraction is the feast—for 30 bucks, you can sidle up beside a bearded, suspendered man and dig into 150 pounds of venison, or 120 pounds of goose, shot by one of the fellows themselves (plus 100 pounds of store-bought rabbit, for good measure). The profits go to cancer programs, food banks, and scholarship funds, but most definitely not to PETA, and of course not to anybody interested in infringing on the second amendment. They are interested in “lobbying to protect the gun rights of Rhode Island residents,” according totheir website, which features plenty of cheery photos of strung-up deer carcasses and animated geese flying serenely over their lifeless bodies.
My friends seemed a little alarmed when I first scored a ticket to the meat dinner, though it was never clear if that’s because I am a slim, bespectacled man or a transsexual one. But as a masculinity expert I can’t pass up the chance to embed in the dark, hairy, grunting underbelly of the type of man who kills for sport.
Meet 73-year-old Arthur Boyt, notorious resident of the remote town of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall and roadkill connoisseur. Nothing is too far-fetched or fancy to end up on his plate. In this film, we take a trip to Arthur’s house and learn how to cook a badger casserole and how to best prepare polecat meat before cooking.
Here’s a quote from Arthur to whet your appetite:
"I ate a badger once that someone else had picked up because they wanted its skull. It was blown up like a horse on the Western Front and smelled rather horrible. When I cut into it, the flesh was green, but nevertheless, I persevered and stewed it. It made the house smell like the old-fashioned mental hospitals used to, but boy, it tasted delicious!"
Beat Your Meat: New Law Lets Factory Farmers Choke Their Chicks in Private
The hidden camera worn by an employee at a Butterball turkey farm in North Carolina recorded workers stomping and kicking birds, throwing them by their necks into metal cages, and beating them with metal bars. The animals had festering wounds on their bodies and eyes. Some writhed in pain on the ground. For three weeks, the employee, an undercover investigator for Mercy For Animals, documented abuse after abuse in the milking barn, which is where semen is manually collected from the toms; the birds have been bred so large and deformed that they can no longer reproduce naturally. After the investigation, the nonprofit turned over the video footage to prosecutors.
Within days, cops prepared to raid—something unheard of when it comes to factory farms. But Butterball had friends in high places, including the government agency in charge of overseeing its operations. The director of Animal Health Programs called a friend at Butterball hoping to thwart the raid.
The tip-off didn’t work. The raid led to national media exposure, the conviction of a top-level Department of Agriculture official for obstruction of justice, and criminal charges against five employees for animal cruelty. Two of the employees have pleaded guilty, marking the first felony conviction for cruelty to factory-farmed birds. On February 22, two more former Butterball employees were found guilty of animal cruelty.
Industrial agriculture executives and lawmakers have responded swiftly to undercover investigations like this one, but not in the ways you might expect. Rather than improving animal welfare, enhancing criminal penalties, or increasing oversight of the industry, there’s a national campaign to criminalize anyone who brings these abuses to light under the guise of protecting the farmers and their food supply from animal- and environment-loving “terrorists.”