Saturday, April 16, 2016

the bivalve dilemma

Note: this post is about both a reflection and a restaurant, so if you don't care about reflections, feel free to skip all the way to the last paragraph before the first picture! LOL

You may or may have not noticed my profile doesn't say "vegan" anymore, but "vegan-ish". In this very long road that has been veganism (I started in 2002, I think) I've learned quite a bit. I started out of ethical reasons, or probably even emotional ones, as I simply couldn't stand the footage with clear evidence of animal cruelty I had watched back then.

For quite a few years, I was sort of like vegan Monday through Friday, to allow for a more relaxed weekend with my habib in case we couldn't easily get vegan food. Later, thanks to a podcast I started listening to, I realized there was a much wider vegan world than the one I knew, and for some additional years I was really fully vegan - yes, avoiding even honey.

Recently, though, as I felt more at ease with veganism, I was able to start questioning myself a bit. I think it's like converting to a faith - you sort of feel you must prove yourself, you follow all the rules, you're still learning so questioning could prove too distabilizing, and chances are your circle of non-convert friends will be non-supporting at first, so you need to stand stronger.

So, as I began to feel it was not an all or nothing thing, and that what mattered was not to score perfectly, but to do at least something (as some ethical action against animal cruelty is always better than no ethical action at all against it), I began making some changes. If you follow this blog, you'll have already read that, if there's a dish I haven't tried (especially if it's during a trip), or if someone has gone through great effort to cook something for me, I might decide to go for it, vegan or not.

But also I've decided there's three things I don't mind eating either anymore. First, insects. The vast majority live too short a time to benefit from the learning that comes from a nervous system that allows for pain and suffering; the scientific consensus, indeed, leans towards thinking they do not feel pain. Now, I'm not a fan of chapulines (a Mexican kind of cricket you can sometimes be served in Mexico). But, as a kind of nutrient and protein rich item, I have no problems eating insects now (even though I'm no big fan, tastewise, either).

Then, honey. Same reasoning as with insects in general regarding pain and suffering. I still don't have any at home. I mean, I haven't bought honey in ages, and in general I'm not into sweet spreads. But still, if something contains honey, I'll be fine with that.

And, finally bivalves. I'll admit this one is a bit more tricky. But, in general, it would seem that, at least when it comes to oysters and mussels, they most probably don't feel pain and suffering either. They're non-motile (that is, they can't move) or practically non-motile, and their nervous systems are not aggregated in a brain-like structure either. So, chances are, pain and suffering don't exist, or exist at such a level they really don't quite matter. But, please note that other bivalves like clams and scallops are motile (scallops even have eyes), and other mollusks, like squid and octopus have proven intelligence and behaviour change when in pain. So, though not part of my regular diet (oh, the price!), oysters and mussels do make it to my plate every now and then now.

All of which pretty much justifies me abandoning vegan in favour of vegan-ish or flexitarian, right? Sure, I eat vegan at least some 90% of the time. But I feel more comfortable not claiming the vegan label for the time being.

And all this verbiage... why? Because I wanted to mention this place in Colonia Roma Norte, La Docena! We went there for oysters! I think it was my first time at an oyster bar ever! Well, they do serve other stuff, like fish and I think maybe even some meat, but their main sell is oysters. And we sat at the bar. So oyster bar!

Now, take this with a grain of salt, as I'm a non-expert and basically a neophyte, but they were good! They felt so fresh, and the taste is unique! I think my favourite kind were the Kumamoto. We got a mixed platter of 12 oysters of 3 different kinds, and the fact that this is the only name I can remember means that they were my favourite. 

We also got some scallops on tostadas (a sort of hard tortilla) with jalapeño and red onion. Pretty good. Though I got mixed up and forgot scallops were on the do-not-eat-these side of my bivalves list. The fact that these fellows have radically different names in Spanish and English didn't help a bit. Oops. My bad. Won't repeat. 

So, all in all, it was a very tasty and interesting introduction to the world of bivalves (well, oysters and mussels, OK?), and looking forward to a repeat! And my apologies to full-time vegans and anybody who might be offended by this more flexible approach of mine. :-S

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