On January 20-Feb 5, a Vancouver restaurant, Edible Canada, will feature seal meat on their menu. This menu addition is because of an upcoming festival called Dine Out Vancouver, which includes dining adventures, cocktail classes, wine debates, guest chef dinners, street food markets and more. Edible Canada itself usually features a lot of Canadian West Coast cuisine, such as Cod, Salmon, Steak and even
Newfoundland Rabbit. The dish that’s causing all the controversy was created by Chef Eric Pateman. The dish features seal meat served over pappardelle pasta. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the choice to put seal meat on a restaurant menu. Some view seal meat as any other protein, others only see cute, fuzzy big-eyed baby seal pups. “We live in a place where we have access to fruits, vegetables, grains so we don’t really need to be harvesting animals for food, yet if someone lived in the arctic where they didn’t have other foods, then go for it,” said Riverside teacher Ronak Pahlevanlu.  The people who have no objection to the harvesting of seal meat usually have a valid reason as seal meat is a historic Canadian meat the First Nations have eaten for survival for many generations.

Traditional seal meat drying.

Seal meat can be dried, stewed, pan-seared or made into sausage. It’s also rich in iron, zinc, vitamins A, D, B and C. Seals are not endangered, so what makes seals any different from other animals? “People think seals are cute and I can’t imagine what the environment would be like without them, I don’t think there is a difference between a seal or a cow except we as a society have just accepted eating cows and pigs,” said grade 9 student Breanna Putnam

Seal hunting is currently practiced in eight countries: Canada, the United States, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Finland, and Sweden. The Native Americans and First Nations People in Canada have been hunting seals for at least 4,000 years. “I think that if it’s a traditional First Nation’s food for survival, they should have a right to keep eating it. However, I don’t agree with seal meat being on a restaurant menu,” said Riverside teacher Erin Tate.

As far as seal hunting being inhumane, all animal harvesting is considered inhumane to some. Companies like PETA spend thousands of dollars telling people the horrors that go inside animal harvesting factories. According to the Edible Canada website, “The product which we are bringing in meets Canadian standards for humane hunting and is harvested in yields which support long term ecosystem biodiversity and seal population stability.”

Although the opinions of this menu addition is controversial, Edible Canada hasn’t made any decisions to take it off the menu as it brings lots of publicity during the Dine Out Vancouver festival.