Monday, October 17, 2011

Anthony Bourdain Loves Sheep Testicles, Hates Vegans

If you’re one of those people who subscribe to Playboy “for the articles” (if those people even exist), prepare to be let down. In this month’s Playboy issue, David Sheff interviews Anthony Bourdain, host of the Travel Channel’s hit show No Reservations and occasional Top Chef judge.
According to Sheff, Bourdain comes off as "charming and amusing." But let’s be real. The guy sounds like a pompous jerk. I was particularly blown away by his appraisal of idiot-rocker-turned-idiot-activist Ted Nugent:
"Why the fuck can’t I get along with Ted Nugent, eat some barbecue on a person-to-person basis? I’m not saying it’s the answer to world peace, but why not? I know he has a lot of views that I loathe, but I also know he’s a hardworking fucking rock-and-roller. We have things in common. He’s an ultraconservationist. Rock and roll."
Ohhh…kay. I used to think there was nothing more repulsive than the thought of Ted Nugent eating barbecue. But there is: Ted Nugent eating barbecue with Anthony Bourdain, talking about politics.

Later in the interview, Bourdain admits to having a "special loathing for vegans." He says of veganism: "I don't have any understanding of it. Being a vegan is a first-world phenomenon, completely self-indulgent."

Sheff changes the subject immediately, but I wish he had asked a follow-up question. Maybe something like, "If vegans are self-indulgent, what does that make you? Aren’t you the one traveling around the world eating every type of animal you can get your hands on without a thought for the animal cruelty or environmental impact that led up to the moment you get to stuff your face with those sheep testicles?"

Bourdain's comments about vegetarians address an anxiety shared by many non-meat-eaters: how to avoid being "rude" to people you love while rejecting the food they offer you:
"[Vegetarians] 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. You’re at Grandma’s house, you eat what Grandma serves you."
This preference for people's feelings over the motivations behind vegetarianism is not crazy. But there's an obvious solution: Let Grandma know you don't eat meat. Offer to prepare a meatless meal for her when you go to her house. Vegetarians have figured this out.

I guess Anthony Bourdain lives in a universe where eating in a compassionate way that reflects concern and hope for the well-being of animals, the environment, and the health of the human population is self-indulgent.

But I live in a universe where Anthony Bourdain says of Red Bull, "It tastes like warm urine, but I drink it regularly." So… there’s that.


  1. It's funny for him to say it's a "First world phenomenon." So is clean running water. And so are toilets, televisions, refrigerators, college, cell phones, airplanes, computers, hospitals -- does Bourdain not want us to evolve or make progress as a human species? I guess the main thing is that he admits he "doesn't have any understanding of it all."

  2. Also...It's not a first world phenomenon. A giant proportion of the Indian population is vegetarian, and by their definition that also includes not eating eggs. I understand his belief that people should be willing to try anything (that tends to be the choice I make), but moral objections or discomfort with particular kinds of food exist broadly in pretty much every culture.

  3. This made me so frustrated - why do people feel they need to be so rude, especially when we are choosing *not* to eat something (how does that affect them?!). He is an angry, angry man! :(

  4. I am going to go ahead and admit that despite the fact that I am a vegetarian with extremely vegan tendencies (and have been for many, many moons) I effing love Bourdain. He is such an ass, and I love it. This is not the nastiest thing he has ever said about vegetarians/vegans. He actually compared us to the hezbollah once. Its hyster. You dont find him funny even a little? HEART

  5. You're right that it's not the nastiest thing he's ever said about vegetarians/vegans - I think he tears into us in one of his books, no? But I think he's gross, Jess (whoops, Anonymous)! HEART

  6. @Heather -- Refusing to eat food served to you DOES affect your hosts. In some cultures, refusing a meal (or offering to cook a meal for them, as Meghan suggests) can be seen as a horrible insult. Taking their role away from them can be interpreted as you telling them that they're crappy hosts. So, in some situations, Bourdain has a point.

    But Meghan has a point, too--a considerate vegan would look to avoid such situations before they happen. Yes, so Bourdain gets invited into the homes of people who have very little contact with Westerners. Does that necessarily make him a "better" traveler than someone who doesn't have those opportunities?

  7. The creep came to San Francisco and found some screwed up place that put bacon grease into a coffee drink while labeling that vegan(!?!?!?) and he featured the place on his show about San Francisco. That's when I stopped being amused. It made me wonder how distorted his other cities were.

  8. I am really blown away by his comments. At first I kind of liked Anthony's ability to speak his mind.
    But then I read this very uneducated comment, "Self-Indulgent." Very interesting coming from a man who has no scruples about being self indulgent himself.
    Some people choose veganism not to be snobby, Like me for example, I have a RARE protein allergy. One that only hits one in a billion. I cannot process or assimilate and there fore am allergic to all animal proteins. For me to accept food that had animal proteins in it on one of his BLoody excursions could mean a trip to the hospital, or worse, if in a place where emergent services are not available, a death sentence. I am self indulgent? Yes I am, I indulge in my self preservation and the desire to be alive to care for my family. Without me? they wouldn't have a home. Furthermore. Some cultures are vegan, it is a SIN to consume animals. Is this self indulgent? No, I would hope not. For him to be so pompous and rude himself. Full of himself if you will makes me sad. Makes me think so less of him and therefore I have pretty much written him off my list of things to watch and read. Good luck to you Anthony, hope you can find vacationing with better guests, ones that don't cramp your style or your colon. Good luck to you you unbelievably rude and ignorant man.