Atheist Eating Babies. For Real. November 25, 2008

Atheist Eating Babies. For Real.

Well, this is utterly disturbing.

The atheist side of me was excited by the title.

The vegetarian side of me was completely disgusted by it…

The vegetarian side wins.

I don’t understand how/why anyone would take pleasure in this… isn’t there a moral reason to say no to eating this (possibly NSFW)?

And if you agree with me, how do you justify being pro-choice?

(via Ziztur)

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  • Josh

    As a vegetarian myself, I’m not a big fan of that…

    Arguably, it’s probably better than eating living, conscious chickens though.

    With regard to abortion, I think the distinction is clear: eating chicken fetuses is for something rather useless (a delicacy that may or may not be delicious), whereas abortion is (hopefully) for the purpose of keeping someone’s life from falling into the deep end. Unfortunately, far too many people have late term abortions where there are no risks to the life of the mother. Personally, I think these people should be forced to carry the fetus to term and put it up for adoption. If you waited that long, you’ve already suffered the worst parts of the emotional toll of the pregnancy—just wait a couple months and don’t have it weigh on your conscience.

  • Spork

    It’s an animal. It’s food. Get over it, already.

  • MAZZ

    Personally, I think it looks disgusting as is not something I’m going to be running to try. I’d put it in the same category as cavier. It looks sick and probably tastes like crap. Also, probably more trouble to eat than its worth, with all the picking the meat off the little bones. Do I think its unethical? No. Like the poster above me said, “It’s food”. It is a little creepy to intentionally wait for the fetus to form instead of waiting for it to hatch or eating the zygote before it forms.

  • Roe

    it may be gross but there’s no moral code that says one animal life is worth more than any other, and since we are content to eat animals in all their other forms we should feel free to eat them in fetus form as well.

    Can I reiterate though that this is really gross.

  • flynn

    Do you live a life that’s 100% free of killing animals?

    If yes, since when do caves in the middle of nowhere have internet access? If no, how do *you* justify it?

    And don’t have plants the right to live as well?

  • I’m going to play the “that’s disgusting” card right now, thank you very much. I don’t see any difference from it being a adult cow you’re eating, so MORALLY it’s fine but…gross. Gross.

    As for flynn, yeah, it’s possible to get the internet without killing animals, actually. Silicon is non-biological, and since even a crappy cell phone can get the internet now…
    So in other words: You’re right that animal death is everywhere.
    But your example, and the way you state your points annoyingly? They are

  • Jamie G.

    Interesting you mention plants, apparently a recent study (the details are a blur… google it [yes, i use “google” as a verb]) shows that in distress they release acetaminophen. I guess, we’ll all have to just eat rocks!

  • SarahH

    We do worse things to chickens (and newly born baby chicks, if they’re male) so if there’s an ethical problem, I don’t think this represents the forefront of the problem. I think the problem is the way we treat food-animals like chickens and cows while they’re still alive. I have no problem eating food that comes from cows or pigs or chickens, so long as they were treated humanely while alive and killed with as little pain and suffering as possible.

    That said, I can’t imagine why anyone with access to alternate forms of nutrition would eat balut. Other than for Survivor challenges, I mean.

  • Sanity

    The vegetarian in me says yuch. To elaborate, I’m a vegetarian because I oppose the horrible ammount of energy, land and effort being put into raising cattle, while people on the other side of the world are starving. I can’t justify why I should take up land and resources that could feed a small family, just because I want a steak.

    But then again, I fully admit I wouldn’t mind eating the egg before the little duck was recognisable. I also freely admit to admit to wearing leather shoes, but I’ll never eat a cow.

    I tried being vegan, but it was just to much work. I do try to limit the ammount of animal products I use though.

    Hypocritical? Maybe. The way I see it it’s better to do a little then nothing at all.

  • Indigo

    There are many things in life I find gross and would never personally engage in, but do not consider a matter of moral judgement. Certain sexual acts between consenting adults, certain elective surgical practises and certain, er, culinary delights. This is one of them.
    As to why it’s different from abortion, well, I’ve known at least one person who could not bring herself to abort but had no problem with other women doing so. Same thing.

  • penn

    I think it’s gross, but that doesn’t make it unethical. It’s no worse than the treatment of most animals we eat.

    it may be gross but there’s no moral code that says one animal life is worth more than any other,

    That’s not true at all. Firstly, humans are animals and essentially all moral codes claim human lives are worth more than non-human lives. Secondly, many people (myself included) believe that all great apes (Chimps, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans) deserve personhood because of their closeness to humans.

    Visit the Great Ape Project fore more information.

    The idea is founded upon undeniable scientific proof that non-human great apes share more than genetically similar DNA with their human counterparts. They enjoy a rich emotional and cultural existence in which they experience emotions such as fear, anxiety and happiness. They share the intellectual capacity to create and use tools, learn and teach other languages. They remember their past and plan for their future. It is in recognition of these and other morally significant qualities that the Great Ape Project was founded. The Great Ape Project seeks to end the unconscionable treatment of our nearest living relatives by obtaining for non-human great apes the fundamental moral and legal protections of the right to life, the freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and protection from torture.

  • Dallas

    I am also disturbed by this story, and I hate that it is associated with atheists. As if there weren’t already enough misperceptions about us floating around. However, I want to address the question of how I can justify being pro-choice.

    Whether it is legal or not, abortion is not going to go away. In fact, a tide of illegal and often botched abortions helped propel Wade v. Roe into law.

    I have never had an abortion, nor do I think I would choose to have one, but I do not have the right to decide how another woman deals with an unplanned pregnancy. Moreover, an abortion is a medical procedure that should be performed in a hospital. If Roe v. Wade is ever overturned, a glut of back-alley abortionists will spring up very quickly because until we can ensure that every pregnancy is planned and every child is wanted, the demand for this procedure will always be with us.

  • Polly

    Come on, eating balut is fairly common among Fillipinos, who are mainly Catholic. This is not a big deal. It’s completely gross, IMO, but it’s no more unethical than eating fully grown dead animals; which may or may not be ethical, depends on a lot of things.

  • stephanie

    I don’t have a problem with balut as an idea, but I don’t think I’d like that showing up on my plate any time soon.

    As far as equating this food with being pro-choice, I don’t know of any country where abortion is legal that they then serve up the fetus with a nice Hollandaise. So, I’m not entirely sure you can compare the two things equally.

  • D


  • I would contend that this is no more disgusting than eating any other kind of meat. Fully grown adult animals suffer a lot more than this little fetus did.

    Why is the eating of a fetus morally wrong while it is okay to eat a fully grown cow, or a zygote?

    As far as the negativity of this being associated with atheists, how about it’s association with the cultures that commonly eat this dish (Phillipino and Asians)?

    Obviously, I injected some humor and snark into the post, but if you read it, you’ll see I write about some of the dilemmas associated with eating it.

    And why.. why is it disgusting, especially when compared to the consumption of other bits of animals? I just don’t get it. It’s the same as any other animal we eat.

    I can, however, completely understand the moral objections to balut if you’re a vegetarian. But they should be the same moral objections as eating any other meat.

  • RobL

    Gross but so is eating bugs and puppy dogs and reptiles which happens on a regular basis around the world. If this offends you morally you might need to chill out a bit. Luckily we evolved with a strong gag factor for dining on our own species but that gag factor does not extend to other types of critters for most people. I’m vegetarian but recognize we evolved as omnivores and a persons decision to eat animals is entirely up to them and not a moral issue any more then gayness is a moral issue.

    A little off the subject but there is a great comedy skit about overly zealous vegetarian animal rights people and their tendency to own cats. Just try to feed a cat something non-meaty. If eating animals is really immoral then don’t we have a moral duty to eliminate all the meat eating animals on the planet?

  • Becky

    No thx! Ick. I’ll eat just about anything, octopus tentacles, bugs, haggis, etc. but I would not eat that.

  • As it was once put on “Night Court,” there ain’t that much ketchup in the WORLD.

    I don’t have any moral problems with it, and I certainly don’t cling to a Western diet; I eat insects with relish. (Although I’ve never tried them with *relish*.) But there’s something about balut that really puts me off. Maybe it’s the sliminess.

    I’d eat them if they were deep-fried.

  • Awesomesauce

    My girlfriend loves this stuff. Of course, most Filipinos eat the younger, more indistinguishable eggs. Apparently the smell is strong and the amniotic fluid adds an interesting flavor.

    I’m looking forward to the day I try it. I do think though that I’ll stick to the younger eggs though.

    I wanted to add that many Filipinos “don’t care” for it. I put don’t care in quotes because of how jovial that might sound to us westerners.

  • Aj

    Confusion of ethics and aesthetics is one reason why people torment homosexuals and other minorities.

  • Well, I agree with previous posters, in that it looks pretty gross, but ethically, it’s no different than eating fully-grown animals. And as for being pro-choice, I really fail to see the how the two compare. Terminating a human pregnancy for medical or personal reasons =/= eating a non-human fetus as a delicacy.

  • Jet

    Admittedly as a vegetarian this grossed me out. I’ve been blissfully ignorant about rennet, and since I found out about it, I can’t look at cheese the same way. But what struck me was how infantile this guy was. It reminded me of when we had to dissect pig fetuses in high school, and there was always the immature guy playing with the pig. The atheist side of me is just annoyed.

  • The Unbrainwashed

    @ Hemant:

    I find it very coincidental that you were raised Hindu and now refuse to eat meat. Many atheists, especially those from a background where religion and culture are intertwined, reject the ostensibly ridiculous metaphysical claims of religion, such as belief in God, but still hold on to the more cultural aspects, such as not eating meat.

    There are pseudo-religions that many parents teach their children alongside the spiritual ones. Vegetarianism seems to be a prevalent example of this, especially within the Indian community.

  • Sam Pagan

    @ Mazz near the top:

    The meat isn’t picked off the bones, people eat it whole. Bones, meat, feathers, beak, and all.

    To me it is gross and I am an omnivore. I just don’t like my food having a face, sorry. I can’t even eat shrimp if the heads or legs are still attached, and shrimp is one of the weirdest things people put in their mouths if you think about it.

    I would never do this but I don’t condemn people who do… I just look at them oddly.

  • Ubi Dubium

    We have a Phillipino friend, and we once asked him about balut. He said it wasn’t so bad, except that the beak scratches on the way down.

    I don’t mind if other people eat this. I don’t see it as worse than the turkey I’ll be cooking in a couple of days. But I don’t want to watch anybody eat balut either.

  • ScottieC

    Being pro-choice is about giving women the option to choose whether or not they want to carry a baby to term based on many variables such as how the baby was conceived and their current living situations.

    Balut is a fetus, served as food. It is not all that different from a full grown chicken or duck. Indeed maybe a fully grown chicken or duck would suffer more than a fetus.

    The differences are stark and I am surprised you would draw allusions between the two.

  • TheDeadEye

    Am I the only one who got hungry looking at those pics? My wife thinks I’m crazy when I start drooling during reality show food challenges.

  • Ewwww, definitely not for vegetarian me. Others can feel free, however.

  • Miko

    I wouldn’t be interested in eating it, but I fail to see why it’s okay to eat the egg and to eat the chicken but unethical in the intervening stage. What’s more, I definitely don’t think there’s an ethical justification for preventing other people from eating it, even if you yourself choose not to. In that sense (but in no other) is it related to being pro-choice: whatever your personal feelings are, you should recognize that others have an equal right to make that choice for themselves.

  • Pamela

    “With regard to abortion…..Unfortunately, far too many people have late term abortions where there are no risks to the life of the mother…these people should be forced to carry the fetus to term and put it up for adoption. If you waited that long, you’ve already suffered the worst parts of the emotional toll of the pregnancy….”

    This is really not true…like…at all.
    Most abortions are not late term, many late term abortions are of WANTED fetuses, and this is hardly an easy way out. I can’t say from personal experience, but as a woman and obvious proponent of womens’ rights, it’s something I try to educate myself about. This comment is just really offensive.
    In any case, it’s still a woman’s body and she shouldn’t be FORCED to do anything. Are you aware that forced C-sections have been performed on some women? Can you imagine someone cutting *your* abdomen w/o your consent? Are you aware that forcing a woman to undergo labor can be traumatizing, especially if she’s a rape victim? Read about this late-term abortion:

    Please think about these things which you so casually assume. It’s different hearing it when you can get pregnant and the person thinking someone should FORCE a woman to do something with her body conveniently *can’t*, and when men assume that women use late-term abortion as birth control.
    That being said, I’m vegan and have conflicting views on the original post (Balut eggs). As an American who wasn’t raised with these fetuses/eggs, I find them disgusting. As a vegan, I find them disgusting. However, *ethically*, the treatment of these fetuses is better than that of their mother.

  • covert vector

    Uh, what does this have to do with abortion? Like at all? If someone had an ethical problem with this, they’d surely have far more of a problem with the inhumane conditions and routine slaughtering of live, adult cows/pigs/chickens/etc who would be more likely to feel pain than a tiny duck fetus, if you want to go that route on the ethics question.

    Personally, it seems a little gross to me but I have no moral qualms about it. Same thing with foods like blood pudding, escargot, scrapple, etc. I’m not gonna eat it, but hey, whatever you want to do, it’s food.

    And, as the other commenter said, late-term abortions are incredibly rare compared to the entire number of abortions performed, and are only performed in the most extreme of circumstances, not because a woman suddenly decided she wanted to kill her baby 8 months into a pregnancy. And beyond the ethics of late-term abortions, there are like 2 doctors in the U.S. who perform them. It’s not done casually, at all.

  • Of course, Australians eat Vegemite, which I find to be more disgusting than the idea of Balut. However, I have zero desire to try either one.

    I also fail to see what this has to do with abortion at all.

  • I wouldn’t say it’s gross. I’d say that for Western culinary habits, it’s unusual, but that’s only because most people either except either a fully formed duckling to come out of an egg, or a mass of white and yolk. The fact is that if we could see through the egg while the fetus was still developing, we’d still think it was gross to look at. So personally I don’t think the eating has anything to do with it. It’s just general squeamishness about the middle stages of development.

  • Geoff

    Ubi Dubium, I’d be more worried by the beak scratching on its inevitable journey back up.

  • Tao Jones

    Oh come on people.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with abortion.

    There is nothing unethical about this in any way. A vegetarian diet is NOT a morally superior diet. While vegetarian advocates debate whether bonobos are persons, they seem to forget that humans are animals. We are all food!

    Those who think this is gross should have their cultural blinders checked. This is simply unfamiliar to you.

    What is gross about it anyway? How is this different from eating an egg? Do you just prefer the aesthetics of texture of scrambled eggs over balut? How is this different from eating a fully developed bird.. like.. chicken wings? Do you prefer it breaded, deep fried and covered in BBQ sauce? Or can you pretend the plate of wings you ordered isn’t the wings off of a bunch of chickens?

    We like to forget that we’re animals too. Adam and Eve and the Agricultural Revolution have trained us to think we are somehow not animals…

    Everything we eat is a life. If you’re not concerned about vegetable rights, consider the carrot that you’re taking out of a rabbits mouth. Consider the natural ecosystems destroyed by the continuous growth of agro industries in order to plant that wheat.

    You can’t not take life when you eat. That’s okay, though, because we’re part of the system.

    We are all food.

  • Personally, I would never eat it. In order for me to eat an animal it has to look as little like an animal as possible. Because I am an American, I get the luxury of being detached from the meat-making process. If I had to kill my own food I would be a vegetarian in a heart-beat.

    That being said… and as disgusting as I think it is… this really is “food”. Human beings are not the only creatures on the face of the earth who eat eggs no matter what stage of development the being inside is at. Morally unethical? No. It’s a duck. We are omnivores as a species. *shrug*

    And I don’t think that it has anything at all to do with the abortion issue.

  • A friend of a friend was once an egg-eating vegetarian, until someone asked her, at 3 in the morning in a Denny’s restaurant, of her Grand Slam:

    “How are you enjoying your aborted chicken fetuses?”

    I’m told she broke into tears and bolted to the facilities to vomit. But you know how stories go.

    In all seriousness, though, unless you’re a vegetarian for moral reasons, there’s little practical parallel between abortion and egg consumption. Me, I’m just chalking it up to some cultures enjoying things that other cultures find, well, nasty.

    Really, really, really nasty.

  • isn’t there a moral reason to say no to eating this (possibly NSFW)?

    A moral reason? Well, if you’re a moral vegetarian, it’s the same moral reason as for not eating meat.

    And if you agree with me, how do you justify being pro-choice?

    Um… because even moral vegetarians are not sexist assholes who endorse enslaving women? Well, I suppose moral vegetarians are usually not sexist assholes.

  • AaronB

    Chicken Eggs != Chicken Fetuses for the most part. Unless you bought your eggs from some farmers market where a hen might have actually seen a rooster, your eggs are nothing more than eggs, and would under no circumstances grow to be a chicken. Therefore, most, if not all, of the chicken eggs you will encounter in your lifetime, are as alive as say, human sperm.

    I’ll let your imagination continue from there.

    However, this Balut stuff. Well, I wouldn’t eat it given a choice. But hey, to each their own.

  • laterose

    And if you agree with me, how do you justify being pro-choice?

    I’m very very disappointed by this. The question only makes sense in this context if you’re buying into the idea that the abortion debate is about when life begins. The pro-lifers want you to think the debate is about when life begins because that’s the only way they can make their argument without revealing they’re sexist motivations. The debate is actually about whether or not women are human beings fully capable of making medical decisions and with full rights to their own bodies. It doesn’t matter if the fetus is alive or not. No one ever has the right to use someone else’s body without their consent, even if it’s only for nine months.

  • Hemant I respect you and the things you do for our community – but give me a frackin break.

    Balut is food. End of story. Your squeamishness is cultural, not logical, and it has ZERO to do with being “pro choice”.

    Ziztur’s post was funny, tongue-in-beak (heh) humor riffing on the “baby eating atheist” zinger we all hear from time to time.

    I enjoyed the post, and the pictures made me hungry. I have never been one of those people who divorces the actual killing, rendering, and preparing of animals from the end product. I know EXACTLY what goes into making a steak out of the quivering, warm, bloody muscle tissue of a freshly killed steer – because I’ve done it myself since I was a kid. I also love eggs, and I have eaten balut before and enjoyed it.

    In any case, try to rise above your own inhibitions a bit. This is no different than eating a drumstick, an omelet, a hamburger, or sucking the heads off a mess of crawfish. (Yum, BTW.)

  • In any case, try to rise above your own inhibitions a bit. This is no different than eating a drumstick, an omelet, a hamburger, or sucking the heads off a mess of crawfish. (Yum, BTW.)

    It’s not an inhibition thing. I feel the same way towards all those things you mentioned (drumsticks, etc), not just the baluts. That is, I don’t feel right eating any of them.

    Based on the few people I showed this link to before posting it (all of whom were not vegetarian), they got squeamish about it.

    That’s what is strange to me. Why are drumsticks “ok” but baluts “disgusting”?

    And you can call the pro-choice connection flimsy if you want, but the question I’m asking is whether eating this balut (or rather, saying no to eating it) is that different a scenario from being willing to abort a baby at 4 or 5 months.

    I think there are many people who would say yes to the abortion but no to the baluts.

    What makes the two any different?

  • Hi Hemant,

    Sorry I missed this comment! I forgot to check mark the dang “notify me of follow-up comments” option.

    That’s what is strange to me. Why are drumsticks “ok” but baluts “disgusting”?

    That’s an easy one – it’s the little face. We have been conditioned to find any tiny little baby animal with a face, cute. Think about it – we remove the head of almost all of our food – even the wildly non-human food, like shrimp or crawfish.

    Here’s an example. In April we attended the annual backyard luau thrown by our best friends. The day before, Mrs. Inscrutable and I picked up the pig from the meat packing plant out in our end of the Valley, and took it over to the house. We prepared it traditionally, wrapped in leaves with an apple in it’s mouth, then buried it in a pit with the coals from a fire we had been burning all day long.

    The day of the luau came, and the smell was incredibly mouth-watering coming from the pit. Everyone showed up, happy and remarking about the delicious smell. We pulled the pig out of the pit and un-wrapped it, and I heard from the crowd, “Aw… That’s so mean…”

    There were quite a few folks that would not touch the pork (which was delicious, btw), because the meat wasn’t sufficiently distanced from the poor, cute widdle piggy with the apple in it’s mouth. They watched us raise it out of the ground, cut it into pieces, and place the meat on the serving tray – and this was waaay too much information for some. Enough so that they became ill, and wouldn’t eat.

    Weird, but understandable, I suppose. Like I said, “cultural”. The American culture has created a social group of humans who find the killing and rendering of food animals disgusting – but as long as they don’t actually have to see it happening, they’ll eat it.

    That’s why burgers don’t have faces. 🙂

  • AnonyMouse

    I’m not a vegetarian, and I still went “yecch” at this. Not so much at the foetus, but at the blood-riddled egg yolk. I’ve tasted eggs that were like that, and they were disgusting.

    And dang, those little birdies look creepy peering out from their eggshells.

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