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Dubious food trend: Lion tacos?
A restaurant in Tucson wants to serve up African lion — and is legally entitled to do so. Is this unethical?
 
Lion-meat tacos are going to help one Arizona restaurant get on the map - or so the owner hopes.
Lion-meat tacos are going to help one Arizona restaurant get on the map - or so the owner hopes.
Corbis

A Mexican restaurant in Tucson, Ariz., whose menu already includes python, elk, and kangaroo, soon plans to serve its most controversial exotic animal delicacy yet: lion tacos. On the Facebook page for Boca Tacos y Tequila, owner Bryan Mazon has announced he will start taking pre-paid orders for a lion-meat feast on Feb. 16 — he'll be charging $8.75 for each taco, more than twice the price of the restaurant's other exotic tacos. Mazon is facing a predictable outcry — last year a Mesa, Ariz., restaurant briefly sold lion burgers to commemorate the World Cup in South Africa, and was swarmed by protesters who found the dish morally objectionable. Mazon confessed to the Arizona Star that he's courting controversy. "What I want is just people to know that I'm here," he said. Does his marketing ploy cross all boundaries of taste?

Some animals should be off-limits: This news "really makes me want to, well, roar," says Tanya Steel at Epicurious. "I know people eat insects, snakes, and alligators, all of which Mazon has served at his taco place," but serving lion meat is taking this "macho who-can-eat-the weirdest-food fad" too far. Unlike other animals, "African lions are a diminishing species that should be revered, not turned into tacos for some college kid's glory on Facebook."
"Lions, and tigers, and tacos. Oh my!"

It is really bad for the planet: Beyond the fact that this is a "crass publicity stunt," says Martin Metheny at Change.Org, lion meat is a "highly unsustainable" food. Driving up the demand for lion meat leads to "more poaching for an already vulnerable population in the wild." And Mazon isn't off  the hook because the lions he buys are raised domestically — raising lions in the United States, out of their natural habitat, is "inhumane."
"Lion tacos on the menu in Arizona"

Lions are not that special: The restaurant will probably "back down" now that animal lovers have gone into "high shriek mode," says Wesley J. Smith in First Things. But the outcry is based on "pure emotion." Why should we protest lion tacos and not beef burritos? Assuming the animals are slaughtered humanely, "I don't see a difference between eating a lion and a cow."
"Lion tacos will never make it to the menu"

 

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