Nov 30

Is it ok to eat seal meat? Includes opinion poll.

Those in favour of seal hunting will tell you that there is nothing wrong with seal meat and that it is as healthy and nutritious as beef, poultry, mutton or pork. They will tell you that the seal hunt is no less cruel than the meat industry and the only reason why activists get excited is because the slaughter happens outdoors where it is open to public scrutiny, not behind slaughter house walls where it falls out of the public’s eye. They will be quick to point out that seal meat forms an integral part of the traditional Innuit diet and has been recorded as such over hundreds of years. “Some cultures eat dogs and cats. Westerners eat cattle. What is the difference? What is wrong with eating seal meat?” they ask.

Seal meat

Seal meat, the not so healthy alternative

  • Is it ok to eat seal meat? Read this article and take the poll

Let us examine the unhygenic conditions of the Namibian seal hunt for a start.

Over a prolonged period lasting several months, daily disturbances caused by the seal clubbers at the colony results in chronic stress to the animals. This in turn leads compromised immune systems and the inability to fight off diseases.

The animals become so terrified they vomit, defecate and urinate all over themselves. They are beaten to death before being stabbed in the throat to bleed out. Covered in faeces and dripping blood everywhere, the carcasses are thrown onto a large pile where they are left to rot at the mercy of flies in the baking desert sun. Hours later, they will be transported on the back of unrefrigerated open-air vehicles to processing locations some forty miles away.

With ideal conditions for disease to spread firmly established; through prolonged exposure to live animals, direct contact with faeces and blood as well as compromised immunity;  it can be said with certainty that a major disease outbreak is not only possible, but imminent. With large quantities of seal meat, genitals and oils being exported to different countries, the containment of such an outbreak could prove fatal.

It doesn’t take a fool to realise the gross, unhygenic conditions surrounding the seal hunt are a far cry from the stainless steel counters, high pressure hoses, refrigerated cold rooms and other sanitary measures that are undertaken by a modern abattoir.

Anyone who eats seal meat that has been “harvested” under filthy conditions is courting disaster and may end up suffering from any number of serious illnesses. Examples include TB, brucellosis, leptospirosis, Ascariasis, canine distemper and rabies. Lesser ailments include worms, tape worm and round worm, conjunctivitus, Spekke Finger and dermatitus.

Seal meat is also contaminated with Persistent Organic Pollutants. (POP’s) These are toxic chemicals that have an adverse effect on human health and the environment. They can pass from one species to the next with levels of concentration tending to increase as they move up the food chain.

Similarly, toxic concentrations of heavy metals are also to be found. Nunavut’s Department of Health advises women of child-bearing age, or who are pregnant or may become pregnant, to avoid eating seal meat due to its high mercury content. The effects of mercury poisoning include brain damage and kidney failure. It has the potential to interfere with the reproductive system and can cause deformities or stillbirths in children. Other heavy metals, such as cadmium and lead also contribute to concerns surrounding chronic metal toxicity.

The problem is so severe that tissue samples taken from Innuit who consume large amounts of seal meat as traditional food are so contaminated they could be classified as hazardous waste.

Putting cruelty issues and cultural differences aside and speaking purely from a health point of view, we remain steadfast in our opinion that it is NOT ok to eat seal meat. Anyone who promotes seal meat as a healthy alternative is as bad as those who promote cigarette smoking as part of an active lifestyle. They lie and they know it. They are unscrupulous individuals who are encouraging you to poison yourself.