By Genevieve Cottaux
Celebrity chef and television show host Anthony Bourdain first came to prominence with the 2000 release of his bestselling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, a combination autobiography and inside look at restaurant kitchens. Bourdain subsequently went on to host several television shows that combined food and travel: A Cook’s Tour (2002-2009) on the Food Network, No Reservations (2005-2012) on the Travel Channel, and now the Peabody Award winning Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on the Cable News Network (CNN). As he has switched networks, his shows have seemingly become grittier, with more graphic imagery and pushing the boundaries on what he will participate in in terms of killing and consuming animals.
Bourdain has long had an adversarial relationship with vegans and vegetarians. In Kitchen Confidential, he wrote:
Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn.
To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.
Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food…
During a performance of his live show, The Hunger, in San Francisco in November 2016, an activist from the animal rights activist group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) disrupted Bourdain with a question about his alleged hypocrisy of refusing to eat dogs while participating in the killing and consumption of numerous other species on his television shows. He made a distasteful remark about shooting a puppy in response.
Most recently, the non-profit organization Last Chance for Animals issued a petition directed at news network CNN to stop promoting animal torture on Bourdain’s television show Parts Unknown. The petition includes a graphic film clip compiling some of Bourdain’s on-camera actions and his making the torture and death of animals a joke. While there is an educational value in a travel show that expands on our knowledge of the world’s cultures, Bourdain’s show takes advantage of that platform to shock viewers and promote violence against animals.
The Humane Party, the first American political party committed to humane values and a cruelty-free lifestyle, embraces the position that it is wrong to contribute to the exploitation and suffering of sentient beings. CNN and Bourdain exploit such beings for the sake of entertainment and television ratings. CNN describes Bourdain’s show as a “lifestyle” series, yet this lifestyle is not one to glorify and promote.