Anthony Bourdain is NOT a Vegan

Well, it's obvious that Anthony Bourdain is not a vegan, at least if you ever had the misfortune to watch his show, which we did once or twice in our pre-vegan life. But Jane and I both found Mr. Bourdain to be a bit too pretentious. It's one thing to be sure of yourself, it's another to be waaay sure of your cool.

Anyway, thanks to a post on FoodEater's blog, I found Hezbollah Tofu, a blogging response to Mr. Bourdain's snide (and much quoted) comment:

"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, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food."

- Anthony Bourdain, "Kitchen Confidential," p. 70

Their (Hezbollah Tofu) goal? To "fork" Bourdain for charity. They plan on creating veganized versions of Mr. Bourdain's "masturbatory, blood-oozing recipes" compiling these recipes and selling them, all proceeds will be donated to vegan outreach organizations in the name of Mr. Bourdain. What an excellent idea.So we challenge you to take up the call and send your recipes in to them at:

As for my response to Mr. Bourdain... Not all vegans are militant, nor are we necessarily "an irritant to any chef worth a damn" as is evidenced by all the new vegan cookbooks out there, and the proliferation of vegan restaurants, at least in many urban centers.

Most people understand that our choice to be vegan, is simply that, our choice. If you factor in the benefits our way of eating has to impacts on the environment and the sustainability of life on earth, there really is no other way to eat. And if my opinion is of no consequence, here's a quote from arguably one of the most intelligent human beings to ever walk the earth, Albert Einstein:

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."


  1. I have a feeling that Mr. Bourdain is his own irritant. To go so overboard in lambasting people who don’t want to exploit animals, to me, reeks of defensiveness, guilt, insecurity, and inner turmoil, however well-suppressed and disguised.

    Mr. Bourdain would find that life is immeasurably more satisfying and worth living if he let others live. This is the experience of just about every former vegan skeptic who goes vegan and stays vegan for ethical reasons. You won’t find true happiness if you prevent others from pursuing it. Food even tastes better when you stop killing for pleasure; cruelty leaves a bitter aftertaste.

    I would challenge Mr. Bourdain to come up with his own vegan versions of his recipes, and prove that he’s as good a chef as the vegan cookbook authors and food bloggers who produce masterful, non-violent culinary creations.

    Mr. Bourdain, join our side. Don’t fight it. Listen to your conscience. Don’t believe your over-the-top rhetoric. We vegans love life so much that we don’t steal it from others.

  2. Gary — Well said. We love the idea of Bourdain coming out with a vegan cookbook. I doubt he’d do it, but people do have the capacity to surprise!

  3. The only thing better then serving animals in ones restaurant is to serve animals whose slaughter you were a part of. Believe me it’s not easy work and you do all you can to “honor” them in our cooking so there sacrifice wasn’t in vain.
    I have one vegetarian option on my menu. No vegan ones though. I keep it on there because if someone wants to pay me 25 dollars for a plate of grilled Vegtables… Awesome. Makes it easier for me to sell more expensive cuts of meat.
    Also this argument about being more satisfied by letting creatures live and so on. One question why don’t the animals let each other live? Are they unethical?
    Also what about people like the inuet and native americans who would have died off if not for seals and buffalo respectivley, do they not love life because they “steal” it from others?
    Your arguments are as flawed as Bourdains.
    Silly Hippies

  4. NYCook:

    You can best honor the animals by letting them live, and allowing them to pursue their most urgent and compelling interests. You would want the same if your fate was in someone else’s hands.

    To kill animals because you like the taste of their flesh demeans and devalues rather than honors them.

    Our choice of words can slant the truth. The animals whose corpses appear on your plates did not make a “sacrifice.” They were killed at your behest, for your profit and indulgence.

    You ask why animals don’t let other animals live. The question may be rhetorical, but I’ll answer it as if it were not. Most of our closest primate ancestors are vegan or nearly so. Many other animals, including cows, sheep, elephants, and hippos, are vegan. But cats eat mice and bears eat salmon because a) they have to, b) they don’t have our capacity of understanding of golden rule ethics. We don’t judge the morality of human behaviors based on whether another species engages in them. Rather, we judge them on near-universal, fundamental principles pertaining to humans, such as the golden rule, “first do no harm,” mercy, kindness, and compassion.

    If an Inuit – or anyone – is in a position where they must kill animals to live, that is morally justifiable. The vast majority of us in the developed world – including you, I would imagine – are not in that position. Read “The Indians Killed Buffalo and Used the Whole Animal. When I Eat Meat, I’m Honoring Indians.” to see how eating meat in our current society – out of choice, not necessity – dishonors both the Indians and animals, and how adopting a peaceful vegan diet honors both.

    I assume you’re talented and creative cooks. Thus, you can surely do better than a plate of grilled vegetables. Check out vegan cookbooks such as Vegan With a Vengeance and The Joy of Vegan Baking, or peruse vegan cooking blogs such as VeganYumYum to get an idea of the diversity and depth of vegan cuisine. You may be amazed.

    For that matter, check out some of the food-related posts in this blog.

    Let me know when you’ve expanded your vegan selections; I’d be happy to drop by and pay good money for an inspired, well-prepared gourmet vegan meal.

  5. NY Cook,
    “Honoring” them in your cooking? What do you do differently to cook the animals you have personally slaughtered versus the prepackaged animal products you purchase? If I were a customer in your restaurant, I would hope you would prepare all the food you serve with the same level of care, otherwise, why eat at your establishment? Your disregard for people who want a vegetarian/vegan option means I would never frequent the establishment you work at. I don’t eat at In-n-Out Burger because they don’t have anything suitable for me on their menu. I vote with my wallet. If my dollars don’t matter, good for you.

    I don’t agree with hunting animals, however I have far less issue with someone who hunts an animal and eats it (hopefully the whole animal) than with the process of factory farming where animals live out their lives in the most abysmal of conditions and are then tortured before finally being dismembered, sometimes while still alive. Let me be clear though: I believe that it is wrong to kill a sentient being for food when there are so many other options available to us. “It tastes good” is not a valid reason to me.

    I am not trying to force you to be vegan. We live in America, you have the right to make your own choices. Hopefully, your choices are informed rather than based on habit. What Jane and I strive to do here is to present information about our experiences as vegans. If that causes you to reevaluate your diet, great. If that causes you to change your diet, even better. But ultimately, it’s still your choice.

    As for you statement that “your arguments are as flawed as Bourdains” — you have not presented my arguments. I never claimed that animals were unethical because they eat other animals. Some animals eat other animals in the wild because they have no other choice. Nor did the Inuit or other Native American Tribes have a choice. Prehistoric man ate what he could get, it was an issue of survival. Jane’s grandparents were incredibly poor subsistence farmers and when their livestock no longer produced eggs or milk, or they were that hungry, they killed an animal and ate it. ALL of it. I don’t condemn them for their actions. They had no other choice. In this day and age, and in this country, the vast majority of people have a choice in what they consume. There is no need to torture animals (and factory farming is torture) in order to eat. If it were an issue of survival, I would eat animal flesh. It’s not, so I won’t.

    Finally, this blog is not about name calling. If you would like to present rational discussions from the omnivores point of view, you are welcome to comment. If you are going to be derisive, please vent elsewhere.

  6. Anthony Bourdain is a selfish tool (yes, tool). He thinks all animals (and this world) are a resource for him to use. He thinks that eating all these animal parts makes him some kind of macho, real-man, tough guy. I think he’s a chicken sh*t poser who doesn’t have the balls to do all that slaughtering himself. His whole schtick is for ratings and money. Thats all.

  7. Hey Dan,
    Well that’s one way to put it. We too were very put-off by his machismo and self-agrrandizing attitude. How much of that is actually Bourdain and how much is his producers?… Either way, we’re not fans.

  8. I love how he condemns being vegetarian or vegan, but gets all squemish when he does the occassional hunting thing. It really is easy to eat meat when it comes in a convient, plastic-wrapped package.

  9. Hi Scarlett,
    How ironic! I did see a few minutes of his stint on the Tonight Show (or Letterman?) one night. He struck me as being a much less “macho” guy than he appears on TV. It really felt like that was a persona, and he wasn’t all that interested in assuming that identity outside of the show. Of course, I could be completely misinterpreting what I saw, but in reality, I don’t care enough to find out.

  10. I am a life-long vegetarian [born to practicing Hindus in India], and I cannot stress how much I dislike “fake meat”, textured vegetable protein, and tofu [unless I cook it]. Tofu sucks – unless you are a great cook, and if you eat South Indian Vegetarian food, you will hate TVP.

    Bottom-line: Vegetarians and vegans – please live and let live. Even Anthony Bourdain likes my kind of vegetarian food. Proof? See this video…..

  11. Who else is going to keep the animal population in check? Don’t worry, our day is coming….not to mention most of you probably drive around with long dead animals in your gas tank. Way too honor them!

  12. As demand for animal products decreases, we’ll quit breeding them. The answer to this question – and the one about gasoline – is on the FAQ page of any animal rights or vegan web site written in the last 25 years.

  13. People who eat animal just forget that we vegans and vegetarians are against suffering, pain, injustice and massacre. Everybody will die but no one needs to suffer before it. Animals suffer for years before they die just because they “taste”good. Maybe we taste good as well. Who knows? Only because of that we are going to “eat” each other? We really don’t need to eat animals, we can find everything our body needs in a plant based diet. Actually after I became vegetarian I started to eat better and healthier than before. I am very proud of myself and the only thing I regret is why it took me too long to become vegetarian.

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