Bizarre "Death For Food" Event Cancelled After Online Petition

In Depth

I want you to try to think of the weirdest concept for a high-priced avant garde dinner that you can. Did that concept involve watching someone literally kill your dinner, as well as being able to go full Viking yourself on a chicken or turkey to take home later? Because that’s a thing.

Or at least it was. An event called “Death For Food” that was scheduled to be held outside of San Diego, California, near the Tijuana border, has been cancelled after 2,400 people signed a petition urging Suzie’s Farm, the planned host, to call it off. Numerous signees spoke of their intent to boycott Suzie’s Farm if they didn’t cancel the lamb, chicken, and turkey dinner, and the family-run farm became too concerned with the potential business loss to go through with the scheduled November 23 event. Plates would’ve cost $150-300 and would’ve been prepared by some of the regions most high-profile chefs.

I’m not up in arms against the now-cancelled dinner on moral grounds or anything — if you’re willing to eat the animal, there’s nothing ethically wrong with watching someone humanely kill it (or doing it yourself for the sake of your doggy bag). It beats the hell out of the factory farm system, that’s for damn sure. I’m just genuinely confused why anyone would actually want to pay $150-300 for the privilege of attending that event. I mean, OK, yes, hipsters, obviously, but what are they even getting out of it?

It’s not like any part of the event was inhumane, though; as weird as it sounds to me that someone could possibly be interested in this, the animals were being humanely killed and they weren’t being mistreated (it’s a family farm, after all, not an arm of Big Agra). It’s important if unsurprising to note that the petition was started by a San Diego lawyer and proud vegan named Brian Pease who started his petition with the sentence “Killing animals is exactly what is wrong with our food system on so many levels.” Don’t be alarmed by that weird sound you just heard — that was just my eyes rolling so hard they fell out of my skull.

Food writer Troy Johnson, who’d been scheduled to speak at the event, fired a scathing retort at Pease after he and his supporters claimed victory:

“I haven’t spoken with them directly, but I’d bet my life savings Suzie’s didn’t cancel Death for Food because they agree with you (they’ve been behind Death for Food the entire way). They canceled because your uninformed, reckless accusations caused financial harm to their farm. A farm that has done great work in San Diego. Their crime was not organizing their business around your value system.”
To Pease, he wrote: “You sunk it on an ignorant, reactionary, extremist whim. Many people have offered to help us pull off the event somewhere. We likely will. Still, you should be proud that you’ve been able to do harm to my friend and a good, progressive, ethical San Diego farm.”

As weird as I think this event is (seriously, why?!), I’m struggling to come up with an ethical issue unless you think any meat-eating is some horrible crime (in which case your opinion can be safely dismissed). Legal issues, on the other hand, are a potential concern: Suzie’s Farm did say as part of its event cancellation announcement that there were issues involving USDA meat approval, which is certainly understandable. Still, it’s kind of annoying that it even looks like some loopy SoCal vegans got the event cancelled for no reason other than that it offended their delicate sensibilities.

Also important to note: plenty of vegans are perfectly nice, non-judgmental people and aren’t nearly as insufferable as Brian Pease or the 2,400 people who signed this petition. I actually might feel worst for them since they have to get lumped in with people like him.

Image via HLPhoto/Shutterstock.

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