I've been a vegetarian now for almost six years, and I pride myself on not being - what I've dubbed - an "a**hole veggie". You know the type of herbivore I'm talking about. The kind of person who won't let you bring meat into their apartment, won't date anyone who eats it, and if they're a vegan, well, they see no difference between vegetarians and omnivores.
When it comes to food, I'm all about choice. Personally, I'm not down for eating something that used to be alive. After my pet rabbit got eaten by a fox, I couldn't justify why his death made me so sad and yet I happily nommed on lambs no different from the ones frolicking on the hill behind my house. While I was unable to stop eating meat there and then (I was 12), years of perseverance paid off and when I was in my late teens my mom finally conceded to making two dinners.
After all, when it comes to food, kids are pretty reliant on their parents and carers, and huge lifestyle choices at an age when you're constantly changing aren't always met with enthusiasm. But for students at a high school and junior high in Nebraska, their reliance on caregivers led to them unknowingly consuming kangaroo meat in a cafeteria chili.
The incident happened at Potter-Dix High School and Junior High and was the work of chef Kevin Frei. He had mixed the kangaroo meat with beef to make the chili and served it as the main course for lunch on Thursday of last week.
Superintendent Mike Williams said that he'd no knowledge of the marsupial meat until after it had been served to the students. A number of students reportedly fell ill as a result of eating the meat and Frei was fired from his position, KSID reported.
While sickness was reported by a mother on Facebook, it is not known how many students fell unwell, what the severity of their condition was, and whether or not it was actually the chili that was responsible for causing their sickness.
After the incident, the superintendent posted a letter to parents, in which, he wrote that kangaroo meat was not "unhealthy or dangerous", but added that he did not approve of the chef's decision to add it to the chili.
"If a family wants to eat exotic foods, they can do so on their own time - not at school," he wrote.
"If we were to have foods or ingredients that are out of the ordinary, they should be listed on the menu so that the students and families are aware of what they are being served."
"We will not be serving food of this nature again. Period."
The chef explained that he added the meat to the chili because "of its nutritional value and because it is a very lean meat."
While the meat might not have been the first choice for students and parents, it had been approved as safe for consumption by USDA inspectors and bought from Sysco, a food and service provider.
Needless to say, the majority of kangaroo meat is produced in Australia and the Ecological Society of Australia, the Australasian Wildlife Management Society and the Australian Mammal Society have all approved its harvesting.
Naturally, people had a lot to say about the incident on social media, and Facebook user David F. Mead shared my opinion of eating different animals by writing that this incident was nothing more than an example of speciesism in action.
"Actual meals I've eaten: potato salad made from frozen hash browns, meat lasagna... the meat was hot dogs, a wedding dinner of bologna salad sandwiches, cow brains and pancakes, fried spam sandwich, S.O.S. on toast, flan, minced meat pie, figgy pudding, hockey puck strew, oyster dressing," he wrote.
"I would have killed for some hippity-hoppity chili!"
For anyone unfamiliar with speciesism, in short, it's assigning more value to one animal than another because of its species.
Whereas Tina Pfister remarked, "Once I found a dime sized rock in my spaghetti at school. I mean... at least they aren't being fed rocks?!"
Another Facebook user believed that there was disproportionate outrage about the incident was Mike Schubert.
He wrote, "So explain to me.... how is it different from pork, chicken, bison, horse,. frog legs, turkey, snake, bear, beef, or whatever, if you are hungry you eat it, it's all good for you... in lighten me. [sic]"
While I personally see no difference between eating a kangaroo and a cow, people do deserve to chose what animals they do and do not consume, even if their choices are entirely influenced by speciesism.
What do you think of this incident? Would you be filing a complaint if your child's school had them unknowingly eat kangaroo? Let us know in the comments section.