Invasivorism & Reasonable Questions

Grey squirrels have driven the local extinction of the native red across much of England and Wales. Photograph: Paul Broadbent/Alamy

If you do not eat animal protein, this concept may not appeal to you. But if you allow that others who eat meat may be able to do so ethically, then read on.

If you do eat any kind of meat, then it is a reasonable question whether invasive species are fair game: Rack of squirrel, anyone? The chefs putting invasive species on the menu

Roast rack of squirrel, fondant jersey royal potatoes, carrot and wild garlic served at Paul Wedgwood’s restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photograph: Wedgwood

‘Invasivorism’ is a growing ethical dining trend but is ‘eat them to beat them’ really the answer?

From oral contraceptives to proposals to edit their DNA, efforts to control the UK’s invasive grey squirrel population have become increasingly elaborate. But a growing number of chefs and conservationists have a far simpler idea, which they see as part of the trend in ethical dining: eat them.

“My original starting point with grey squirrel was taste. But it’s also great for the environment,” says Paul Wedgwood, one of Scotland’s leading chefs, whose restaurant on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile has had grey squirrel on the menu since 2008. Wedgwood has even made haggis from the North American rodent that has driven the local extinction of the native red across much of England and Wales.

“It’s mellow, nutty and a bit gamey. It’s just a really nice flavour, and it’s easy to match. Anyone who’s doing rabbit could just easily swap in squirrel,” he says.

Wedgwood is not alone among chefs putting invasive species on the menu. At Dai Due restaurant in Austin, Texas, owner and chef Jesse Griffiths is encouraging Americans to hunt and eat more of the millions of feral hogs that cause billions of dollars of damage to farmland. In the Bahamas, Michelin-starred chef José Andrés is serving up invasive lionfish to help protect reefs in the Caribbean. At Fallow in London, chefs are planning to cook king crab, the latest arrival on British shores that has sparked fears for native brown crab and scallop populations.

Read the entire article here.

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