The controversies surrounding the eating of various animals in our modern world are numerous: the hunting of bluefin tuna to near-extinction; eating shark fin soup (in which only the fin is used and the rest of the shark is often discarded); the consumption of dogs in various Asian countries; the use of endangered animals for Chinese medicine; and even the feedlots behind the huge beef industry in the U.S.

All of this raises an important question: How do we decide what to eat? Should it be based on intelligence of the animal? Danger of extinction? Food culture? Cuteness? Or something else? We used to hunt bison in the U.S., where we pursued over 30 million of the animals to the brink of extinction. The Plains bison was only saved after hunting them was controlled, and now about 40,000 of the ungulates are bred, raised and killed specifically for consumption.

No one has a problem with Southeast Asians eating rats or North Americans getting out the bow and arrow and picking off a squirrel. In the U.S., when it comes to hobbies that involve killing game, whether with bows and arrows or rifles, it's the very consumption of the animal that validates its demise (as opposed to just killing wild animals and leaving them for dead, which is frowned upon). We've been game hunting forever, right? We were originally hunters and gatherers. This is what makes up a country's food culture, and why eating particular animals in one country seems OK, while in another it's considered outrageous.