Why exactly do people take shark fin soup?
Shark fin is actually tasteless. The ‘enjoyment’ comes from the texture; slippery with a slight bite. But really, you ought to ask yourself, is it really the shark fin that you are enjoying, or the many flavours incorporated into it through seasonings? Because if it the flavours you like, then why not got for some other soup that is cooked the same way, with the same ingredients, without the shark fin. And so I’ve heard of people quoting its health benefits, but seriously, how much are you going to achieve through one bowl of shark fin soup? It’s not something that we middle-class beings eat on a daily basis. Eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water, exercise and stay away from too much ciggies and alcohol. You’ll gain heaps more health benefits that way than through the consumption of a bowl of shark fin soup.
I think status is the one prominent to the popularity of shark fin soup at weddings. It is freakin expensive, therefore it reflects status on the dinner host. It is freakin expensive, therefore the dinner guests enjoy shark fin soup. Kind of like value for money, kind of eating a delicacy that does not come around too often. You know the monetary value behind it, therefore you enjoy it.
I compare this eating shark fin soup because of the hefty price tag to liking a hideous branded handbag, because it costs thousands of dollars. It helps you make an impression because of the price tag. Therefore you purchase/carry it around.
While we’re on handbags – fakes are selling everywhere. The case is the same with shark fin soup. Because the real deal is costly, fake shark fin is being sold and this is usually mixed with a little of the real thing. This is usually not done with an intention to conserve, but instead to cut cost. Some unscrupulous restaurants do that and charge dinner hosts for the real thing. This is wrong on so many levels I guess I don’t have to point them out one by one. And I’m sorry for eaters who thought they were getting the real deal in terms of taste, health benefits and value for ang pows given.
How do we fix the problem that has been shark torturers for ages and blasting sharks to the brink of extinction?
Simply by saying NO.
If the wedding guests said no to shark fin soup, the hosts are not likely to order it. They would probably be glad not to have to order it from the caterer and having to put all that extra weight onto the already humongous catering-bill after all the money spent on photographs, wedding packages, room/house renovations or buying a new nest, their honeymoon and etc. hosts not ordering shark fin soup from caterers means less demand in for shark fin in the market means less shark finning.
As for the marrying couples and wedding dinner hosts, I believe that awareness rules over the status, anytime. Being aware of the hazard from serving shark fin soup is way better than serving it for the purpose of making a good impression, because you don’t. The impression you would mostly likely give out is of your ignorance. Shark fin soup has been incorporated into wedding tradition in most asian countries, but that does not mean we must blindly follow tradition when it is wrong in so many ways. Countless traditions have been broken; why not break this “tradition” that brings more harm than good too.
It may be hard, every bit of effort counts – not taking shark fin soup, not ordering shark fin soup, not buying shark fin. I myself used to have second thoughts rejecting the bowl of soup offered to me. But I believe someone has to start making a change somewhere, and if I take that bowl of soup, no one would ever wonder what is wrong with the girl with an issue with shark fin soup and no one would know about the plight of sharks. The society or the older generation may insist on shark fin soup, but that is because many of them are not aware. YOU, the younger generation hold the responsibility of conservation on your shoulders – you should know better.
When the buying stops, the killing does too. =)