An Arizona taco restaurant is using lion meat to garner a bunch of free publicity. Boca Tacos y Tequila is accepting pre-orders for tacos made out of ground up African lion.
This might sound a little familiar. Last year, another Arizona restaurant, Il Vinaio (not affiliated with Boca Tacos y Tequila), made headlines when it offered lion burgers on its menu. When the news broke, over 1,000 members of the Change.org community joined the effort to convince Il Vinaio to stop serving lion, and Il Vinaio's owners saw the light.
Apparently Bryan Mazon, who owns Boca Tacos y Tequila, didn't learn from Il Vinaio's mistakes. Worse, he makes no bones about the fact that this is nothing more than a crass publicity stunt, telling the Arizona Daily Star, "I'm doing the African lion to get my name out ... In all reality, what I want is just people to know that I'm here. That's the way to do it."
And it worked. Do a quick Google search of Boca Tacos y Tequila, and you'll see it's all over the internet. Of course, not all publicity is good publicity, and with more consumers thinking sustainably about the food they buy, being a purveyor of exotic and highly unsustainable food might not be the PR bonanza Mazon wants.
So what's all the fuss about lion meat anyway? Are we just having some sort of knee-jerk reaction because lion isn't a part of our Western diet? After all, the FDA says it's just fine.
Well not exactly. Sarah Parsons, over at our Sustainable Food blog, calls lion meat, "so earth-unfriendly it makes Burger King burgers look like sustainable wonder-foods."
And, even though the lion meat Bryan Mazon wants to turn into little tacos of unsustainable yuck is raised in America, not kidnapped from the plains of Africa, it's still unsustainable.
Writing about that other Arizona restaurant, Stephanie Feldstein points out that the more restaurants serve an exotic meat like lion, the more demand you see. That, in turn, means more poaching for an already vulnerable population in the wild. It's a local problem with global ramifications.
It's also inhumane lion "farms" in America are not suitable habitats for these creatures.
And again, for Bryan Mazon, it's not even about some sort of esoteric culinary experience (not that that would excuse it), it's about publicity, about getting people to buy tacos so Mazon can laugh all the way to the bank.
As I mentioned above, this isn't the first time we've seen lion on the menu. When Il Vinaio tried it, you responded, and Il Vinaio backed off. Now, you've got to step up again. Tell Bryan Mazon to be a responsible restauranteur and take lion off the menu.