There are many Vietnamese dishes that stray from the American mainstream of meats like beef, chicken, pork, and fishes like salmon and tuna. These exotic dishes are of course, delicious, but you have to admit there are some dishes that make even American-born Vietnamese cringe.
We all know the “scary” boiled duck egg with the tiny fetus still growing inside of it, known as balut, or hot vit lon, in Vietnamese. If you weren’t introduced to this food at a young age—it’s a scary thing to eat, as it was demonstrated on the show Fear Factor in 2006. There are many other exotic foods that were enjoyed in Vietnam—but not anymore.
There are areas of Vietnam that are protected natural wildlife, and it would be favorable to keep it that way. With so many exotic foods coming from this natural wildlife, authorities are beginning to crack down on poachers in order to preserve one of the few beautiful rain forests left in the world.
Two weeks ago, officers had raided a restaurant in Dalat, Vietnam, confiscating over twenty different species of illegally poached animals amounting to over 850 lbs of meat. Meats on the protected list that were confiscated included, but are not limited to, pangolins, porcupines, mouse deer, monitor lizards, bears and snakes. (1) Over a dozen restaurant owners were arrested for violating such a serious law.
Along with restaurant owners, those who were also arrested were the poachers, and those involved in transporting and selling them—the middlemen. Regarding the arrests, the head of Lam Dong Forest Protection Department, Mr. Binh Thanh Tran publicly stated that “the campaign today is our warning shot to illegal wildlife traders that Lam Dong province will not condone wildlife violators anymore.” (2)
Many restaurants have already taken the pledge not to participate in the gruesome slaughtering and serving of endangered protected animals of Vietnam. When the campaign committed to protecting Vietnam’s biodiversity by not serving wildlife products or species protected under Vietnamese law was launched on October 1, 2009, over 150 restaurants took the pledge in that month alone. (3)
These are only a few restaurants among the infinite within the country of Vietnam that have taken this pledge. What about the mom and pop shops and small street vendors? How will the country enforce the law to protect endangered animals from being slaughtered, fried and boiled for a few bucks on the street? The future and fate of the ecosystem of Vietnam is much more important than a small profit.
The director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Asian Programs, Joe Walston, called the illegal (though sometimes legal) trade in wildlife the “single largest threat” to biodiversity in Asia. In a statement he released in relation to the raids conducted on the restaurants in Vietnam, he declared that “strict enforcement of existing laws, such as what is happening in Lam Dong, is crucial to stemming this crisis, so that wildlife can thrive for future generations.” (4)
Vietnam is a beautiful country fortunate enough to have more than one climate and environment, and the natural environment must be preserved. We can’t just protect the trees and flowers and hope everything will be okay. It is a web and a connection between the wildlife and the natural plants that help keep an environment stable, and these animals must be protected to conserve the country that more and more foreigners are visiting and vacationing in each year.