Shark Fin and Bird’s Nest Soup

Shark Fin and Bird’s Nest Soup

This controversial restaurant serves both shark's fin and bird's nest soup - don't eat there!

Shark Fin Soup

Part of being a responsible traveller means that you know and care where your food comes from and what effect it might have on our environment.

All throughout Borneo you will see plenty of Chinese restaurants serving shark fin soup. This soup is incorrectly claimed to have anti-cancer effects and high nutritional value. In fact, if consumed regularly shark’s fin soup actually causes sterility in men due to the high content of mercury and other toxins.

A simple vegetable soup contains more nutrients than shark’s fin soup!

Any shark can be used for preparation of the soup. There are certain types of sharks that are valued higher and these sharks are highly endangered. After the fin is cut off from the living shark, the rest of the body is simply thrown back to the sea. The sharks can not swim any more so they suffer a slow death; much meat is wasted.

Sharks only kill less than an average of five humans per year, while an estimated minimum of 73 million — yes, that’s 73,000,000 — sharks are killed each year, primarily for use in shark’s fin soup. To put this into perspective, consider that 8,328 sharks are killed per hour — every day of the year. Numbers from some conservation groups put the annual slaughter at over 100 million sharks. Sharks are being taken much faster than they can reproduce, all because of greed and the myth of health benefits. Shark’s fin soup is actually almost tasteless!

Please be aware of these facts before you try your first bowl of shark’s fin soup. Eating the soup is a way for many Chinese families to prove their wealth and status. As a responsible traveler you can surely spend this money on something else. We’d rather see the sharks in the sea rather than in people’s bellies!

Bird’s Nest Soup

Be curious yet at the same time a smart and responsible traveller – even when it comes to food. Consuming bird’s nest soup is vitally unethical — not to mention the price!

Bird’s nest soup is prepared from edible swiftlet’s nests — glutinous, thick lumps of dried bird saliva that are cooked into a broth. In Borneo, the nests are harvested from the caves, mainly the vast limestone Gomantong Caves in Sabah and the Niah Caves in Sarawak. The nests should be collected only after the young swiftlets have abandoned these nests, but high demand on the market convinces the nest harvesters to do otherwise. Unlicensed collectors take their chances, risking high penalties as well as their lives, to gather the nests illegally – sometimes throwing out the baby birds from the nests.

Status-seeking Chinese believe that the soup helps the growth, skin complexion, sex drive, prevents lung disease and slows ageing. None of these benefits have ever been proven, although bird’s nest soup is high in calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium.

These days the edible bird’s nests are among the most costly animal products consumed by humans.

A bowl of bird’s nest soup will set you back between $30 – $100 U.S. dollars!

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Meet the Author:

Alexandra Krajanova comes from Piestany, Slovakia, and has lived in Ireland for the last six years. She has been around the world, but fell in love with Borneo and Southeast Asia.

Alex travels full-time, usually in search of spicy food, white sand, and the next great adventure.