Someday I'll stop eating meat completely. Until then: behold, the most glorious burger in Iceland!

February 22nd, 2014, 2pm

My practical philosophy — the collection of beliefs and ideas by which I live my life — are centered around freedom, and the pursuit of new knowledge, experiences, and perspectives.

That means limitations are counter-intuitive to my goals. I may try going without a phone for a year, for example, but I wouldn’t say, “No more phones for me! Ever!” That would be limiting myself, and would hinder my ability to see the world from myriad perspectives (to understand what apps are all about for example, or to understand how teenagers communicate via text).

There’s a restaurant here in Reykjavík called MAR. It’s right on the water, has a lovely exposed darkwood interior, and is seldom crowded. It also serves up the best burger in Iceland.

Now, I don’t eat a lot of meat, but a burger is a simple dish that often serves as a barometer of sorts for everything else on a restaurant’s menu. If you can produce a perfect burger, which is such a basic concept, it’s likely that your lasagna and soup and everything else is excellent, as well.

The burger at MAR is magical. Crispy bits of bacon, höfðingi cheese, shiitake mushrooms, tomato-apple chutney, and the perfect crunch to the (not overzealously bulky) bread. Every time I’ve eaten this burger, it’s been perfectly cooked. The kind of menu item you find yourself recommending to everyone, all the time.

But despite the delicious wonders to be found in the burger world (and the larger meat world, as a whole), I do think I’ll stop eating it completely, or almost completely, someday.

The hands of time are ticking on the age where we could ignore the sentience found in many animals, and as soon as we say, definitively, that whales and some types of bird and dolphins and elephants and the like can think, feel, have hurt feelings, and become remorseful over the death of a loved one, in a very human way, the meat industry as it exists today will become a far more complicated place.

This is something I’ve been watching closely, and as more and more studies are verified and supported by other studies, I’m willing to bet in a few decades, meat, as we eat it today, won’t be a thing. Except in rare instances, that is.

Most “meat” we consume will be of the finger-quoted variety. Vat-grown, imitation meat. As someone who subsists primarily without meat today, I can tell you the barbarians at the gate — the pseudo-meats and recipes that use veggies or whatnot instead — are already damn delicious. With so much VC money going into ostensibly even better options today, I think there will probably be some initial uproar from meat-eating purists, but after a year or two, we’ll be just as happy with the new kid (insert goat meat joke here) on the block; especially once they amp up their PR to explain how much water and other resources we’re saving by skipping the traditional “birth animal, raise animal to adulthood, kill animal, eat animal” method of producing protein-rich calories.

Even after that day comes, though, I doubt I’ll ever call myself a vegetarian or vegan, despite being 99% there already. Being free to make exceptions, in the face of social mores different from my own, or survival necessity, or some other variable I can’t think of now, but which may become important later, is important to me. It’s important to my education and understanding the big picture.

I get food restrictions, and have all kinds of respect for folks who adhere to different flavors of them, but restrictions, other than as temporary viewpoints to look at the world from, are not for me.

I do look forward to a time when we’re able to produce more with less, however. And I look forward to being able to recommend a vat-grown burger with tomato-apple chutney to anyone who will listen.

Annie, Amal, Christine, Valerie and 4 others said thanks.

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Colin Wright

Author, entrepreneur, and full-time traveler / I move to a new country every four months based on the votes of my readers / My work ( / My blog ( / My publishing company (

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