Junior Vegan Masterchef?

» June 1st, 2014

My son and I just finished the final episode of Masterchef Junior. It’s a compelling show. I’d even say that—the obvious detriment notwithstanding—it’s a great show. Kids aged 8-13 draw upon a wealth of hidden talent and experience to cook meals that could be featured in any top restaurant in the country. The show offers an important reminder that, when parents back off a bit and let kids loose they can force you to redefine “age appropriate” behavior. ¬†Inspired, my son has practically commandeered the kitchen and gone to work. I’m now watching him make a vegan tempura batter. Yum.

Now, to that obvious detriment notwithstanding. The recipes on Masterchef Junior would make a carnivore quiver like a tuning fork. When the judges taste the superlative results emanating from the kids’ kitchen, their reaction is visceral. They lurch forward, brows furrowed, eyes rolling back into their heads. “I want to give you a hug,” one of them might say. ¬†Or, “this meal could be a restaurant’s signature dish.” The kids beam.

The suffering behind it all is the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. The failure to connect the animal products to the animals was especially clear when the kid who ended up winning the competition—aged 13—cooked a meal that the judges said was the best they’d seen and tasted in four years. It was a veal chop. With that victory, the essence of our culture’s disconnection from the food we eat was affirmed. My son and I could not help but note that the winner won because he cooked a baby cow.

Vegans are increasingly getting involved in all sorts of video projects, many of which are necessarily dark and depressing. A cooking show that featured kids cooking first rate vegan meals, being judged by top vegan chefs, could be a great way to raise awareness, celebrate kids’ interest in plant-based cuisine, and demonstrate that a vegan, too, can melt with pleasure when tasting finely prepared food.

5 Responses to Junior Vegan Masterchef?

  1. Dominic says:

    Good blog, James – I always follow your writings with interest and delight. We don’t have Junior Masterchef in Australia, but these types of shows are otherwise just as rampant (we have the original) — I blogged a perspective of my own on them a little while ago that touches on some similar points: http://dominiclennard.com/2014/02/14/my-kitchen-ideology-rules/). Your point about encouraging healthy nutrition in children is obviously one of crucial importance right now, and I have been similarly disturbed by the way these shows work to deprive food of any ethical dimension.

  2. Rebecca Allen says:

    Love the idea, James. I watched some of the cooking shows for awhile, but, the more connections I made, I found I couldn’t watch them. Ellen Degeneres has a project page where she says might pick a project to support. Maybe a Children’s Plant based cooking show could be one!

  3. Elaine Brown says:

    Kids are unlikely to ever want to cook a “baby cow”, actually a “baby bull” as veal is always the male as they have no economic use as a male. So it would be a great way not only for already vegan, but to move others at the least to vegetarian.

    I personally eat eggs raised by hens raised in my own yard for life and a great life I might add, but I have personal health problems that have eliminated all fruit and sugars from my diet and limited other food such as legumes. Therefore, I seek out healthy non-killed protein. For those who can eat a full diet, the way is vegan and kids is where it needs to start. Great idea.

  4. Mountain says:

    I like your thinking, James. And you, too, Dominic, Rebecca, and Elaine.

  5. Ellen K says:

    Love the idea, and kudos to your son (who’s welcome to exercise his culinary skills in this kitchen any time)

    Also effective for shifting public consciousness would be to get vegan entries on the existing carnist shows so that participants, judges and viewers — who otherwise reject the very notion of gourmet vegan as oxymoronic, or at least have simply never considered it — can be exposed to and sent into raptures by this cuisine. So great when vegan options win top prizes over traditional entries: witness Sticky Fingers cupcakes, Dunwell donuts

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