The Diet Anthony Bourdain Took Real Issue With

Anthony Bourdain appreciated all types of food. From spicy hot to mild. From fine dining to pizza at the Jersey Shore; he loved and had a passion for it all. Tony was never shy about what he liked and what he didn't like and never minced words when it came to something he stood up for, believed in, or frankly disliked. Anthony was a chef who fell into writing by chance after submitting a piece to The New Yorker Magazine that would eventually turn into his first book, "Kitchen Confidential," where he peeled the layers back on the hedonistic world of the restaurant industry.

Food was a friend to Tony. It was a way to truly understand the culture of an area and a way those from different backgrounds could connect. Therefore, in trying to figure out what Tony honestly had an issue with when it came to food, look no further than those who adopted a vegetarian diet.

Anthony Bourdain didn't mince words when it came to those who did not eat meat

In his book "Kitchen Confidential," Anthony wrote, per One Green Planet, "Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food."

Tony felt that vegetarians made for "bad travelers and bad guests" (via Playboy). He admitted that the notion that when you travel that you are "unwilling to try things that people take so personally and are so proud of and so generous with, I don't understand that I think it's rude. You're at Grandma's house; you eat what Grandma serves you."

He also was quite vocal about meat substitutes

In 2018, Tony spoke at length about the then-new-meat substitute called the Impossible Burger, which is now regularly seen in supermarkets. The Impossible Burger is a lab-manufactured meat substitute with a taste, texture, and look similar to red meat but contains no animal products (via Vox).

Tony felt that if this particular product would help feed hungry people, he was all for it. However, at the same time, he shared that his background as a chef makes him feel otherwise. Tony said in an interview for Eater in 2018, "as somebody who spent 30 years as a chef, of course, I'm going to be resistant to the notion that there's any replacement for the texture and musculature and funk of real meat. So, I'm resistant to it. I hate the idea that people are selling this at a premium at hip restaurants. You know, it doesn't fill me with joy. It makes me fearful of a Soylent Green future."

Bourdain had strong opinions on vegetarian diners

Tony had his own strong opinion about vegetarian diners, as noted in a passage quoted from "Kitchen Confidential." While he respected their choice to eat as they wished, he stated that some of the vegetarians he had worked with were not the most healthy people, including some of his own kitchen staff. 

He shared his own take about the way he believed some vegetarians may have thought about eating meat products. "The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It's healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I've worked with is brought down by any rumor of a cold. Oh, I'll accommodate them, I'll rummage around for something to feed them, for a 'vegetarian plate,' if called on to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine" (via GoodReads).

Tony didn't have patience for those who practiced vegetarianism

In a 1999 essay for The New Yorker titled "Don't' Eat Before Reading This," which jumpstarted his writing career, he broke open the behind-the-scenes world of the restaurant industry. He gave readers the nuts and bolts of the world that few got to experience, and food waste was not an option. Want to order the fish special on a Monday? Think twice, he revealed. In restaurant kitchens, fish was likely ordered on a Thursday for the weekend rush and had been sitting in the refrigerator for days by the time the following week rolled around.

He also spoke of patrons who would rather eat their steak well-done. Tony wrote, "People who order their meat well-done perform a valuable service for those of us in the business who are cost-conscious: they pay for the privilege of eating our garbage. In many kitchens, there's a time-honored practice when one of the cooks finds a particularly unlovely piece of steak—tough, riddled with nerve and connective tissue, off the hip end of the loin, and maybe a little stinky from age—he'll dangle it in the air and say, 'Hey, Chef, whaddya want me to do with this?' 'Save for well-done.'"

Anthony Bourdain took issue with people who objected to certain meats on nonreligious grounds

In his New Yorker article, he was "amused" as a chef when he heard people object to eating pork on nonreligious grounds. "Swine are filthy animals," they say. These people have never visited a poultry farm. Chicken—America's favorite food—goes bad quickly; handled carelessly, it infects other foods with salmonella; and it bores the hell out of chefs. It occupies its ubiquitous place on menus as an option for customers who can't decide what they want to eat."

Tony then took on those who spoke poorly regarding one of his favorite meats, his beloved pork, saying that "farmers stopped feeding garbage to pigs decades ago, and even if you eat pork rare, you're more likely to win the Lotto than to contract trichinosis. Pork tastes different, depending on what you do with it, but chicken always tastes like chicken."

He was a chef at Les Halles in NYC where vegetarians were scarce

Shortly after his first book "Kitchen Confidential" and his Food Network show, "A Cook's Tour," Tony hung up his chef's white's at Les Halles to become a traveling chef and storyteller. Before this, he spoke of his love for his work for The New Yorker.

"I'm the chef de cuisine of a much loved, old-school French brasserie/bistro where the customers eat their meat rare, vegetarians are scarce, and every part of the animal—hooves, snout, cheeks, skin, and organs—is avidly and appreciatively prepared and consumed. Cassoulet, pigs' feet, tripe, and charcuterie sell like crazy. We thicken many sauces with foie gras and pork blood and proudly hurl around spoonfuls of duck fat and butter, and thick hunks of country bacon," he admitted. "I made a traditional French pot-au-feu a few weeks ago, and some of my French colleagues—hardened veterans of the business all—came into my kitchen to watch the first order go out. As they gazed upon the intimidating heap of short ribs, oxtail, beef shoulder, cabbage, turnips, carrots, and potatoes, the expressions on their faces were those of religious supplicants. I have come home."