The controversial meat is on the menu during Dine Out.
This dish is the first of its kind in B.C.—but definitely not in Canada. President of Edible Canada, Eric Pateman is serving a seal pappardelle just for the Dine-Out Vancouver festival menu. It's a natural fit for the Granville Island restaurant, which celebrates Canadian cuisine and ingredients from across the country: seals have always been food for the Inuit, after all. But hunting these animals has a long, controversial history. While for decades animal rights groups and celebrities have campaigned to end it, the government sees it as an important economic and cultural activity. Whatever side of the debate you land on, here's what to know before you choose the dish:
1. How sustainable is seal?
Pateman said if the seal population goes unchecked we are going to run into fish stock issues and sustainability issues. In the last decade, Canada's seal population has grown from two million to eight million, and their diet consists of six times the amount of fish Canada takes out of the ocean. Eating seal is also a way to prevent waste, Pateman explains: seals are often hunted for their fur, and 80 percent of the meat typically ends up rotting on the ice floats and never goes anywhere after the pelt is taken.
2. Where does the seal come from?
Newfoundland. There is only one seal processing plant in all of Canada, and it is highly regulated by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Edible is serving the loin of the seal which is from the back under the layer of fat, a very lean meat containing about two percent of fat said Pateman.
3. How is the seal being served?
After vigorous experimentation, Pateman went with a simple pappardelle with ground seal meat in a tomato sauce. A second seal dish has been added after much positive feedback, which will be the cooked seal meat, served straight-up.
4. Is it healthy?
It's one of the richest meats for iron, incredibly lean, and dense in flavour, says Pateman. According to Carino (where Pateman gets the seal), seal meat has 591 mg of calcium, 64 mg of iron, and 34 mg of magnesium per 100 g. Compare that to 100 g of beef, with 3.5 mg of calcium, 1.9 mg of iron, and 21 mg of magnesium.
5. What does it taste like?
Pateman described the meat as flavour as "ahi-tuna mixed with moose," but after trying both the plain cooked loin and the pappardelle, we found it tastes more like a beef steak with a hint of liver. Pateman said his restaurant has already accepted almost two thousand reservations for Dine Out Vancouver, so book your table quick if you want the chance to try this. The three-course meal at Edible is $30, the seal is a $3 add-on, $2 of which will be donated to a seafood charity to support the world's oceans.