On Indulgence

Recently I read a lovely entry over at Dessert Comes First about a very classy, very yummy, and very pricey steakhouse in Makati City, Philippines. Sounds like an amazing place, really, but it comes with a steep bill: P2,200 for a steak, which rounds out to about $50 USD. Most of my dinners don’t cost that much. But judging from the experience, the cost is worth it; and you know there are more expensive places out there.

Almost immediately the blogger got this comment:

hmmm… in a country where most people are languishing in poverty, is it even moral to splurge and spend so much? …on a single meal for just one person?


Look, I’m not insensitive to the needs of the poor and downtrodden. My parents taught me to be as generous and kind as I could. I can’t walk past a panhandler without forking over a couple bucks, I’ve worked at soup kitchens, I constantly track the poverty situation in my country and others looking for ways to help. But do I feel guilty if after walking past that panhandler I head into a luxurious restaurant and stuff myself with a $50 dinner? In a word, no. In the same way that I’m concerned with the ethics of agriculture but will never stop eating meat, while I feel for those who can’t afford what I can I’m not going to feel guilty over my ability to eat good food. I work hard for my money; I temper my indulgences with a healthy sense of social responsibility, but plenty of that money is still unquestionably mine to spend on me.

Not so long ago, just enjoying a good meal was considered ostentatious, snobby, wrong in this country. We should do everything we can to minimize the deleterious effects of a nation full of foodies–reducing carbon footprints, using organic ingredients and humanely-raised meat, etc–and spend plenty of time and money helping alleviate the poverty situations here and abroad. But we can’t feel like terrible people any time we take a bite of black truffle or a sip of champagne. Have perspective about your situation? Yes. Loathe yourself for it? No.

Do no harm, help when you can, and treat yourself once in a while; provided you’re not Mr. Burns or that guy who checked out before we could punish him, you should be in the clear.

-Jim reminds everyone that his opinions are not necessarily representative of Recipe4Living

  • http://crankyfitness.blogspot.com Crabby McSlacker

    I struggle with this one too but come out pretty much where you are. Each person has their own priorities. And there are too many inequities in the world for any one person to possibly address them all by abstaining from pleasures. Choose them carefully and enjoy them fully and don’t just consume for the sake of consumption. I have much less problem with the special occasion $50 steak dinner than I do with the vanity purchase of a multimillion dollar third home or a $20,000 watch or even the $200 pair of running shoes if they’re not needed but are only purchased to impress others.

    Nice post.

  • http://alosha7777.blogspot.com melissa

    well put, Jim.

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