I recently received an email advertising a hot new delicacy at a swanky New York City restaurant and couldn’t wait to share the news! Apparently, the best way to eat a spiny lobster is while it’s still alive (I was promised the opportunity to “pick belly sashimi out of its still moving body”). Now, I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical at first. Even a Zagat blogger joked that the practice might actually be cruel. Worse still was that after I poked around on the web for 10 seconds, I discovered that recent studies show that crustaceans, including lobsters, experience pain.
Robert Elwood, a professor at The Queen’s University in Belfast discovered that given the choice, hermit crabs left shells shocked with a small electric current for vacant, un-shocked shells. Once in the new shells, the crabs groomed their abdomens and rapped them against the sides of the shells. These “protective motor reaction[s]” were interpreted by the scientists as evidence of pain (not unlike the way a human might rub his knee after banging it against something). Furthermore, another study has shown that although some crustaceans can regenerate legs in the wild, crabs whose legs were forcibly removed by humans were so severely stressed that they died or were unable to re-grow new appendages.
However, there is a light at the end of the table, folks: lobsters are not covered by anti-cruelty statutes. So although the Humane Society has reported that “any procedure whereby the abdomen [of a lobster] is separated from the thorax” is likely to cause pain, it’s not legally cruel to do so and toss it on a plate. And as an added bonus, live lobsters are just as fresh as fish fried live without the risk of getting splashed with scalding oil (that could hurt!). Bon Appetit!
Filed under: animal advocacy, animal cruelty, animal ethics, animal law, animal rights Tagged: | animal abuse, animal advocacy, animal ethics, animal law, animal rights, animal suffering, crustaceans, lobster, lobster consumption, lobster sashimi, sashimi, zagat