Animal rights Halloween hazards: Candy corn, chocolate milk, and squid ink pasta with baby octopus

Ghostly octopus: 10 incredibly strange cephalopods – click image

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

Ever notice how those “scariest animal” lists that appear around Halloween (bats! spiders! snakes! sharks!) always omit the most truly frightening candidate–Homo sapiens? I mean, what could be scarier than realizing you’re of the same species as the callous, wolf-killing Idahoan who twirls his gun and revels in his self-congratulatory “John Wayne sh*t” while he films the animal suffering in death throes?!? Yikes.  

And then there’s Halloween candy, potentially the stuff of vegan nightmares given that traditional fare like Brach’s candy corn contains both gelatin and honey. (I get a little green around the gills just thinking about the vast quantities I’ve consumed in days of blissfully-ignorant yore.) The good news is that Jelly Belly makes a gelatin- and honey-free version. The bad news–for vegans and bees–is that it contains beeswax. *sigh* (Unclear on why vegans eschew bee products? Click here.)

Yet another bloodcurdling Halloween proposition: the Peanuts Gang is still pushing chocolate dairy milk as the “official drink of Halloween” (“pick some up for your little monsters”). The monstrous suffering that dairy cows and their doomed offspring endure during their tormented, truncated lives goes beyond diabolical, yet how easily the usually-sensitive Charlie and friends cross over to the dark side.  Ah, the specter of capitalism married to speciesism: their offspring is, indeed, unholy.

How squids and octopuses figure into Halloween (or, at least, into this post)

Our local, daily paper reflects, pretty much, standard American everything–that is to say, animal exploitation is invisible in plain sight. “Play with ingredients that are noir-hued for a grown-up Halloween dinner” encouraged an article (originally from the Chicago Tribune) in Wednesday’s food section. The recipe for sauteed baby octopus over squid ink pasta (stomach-heaving photo at previous link) caught my eye since I had recently glanced over some light reading on pain and suffering in cephalopods–octopuses and squids, specifically–used as research subjects. That led me to seek out more: a sequence of short videos showing an octopus engaged in problem solving (part 1part 2, and part 3); a video showing an octopus using a tool (amazing!); and an item at Science Daily asserting that

 The cephalopod class of mollusks are considered the most intelligent invertebrates and an important example of advanced cognitive evolution amongst animals in general. …Without exception all cephalopods are active predators and the ability to locate and capture prey often demands some sort of reasoning power.  ~Science Daily

Of course, we don’t need to belabor the intelligence angle when it’s sentience alone that matters, though many humans don’t think of mollusks as either intelligent or sentient–when we think of them at all. Squid? –you mean the software?

That brings us to squid ink pasta. Seriously, who worries about the squid when they see those three words? Not the cook whose “biggest concerns” are, “Is this gonna stain my hands?” “What about my kitchen countertops?” and, “What does it taste like?” Nor the woman who shows us, on video, how to harvest squid ink for Instructables TV (“the tentacles are the best part…everybody wants to fight over the tentacles”).

For the record, if I’m going to fight over the tentacles, it will be with the goal that they remain attached to the living animal. But Halloween calls for fun, not fighting, and what could be more fun than a simple squid hat costume? Imagine the questions you’ll get at the Halloween party, and your ensuing public relations campaign for cephalopods.

Imagine how effective–and alienating–this will be if sauteed baby octopus over squid ink pasta is on the party menu. Happy Halloween!

More on the amazing octopus from OneKind (HumanKind. AnimalKind. OneKind.)
Humboldt squid: great footage & commentary from a neurobiologist; 3-1/2 min. video
Cephalopod consciousness: Behavioural evidence, here
No-sew octopus costume – here
Top 10 vegan Halloween recipes & treats, here; Vegan Halloween at Pinterest
Ultimate vegan Halloween party menu from VegNews

8 Responses

  1. Yikes, Kathleen! I’m thinking of all the times I bought Halloween candy for my family; handed out volumes to Trick-or-Treaters; and all that I’ve eaten in years past, not knowing that it contained gelatin made from animal by-products. I’ll be sure to tell my family to skip the cartilage, pork skins, horns, and cattle bones. I’m sure even my meat-eating relatives will agree with me on this one. Thank you, Kathleen.

    Now that poor squid brings back childhood memories of my father’s family on weekends. My grandmother would make it with pasta, but I would never eat it. It was one thing to eat something prepared from animal flesh, and quite another to eat what was obviously a whole animal.

  2. Squid-ink pasta? Chalk another one up for the callousness that runs rampant in “foodie-land”. It’s always a matter of eating the whole being as justification for the killing. Never do they suppose a third option: Not harming him/her to begin with.

    The squid hat costume is adorable though… So clever we can be. But sad too that we are also the most frightening of all the species there ever was. :/

    Happy Halloween.

  3. Yeah, Ellie, it beHOOVES us (ha ha, it’s apparently a myth that gelatin comes from horse hooves–they don’t contain the requisite collagen) to read the labels, as gelatin is hiding in the most unlikely places, like Frosted Mini-Wheats, which I also used to eat as a pre-vegan vegetarian. Halloween marshmallow Peeps? Gelatin. We’ve even discovered that some (but not all) shelled peanuts (packaged in jars or cans and of various brands) contain gelatin! Gross!

    I have to wonder, Provoked, who was the first person to ever say, “Hey, let’s dump this ink sac into the pasta water!” Likely it was someone from Spain or Italy, according to this

    more on peanuts!!!

    more on mini-wheats

  4. Oh no, I just had some Planter’s Dry-Roasted Peanuts not so long ago. Well, that’s the last time I’ll ever buy it. I won’t miss it — but thank goodness there’s no gelatin in peanut butter — now that, I’d miss 🙂

    I was pleasantly surprised to find a free report in Science Direct on “pain and suffering in cephalopods”, linked above. The other report in Science Direct, “Cephalopod consciosness: Behavioral evidence” by Jennifer Mather had to be purchased. So I looked for a substitute on the web, which I haven’t found yet — but I did find something else by Jennifer Mather that addresses the various attitudes people have toward invertebrates: “Philosophical Background of Attitudes toward and Treatment of Invertebrates”

    I’ve only skimmed it, but it looks to me like I might not agree with Mather. For one thing in The Rights Based Approach”, Mather writes “….. The rights-based approach demands close study of the
    experiences and awareness of animals and evaluation of the
    situations to which humans subject them. Does the animal
    have the learning capacity to recognize and respond to a
    stimulus that signals an event? …. The animal’s capacity to learn is important ….”

    I don’t think the rights of animals should be based on analyzing their experiences or their capacity to learn, and in my view, we’re certainly not entitled to subject them to anything …. but perhaps I can’t expect that from someone who uses animals as lab tools ….

  5. […] Animal rights Halloween hazards: Candy corn, chocolate milk, and squid ink pasta with baby octopus ( […]

  6. Ellie–we have a jar of Planters “lightly-salted” dry roasted peanuts in our cupboard right now–no gelatin.

    RE: your last paragraph in your most recent comment–agreed.

  7. Hi Kathleen, I’m glad you agree with my last paragraph above (October 30, 2013 at 1:16 am). Re: Planter’s Dry Roasted Peanuts, it’s good to know the company is aware consumers don’t want the gelatin, as well as an eye-opener to not take any manufactured product for granted.

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