January 17, 2013

RANT: The Horrors of "Mean" Cuisine

My eating habits keep changing as a result of my reading habits. When I learned that raw oysters are also "live" oysters, and that some of them suffocate a slow death in our digestive tract, I stopped eating them. When I watched a video of how geese are force-fed to produce the perfect foie gras, I stopped buying this over-priced gourmet ingredient. Eliminating veal was a no-brainer; who wants to encourage the death of baby animals who are caged (and also force-fed) just for...what? What does veal offer that beef doesn't? And then, most recently, I stopped eating beef. This last decision was more for the environment than out of concern for the animal, but it's true that the butchering of beef here in North America is morally questionable.

The very first veto I made, though, was an easy one. Lobster. I can't believe that people are OK with dropping a live crustacean into hot, boiling water, and then sitting down to consume it with gusto. That we're OK with seeing our victims displayed in tanks, in restaurants and grocery stores, crowded and clawing each other as they try to escape. That we throng to seaside towns just to get our fill of it, despite the barbaric way it is prepared. (It's more humane to chop off the head, but purists argue this diminishes taste.)

Everyone's entitled to their point of view, and I've never pressured friends or family to adopt or adapt. But I'm always happy to share my knowledge, in order to encourage "informed" choices. Which is why I'm pleased to report that the scientific community now supports the fact that crustaceans feel pain. No big surprise to me, but apparently it's a stock (no pun intended) response when sensitive eaters complain about boiling creatures alive.

"They don't feel it!" the nay-sayers say. As if anyone knows how another species can feel, think or even process energy? If anything, we should err on the side of caution. Which is why I stopped eating lobster a long, long time ago, and have stopped eating crab recently. Let's just assume that karma is immediate. When you're ready to go, do you want to be boiled alive? Or can we just chop your head off? Your choice.

You can find more information on the PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) web site here, and an eloquent essay from recently-deceased writer David Foster Wallace here, who shared my dismay.

Rant over, thank you for listening.


  1. OMG, now I don't know if I will be able to eat anything.... so what are you eating these days? Fish are killed to? So raw it is....

  2. Thanks for your comments, P4. It's good to know that I'm not just rehashing information that people already know. I see nothing wrong with being a vegetarian, but changing a lifetime of eating habits can be very difficult. Perhaps we can start just by being more aware of how our "food" is handled before it reaches our homes. That's my hope.


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