Friday, January 18, 2013


Crabs' Pain

"[Crabs] were willing to give up their hideaway in order to avoid the source of their probable pain."
—More evidence that crustaceans don't want to become lobster/crab rolls/sandwiches in the way they likely will, or ever. For all the misery in the world, is it possible that there have been equal and opposite moments of greatness? Or is there more darkness than light, in which case is this whole thing another planet's 'Cabin in the Woods'? Or are we all alone with our disgusting mess? Also: Is there a word for people who only eat meat that they've killed themselves?

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Hmmm. Trucivore?


@Emby Also, Consider the Lobster is very good and you all should read it. (Nicole likely already has, because she reads everything.)


Very nice ! Thanks@k


"Crabs have their claws torn off and the live crab is thrown back in the sea. Lobsters and prawns have the front half of the body torn off from the abdomen which is kept for the meat. The nervous system in the head and thorax is still functional an hour later."

D: D: D:


Besides mistreating or killing animals, what other things do people justify by explaining that they did it themselves, rather than paying someone else?

Edith Zimmerman

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll Oh, I mean like at least you would know how it died, if you really wanted to eat it. I don't know. But I'm not against killing animals. But maybe I could have phrased that better.


@Edith Zimmerman Most restaurants won't serve you shellfish that was cooked after it died. It'll spoil the meat. Therefore, you know how most crabs died -- in a pot of boiling water.


@Rock and Roll Ken Doll Ah, the cost of a highly developed brain.


@Rock and Roll Ken Doll - "physical release" when sig. other is not in town.

@AMc - In theory, people (I like to do this) can do the knife instant-kill (oh god i feel horrible saying that) on crabs & lobsters. I'm guessing you're probably right about the "most" though, especially at restaurants.

The one I should probably feel the worst about is crayfish. I love them soooo much, but there's no humane killing done there.

fondue with cheddar

@AMc But if you slowly bring them to a boil (as opposed to dropping them in already-boiling water) isn't it not as bad? I don't know, I don't eat shellfish.


@leon s a hatchet/knife through the brain is totally the way to go for crabs (don't know about lobsters, I'm on the west coast). It's quick and far less cruel, and who wants to eat crab that has been cooked with the yucky gills inside?


@MilesofMountains I heard that they have several smaller "brains" distributed throughout their body, though?


@stuffisthings Sort of. Most of their nervous system is separated into ganglia (clusters of nerve cells). We obviously don't understand that much about crab brains, so we can't say whether or not the individual ganglia feel pain, but humans have non-brain ganglia, too. We have them in our face and spines and retinas etc. but we don't generally considered spines to feel pain separately from our brains. In most crustaceans the ganglia run down the middle in a sort of chain. In crabs, they're all clustered right in the middle in two big groups between the eyes and under the organs. If you put a hatchet all the way through the crab, you hit both clusters, and I'm reasonably comfortable with the theory that they won't feel much after that.


The most horrifying thing I did in 2012 was have to walk through a field of crab holes while wearing flip flops. I could see these giant crabs ducking into the holes as I approached in my flimsy excuse for shoes (thanks for the heads up, tour guide!) and I seriously was worried about being pooped on a monkey and pinched by a crab all at once.

Crabs are too much work to eat anyways. Anything you have to eat with a hammer is more energy than I care to expel.


@parallel-lines Aw, I always feel like the hammer just adds to the fun!

Passion Fruit


Passion Fruit

(Hey-oh! Up top! *attempts to high-five angry vegans and food snobs alike*)

Valley Girl

@Passion Fruit "Mark Zuckerberg"


@Valley Girl "Ted Nugent."


@Passion Fruit Beat me to the punch!!


I'm not really surprised. Lack of complex cognition doesn't mean lack of pain reflex. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with eating crustaceans (or any other animals), but I think that the practices described in the article are wasteful and unnecessarily cruel.


@Blushingflwr Agreed, you put this very well.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Blushingflwr Plants grow toward the sun too. Not exactly evidence for higher cognition. Pass the lobster roll...


@Countess Maritza You tend to post a lot of strangely adamant comments about eating meat.


I mean, animal cruelty is the reason I'm a vegetarian (that, and I think they deserve whatever rights we have to exist on this planet without humans stepping in to end their lives), but reading articles like this is still a punch in the gut every time. I never get used to it.


@olivebee Third.


@olivebee The amount we don't know about animals' lives and experiences versus our profligacy and thoughtlessness in ending them never ceases to stun and disgust me. (10-year vegan.)

H.E. Ladypants

@olivebee Fourth.


@olivebee Fifth.


Aren't we our own Cabin in the Woods?


@laserbeams What is art? Are we art? Is art art? - Lisa Turtle




@JessicaLovejoy A History of Art: look, look at me - John Campbell


Growing up as a compassionate vegetarian in coastal New England, driving basically anywhere during the summer involved feelings of horror and revulsion at the atrocities I'd imagine every time the car passed a lobster pound crowded with jolly, ravening, oblivious tourists. The light-hearted 4th of July "lobster races" were a morbid and callous spectacle. I remember finding the David Foster Wallace article in Gourmet depressingly validating, just like this one--after all, I would SO much rather be mistaken about this, and let the "Ah, c'mon, they can't feel it!" crowd be right.

With so much suffering already in the world, why must our species repeatedly go out of our way to add to it?


Between this article and the person who hates a singular "they," I have felt entirely too much dull rage this morning. Hairpin! I come to you to escape that feeling! Don't let me down!


Ahh, lobster boiling has always bothered me because of that "what if." I'm also troubled that humans have always felt the need to create a hierarchy of animals, place some higher than others (i.e. more deserving of better treatment) because they're cuddlier / more relatable / more malleable. Yes, some animals have more complex brains than others, perhaps thus garnering more respect, but in my opinion no creature should be subjected to pain that could be prevented or ameliorated. Even as a child I wondered about my cousins who balked at the cruelty endured by mammals and chickens, yet ate fish, because the bludgeoning, suffocating death of fish seemed so terrible to little me.

(Also of interest: animals and connotations of evil! http://www.etsy.com/listing/76258563/animals-of-low-moral-standing-print)

fondue with cheddar

The fact that they react to harmful stimuli doesn't necessarily mean they can feel pain, though. They have primitive brains. Getting a signal that says, "Hey brain, this is bad and you should definitely avoid it," is not necessarily the same as suffering. It's too bad there isn't a way to figure out the difference.

(Just playing devil's advocate here, because I strongly believe in not being cruel to living creatures and erring on the side of caution (i.e. compassion) when in doubt.)


@fondue with cheddar
The way I think about it is that, when I'm faced with electric shock, the aversion (wincing and jerking my hand away) isn't an intellectual response, even in the smallest degree. Based on this, it seems likely to me that crabs feel something like the basic pain that I feel, as they respond similarly.

Along those lines, When my friend's daughter was an infant, my friend had a job and her husband didn't, so her husband took care of their daughter during the day. I've never been a parent, so it was interesting to hear the way my friend described the pain of being separated from her daughter. It didn't sound like an intellectual response at all--intellect of course would have pointed out that her husband is an excellent caretaker and, as her daughter's father, had every incentive to be attentive. It was something much simpler, something that it wasn't hard to imagine a cow mother might feel when her calf is taken from her as part of milk production.


@fondue with cheddar Yeah I can see that, and assuming they feel pain "just like us" may be another case of overzealous anthropomorphism. Maybe to the crabs the electric shocks were just a nuisance, or their systems still registered the danger even though they weren't suffering per se. I just get annoyed at people who say "well they obviously don't feel pain because their brains aren't as complex as our special human brains, so." (Though since those people protest so fiercely, I have to wonder if they *do* feel ethical squeamishness about it and thus have to end the cognitive dissonance by convincing themselves those creatures don't feel pain.)

fondue with cheddar

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll I get that, but my point is that their brains aren't like our brains. Simpler organisms respond to stimuli in a different way than more complex organisms. They might not have that kind of fully-developed sensation. They might feel pain like we do, but it's just as likely that they might not. That said, of course it's best to err on the side of caution and treat creatures as if they can feel pain in case that turns out to be true.


@fondue with cheddar
In that you see the value of erring on the side of caution, I think we basically agree.

fondue with cheddar

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll I just like to know how things work. :)


It's not just crustaceans. In the United States, turtles and frogs are also butchered in ways that bring me great anxiety.

Turtles have the top of their shell removed and can sit on display (with their internal organs exposed) for hours (still alive). Frogs are skinned alive.

Before the animals are even butchered they are kept in conditions that are unsanitary, uncomfortable, confining and appear to cause pain.

It's not fair and it's not right.


@Tracy WHAT THE. I had no idea that ever happened with turtles. (Or frogs, but the turtle part is more horrifying to me.) The only time I've ever seen turtle for sale, it was already butchered and packaged up.


@Tracy D: D: D:
As a tortoise/ past turtle owner this horrifies me. Their shells are connected to their SPINES what is this madness???


"Is there a word for people who only eat meat that they've killed themselves?" Zombies.


I’d have to check with you here. Which is not something I usually do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment! madeira palsticaIq

Shahzaib Khatri@facebook

there more darkness than light, in which case is this whole thing another planet's 'Cabin in the Woods'? Or are we all alone with our disgusting mess? Also: Is there a word for people who only eat meat that they've killed themselve

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