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On the matter of lobster cooking


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Contrary to claims made by seafood sellers, there is little doubt anymore that lobsters, like all animals, can feel pain. Most scientists agree that a lobster’s nervous system is quite sophisticated. For example, neurobiologist Tom Abrams says lobsters have “a full array of senses.” Jelle Atema, a marine biologist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and one of the country’s leading experts on lobsters, says, “I personally believe they do feel pain.”

 

Lobsters may even feel more pain than we would in similar situations. One popular food magazine recently suggested cutting live lobsters in half before tossing them on the grill (a recipe that’s “not for the squeamish,” the magazine warned), and more than one chef has been known to slice and dice lobsters before cooking them. But, says invertebrate zoologist Jaren G. Horsley, “The lobster does not have an autonomic nervous system that puts it into a state of shock when it is harmed. It probably feels itself being cut. ... I think the lobster is in a great deal of pain from being cut open ... [and] feels all the pain until its nervous system is destroyed” during cooking.

 

Don’t heat up the water just yet, though. Anyone who has ever boiled a lobster alive can attest to the fact that when dropped into scalding water, lobsters whip their bodies wildly and scrape the sides of the pot in a desperate attempt to escape. In the journal Science, researcher Gordon Gunter described this method of killing lobsters as “unnecessary torture.”

 

In fact, PETA has consulted with many marine biologists about the most humane way to kill a lobster. While the experts couldn’t seem to agree on which method is best, they do agree that there really is no humane way to kill these sensitive and unusual animals.

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My old room mate told me that her boyfriend's mother had a method of stroking the lobster to sleep before putting it in the pot. I vowed to learn how to do it, since lobster was a frequent meal in the summer, living in New England. Became vegan, and never learned...

 

I have wondered if it was really possible, though. I'll have to search to find out - not that it will be useful info for anyone here, just for curiosity.....

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  • 2 weeks later...
My old room mate told me that her boyfriend's mother had a method of stroking the lobster to sleep before putting it in the pot. I vowed to learn how to do it, since lobster was a frequent meal in the summer, living in New England. Became vegan, and never learned...

 

I have wondered if it was really possible, though. I'll have to search to find out - not that it will be useful info for anyone here, just for curiosity.....

 

I don’t see how this would work?? If I was sleeping and someone put me in boiling water I think I’d wake up right away.

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I don’t see how this would work?? If I was sleeping and someone put me in boiling water I think I’d wake up right away.

 

Don't really know - never tried it, and never will! I would think I would wake up if I was placed in a pot of boiling water too, but does a lobster react the same way...? Maybe the mechanism is similar to the way some people can walk across coals and not burn their feet.

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I don’t see how this would work?? If I was sleeping and someone put me in boiling water I think I’d wake up right away.

 

Don't really know - never tried it, and never will! I would think I would wake up if I was placed in a pot of boiling water too, but does a lobster react the same way...? Maybe the mechanism is similar to the way some people can walk across coals and not burn their feet.

 

no offense plc3 but that seems ridiculous to me. Animal welfare groups have tried researching ways to humanelyu kill lobster for a while now, working in conjunction with lobster experts. Their conclusions have been unequivocal - there is NO humane way to kill lobsters, lobsters DO ABSOLUTELY feel pain, and in fact they may even be MORE sensitive to pain than we humans. And they would definitely wake up when drowned in boiling water as would you or I.

 

Lobster is one of the cruelest menu items ever. The animals suffer tremendously, and frankly, it is beyond me that humans - omni or not- can have the heart to take a living breathing animal and throw it into a pot of BOILING water and shut the pot lid so the animal cant crawl out.

 

Just the other day I had just a lil bit of boiling water slash on my arm and DAMN it freakin hurt.

 

Let us just try to empathize for a minute with lobsters. Imagine somebody taking your head and forcing it into a pot of boiling water and holding it there so you cant take it out!!!! I cant imagine just how excruciatingly painful that would be - it defies words I am sure.

 

Help me raise awareness about these unusual and sensitive creatures.

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no offense plc3 but that seems ridiculous to me.

 

I am not offended but it seems you are.

 

I was merely making a comment about something I heard long before I was a vegan and why it possibly might work, not trying to pass it off as a humane way to kill lobsters. I apologize that I didn't include the disclaimer that I don't believe it to be humane. I like to sometimes place myself in the shoes of the meat eater and play devil's advocate (i.e. postulate on why the method I referenced might work and why someone might think it to be more humane). Perhaps the "put to sleep" method was researched by the group you referenced...?

 

I have been a vegan for 7 years - animal welfare being THE reason. I read books, and visit websites regularly about veganism, so I don't really need the lecture (no offence to you ). But, I can tell you that even though I can't see myself being anything BUT vegan, if I knew of a method or technique to painlessly kill a lobster , I would let people who eat them know of it. Of course, I would also tell them why they shouldn't eat them.

 

It's a matter of degree to me. I know some people are all or nothing. They are all vegan, in your face about it, all the time. I want people who are not vegan to see veganism in a good light, and extremism in any area is not viewed as positive. The whole point is to reduce the suffering - not to be a purist. YMMV

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It was not a "lecture" meant for you (i.e. a vegan). The purpose of posts/threads like this is to inform and educate people (primarily lurking omnis) about the impact of their food choices.

 

And the education in this thread is that there is no humane way to kill lobsters. if you also believe that the "sleep method" isnt humane, then I dont understand what the point of raising it was - it will just serve to fuel the misconception that 1) lobsters dont feel pain and 2) they can thus be killed humanely.

 

My goal is to try and eliminate these misconceptions that conveniently 1) advantage these industries, 2) make people feel less guilty about their food choices, and 3) represent a huge injustice to animals by spreading lies about their reality.

 

 

It's a matter of degree to me. I know some people are all or nothing. They are all vegan, in your face about it, all the time. I want people who are not vegan to see veganism in a good light, and extremism in any area is not viewed as positive. The whole point is to reduce the suffering - not to be a purist. YMMV

 

If you want people to see veganism in a good light, I dont understand how you think that searching for and/or presenting to omnis a humane way of eating lobsters accomplishes that goal. You dont steer people in the direction of veganism when you do that - you make them feel less guilty about killing and eating animals which gives them even less incentive to go vegan. It is the all too familiar perennial debate about whether we should be encouraging "free range" to those people whom in our opinion would "never go vegan."

 

telling people the truth about meat (i.e. that free range, humane, bla bla bla are not as humane as these "humane" industries would have us believe, and there still remains, with these "humane" types of agriculture, the hellish brutalities that await animals at the slaughterhouse no matter how much better their lives may have been before) while at the same time showing people how healthful, and delicious vegan cuisine is, may do a better service to animals than would pushing these "humane" alternatives. And it certainly wouldnt cast veganism in a bad light, which is a fair concern.

 

So returning to the purpose of this thread, which was to get to know lobsters better and to empathize with them, lobsters are sensitive animals, possibly even more sensitive to pain than humans, and tehy are also monogomous animals in that they mate with one lobster and stay only with that lobster for their entire lives. These creatures, in other words, that we torture and kill for 20 minutes of gustatory pleasure, seem to be even more loyal and faithful to their partners than some humans.

 

get to know lobsters - they are amazing and deserve to live, not be killed "humanely". I believe we owe it to these innocent and defenseless creatures to make known to their oppressors their personalities, natures, idiosyncracies and physiological realities.

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if you also believe that the "sleep method" isnt humane, then I dont understand what the point of raising it was

 

Did you read the entire thread? The whole devil's advocate thing...? The whole lessening suffering thing? I stand by my reasoning. My preference is to not have them die at all. But if I can't keep them from dying, then I would want them to die as painlessly as possible. If I know of a way for them to die painlessly, then I would let people know.

 

You dont steer people in the direction of veganism when you do that

Do you think piling on the guilt does? Serious question. I don't believe it does. I think that if you can get people to start to think of their food as an animal worthy of compassion first, you are more likely to have them follow through with the next (reasonable) thought - that it is wrong to kill them for food at all.

 

The world will not become vegan in our life time. Different tactics work on people differently. We both have the same goal. Your method of spreading the word is different than mine.

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see blue

 

 

if you also believe that the "sleep method" isnt humane, then I dont understand what the point of raising it was

 

Did you read the entire thread? The whole devil's advocate thing...? The whole lessening suffering thing? I stand by my reasoning. My preference is to not have them die at all. But if I can't keep them from dying, then I would want them to die as painlessly as possible. If I know of a way for them to die painlessly, then I would let people know.

 

yes I did read the entire post, and I still dont understand what the point of playing devil's advocate was in this situation where the information with which you played devil's advocate is incorrect, and especially where you acknowledge that you youself dont think the sleep method works. You reiterate above that you would want them to die as painlessly as possible if you couldnt prevent their murders. I understand that. But did you read my post ? What has been the whole point of my original and subsequent post in this thread is that there is no way to kill a lobster "painlessly."

 

You dont steer people in the direction of veganism when you do that

Do you think piling on the guilt does? Serious question. I don't believe it does.

 

It is interesting that you used the word "guilt." I simply spoke of educating people with accurate information. If telling people the truth about meat gives them feelings of guilt, well then perhaps there is a reason why they feel guilty for eating animals. Reasonable people have, and will continue to, hear the message and act accordingly. We see this everyday with new vegans.

 

Nevertheless, these are hard questions with even harder answers. I am not discounting what you say below as lacking merit, but understand that that welfare approach has significant drawbacks and does nothing to oust the orthodox and deeply ingrained view that animals are objects to be exploited. In fact, it serves to reinforce that view and foster unjustified moral complacency.

 

Instead of telling those people that we think will not go vegan or not go vegan overnight to eat "free range", "humanely" raised animals, for example, the animals might be better served by telling these people to eat less meat.

 

I think that if you can get people to start to think of their food as an animal worthy of compassion first, you are more likely to have them follow through with the next (reasonable) thought - that it is wrong to kill them for food at all.

 

That no doubt is true when it comes to some humans, but the drawbacks may outweight the benefits to be gained from this approach, as per above. It is interesting to note that it is generally harder, from my experience and from those of other activists, to convince a "free ranger" to go vegan than it is to convince an omni to go vegan. Why do you think that is?

 

The world will not become vegan in our life time.

 

Let me quote from Lee Hall to respond to that argument:

 

"We just don’t need to buy what animal agribusiness is selling.

If we’re agreed on this point, good. Expect a whole lot of people (especially the ones with a penchant for goat cheese) to try to argue you out of it. It’s unreasonable to believe that the consumption of animals will end in their lifetimes, they’ll say — you utopian, you.

 

But it can end in their own lifetimes, and that’s what it takes. If we put our energy where our vision is, reasonable people can consider the message and act accordingly. Each one who does makes a revolutionary change, and it’s a matter of plain and simple sanity to start a revolution that arrives at respect for other beings and our global commons."

 

Different tactics work on people differently.

 

Yes, that is certainly true. For example, some people respond more to gentle persuasion, while others respond to shock tactics, while yet others respond to seeing the health benefits of veganism, etc etc. But in whatever tactic we choose, I think we owe it to animals to always understand and remain mindful of its pitfalls so we can properly assess whether the perceived or presumed benefits arent actually outweighed by those drawbacks.

 

And lastly, millions and millions of dollars and decades later, the welfarisst tone of the animal protection movement has made relatively small gains. In fact, the record is embarassing. That fact alone should, at the very least, give us pause. At any rate, this debate is turning into a rights versus welfaren approach to veganism debate and that is really off topic from this point of this thread - there is no humane way to kill lobsters, so this whole rights versus welfare approach isnt even really applicable to this particular thread.

 

 

We both have the same goal. Your method of spreading the word is different than mine.

 

 

 

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you make them feel less guilty about killing and eating animals which gives them even less incentive to go vegan

 

I pulled the word "guilt" from what you wrote before - your word, not mine......(I know - minor point )

 

But did you read my post ? What has been the whole point of my original and subsequent post in this thread is that there is no way to kill a lobster "painlessly."

 

Yup, I did. My original reply was that I had heard of a supposedly humane way to kill a lobster (your original post did reference a group that had researched this area). I said I would be interested in finding out if the method I had heard of was "real" - meaning "been tried" not necessarily "works". The other poster said he couldn't imagine not waking up when being placed in a pot of boiling water. I agreed that I thought I would wake up as well (this may be where you get the idea that I am supporting a method that I think doesn't work). I never said it doesn't work, I never said it did. I just don't know. My original thinking was this - if I was in a coma, or otherwise unconscious, and someone did something to me that would normally cause me pain when conscious, like cut me or burn me, do I feel it? Maybe a stupid question. That was my train of thought with the lobster scenario.

 

Instead of telling those people that we think will not go vegan or not go vegan overnight to eat "free range", "humanely" raised animals, for example, the animals might be better served by telling these people to eat less meat

 

I have never advocated free range or other supposedly humane methods. I do in fact tell people to eat less meat. I guess we are in total agreement there!

 

At any rate, this debate is turning into a rights versus welfaren approach to veganism debate and that is really off topic from this point of this thread - there is no humane way to kill lobsters, so this whole rights versus welfare approach isnt even really applicable to this particular thread

 

Well, it kind of is. Why would PETA consult "with many marine biologists about the most humane way to kill a lobster" if they were not giving merit to the "animal welfare" approach?

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You are right, the word guilt was in my original post - sorry about that!

 

I have my hands full with a major puppy mill campaign so I really cant engage any further here. I will briefly and for the last time address your points. The first is your last point about PETA consulting with experts to find the most humane way to kill lobsters, and this animal welfarism being somewhat relevant. Surely you realize that what is most relevant and important is the outcome of PETA's inquiries, not so much the welfarist inquiries themselves. My point then, and I dont understand why I keep having to repeat this, is that the bottom line of PETA's welfarist inquiries is that there is no humane way to kill a lobster. That is what we have learned and that is what I have been trying to get across. if there is no humane way to kill a lobster, the bottom line then is that animal welfare advocacy isnt all that relevant to the lobster issue.

 

Your first post in this thread described this sleeping method and then said "I wonder if this is really possible..." and said you would be interested in finding out. You did NOT say that you would be interested in finding out if this method was "real" - your words were "I wonder if this is really possible..." Aplain meaning construction of those words suggest that you wonder if it is really possible to put a lobster to sleep before boiling her, and for her to stay asleep while she is being boiled. In other words, you are not sure if this sleep method works.

 

Then in your second post you changed your mind from the above "I wonder if it is really possible (to put a lobster to sleep before boiling it and presumably the possibility of her to stay asleep) stance, and made the comment "I apologize that I didn't include the disclaimer that I don't believe it to be humane." Either you were being sarcastic, or, on a plain meaning interpretation, this means that you dont believe it to be humane (i.e. you dont believe that it works as far as being "humane" goes). And then you change yet again and this time say that you never said whether you believed that it worked or didnt worked, only that you wondered if this "method" was "real" as in 'actually practiced.' With all due respect, that is bullocks. Your words are there and they are pretty unambiguous, especially when placed in the context of the rest of your posts, so I am not going to play semantic acrobatics with you here as it sounds to me like that is what you are now trying to do. Sorry if that sounds harsh.

 

I am not going on about this with you anymore, so you can have the last word.

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I am not going on about this with you anymore, so you can have the last word.

 

Okay I will....

 

Wondering as I did in the first post about something that I had no proof of one way or the other, then saying that I don't believe it to be humane could definitely be taken as a flip-flop. You will say I am covering tracks by saying this, but reading over my previous post I should have said I don't believe it to be humane because I have no proof that it works. I think that you will see my intent when I later said that I don't know if it works or not.

 

The coma/sleeping/unconscious thing...semantics, which you don't want to hear about. Obviously, I realize that there is a difference between being asleep, being in a coma, and being unconscious. I guess what I should have said originally was that the stroking put the lobster in a state unconsciousness, with the intent being that it would not feel the pain.

 

I think it is clear from this exchange that even among the more radical groups of society (vegans), there are radical differences in how to go about spreading the word (ie that being vegan is a good thing and the right thing to do). Personally, I don't care for the condescension and moral high ground route......

 

The best of luck to you in your puppy-mill campaign. I hope you are able to bust it up

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I had a dream the other night that I was at my parents' house for dinner and they were serving lobster. I tried to stop them, but they put a big lobster in the pot and the lobster SCREAMED a deadly haunting scream that filled the room like a siren.

 

I lectured them ( ) about it. I think the point I was making (in my sleepy recollection) was that if you know you're being cruel, then how can you continue doing it? And if you're not working towards being a better you (by not engaging in animal torture), then what are you doing with yourself?

 

My dad (very religious) has made the point in the past that the bible says that man has domain over the land and animals. My retort has been to ask if that means we can torture animals and destroy the world? I doubt Jesus would approve of that! (he changes the subject at that point).

 

Anyhoo, I've always felt that the method of cooking lobsters was sickeningly cruel. Back in the day when I used to eat it, I would do so with a sour guilt.

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thanks for bringing this thread back to the "bottom-line"

 

I think your comment

"I think the point I was making (in my sleepy recollection) was that if you know you're being cruel, then how can you continue doing it?"

really sums up the issue.

 

there are people you can see about those wierd dreams Finn

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  • 2 months later...
Contrary to claims made by seafood sellers, there is little doubt anymore that lobsters, like all animals, can feel pain.

 

How stupid. Existence of a nervous system=ability to feel pain. The inverse is my retort to people who make the comparison of eating vegetables to eating meat by the claim that, "vegetables are living things too and you eat them." No nervous system=no pain.

 

People would go berzerk if they heard someone boiled puppies or kittes alive, but apparently lobsters are not as well loved or respected.

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I've heard claims that if people put the lobster in cold water, then heat it up, the heat won't register in the lobster's nervous system until it's too late. (I actually read an explanation of a neurological reaction comparing it to putting a frog in water, and heating the water so gradually the frog wouldn't realize what was happening until it was too late. Rather sick comparison to explain why people become less sensitive to pain or any other sensation).

 

 

In any case, boiling an animal alive (whether they are aware of the heat or not) is just barbaric, IMO.

 

CG: what happened to your lovely avatar?

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  • 2 weeks later...
I've heard claims that if people put the lobster in cold water, then heat it up, the heat won't register in the lobster's nervous system until it's too late. (I actually read an explanation of a neurological reaction comparing it to putting a frog in water, and heating the water so gradually the frog wouldn't realize what was happening until it was too late. Rather sick comparison to explain why people become less sensitive to pain or any other sensation).

 

I have heard that story too, and it sounds a bit like a fairytale. Many animals (e.g. mammals) have thermosensitive ion channels with fixed temperature activation thresholds -- for instance one type of ion channel may be activated at temperatures above 43 celcius, another at temperatures above 52 celcius and so on. Pain is associated with the activation of some or all of these channels.

 

Hence if the lobster can feel pain (and why shouldn't it) it probably feels it increase all the way from ~43 degrees C and up to the point where its nervous system shuts down.

 

"Thermosensation and pain"

J Neurobiol. 2004 Oct;61(1):3-12.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=15362149

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