Isn’t it strange how the world’s most expensive delicacies aimed supposedly at the most civilised people should be the most barbaric? Whether it is caviar, ripped from the stomach of a pregnant fish or pate from the cancerous liver of a force-fed goose, what kind of monsters are we becoming?
There is no such thing as killing kindly. But there are some particularly painful ways of killing/cooking animals that need to be struck off the menu straightaway. A lobster dinner which starts with an animal being thrown into boiling water and hit when he tries to crawl out is among the most tortuous methods of slaughter.
Why is it done? Why is the animal not killed as soon as it is taken out of the sea? Chefs maintain that the lobster’s flesh begins to toughen from the moment of its death so they believe it should be cooked while still alive.
The methods differ. One recipe recommends putting the lobster into cold water in a covered pot with a brick on the lid to prevent the animal from escaping, and then gradually bringing the water to a boil. Other techniques are equally vile. Pour boiling water and let the lobsters steep for about 15 minutes. Put only the heads into boiling water until they turn red and then immerse the rest of the body. Put into the freezer for 15 minutes before cooking as this numbs the lobsters sufficiently so they do not thrash about so violently when thrown into the pot. Put into a tight plastic bag for two hours so that the lobster is almost unconscious when thrown into the pot. Plunge a knife into the cross mark behind the head and body and then split its head with a cleaver. Spear behind and between the eyes, skewer the tail with a bamboo rod and twist off; twist of its claws and cut open the body.
Eating lobsters threatens not only their survival, but also our own. Lobsters and other crustaceans all over the world are highly contaminated with bacteria and pesticides. Their bodies absorb dangerous levels of chemical effluents which get passed onto us. Giving up lobsters will protect you as well as these wonderful animals against the most tragic cruelty. When you see lobster on the menu, just say NO.
A microwave lobster will be slowly and unevenly cooked for 6 minutes. Put your hand over the fire for 6 minutes – can you hold it there for 6 seconds? During these 6 minutes they will suffer intensely as their bodies are heated piece by piece.
Whether you plunge lobsters into boiling water or into cold water that is brought to a boil, the lobsters will both burn and drown slowly. Spearing with a knife is equally gruesome and is just as likely to lead to lengthy asphyxiation. Cutting off its main claw or tying it tightly with tape before putting it on the fire is an exercise that is done at least an hour before.
So much cruelty for a luxury food? Even the eater knows that lobsters whether boiled or cut alive, feel pain, the same as us. In fact the reason why most people feel uncomfortable cooking a lobster at home is because the sight of that little creature thrashing in agony in the pot and trying to crawl out is painful. We know that cutting, boiling and broiling anyone has got to involve an intense amount of prolonged suffering. Therefore most people only choose to eat it in restaurants where they don’t have to see what it goes through. Even a meat eater should draw the line somewhere. Actress Mary Tyler Moore boycotts all the restaurants that serve lobster.
Lobsters are sensitive beings that cherish their lives and struggle against death, confirms Invertebrate Zoologist Dr Loren Horsely. Lobsters have sophisticated nerve centres and feel the pain of being cut or boiled acutely. That is apparent from their violent behaviour under stress, thrashing about with their claws hold above the water and by their squealing caused by the air rushing out of their shells as they die – a death that can take as long as 20 unbearable minutes. Lobsters scream when they are thrown into boiling water. Their pitch is too high for the human ear.
Perhaps this cruelty is because we do not know anything about the lobster. Let me introduce him to you. Lobsters are remarkably like us. They have a full array of senses and their responses and behaviour are amazingly humanlike.
- Lobster mothers are pregnant for 9 months.
- Some lobsters are right-handed and some left-handed. Sometimes they walk hand in hand, the old leading the young.
- Lobsters show compassion towards the sick and wounded. They are compassionate to the young as well.
- Lobsters are frugal. Whenhe has finished eating he buries the leftovers for later consumption.
- Lobsters are extremely curious. If you put an object near him he will investigate it.
In many, many ways, lobsters are unique and miraculous creatures. They are exceptionally long-lived. Their natural life expectancy is estimated to be about 150 years. Part of their longevity owes itself to their ability to discard old limbs and grow new ones. This allows a lobster to be fearless. If a lobster can’t escape a threat, it simply offers a part of itself as a token to the predator, then escapes. Once we appreciate the intelligence of this crusted creature, we are compelled to condemn the carelessness with which we are destroying it and the rate at which we are doing so. Lobsters entered the human food menu only about a hundred years ago. Today, trapping is done all year round including the mating season. In one year alone the Americans alone ate 57 million lobsters. The Canadians ate 97 million.
There are no lobster farms as it is not easy or profitable to raise them in captivity so the sea is the hunting ground. Eating lobsters threatens not only their survival, but also our own. Lobsters and other crustaceans all over the world are highly contaminated with bacteria and pesticides. Their bodies absorb dangerous levels of chemical effluents which get passed onto us.
Giving up lobsters will protect you as well as these wonderful animals against the most tragic cruelty. When you see lobster on the menu, just say NO. Ask the restaurant owner to stop serving up plates of animal suffering. Warn that you won’t dine there until they stop contributing to animal cruelty. Speak up for those who scream in silence.