Shellfish, such as crabs, lobsters and shrimp, feel pain, suggests a new study that calls into question how food and aquaculture industries treat these animals.
Researchers have suspected for some time that live lobsters dunked into boiling water and rubber-banded crustaceans stored in crowded fish market tanks experience tremendous pain. We reported on that some years back. But it’s always a challenge for scientists to prove conclusively that a non-human is feeling pain.
“On a philosophical point, it is impossible to demonstrate absolutely that an animal experiences pain,” researcher Bob Elwood of the Queen’s School of Biological Sciences, was quoted as saying in a press release. “However, various criteria have been suggested regarding what we would expect if pain were to be experienced. The research at Queen’s has tested those criteria and the data is consistent with the idea of pain. Thus, we conclude that there is a strong probability of pain and the need to consider the welfare of these animals.” Click here to read more.
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This post is being prompted by a list posted on buzzfeed called The 19 Most Annoying Things About Being Vegan. While the article is written by a vegan and mostly serves as a love letter to other vegans about some of the day to day annoyances we experience, there are a few issues I have with the article as a whole. A lot of that comes from how omnivores are interpreting the article, which brings us to
1. Omnivores misinterpreting the 19 Most Annoying Things About Being Vegan article. People seem to be desperate for any excuse to not examine their own contribution to animal oppression. The list is a compilation of moments that make vegans roll their eyes, they are minor annoyances that become comical because they happen so often. It is not a list of vegans complaining about how hard they have it or how hard it is to be vegan. It isn’t vegans trying to make omnivores feel sorry for us. It is vegans laughing to ourselves.
2. When people say “You/I can’t have that” vs ” I/you choose not to have that”. Seriously folks, there is a huge difference. Often this is perpetuated by omnivores, though many vegans are guilty of this, including the author of the original article. Veganism is not a diet or an allergy, it is a philosophy and a political stance against oppression. I can eat anything I damn well please, but I CHOOSE not to because I am aware of the cruelty involved with it’s production as well the toll it will take on my body and the environment.
3. Canine Teeth, argument over. This seems to be a popular response to veganism by the fabulous contributors to the comment section. This could fall under a general people-who-don’t-do-their-research category. Canine is the name given to longer pointed teeth, though they can (and often do) appear short and stunted in herbivores. Human canine teeth much more closely resemble the canine teeth of horses, hippos, elephants and gorillas, all of which happen to be herbivores. But lets not get too caught up saying that humans are naturally anything, that brings us to:
4. Debating what is and isn’t “natural” for humans. Up there with one of the most pointless debates. Look around you, how much of your environment is actually “natural”? We do plenty of things that aren’t natural or that other animals don’t do. The fact of the matter is that a plant based diet is healthy for the vast majority of humans that have access to a wide range of fruits and vegetables. And lets not act like that meat which has been pumped full of hormones and antibiotics and has been confined to a tiny area all it’s life could ever be considered natural. This also ties in with the whole food chain argument. We have all but removed ourselves from the food chain, it is no longer a relevant part of the average citizen of industrialized nation’s food choices.
5. Plants feel pain too. Nope, sorry, this gets constantly debunked. Reacting to stimuli is not the same as feeling pain. But lets humor that idea for a minute. Lets say we were to learn that all plants do indeed feel pain in exactly the same way that animals do. What would a person who is trying to do their best to contribute to the least amount of suffering do? Well short of killing yourself, you would still choose to eat exclusively plants. Given that there will never ever be a conversion of plant protein to animal protein that is 1 to 1, it will always take more than one pound of plant protein to create one pound of animal protein. Figures indicate this is as high as 10 lbs of wheat to create one pound of beef, Which means that people who eat animal products are responsible for the death of significantly more plants than any vegan ever will. Lately the counter to this fact is that “you’re still killing plants regardless, so it’s still hypocritical”, I’d like to find the person that says killing 100 people is exactly the same as killing 1000.
6. When people take one culinary misstep as meaning that all vegan food is horrible. Because no one has ever had a bad omnivore meal ever, it is always delicious and amazing, right?
7. “Vegans don’t care about the workers that pick our vegetables”. This is brought on by the Chelsea Peretti pic in the article. You know what, this is a totally valid point and one that I wish more vegans cared about and treated as seriously as they do issues of animal welfare (myself included at times). The thing that makes this annoying though is how people feel that this is their get out of jail free card, when they completely ignore the horrible conditions at animal agriculture facilities. They take advantage of immigrant workers just as much as the vegetable industry, in fact the field of work with the highest employee turnover in the US? Slaughterhouse worker. The field of work with the highest rate of on the job injuries? Slaughterhouse worker. So vegans, lets stop minimizing issues of human rights when it comes to our food, but omnivores stop pretending like you all of a sudden care about the people who produce our food when you’re faced with the fact that you are contributing to oppression. This relates to:
8. Vegans who don’t care about other forms of oppression. I’m sure this will just add fuel to the anti-vegan sentiments out there from anyone that won’t read beyond the bolded text. These issues are all intricately tied together and deserve everyone’s consideration and action (looking at you too, omnivores) Yet it seems a bit worse when it comes to vegans because we already feel so passionately about and have taken steps to eliminate our contribution to unnecessary suffering. But just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s cruelty free. I’d suggest heading over the The Food Empowerment Project and reading up on issues like chocolate, bananas, coffee, tea and soda. It just makes us look foolish to the people that are taking those issues seriously. This paragraph only begins to skim off the top of the types of oppression we should ALL (regardless of being vegan or not) should be concerned with.
9. Vegans who deny issues of food accessibility. Another issue that makes vegans look foolish is their tendency to deny how difficult being vegan is to certain people in certain areas. YES FOOD DESERTS DO EXIST. Please realize that this is NOT an argument against the philosophy of veganism, but just another obstacle we face on the path to animal liberation. While I do believe that it is possible to be vegan in most circumstances, I think it’s ok for us to admit that it is much much easier for certain people (you know, economically stable white people) and to deny that that played a role in our ability to go vegan just makes us all look bad. We should be working with/providing support to communities that are struggling for access to healthier vegan alternatives (without making us seem like a bunch of colonialists, careful there). On the flipside, people who use food justice issues as an excuse to not go vegan when they are not directly affected by them look just as ridiculous.
10. Being asked “so, what DO you eat?” Well, I don’t eat meat, milk, eggs, honey or any other animal product. I DO eat everything else. Do you really want a list?
11. Being told “I don’t really eat that much meat”. It’s amazing how many animals are killed every year considering every person I meet tells me that they don’t really eat that much.
12. People thinking that veganism is a diet. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a philosophy. It’s a political stance. Yes, I’ve been vegan for over 5 years and I’m still chubby as fuck.
PS. Yes, you found the vegan