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Crabs and lobsters deserve protection from being cooked alive

JONATHAN BIRCH: ‘Crabs and lobsters have a tough time at the hands of humans. In most countries, they are excluded from the scope of animal welfare legislation, so nothing you do to them is illegal. The result is that they are treated in ways that would clearly be cruel if inflicted on a vertebrate. This might in part be because they are so alien to us. It is hard to begin to imagine the inner life of a 10-legged, faceless creature with a nervous system distributed throughout its body…

Nevertheless, if you care about animal welfare, you should care what happens to crabs and lobsters. Consider live boiling. The animal often takes minutes to die, during which it writhes around and sheds its limbs… Crabs are often still, as one recent study put it, ‘processed in a live state’. ‘Processed’ here is a euphemism for ‘carved alive’…

Does any of this matter ethically? For many, the key question here is whether these animals are capable of feeling anything – whether they are sentient. If they feel nothing as they are boiled or carved alive, then ethical qualms about these practices seem as misplaced as they would be for vegetables. But if they do feel – if they are sentient – then they are cruel and inhumane’. SOURCE…

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