Why are lobsters cooked alive and do they feel pain?

Lobsters are supposedly the only living creature people seem to find comfortable enough to slaughter in their homes. Most interestingly, they are killed in the most excruciating way possible: boiled alive. It may be the best way to have your lobsters fresh and tasty but is it really ethical to boil them alive?

By Cookist

About why people seem to find it so comfortable to boil lobsters alive, Maisie Tomlinson, campaign director of Crustacean Compassion, which lobbies for the humane treatment of crustaceans says:

"They look so different to us, they dwell in completely different environments to us. With their hard shells and peculiar appearance, it can seem that perhaps they don’t feel pain; they look quite tough. But I think that, more and more, people are recognising that it’s not how an animal looks, it’s the scientific evidence of their sentience.”

It is high time that changes, the group and kther animal rights activists say.

Most other meats are bought, killed and cleanly packaged but not lobsters which many believe should be eaten as fresh as possible. With the increasing awareness as regards care for all animals, however, regulatory bodies worldwide are implementing sanctions to curb this action.


Seafood companies, which are commonly the hub of live lobsters, are especially under scrutiny and are perhaps most crucial to eliminating the practice. It is now illegal to boil lobsters alive in Switzerland and New Zealand with animal protection legislation directing that the animals must be stunned electrically before cooking.

Overall, experts purport that although there's great difficulty in determining whether animals feel pain, many people seem to accept that pet animals like dogs and cats feel pain.

The usual argument against decapod crustaceans feeling pain is that their brain structure is so different to ours. Tomlinson says:

“The argument is: we know the areas involved in pain experienced in humans; if you don’t have those areas, you can’t feel pain. But it’s quite clear that, in evolution, completely different structures have arisen to have exactly the same function – crustaceans don’t have a visual cortex anything like that of a human, but they can see. Given the evolutionary advantage of experiencing pain, there is no reason to assume they should not have this protection against tissue damage.”

Bottom line? Lobsters, and other decapod crustaceans, are vulnerable. Stop boiling them alive; spread the word!

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