It doesn’t matter whether you’re a meat-eater or have a plant-based diet, you would probably recoil in horror at the thought of eating an animal alive. However, it has now emerged that a disturbing trend in the East for eating live seafood is growing in popularity.
Footage of this cruel practice has been recently released on Live Leak to the horror of people around the world.
Questions surrounding the ethics of eating sentient beings have been a hot topic in recent years, with the popularity of vegetarianism and veganism growing exponentially as a result. In fact, in the United Kingdom alone, veganism has increased in popularity by 360% since 2006.
Aside from the ethical implications of eating meat, many people believe that opting for a plant-based diet is the solution to a number of other problems including environmental damage, and it’s no secret that our oceans are suffering from overfishing.
The word sentient describes any creature that can feel pain, and, whilst some scientists have claimed that fish do not fall into this category, there’s a large amount of evidence suggesting that they do. That’s why eating them alive is not only cruel but inhumane.
After all, when fish are exposed to sharp objects, and, indeed, fire, in experiments, their reactions are almost identical to those of mammals.
Whilst eating live fish might sound like an unthinkable thing to do, it’s more common than what you might think. Live fish are eaten in America and Europe, as well as a number of Eastern countries – although, in the West, it’s typically only oysters and lobster that are eaten alive.
In the shocking viral footage, a number of live eels are dumped into a pot of sauce.
Wendy Higgins of the Humane Society International said in an interview with the MailOnline: “This video is truly sickening both in terms of animal cruelty but also in terms of what humans are capable of doing to our fellow creatures.”
After the eels have been placed into the boiling pot, some of them attempt to make a desperate bid for freedom.
“These fish will have endured the unspeakable horror and pain of being eaten alive, all to satisfy diners’ lust for extreme cuisine. Their ordeal is protracted and disgusting,” Higgins continued.
The disturbing footage is featured in its entirety below, and it includes a baby squid attempting to wriggle its way out of a man’s chopsticks before being eaten alive:
“There are no laws to protect animals like this in China, and it is that lack of legal recognition that can in itself encourage an attitude of disrespect,” Higgins said.
“Basic respect for animals as sentient, thinking, feeling creatures is absolutely fundamental to protecting them; without that it becomes so much easier for people to divorce themselves from the pain and suffering that they commit.”
Higgins went on to reveal that whilst Western audiences might be shocked by this footage, it is not dissimilar to scenes many of us watch for entertainment.
“Some of these hideous scenes in the video are not a million miles away from what we may see in the new series of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, where the live eating of grubs and bugs is broadcast to huge audiences for our entertainment.”
“So whilst we absolutely should and must abhor the kind of violence we see at this restaurant in China, we should also take a good long look out ourselves.”
To put the cruelty of this practice into context, watch how live fish are prepared by Eastern restaurants in this video below. The process is so unnatural that the main challenge that chefs face whilst doing it is keeping the fish alive throughout preparation.
The majority of viewers of the Live Leak footage were shocked by the scenes it depicted and expressed their outrage online.
One user wrote, “Shows quite the lack of imagination, doesn’t it? People who do this cannot imagine the feelings of another creature,” and another added, “As human beings, we should respect our food. This is torture, I’ll eat fish but not like this.”
The practice of eating live animals so alien to Westerners that it’s almost entirely reserved for eating challenges:
Even though humans have been eating animals since the dawn of time, but I think that everyone – meat-eater or not – can agree that the very least we can do is ensure that we aren’t being needlessly cruel to the creatures we share our planet with.
After all, none of us would like to be eaten limb by limb.