Capable Crustaceans: New Research Shows Lobsters, Crabs Feel Pain

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Did you know that the biggest lobsters on record are 3 1/2 to 4 feet long? Or that crabs are considered to be excellent “team-workers,” acting together to find food and protect each other?

But what’s even more fascinating about these marine animals and other crustaceans is that, according to new research, not only are they capable of feeling pain, it’s been shown that they actively try to avoid it. So much so, in fact, that in one study, crabs were willing to leave a preferred shelter in order to escape potential suffering.

And yet despite this fact, billions of these crustaceans are boiled alive by chefs who may not realize the pain being inflicted on these animals. Many seafood suppliers even rip off the legs, abdomens, or other parts of live animals and then throw the remains back into the sea.

It’s clear, as one researcher noted, that with this new information, “we must start to question how these animals are treated.”

Most people care about animals on some level and don’t want to intentionally contribute to their suffering—whether it’s a dog, a cow, or a fish. Knowing that the lobster or crab lying on a dinner plate experienced pain (and would have acted to avoid that pain) will hopefully change people’s perspective about eating aquatic animals.

Although these animals seem 20,000 leagues away from our world, they are capable of leading long (up to 100 years for lobsters!) and rich lives.

Let’s allow them to do so by leaving them off of our plates and encouraging others to do the same.

Thankfully, animal-friendly choices are plentiful. Here are just a few ways to get the tastes of the sea without the cruelty:

  • Sophie’s Kitchen offers several plant-based seafood options, such as crab cakes, scallops, and shrimp,
  • Cavi-art offers a sustainable vegan caviar that chefs across the world are starting to use,
  • Online retailer May Wah offers  animal-friendly versions of everything from squid to salmon, and
  • With just a few kitchen staples, it’s easy to make your own un-tuna salad.

To find out more about how aquaculture hurts animals and the environment, or to order a Vegetarian Starter Guide for yourself or a seafood-loving neighbor, visit

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