There’s a new Zootopia series for Disney Plus. If you haven’t watched the 2016 movie starring Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman, Zootopia takes place in a society resembling ours but built by non-human mammals. They have everything you’d expect in a society, like cars, phones, and Shakira.
An interesting thing about the city of Zootopia is that carnivorous animals and herbivorous animals live and work together. Lions and zebras, wolves and sheep.
But if the lions and tigers and bears aren’t hunting prey in this society, what are they eating?
When asked about this, the filmmakers revealed that animals who normally eat other animals do eat plants, but they also eat fish and bugs, making all the carnivores into pescatarians and entotarians.
There’s a growing body of research that suggests fish do feel pain. They have a lot of the body structures like nociceptors and different kinds of nerve fibers associated with the ability to feel pain. They produce the same opioids that mammals do that help suppress pain when injuries occur. Fish given painkillers like morphine reduce their stress responses and return to normal behavior.
Animal Outlook investigated a salmon hatchery in Maine in 2019. Fish were having their faces eaten away by fungus and workers were smashing fish against concrete to kill them.
For bugs, what they experience and feel is less clear. There is research that suggests some insects have physiological and behavioral responses that could be indicative of them being sentient, like changing their behavior in response to negative stimuli or having spatial memory.
Insect farming does seem to be responsible for less greenhouse gas emissions than other kinds of animal agriculture. It also requires less land and water. Still, it is less efficient than farming plants. A study published in 2017 in the journal Global Food Security showed that soy provided over 25 per cent more energy and nearly twice as much protein when compared to mealworms, the second most efficient option looked at, for the same amount of land.
Watch our Pop Culture and Animals video above to learn more about the animals in Zootopia.
Neither aquaculture or insect farming are necessary when we can grow and eat plants. If you’re interested in switching from pescetarian or entotarian to a real herbivore, check out tryveg.com for recipes and tips.