To the Editor:
Boiling lobsters and crabs alive could soon be illegal in the U.K., under landmark legislation that would recognize crustaceans (as well as octopuses) as sentient beings.
It is already illegal to plunge fully conscious lobsters into pots of boiling water in New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland. In Italy, restaurant kitchens must not keep live lobsters on ice, which causes them to suffer.
Lawmakers are beginning to recognize what science is showing us (and what common sense has told us all along): Lobsters and other crustaceans are not unfeeling automatons. Recent research has shown that crabs are capable of learning and remembering information, just like other animals. If left alone, lobsters can live to be more than 100 years old. They use complicated signals to establish social relationships and can recognize individuals.
The British Veterinary Association says there is a “decade of compelling scientific evidence” that crustaceans feel pain. With a nervous system that perceives pain in much the same manner as humans, lobsters undoubtedly feel every moment of their agonizingly slow death when boiled or broiled alive.
We live in a changing world, one in which animals are afforded considerations that they might have been denied in the past. Like us, lobsters and crabs value their lives and do not want to die. And the only way to make sure that we’re not contributing to their suffering is to stop eating them.
The PETA Foundation