Why lobsters shouldn’t be boiled alive

Written by Science

Imagine one day you are swimming around in the warm ocean oblivious to the next of the world, then you are stolen from your home, put into a tiny tank, and suddenly you are being dunked alive into a pan of boiling water. This is the reality that many crabs and lobsters have faced since someone decided they are incredibly delicious and miraculously do not feel pain.

Recently however, research has become popular which shows that these creatures are in fact sentient and can feel pain. This led Switzerland at the beginning of this year to implement a new law requiring them to be stunned before being boiled. But why were we still boiling them alive anyway?

Research has shown that they release the same hormone as humans do when they feel pain

Initially this was believed to be the most humane way of killing since they were thought not to have a true brain. Furthermore, the harmful bacteria they have on their bodies can multiply quickly after death, so keeping them alive until cooking by boiling was deemed the safest way for humans to consume these crustaceans.


However, when research has shown that they release the same hormone as humans do when they feel pain, and when such evidence was shown over 10 years ago, maybe we should have stopped boiling them alive a long time ago. It’s highly disappointing that high end restaurants who would be able to afford stunning machinery continued to kill these creatures in such an inhuman manner.

While in my personal opinion it’s not okay to cause any harm or to eat any living thing – if you’re going to do it you should do it in the kindest way possible, so it is my hope that the rest the world takes Switzerland’s lead.

Last modified: 28th November 2018

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