The top five cruellest foods we eat

Updated on 05 July 2012 | 0 Comments

Where do you draw the line at what's morally `ok' to eat? If you're not a vegetarian, surely it depends on how the animal is treated before it ends up on the plate. So with that guideline in mind, we've picked the top 5 cruellest delicacies still eaten today.

Each food will have its own article on our site. We'll start with what we think is the least cruellest of all five, working up to the worst (#1). First in the spotlight is... Lobsters. 


What are they?

Lobsters are large marine crustaceans, which are found in all oceans. The two main lobster varieties are American (or Maine) lobster which is considered the best, and the smaller European lobster.

How are they prepared?

lobsterTraditionally, and the most popular option used in restaurants, lobsters are dropped into a large pan of boiling water. It takes an average of three minutes for a lobster to die this way.

There is great debate over whether lobsters experience pain or not. University of Pennsylvania neurobiologist Tom Abrams claimed that lobsters “have a full array of senses”, and invertebrate zoologist Jaren G. Horsley said that lobsters “…can, I am sure, sense pain.”

Another way to kill a lobster is to stab it through the brain with a sharp knife, in the belief that this will stop the suffering. But a lobster’s brain operates from several ganglia and disabling only the frontal ganglion doesn’t usually result in death or unconsciousness.

Others, including the RSPCA, think that you should freeze a lobster for at least two hours before cooking it, as this renders them insensible. But food writer and cook Alex Renton says that you can easily destroy the delicate texture of lobster meat by freezing the creature for that long.   

What does it taste like?

Juicy sweet claw meat, slightly chewier tail meat, and an overall delicate flavour. The classic French Lobster Thermidor dish is grilled lobster halves served with a mustard cheese sauce.

Is it still legal?


On the whole, killing lobster in any of the above ways is still legal. Apart from in Reggio Emilia, Italy, where boiling lobsters alive faces a fine of up to €495.

crustastunAlthough The Animal Welfare Act 2006 doesn’t apply to lobsters, The RSPCA is opposed to killing by boiling water on moral grounds. In their guide to how to humanely kill crustacean, The RSPCA favours ‘stunning’ as the least cruel option; the British-made CrustaStun, retailing at £1,500, zaps the creature with electricity, rendering them immediately insensible.

Alternatively, try this old fisherman’s ‘lobster hypnosis’ method, which involves talking to your lobster quietly, caressing the top of its thorax, and watching it slip into a trance.   

Think lobster is bad? Click here for #4 in our list of the top five cruellest things we eat...


First lobster image taken from Imjustmatthew; CrustaStun image taken from the CrustaStun website.


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