In rather disturbing news this week, news outlets in the UK have detailed the proclivity for ‘live cuisine’ – the eating of animals that are still alive – in some Asian countries. Popular, and in some cases merely rumoured, dishes include live octopus, monkey brains, and still-beating snake heart. A YouTube video showing the consumption of a live carp that has been deep-fried but for its head has recently received very wide coverage. It is age-restricted, but similar videos (such as live squid eating) are easily found and abound on the web. Surely this is the absolute nadir of human treatment of animals.
Lest this be taken as a broadside against Asian cultures, allow me to point out that the Spanish still practice bullfighting (although a ban is being mooted in the Catalan region) and the UK banned fox hunting only five years ago. Recently in the US, the casual killing of a bat in the course of a basketball game was cause for adulation rather than disgust.
Our conduct here in New Zealand is scarcely better. SAFE are still campaigning to have ‘Catcha Cray’ machines removed from venues in Auckland. These are particularly cruel devices which operate exactly like the ‘skill tester’ machines in which the operator manipulates a metal claw on a wire to catch a stuffed toy. Instead of a toy, the “Catcha Cray” uses live crayfish. The metal hook often pulls off the crayfish’s claws and legs. Upon investigation, an inspector of the Auckland SPCA declared the contraption safe: “It’s been done quite well, it’s been researched. It’s no different from any tank of crayfish in a restaurant.” He added that the tank had been double glazed to protect the crays from ambient noise(!) Not quite eating them alive, but it’s a difference of degree rather than kind.