One summer, when Jane and I were dating, we took a trip through Maine. I don’t remember why we chose to travel to Maine, but I do remember that it was our goal to eat a lobster for lunch and dinner every day. We missed one lobster, the restaurant we were eating at had “run out” just as we were ordering. Overall, we had a wonderful vacation. Maine is beautiful in the summer, and the lobsters we ate, fresh from the pound, were simply amazing.
When I think back on that aspect of our trip, I am somewhat nauseated. Jane and I ate those lobsters with gusto. We even picked out the animals we were going to eat, specifically, at the lobster pounds we visited. And they may have been the best lobsters we’d ever eaten. Today, I learned that lobsters feel pain, an unpleasant finding considering the lobsters I’ve eaten in the past have most often been boiled alive.
I also stumbled across an article by David Foster Wallace entitled “Consider the Lobster“, in which Wallace poses the question:
“Is it alright to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?”
Wallace also asks:
“Given the (possible) moral status, and (very possible) physical suffering of the animals involved, what ethical convictions do gourmets evolve that allow them not just to eat but to savor and enjoy flesh-based viands?”
I’ve been vegan for over nine months now, I never intended to eat lobster, or any animal flesh, again (see our post “Another Reason Not to Eat Meat“). But I’m feeling badly tonight. I enjoyed eating lobster. I caused significant pain and suffering to those animals, and I never gave it a second thought.
addendum 3/14/08 — For further information on this topic, please see our post Pain and Suffering — The Lobster Revisited.