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Thread: Do vegetarians eat molluscs ?

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    Question Do vegetarians eat molluscs ?



    I noticed that all the vegetarians I know who are vegetarian by choice (not because of their religion) do not eat shellfish. I know several persons who chose not to eat meat because they like animals too much to kill them, or are appaled at the slaughtering conditions. This may be true for the conventional meat like beef and pork, but not for fish, who do not really suffer when dying (research have shown that their brain is not developed enough to feel pain). This is even less true for molluscs (mussels, clams, scallops, oysters, squids...), which do not have a brain at all ! Molluscs do have organs (heart, digestive system...). Apart from squids and octopodes, most molluscs do not have eyes.

    I even wonder why clams, oysters, scallops and mussels are classified together with squids and octopodes, as the former lack the tentacles and eyes of the latter (quite a huge difference in biology). I guess it's another aberration of the linguistic classification of life beings, like callling aubergines, pumpkins and courgettes "vegetables", but strawberries and bananas "fruits" (and tomatoes sometimes one, sometimes the other), when they are all the fruits of plants with lots of seeds inside. They should all be called fruits, to be logic.

    Likewise I have my reserves about calling a clam an "animal" as it lacks most of the characteristics life beings need to be called so : a brain, eyes, an hearing system, a way of moving itself (feet, tentacles, fins...). They just have a way to "eat" (= transform energy) and reproduce themselves, like all plants. I would say they are more like "advanced plants" rather than animals. It's not because their taste is closer to meat that it is "animal meat" (let's call it "vegetal meat"), exactly in the same way that it isn't because tomatoes and aubergines taste more like vegetables than they really are, from a biological point of view.

    Back to my title's question, why would a vegetarian choose not to eat clams or oysters if these do not have a brain, and hence a consciousness and do not feel pain, just like vegetals ? It sounds like a major incoherence to me. After all, even some plants eat meat (carnivorous plants or omnivorous ones like coral).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Back to my title's question, why would a vegetarian choose not to eat clams or oysters if these do not have a brain, and hence a consciousness and do not feel pain, just like vegetals ? It sounds like a major incoherence to me. After all, even some plants eat meat (carnivorous plants or omnivorous ones like coral).
    Fair question.

    I will answer for myself as a vegetarian who does not eat molluscs. Though I do think that those who do not eat molluscs would probably give the same reason.

    1. We give them the benefit of the doubt.

    2. Others may also say that harvesting these animals means other non-targeted animals are killed and environmental damage to the ocean occurs as a bi-product.

    My main reason is #1. I don`t think I could defend #2 strongly because rodents, rabbits, snakes, coyotes, birds, etc... are often killed in the combines that harvest field crops.

    Fair enough?


    "Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
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    Quote Originally Posted by strongvoicesforward
    2. Others may also say that harvesting these animals means other non-targeted animals are killed and environmental damage to the ocean occurs as a bi-product.
    Unlikely. Mussels or some other shells live along the shore, and can even be picked up be hand on rocks. Many shells, including mussels and oysters, can be cultivated (not "bred") in aquatic farms.
    #2 strongly because rodents, rabbits, snakes, coyotes, birds, etc... are often killed in the combines that harvest field crops.
    Fair enough?
    So, if you want to be logical with yourself, you should be eating farm mussels and oysters, but stop eating cereals and vegetables coming from mechanised harvesting as the latter kills animals but not the former. But do you ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    So, if you want to be logical with yourself, you should be eating farm mussels and oysters, but stop eating cereals and vegetables coming from mechanised harvesting as the latter kills animals but not the former. But do you ?
    If I had a strong desire to eat some form of meat, then perhaps I would feel compelled to eat mussels or oysters. But I do not have that feeling to consume meat to optimally sustain myself. In fact, since I have become a vegetarian I feel more healthy/energetic.

    I do think that there is a significant number of vegetarians who eat shell fish of some kinds. Some follow a general rule that if it has eyes or a brain, then they won`t eat it (I have not adopted that rule).

    Yes, animals are killled in the production of plant food for human consumption. It would be illogical to assume one could live a life on Earth without causing no harm to something. It happens -- just as one walking on the ground undoubtedly kills insects. If one were to try to avoid all nonintentional death caused by their action, they would be imobile in a room and verily forfeit their life. That is a neurotic answer to the desire to not cause suffering.

    Vegetarianism is not about leading the perfect life of not harming anything through consumption -- it is about choosing the least of the harms that exist and still being able to live a modern lifestyle.

    We most definitely need fruits and vegetables to survive. The same cannot be said of meat. Therefore, one could never choose to keep a modern lifestyle but then consume nothing but mussels and oysters and to insure that those that are consumed were not farmed in a negative impact on the environment, choose to roam the shoreline and harvest ones own.

    I may also suggest that the farming of mussels and oysters in natural bodies of water impact negatively on the aquatic life in those vicinities. There is most definitely displacement.

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    I just wanted to point out that scallops Do have eyes, and have sensory perception. They know when something is approaching them because they feel the vibrations in the water. Scallops also have the ability to swim away.
    Clams and oysters also can "Feel" like this, that is to say they sense when danger is near and snap shut.

    This alone I think would classify them as being able to "feel" and especially in the case of a scallop, it is more than just an advanced plant. Not that i really care... I'm not a vegetarian :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifaer View Post
    I just wanted to point out that scallops Do have eyes, and have sensory perception. They know when something is approaching them because they feel the vibrations in the water. Scallops also have the ability to swim away.
    Thanks for the feedback. I double-checked and indeed scallops have a dozen of microscopic funny little blue eyes on the rim of the shell. Very weird. (see pictures)
    Clams and oysters also can "Feel" like this, that is to say they sense when danger is near and snap shut.
    Some carnivorous plants also have sensors that allow them to "feel" when an insect is rightly positioned, so as to snap them. I suppose they should be in the same category of "feel plants" as shellfish then. Scallops do look like aquatic carnivorous plants.

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    Many of the phyla in the Animalia kingdom outside the Chordate (like the Vertebrates) are closer to what non biologists who call carnivorous plants than actual "animals" in the layman's understanding and usage of the word. Sponges, corals, sea anemones, sea urchins, starfish and molluscs are all pretty limited in their movements and senses (no proper sight, hearing or brain). They are intermediary between plants and "true moving animals". To a child who doesn't know anything about evolution and biology, sponges, corals and sea anemones are just like marine plants.

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    Well, I am a vegetarian, but without any political manifesto and religious beliefs. And I don't eat sea food, because I just couldn't. Funny thing, if one happens to be a vegetarian naturally, the taste develops so that "the other products" seems very repulsive... I am sorry to say that for those who like meat and fish and sea food.

    Generally I believe that people are different and food that is good to them must be also different. I am a bit suspicious to hear that some product is "healthy" it may well be healthy to some in some conditions and not for all and always. I think that everyone of us feel that they like eating different food when it is cold, hot, rainy, etc...

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    Hmm.. It's anyones choice to be a vegetarian.

    But in fact it's a luxury problem. Those who earn enough, can buy the food they need to get a well balanced diet.
    Even in countries like India, where vegetarian food is common, the poor often eat cheap meat.

    My idea and experience is, no kid should ever grow up with a vega diet.
    A kid needs all the resources it can get.

    Start a vega diet when you're at least 23 years old or so.
    All earlier practices should be forbidden by law!

    We are humans, and we are eating everything that we can get. (omnivore)
    Evolution made us that way, and be cautious to change your view on what we really need!

    On the other hand, in my childhood, I didn't eat that many meat as kids do today.
    And yes. Fish on Friday. Very healthy.

    There may be a theory about how man developed.
    One step in evolution may have been mankind living on the shores of a sea, digesting fish and oyster like food. That may have given the richness of proteins and materials to develop the brains.

    Go Google for "Aquatic Ape".

    For instance:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquatic_ape_hypothesis

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    Plants have cellulose and chloroplasts. Animals have neither, but mitochondria, which plants don't have. Why I'm saying this? I don't know *lol*

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mzungu mchagga View Post
    Plants have cellulose and chloroplasts. Animals have neither, but mitochondria, which plants don't have. Why I'm saying this? I don't know *lol*
    Plants have mitochondria, too, actually. About every eukaryotic organism has mitochondria, as far as I know.

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    Hmm.. I wonder what a lion should eat if he became vegetarian?

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    Funny, but I read about Indian swamis who had a lioness which was fully tamed and eat only rice cooked in milk...
    But I woudn't do such experiment with my dog - I get him some nice bone with meat rather often

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taranis View Post
    Plants have mitochondria, too, actually. About every eukaryotic organism has mitochondria, as far as I know.
    Oh yeah my bad, I've looked it up again. Well, in that case, it is their additional cellulose and chloroplasts only.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Back to my title's question, why would a vegetarian choose not to eat clams or oysters if these do not have a brain, and hence a consciousness and do not feel pain, just like vegetals ? It sounds like a major incoherence to me. After all, even some plants eat meat (carnivorous plants or omnivorous ones like coral).
    Corals are actually animals. The most simple of all animals is the sea sponge, which was long thought to be a plant. I think you can definitely argue that something like a sea sponge or coral has about as much consciousness and feels as much pain as a plant.

    As a vegetarian I base what I eat on three broad catagories: suffering, environment, health. All are rooted in a concern for the well-being of conscious creatures. Do I think clams or oysters are conscious enough or have the capacity to suffer enough to warrant the same concern as birds or mammals? No, not at all. My main concern with most marine animals is whether harvesting them causes serious damage to the environment. If a creature like that is truly caught in a low-impact, sustainable way I would see no problem with eating them. I also don't have an inherent dislike for eating meat, I just don't like they way we go about it with factory farming and the like.

    As a biologist I gas and burn nematodes (roundworms) in my experiments. I do not believe these creatures can suffer in any meaningful sense. If we are going to do experiments on animals that can truly suffer (such as mice) I think it is important to treat them with respect. Same goes for the animals that we eat. Do I have a problem with tribes hunting and eating meat? Not particularly. I do have a problem with cramming a bunch of animals in very small spaces and slaughtering them by the millions.

    So yeah, for me it is all about respecting nature, rather than taking it for-granted or exploiting it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SlashRageQuit View Post
    So yeah, for me it is all about respecting nature, rather than taking it for-granted or exploiting it.
    I think this should be a guide line for all humans.

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    Is this true that men eat more meat than women?

    From my observation and generally speaking, when man is hungry, he will go first for meat. When woman is hungry she will go first for pasta/starches or even cake/sugars.

    From evolutionary point of view it makes sense. Men went hunting, so they had first access to meat and more of it. Women stayed around camps with kids, mostly having access to plant food, and cooking pancakes. Following this thought, one can assume that women were the first farmers, harvesting grass seeds to complement their diet with starches. Therefore developing taste for it more than men.
    It can also explain the taste preference between boys versus men. In hunter gatherers societies boys stay with mothers roughly till puberty, and till this time should prefer starches and sweets, to benefit from most accessible food. After puberty they went hunting with fathers, they taste was changing to prefer meat, again to get the best and most calories from most accessible food.
    That's the reason kids and women love sugar/starches, and men loves meat.

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    Lebrok, have you read about this somewhere or have you just made it up by yourself? Of course I can neither agree or disagree on that as I don't have any specific knowledge. Anyways, your arguments sound logic, so I would nearly believe you and thumbs up!
    Only one thing, even as a kid I prefered meat over cake or candy. So what about that?

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    From my work experience I've observed that elderly people with Alzheimer's disease have an appetite for sweet things. But it might also be due to biochemical disorder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mzungu mchagga View Post

    Lebrok, have you read about this somewhere or have you just made it up by yourself? Of course I can neither agree or disagree on that as I don't have any specific knowledge. Anyways, your arguments sound logic, so I would nearly believe you and thumbs up!
    Only one thing, even as a kid I prefered meat over cake or candy. So what about that?
    It's from my observation, I don't remember reading any scientific article about this.

    I agree, boys like meat a lot, but I was trying to point the fact that boys have also a great appetite for all kinds of sweets and in big quantities. After puberty appetite for meat is same strong or stronger, but taste for sweets subsides.
    With girls, I would say, that their liking of sweets and starches is not changing much. There a bigger menu changes when women are pregnant, but it's a different story.

    I know many men that prefer meat in their diet. If they don't eat meat with every meal, the meal doesn't count, lol. Somehow I don't know any women with same strong meat preference.
    On other hand, I remember hearing women confessing that they "dreamed" about good pasta.

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