Ezra Gilbert

Eating Live Animals: Rumor or Reality?

Sannakji is live octopus that has been cut into small pieces and served with its arms still squirming. [Wikipedia]

Think the EATING of LIVE ANIMALS (meaning: not humanely slaughtered) is just a rumor or Hollywood stunt??  Think again (and see below)!  It is time to put an end to this practice for so many reasons:

1) Cruelty – Whether you are an atheist or a believer, killing a living creature in painful (as opposed to humane slaughter) and horrible ways (including being eaten alive by a human and suffocating or being disolved by stomach acid) go against basic decency.  This is not a question of culture – it is unethical to cause excoriating pain to living things simply for human curiousity and pleasure.
2) Danger – Uncooked – LIVE – animals carry so many bacteria, viruses and parasites that could make people sick and start pandemics such as SARS and probably the latest Coronavirus.

3) Divine Retribution – Everyone has heard of the 10 commandments but how many people around the world have heard of the 7 Noahide Laws?  According to the Bible all nations of the world (who are all descended from Noah after the great flood) must abide by these 7 laws the 7th of which is a BAN on eating live animals that have not been humanely slaughtered.  Whether you believe in G-d or not, mess with him and he will mess with you – in this life or in the next.

Please spread this message and if you still think no-one actually does this, read on (and try not to vomit).  From Wikipedia:

It “is a traditional practice in many Asian food cultures as well as in Western television game shows.”  For example:

In Japan, Ikizukuri (“prepared alive”) is the preparation of sashimi (“pierced food”) made from live seafood. The most popular sea animal used in ikizukuri is fish but octopus is typically the only species that is still moving on the plate.Another fish dish invented by a Taiwanese chef from Chiayi, is called Yin Yang fish (also dead-and-alive fish) in which the fish’s body (but not the head) is rapidly deep-fried and served while the head is still fresh and moving. It is prepared extremely quickly, with care not to damage the internal organs, so that the fish can remain alive for thirty minutes.In an interview, celebrity chef Raymond Blanc stated that in Japan, he had eaten live eels. He was advised to add vinegar and sake, which made them jump around, and then swallowed them whole.

In 2012, a video showing a woman in Japan eating a live frog was posted on YouTube and went viral. In the video, a live frog is seen stabbed alive, stripped of its skin, and its inedible innards removed to be served as fresh sashimi on an iced platter.

In 2007, a newspaper reported that a man from south east China claimed that eating live frogs for a month cured his intestinal problems. He also eats live mice and rats.

Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods ate frog sashimi. Though most of the frog is served dead (and raw), the meal begins by eating the frog’s fresh, still-beating heart.

Consuming the beating heart and blood of live snakes has been a reported practice among some locals and tourists in certain parts of Vietnam, particularly Le Mat village in Hanoi. The practice was documented on Gordon’s Great Escape when celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay swallowed the beating heart of a cobra at a Ho Chi Minh eatery. It was also consumed by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain in the same city.

In Korea, Sannakji is the preparation of live octopus that has been cut into small pieces or prepared whole, and served with its arms still squirming. Sannakji connoisseurs enjoy more than just the taste of the fresh meat; they enjoy the sensation of the still-active suction cups on the octopus’ arms as they stick to the mouth. Novices are advised to chew before swallowing to avoid the threat of being choked.

Sea urchin
Sea urchins are prized as a delicacy in many places worldwide (particularly in Japan, France, South Korea, Chile, New Zealand, the Philippines, Italy, Spain, the Mediterranean,[14] and North America)[15] for their briny-flavoured gonads. The gonads are often eaten raw, such as in sushi (typically called uni), and some people prefer to eat them immediately after they are cut open. Scissors are often used to avoid the protective spines whilst cutting the animal open. The gonads do not move, even when taken from the live animal.

In China, drunken shrimp is a dish that can be served live, although it can also be prepared with dead shrimp. When served live, the shrimp, usually 10 per serving, are first doused in a strong liquor which makes them less likely to struggle while being swallowed and also creates a flavourful marinade. A plate is typically held over the bowl to prevent the shrimp from leaping out as they are much more active than when served as Odori ebi.

Odori ebi (“dancing shrimp”) is a type of Japanese sashimi that contains young shrimp, usually only one individual per serving. The shrimp has its shell removed and sometimes its head as well. These can be deep fried and served alongside the rest of the shrimp, which is still moving its legs and antennae while being eaten. The shrimp only dies when chewed.

Oysters are the most common animal eaten alive, as it is generally their state when served raw.

A chain of restaurants, based primarily in Copenhagen, serves a salad crawling with live ants. The ants are chilled so that they move slower, and are supposed to taste like lemongrass.

Live cockroaches were eaten in a competition in Florida in 2012. The winner collapsed and died from asphyxia due to choking and aspiration of gastric contents.

Casu marzu is a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese that contains insect larvae.
One example of eating live larvae is the witchetty grub of Australian aboriginal cuisine, which can be eaten alive and raw or cooked.

Casu marzu is a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese, notable for containing live insect larvae. It is found almost exclusively in Sardinia, Italy. Casu marzu goes beyond typical fermentation to a stage most would consider decomposition, brought about by the digestive action of the larvae of the cheese fly Piophila casei. These larvae are deliberately introduced to the cheese. The cheese received attention on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. Zimmern described the taste of the cheese as “so ammoniated” that “…it scorches your tongue a bit.” The cheese is known to leave an aftertaste for a duration of up to several hours. Similar milk cheeses notable for containing living insect larvae are produced in several Italian regions.

Sadly, the above examples from Wikipedia are just a sampling of this practice.  For the reasons outlined above, please spread this message and help stop cruelty to animals and perhaps even prevent the next pandemic.
About the Author
Ezra hails from NJ and studied Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Philosophy at Rutgers University. He blogs from a small village (yishuv) in the Galilee.
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