Switzerland Considers the Feelings of the Lobster


Nearly all recipes instruct to plunge still-living lobsters head-first into boiling water before continuing with dressings or such.

The move is a response to studies that suggest lobsters are sentient with advanced nervous systems that may feel pain.

Along with the new cooking methods, the Swiss law also outlines new guidelines on transporting the animals from the oceans to stove and ultimately, your dinner table. According to the government order, the crustaceans "will now have to be stunned before they are put to death".

Lobsters may not really scream when you boil them - they don't possess vocal cords - but research shows they can feel pain, and Switzerland's government chose to do something about the common culinary practice of boiling lobsters alive.

Professor Robert Elwood, who specializes in ecology and evolution at Queens University in Belfast, explained that the new laws put in place by the Swiss government will hopefully inspire other countries to follow.

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"The practice of plunging live lobsters into boiling water, which is common in restaurants, is no longer permitted", the government order stated. "They would not recover consciousness if left in an attempt to do so". This new practice will go into effect March 1, according to The Guardian.

The landmark legislation come amid growing scientific evidence that invertebrates such as lobsters, crabs and crayfish are capable of feeling pain.

But Robert Elwood said that this is probably a false assumption.

Some scientists argue that lobsters can feel pain, but the scientific community is divided on this. The group that is known for its active campaigning to stop cruelty against animals also took a swipe at the United States government for not enacting laws to protect crustaceans. The results revealed that the crabs were more likely to leave the shelter which gave off the shocks, whereas the animals in the other shelter remained there. But there's "clear-long-term motivational change [in these experiments] that's entirely consistent with the idea of pain".

The Swiss laws also addresses a number of other animal rights issues, including puppy farms and devices that punish dogs for barking, according to Reuters.

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