I reviewed some vegan alternatives to seafood by Sophie’s Kitchen a few weeks ago. In addition to singing the praises of their products, I listed a few reasons why eating sealife isn’t a great idea:
- Harvesting wild animals–like calamari, shrimp and some types of cod–is done with trawling, a process that basically rakes up all life forms the sea floor, killing everything, and creating dead zones.
- For every pound of shrimp, 10 pounds of bycatch (species people weren’t trying to catch) are killed.
- Farmed fish is usually raised in water treated with pesticides and antibiotics.
- It takes two pounds of wild fish to feed one pound of farmed shrimp.
But I’ve learned something new that I can add to the list: eyestalk ablation.
Eyestalk ablation is as gross as it sounds. It’s the process of removing one or both eyestalks from female shrimps and prawns–and it’s done in almost every shrimp reproduction facility in the world! The goal of ablation is to stimulate the female shrimp to develop mature ovaries and spawn.
In the wild, shrimp sexually mature on their own, but captive conditions prevent them from developing mature ovaries. Even the types of shrimp that could develop ovaries and spawn in captivity have their eyestalks removed because it increases egg production. There’s detailed info online about the how and why behind the phenomenon.
The science behind ablation isn’t the interesting part. I’m saddened to learn of yet another way humans manipulate animals for profit. Apparently tiger prawns can regenerate their eyestalks, but that’s not the point.
We don’t need to eat shrimp or prawns. In fact, it’s better we don’t (as bottom feeders, they’re actually toxic). They’re another example of species that are exploited. They may not be cute or cuddly, but they don’t deserve to be mutilated and blinded–just so people can eat them at cocktail parties!
Knowing about this form of cruelty makes me say “bring on the vegan options!”