Consider the Lobster: The Big Red Ethical Conflict
In the article “Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace, Wallace forms an argument discussing whether it is morally ethical to eat lobster.
I agree with Wallace’s decision to discuss the cruel ending of a lobster’s life, but feel that in order to come to an ethical conclusion on the consumption of animals, the cruelty of killing that animal must also be considered. Some believe that this is okay because it’s said that Lobsters cannot feel pain, while others disagree strongly.
The conflict between these two point of views is not only seen in the case of Lobsters but also in the consumption of other animals as discussed by Wallace. Crustaceans and all animals have the capacity to suffer which is haunting to most people. The idea of subjecting an animal to death strictly for our consumption is greatly frowned upon by people who do eat meat and people like vegans and vegetarians. In this reading, Wallace begins to illustrate the pain that these lobsters may be in. He uses imagery to provoke emotion in the reader and gets them to question their stance on the conflict by explaining the death of lobsters: “Even if you cover the kettle and turn away you can usually hear the cover rattling and clanking as the lobster tries to push it off” (Wallace 467).
The thought of this creature suffering and boiling alive is sickening to many people and they believe that it should be stopped. PETA Mayo 2specifically has been seen at many recent lobster festivals and apparently has a plan to boycott them eventually. As stated by PETA, “Humans consume tens of millions of them each year in the United States alone” (PETA, Lobsters and Crabs Used for Food). Contrary to many, some scientists have proven that lobsters can feel pain just as other animals can and actually have a quite sophisticated nervous system. After learning this my view shifted somewhat towards this side of the argument.
For many who learn this, lobsters are cut out of their diets along with crabs and other crustaceans. But PETA and other organizations know that this fact isn’t enough to get people to understand the cruelties of these acts. In Rockland, Maine — “A woman wearing lobster claws, a bikini bottom, pasties, red body paint and nothing else attracted attention downtown during a protest launched by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals” (Curtis, BDN Midcoast, PETA’s Protest). The protest aimed to take action against the annual Maine Lobster Festival discussed in Wallace’s article. Asking attendees to think about what they are eating and what pain it went through while dying hoping that it would impact some of them. Although, PETA has tried and will continue to, I feel that not enough people will support them to shut down the consumption of lobsters because of how much people enjoy them.
On the other hand, there are believed to be many cruel free options for killing animals, but some people see these issues as irrelevant. To many, it is okay to kill and consume the animals because they believe it is “the cycle of life” or that they don’t feel pain the way we do. Wallace backs up this claim with a statement from a professional Lobsterman stating “There’s a part of the brain in people and animals that lets us feel pain and Lobsters don’t have this part” (Wallace 465). While Wallace does bring up these controversial aspects of eating animals in Mayo 3general, he settles with the belief that “animals are less morally important than human beings. ”
For me, this is a hard pill to swallow. PETA says one thing, while the Lobsterman says another making it confusing on what to believe. I do believe that it isn’t fair for the animals to have to go through pain just be eaten, but I also really enjoy eating lobster and other meats. The whole animal cruelty and eating issue is a complex situation and as stated by Wallace is also very uncomfortable. I have a hard time dealing with this conflict but I believe the best way is to just do what he does “avoid thinking about the whole unpleasant thing” (Wallace 466).
Overall, the conflict of these two opinions is very difficult to follow and side with because each argument makes some very valid points. While boiling lobsters alive may be painful, we struggle with the fact that they aren’t morally as important as human beings. After seeing both arguments I myself cannot even choose a side because there is no definite evidence of anything. So for now, I will continue to eat lobster as I have before and try not to think about the cruelty of the situation.
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