By Maneka Gandhi
I cannot make up my mind: is the meat-eater, who eats dead animals killed in slaughterhouses, worse than the meat-eater who kills the animal himself while eating it?
There is a certain type of person who goes to a restaurant, chooses a live fish, octopus shrimp or snake in a transparent aquarium tank, has it taken out of the glass and killed and cooked in front of him. His only reason for this to himself is that the meat should be “fresh”. In actual fact, some people truly enjoy suffering. That, for them, is as important as the taste.
What can I say about people who enjoy eating these foods:
The Chinese Ying Yang fish is fried but kept alive. You can see videos of diners prodding at the face and eyes with their chopsticks while the fish struggles to breathe with its mouth and gills. It is prepared extremely quickly, with care not to damage the internal organs, so that the fish can remain alive for thirty minutes. Fish are the most sensitive of all to pain. Imagine yourself being fried and then eaten bit by bit.
In Japan, Sashimi, which means pierced body, is a common Japanese dish consisting of fresh raw fish or meat sliced into thin pieces and eaten with soy sauce. One kind of Sashimi is Ikizukuri (“prepared alive”) made with live sea beings. Fish and octopus are common ingredients that move on the plate as you eat them. Sashimi could also include live frogs. The frog is stripped of its skin while alive and stabbed delicately with a fork and eaten. One restaurant in Shinjuku serves the frog’s fresh, still beating heart, as starters. Lobsters are not always boiled alive and dead by the time they reach your plate. Restaurants in New York serve lobsters while they’re still alive. They are upturned and diners pick out “belly sashimi” from the lobster which flails in pain for all the time you take to slash and take out his stomach meat. Another common dish in Japan is swallowing live baby eels dipped in vinegar and saké.
In South Korea, Sannakji is a dish that involves hacking the tentacles off a baby octopus and serving them still wriggling. Sannakji connoisseurs enjoy the sensation of the still-active suction cups on the octopus’ arms as they stick to the mouth.
The Chinese cannot be bested for their addiction to cruelty. Live shrimp are put into a liquor called Baijiu and diners bite their heads off while drinking it. This can give you lung fluke disease, but what is more important than proving your manhood by killing a shrimp. In China, there is a dish called “Three squeaks” in which live baby mice are dunked in sauce and eaten alive. The reason why it is called “Three Squeaks” is due to the sounds the mice make when grabbed with chopsticks, dunked in the sauce and bitten through.
Raw live baby monkey brain is a very expensive dish eaten by rich people in China and Hong Kong. The chef puts a live monkey beneath a table with its head poking up through a hole. The chef slices the top of the head off and the customers eat its brains while it screams. Fresh baby donkey, or Huo Jiao Lu. The animal has its legs tied and its body held down, while the chef cuts its body and serves the meat immediately to customers.
Live baby duck embryos, just a day from being hatched, are a famous Chinese specialty which is now common in the Philippines as well. In the latter country, it is called Balut. The Filipinos eat the egg boiled. The Chinese eat it raw to get the full taste of the egg white, the little yolk left, and the live squirming chick. No wonder the Chinese make such dangerous enemies. They love violence and gore.
Odori ebi or “dancing shrimp” is a Japanese sashimi in which the baby pink shrimp is still moving its legs and antennae while being eaten. The shrimp only dies when chewed. Odori Don is a live cuttlefish whose tentacles twitch as you pour the soy and chew it.
Consuming the beating heart and blood of live snakes is common in Vietnam. You choose the live snake at roadside stalls and they cut it and serve it within a minute. I have seen this in Hong Kong. In China, people eat live baby snakes.
Sea urchins are the porcupines of the sea; globular animals with long spines to defend themselves. They live on the seabed. But their spines cannot protect them from human greed. They are caught and served live. Their testicles are a delicacy across the world, especially Europe. The live animal is cut on the plate with scissors and its salty gonads are taken out and eaten raw.
The most common animal to be eaten alive is the oyster which is served alive. Its spine is broken, and its insides are slurped up raw. This was originally a French dish but is now eaten all over.
A famous chain of restaurants in Copenhagen serves salads crawling with live ants supposedly to add a zesty taste. These move slowly because they have been kept in the fridge previously. Wichetty grubs are chewed live in parts of Australia. They are said to taste like nutty fried eggs.
Casu Marzu is a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese eaten in Italy. Its specialty is that it contains the live maggots of the cheese fly, which jump about in panic as you scrunch them. Casu Marzu has so much ammonia in it from its faeces that it scorches the tongue. Milk cheeses containing living insect larvae are produced in several Italian regions.
Television game shows that I have repeatedly complained about to the Ministry over the years are Fear Factor and Survivor in which contestants eat live insects, spiders, cockroaches and worms. But by the time they take action, the series is already over. Then we start the cycle again with the next series. Man Vs Wild is another show in which Bear Gryllis shows his manhood by eating live insects.
What is the word for people who demand food that is so full of pain? Monsters? Ugly terrifying evil beings, who are probably a menace to human society as well!
(To join the animal welfare movement contact firstname.lastname@example.org, www.peoplefor animalsindia.org)