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Cato 06-21-2012 04:52 PM

I have been vegan for four years and recently discovered that oysters do not have a central nervous system. This seems to imply beyond a reasonable doubt that they cannot feel pain and have no consciousness. They are animals and technically if you ate them you would not be vegan but what do you think about eating them?

Currently I avoid them because of dogma not reason! Given that oysters cannot feel pain, do not have consciousness, are farmed in ecologically sound ways, and there is little to no collateral damage in farming them I cannot think of a reason to avoid eating them. And my reason for being vegan is ethical, I don't care about holding on to the title as long as the diet is ethically equivalent to veganism.

I lack knowledge in biology but given that experts can guarantee that oysters are no more likely to feel pain and and be conscious than plants I will seriously consider eating them. I would like your opinions on this. I am more interested in ethical considerations and reasons as opposed to dogma. I will seriously consider your views on this. Thank you!

 

 

This is my source:

Consider the Oyster

Why even strict vegans should feel comfortable eating oysters by the boatload.

Link removed as requested by moderator! Obeyed under protest!

By Christopher Cox


4everaspirit 06-21-2012 05:22 PM

Hello!

 

I have heard too that oysters don't have a central nervous system. I still choose not too eat them 1. because I just don't need to and it just seems a bit "odd" vegan wise.(plant eating and stuff lol) and 2. because oysters are important filters that help to clean the waters. There is a huge problem with overfishing oysters and organizations are trying to get them back into the waters to help clean up some of the pollution that "we" have caused.

 

In kind of the same sense, that insects, though I believe having a central nervous system, it's much smaller than ours or animals and I wouldn't eat them either. Nor do I "kill them" when I do not need to because as part of my vegan philosophy, I don't kill or harm intentionally. Whether they feel pain or not does not matter to me, a life is a life.

 

I wouldn't recommend eating them, simply because they are such needed filters as part of the eco system, that, and like I said, it might seem a bit odd. "Environment wise aside", ethically, I wouldn't see it a problem to eat them.
 


Erratus 06-21-2012 05:35 PM

I wouldn't eat them if for no other reason than comfort. I know how to cook a plant based diet and I have gotten a nice little niche going. But one other, more reason based issue, is that oysters do have a nervous system, just not any sort brain or centralized nerves. It isn't complex as ours, for sure, but they do have nerve cells. I'm not a biologist and so I don't know how or if they can process information in an extent that causes suffering or pain. But just the fact that they do have nerves puts me off eating them. I might read more about it, but either way, I don't see myself eating them.


LedBoots 06-21-2012 05:37 PM

Gross, I would not eat an oyster.

4everaspirit 06-21-2012 05:39 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erratus View Post

I wouldn't eat them if for no other reason than comfort. I know how to cook a plant based diet and I have gotten a nice little niche going. But one other, more reason based issue, is that oysters do have a nervous system, just not any sort brain or centralized nerves. It isn't complex as ours, for sure, but they do have nerve cells. I'm not a biologist and so I don't know how or if they can process information in an extent that causes suffering or pain. But just the fact that they do have nerves puts me off eating them. I might read more about it, but either way, I don't see myself eating them.


I would think you would have to have a brain to interpret the message of pain. You'd need to have nerve endings which then send a message through your nervous system and too the brain, which your brain would then interpret as pain. At least, I had to have read that somewhere lol. They might be kind of like plants in that they can react to "stimuli" like their environment, but they don't feel pain. I know that oysters can close their own shells and that may be kind of similar to a venus fly trap closing it's mouth(?) when they capture their prey. But like I said, environment wise, they aren't an ethical choice to eat.


Plant 06-21-2012 05:39 PM

If you eat oysters, you're not vegan or even vegetarian. For their sake, I hope you don't begin to.


4everaspirit 06-21-2012 05:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plant View Post

If you eat oysters, you're not vegan or even vegetarian. For their sake, I hope you don't begin to.


We get that idea and yes it's been made fairly clear throughout the vegan community, they are simply asking, ethically why it wouldn't be okay to if they don't feel pain. It is a good question and the OP would like to hear more than just "no you can't eat that as a vegan." because that's not really a substantial argument as to why not. I have made the point that environment wise, they are important filters of the ocean (much needed for all of our pollution) and are (or were ) over harvested and organizations are trying to bring their numbers up again. So, in that ethical sense, it wouldn't be a good choice to eat them.


Plant 06-21-2012 05:47 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4everaspirit View Post


We get that idea and yes it's been made fairly clear throughout the vegan community, they are simply asking, ethically why it wouldn't be okay to if they don't feel pain. It is a good question and the OP would like to hear more than just "no you can't eat that as a vegan." because that's not really a substantial argument as to why not. I have made the point that environment wise, they are important filters of the ocean (much needed for all of our pollution) and are (or were ) over harvested and organizations are trying to bring their numbers up again. So, in that ethical sense, it wouldn't be a good choice to eat them.

Ethical consideration? How about this? If you eat them, they die.


4everaspirit 06-21-2012 06:03 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plant View Post

Ethical consideration? How about this? If you eat them, they die.


Right, but so do plants once you pull them out of the ground, or at least they begin to. And unless you plan to be a fruitarian, you are "killing" something to eat. In that sense, it's not so much about death and rather more about causing the least amount of harm. And since several sources say that oysters can't feel pain, then "ethically" wise, it would kind of be like eating plants. Granted, sometime in the future it's plausible we might find out that oysters feel pain, I dunno, but it's unlikely just like plants actually feeling pain is highly unlikely. Ethically wise out of concern of the environment, no it wouldn't be the best idea to eat them.


While I respect you as a person, and your opinion, please uphold your opinion with some sort of basis.


Cato 06-21-2012 06:04 PM

Hi 4everaspirit,

Thank you for your reply. I too feel odd about the prospect of eating them but I can't justify it. I mean rationally speaking plants are alive too and the main reasons I have no problem eating them is that they feel no pain and have no consciousness (there may be other reasons I can't think of now).

As for the ecological impact I think eating oysters would be better. Here is something from the source I posted before:

Oyster farms account for 95 percent of all oyster consumption and have a minimal negative impact on their ecosystems; there are even nonprofit projects devoted to cultivating oysters as a way to improve water quality.

Christopher Cox

If I buy oysters I am most likely paying for farms which have a positive ecological impact. 

 

Insects do have brains and they do feel pain. This it is a matter of levels of pain as opposed to no pain. I am no biologist this is pure speculation but wouldn't size also matter? I mean insects have small brains but they are also small themselves so the brain density (not sure if that term exists) may be similar to ours. I am not sure which is important brain size or brain density of the body.

 

You say that you do not wish to kill pain or no pain but if something that does not feel pain and is not conscious is killed then so are plants which we do kill. Plants are also alive and then they are not due to our consumption.


4everaspirit 06-21-2012 06:11 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cato View Post

Hi 4everaspirit,

Thank you for your reply. I too feel odd about the prospect of eating them but I can't justify it. I mean rationally speaking plants are alive too and the main reasons I have no problem eating them is that they feel no pain and have no consciousness (there may be other reasons I can't think of now).

As for the ecological impact I think eating oysters would be better. Here is something from the source I posted before:

Oyster farms account for 95 percent of all oyster consumption and have a minimal negative impact on their ecosystems; there are even nonprofit projects devoted to cultivating oysters as a way to improve water quality.

Christopher Cox

If I buy oysters I am most likely paying for farms which have a positive ecological impact. 

 

Insects do have brains and they do feel pain. This it is a matter of levels of pain as opposed to no pain. I am no biologist this is pure speculation but wouldn't size also matter? I mean insects have small brains but they are also small themselves so the brain density (not sure if that term exists) may be similar to ours. I am not sure which is important brain size or brain density of the body.

 

You say that you do not wish to kill pain or no pain but if something that does not feel pain and is not conscious is killed then so are plants which we do kill. Plants are also alive and then they are not due to our consumption.


You're right. I didn't phrase that quite right. I don't want to cause any pain or suffering. I know that with my veganism I do kill plants to eat and I don't plan to be a fruitarian anytime soon.  My correction there lol.

 

Still though, the world needs the oysters as filters of the ocean. Even by eating them from oyster farms that spout some ecological impact, do they throw some back? lol. I would imagine people trying to have a good ecological impact would be those not feeding oysters to people and putting them back in the water so their populations can come back up. Either way, eating one from that farm would minus one from those that would be improving water quality, if that makes sense.

 

As for that insect and brain size mattering o__o I have no idea and I think you asked an interesting question. I don't think we will ever really know. I just choose try the live and let live approach whenever possible. : ) We don't have the answers to everything yet and we are along way from getting there lol

 

So, my advice is just to not eat them. It's less confusions and cries of hypocrisies from omnivores and well, improving water quality from our pollution is pretty important.


Cato 06-21-2012 06:21 PM

Hi Erratus,

Thank you for this. This is making me doubt my position on this given my ignorance in biology. I have no intention of eating them unless I have really good reasons to believe they feel no pain and have no consciousness.

 

This is an interesting source:

 

Quote:

Do they feel pain? Great question.

I think the answer has to be probably not, we don’t really know.  They have a nervous system, they can respond.  They have no brain as such; they have two ganglia or masses of nerves around their body but not a central brain like ours.  I don’t think anyone can possibly claim that oysters are conscious, that they have awareness like higher mammals (not just ourselves but other creatures like dolphins and things).  I certainly think there shouldn’t be a big problem with oysters.

 

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/latest-questions/question/2279/

 

Unless I have been told by scientists that they feel no pain and that they know this beyond a reasonable doubt I will not eat them.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erratus View Post

I wouldn't eat them if for no other reason than comfort. I know how to cook a plant based diet and I have gotten a nice little niche going. But one other, more reason based issue, is that oysters do have a nervous system, just not any sort brain or centralized nerves. It isn't complex as ours, for sure, but they do have nerve cells. I'm not a biologist and so I don't know how or if they can process information in an extent that causes suffering or pain. But just the fact that they do have nerves puts me off eating them. I might read more about it, but either way, I don't see myself eating them.


4everaspirit 06-21-2012 06:26 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cato View Post

Hi Erratus,

Thank you for this. This is making me doubt my position on this given my ignorance in biology. I have no intention of eating them unless I have really good reasons to believe they feel no pain and have no consciousness.

 

This is an interesting source:

 

 

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/latest-questions/question/2279/

 

Unless I have been told by scientists that they feel no pain and that they know this beyond a reasonable doubt I will not eat them.

 


Responding doesn't necessarily mean they feel pain. As I said, wouldn't that be kind of like a venus fly trap closing it's mouth compared to an oyster closing it's shell? It's a response so they do have nerves, but I do believe that I read somewhere that a brain would need to interpret a message of pain in order for you to feel it, and since they don't have brains...it's just unlikely that they feel pain.


This might be an interesting read on how pain is felt.

 

http://www.everydayhealth.com/pain-management/how-pain-works.aspx

 

"the physical message from the injury travels from where you're hurt directly to your brain, where it registers the sensation known as pain. Your brain perceives that pain, and sends the pain message back to the area of your body that hurts — and it all goes very quickly. You don't stub your toe and notice that it hurts five minutes later; you know right away. "


Cato 06-21-2012 06:30 PM

Thank you for the clarification :)

I will probably put off eating them unless I can get a certain and unanimous answer from scientists that they feel no pain (or at the very least the chances are the same as for plants which is a pretty sure thing).

My point about the farm is that those farms exist for profit or employment. If the farmers do not get paid to run the farms they would not build and run them so there would be less oysters in the sea if people do not consume them. I think buying them would have a positive ecological impact for that reason (i.e. causes more farms to exist and greater numbers of oysters). The cries of hypocrisy worried me too but we cannot (or rather should not have to) make decisions based on the irrationality of others.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4everaspirit View Post


You're right. I didn't phrase that quite right. I don't want to cause any pain or suffering. I know that with my veganism I do kill plants to eat and I don't plan to be a fruitarian anytime soon.  My correction there lol.

 

Still though, the world needs the oysters as filters of the ocean. Even by eating them from oyster farms that spout some ecological impact, do they throw some back? lol. I would imagine people trying to have a good ecological impact would be those not feeding oysters to people and putting them back in the water so their populations can come back up. Either way, eating one from that farm would minus one from those that would be improving water quality, if that makes sense.

 

As for that insect and brain size mattering o__o I have no idea and I think you asked an interesting question. I don't think we will ever really know. I just choose try the live and let live approach whenever possible. : ) We don't have the answers to everything yet and we are along way from getting there lol

 

So, my advice is just to not eat them. It's less confusions and cries of hypocrisies from omnivores and well, improving water quality from our pollution is pretty important.


4everaspirit 06-21-2012 06:36 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cato View Post

Thank you for the clarification :)

I will probably put off eating them unless I can get a certain and unanimous answer from scientists that they feel no pain (or at the very least the chances are the same as for plants which is a pretty sure thing).

My point about the farm is that those farms exist for profit or employment. If the farmers do not get paid to run the farms they would not build and run them so there would be less oysters in the sea if people do not consume them. I think buying them would have a positive ecological impact for that reason (i.e. causes more farms to exist and greater numbers of oysters). The cries of hypocrisy worried me too but we cannot (or rather should not have to) make decisions based on the irrationality of others.

 

 


You may have a point about the oyster farms lol! Why do you have to have such good questions and points?! However, that almost seems like one of those omni arguments for eating meat where they were like "Well, if we don't eat meat the animals would go extinct so, by supporting the farms we are allowing there to be animals." Or something along those lines. rolleyes.gif


Cato 06-21-2012 06:38 PM

LedBoots and Plant,

But if we have no good reasons for our views veganism becomes dogmatic rather than compassionate and reasonable. That can give rise to contradictions and hypocrisies in our belief systems and might make it resemble a religion with baseless dogma. We must be able to offer good reasons for our beliefs.


Move of Ten 06-21-2012 06:39 PM

I don't eat oysters, because if I did I wouldn't be allowed on veggieboards. :p

(also they don't look appetizing)

 

I pretty much agree with there not being ethical issues with killing brainless animals, aside from the environmental damage. After all, when omnis ask "so why is killing plants ok?" I usually bring up the fact that they don't have brains and therefore cannot perceive pain/suffering.

 

BTW, these arguments also apply to scallops, clams, mussels and starfish as well.


4everaspirit 06-21-2012 06:42 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by cornsail View Post

I don't eat oysters, because if I did I wouldn't be allowed on veggieboards. :p

(also they don't look appetizing)

 

I pretty much agree with there not being ethical issues with killing brainless animals, aside from the environmental damage. After all, when omnis ask "so why is killing plants ok?" I usually bring up the fact that they don't have brains and therefore cannot perceive pain/suffering.

 

BTW, these arguments also apply to scallops, clams, mussels and starfish as well.


+1 Cornsail :) Nice addition with the scallops and clams, etc.


Cato 06-21-2012 06:48 PM

Thank you :)

I must disagree however, the reason large numbers of oyster farms would be a good thing is water quality not oyster lives (provided they have no consciousness). With the animals the supposed benefit lies with the existence of large numbers of future animals (that do not yet exist) and who would be better off not existing rather than living a life of torment. If we wish to avoid the extinction of farm animals without exploiting them we could easily do so with less intrusive ways and with numbers that are more sustainable. I believe there is much more ecological harm than good in keeping huge numbers of farm animals (unlike with oysters).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4everaspirit View Post


You may have a point about the oyster farms lol! Why do you have to have such good questions and points?! However, that almost seems like one of those omni arguments for eating meat where they were like "Well, if we don't eat meat the animals would go extinct so, by supporting the farms we are allowing there to be animals." Or something along those lines. rolleyes.gif


Cato 06-21-2012 07:04 PM

Very good point and interesting source. I would still want the scientists to give a clear and certain answer.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4everaspirit View Post


Responding doesn't necessarily mean they feel pain. As I said, wouldn't that be kind of like a venus fly trap closing it's mouth compared to an oyster closing it's shell? It's a response so they do have nerves, but I do believe that I read somewhere that a brain would need to interpret a message of pain in order for you to feel it, and since they don't have brains...it's just unlikely that they feel pain.


This might be an interesting read on how pain is felt.

 

http://www.everydayhealth.com/pain-management/how-pain-works.aspx

 

"the physical message from the injury travels from where you're hurt directly to your brain, where it registers the sensation known as pain. Your brain perceives that pain, and sends the pain message back to the area of your body that hurts — and it all goes very quickly. You don't stub your toe and notice that it hurts five minutes later; you know right away. "


Cato 06-21-2012 07:11 PM

LOL good point grin.gif

Ooh more brainless animals. Yum! Damn it that just feels wrong!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cornsail View Post

I don't eat oysters, because if I did I wouldn't be allowed on veggieboards. :p

(also they don't look appetizing)

 

I pretty much agree with there not being ethical issues with killing brainless animals, aside from the environmental damage. After all, when omnis ask "so why is killing plants ok?" I usually bring up the fact that they don't have brains and therefore cannot perceive pain/suffering.

 

BTW, these arguments also apply to scallops, clams, mussels and starfish as well.


zirpkatze 06-21-2012 07:26 PM

why do you want to eat them in the first place? obviously you've survived just fine without them for years and you're having to debate with yourself and come up with a set of events that would make it ok. i guess i don't really see the point

 

i can't really answer your question as i've never eaten an oyster and really have no desire to do so, ethical considerations aside


Cato 06-21-2012 07:36 PM

They seem to be quite nutritious and they may taste good (I have never actually eaten them). So my reason is that they can add a healthy dense nutrition source to my diet that might taste good without hurting anyone.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zirpkatze View Post

why do you want to eat them in the first place? obviously you've survived just fine without them for years and you're having to debate with yourself and come up with a set of events that would make it ok. i guess i don't really see the point

 

i can't really answer your question as i've never eaten an oyster and really have no desire to do so, ethical considerations aside

 

As a side note it can also solve the natural ethical B12 issue for those who care. I personally don't! Veganism need not have been possible in the past to make it the compassionate choice now. They simply might not have had such a choice in the past. But given that oysters feel no pain then an ethical diet would have been possible even in the past (as I said I don't care for this).


Cato 06-21-2012 09:04 PM

I know aren't I just brilliant :P

Thank you, however I must disagree. I think my argument is different. The omni argument is wrong because in consuming animal products we are causing extreme pain to animals. That is a very bad thing, creating future animals in greater numbers counts for nothing (just more suffering). We could keep those animals from going extinct in much more sustainable numbers and with much less intrusive and cruel ways.

In eating oysters there is only the positive effect of improving water quality achieved via greater numbers of oysters. The greater number of oysters are not the direct benefit, it is a means to an end. And there is no such end in the case of huge numbers of animals even if it was not cruel.

I posted a similar message before but it did not get through. Something about me being a new member.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4everaspirit View Post


You may have a point about the oyster farms lol! Why do you have to have such good questions and points?! However, that almost seems like one of those omni arguments for eating meat where they were like "Well, if we don't eat meat the animals would go extinct so, by supporting the farms we are allowing there to be animals." Or something along those lines. rolleyes.gif


Cato 06-21-2012 09:08 PM

LOL

That is a good reason :)

Thanks for letting me know about the other brainless animals.

My first reply did not get posted.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cornsail View Post

I don't eat oysters, because if I did I wouldn't be allowed on veggieboards. :p

(also they don't look appetizing)

 

I pretty much agree with there not being ethical issues with killing brainless animals, aside from the environmental damage. After all, when omnis ask "so why is killing plants ok?" I usually bring up the fact that they don't have brains and therefore cannot perceive pain/suffering.

 

BTW, these arguments also apply to scallops, clams, mussels and starfish as well.


runnerveggie 06-21-2012 10:04 PM

From what I understand about oysters, they would not have the capacity for suffering in any way that we can observe or understand, at least not any more so than a plant or fungus. However, I would feel uneasy about eating flesh that required killing an animal as our understanding of consciousness and sentience is so limited.

I would certainly want to understand the environmental implications. Even so, I am not eager to begin eating oysters as I was not raised eating seafood, I don't live near a source of fresh oysters, and I would have some food safety concerns.

Jorjor 06-21-2012 10:46 PM

Based on personal experience I'm not sure if they feel pain the same way as we do but I think they do know when they're being attacked.


Plant 06-22-2012 02:33 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4everaspirit View Post


Right, but so do plants once you pull them out of the ground, or at least they begin to. And unless you plan to be a fruitarian, you are "killing" something to eat. In that sense, it's not so much about death and rather more about causing the least amount of harm. And since several sources say that oysters can't feel pain, then "ethically" wise, it would kind of be like eating plants. Granted, sometime in the future it's plausible we might find out that oysters feel pain, I dunno, but it's unlikely just like plants actually feeling pain is highly unlikely. Ethically wise out of concern of the environment, no it wouldn't be the best idea to eat them.


While I respect you as a person, and your opinion, please uphold your opinion with some sort of basis.

I'm a vegan and as such I don't eat animals but I do eat plants. I have rejected the "but you're killing plants so you might as well eat certain animals too" and the "eating certain animals is not much different than eating plants" arguments when offered by omnis and when offered by veg*ns considering eating animals and when offered by people on forums seemingly wishing to facilitate the eating of animals by people wanting to eat them. I'm rejecting the arguments again.

 

Some people say if animals didn't feel pain and if they didn't suffer, they would eat tham. I wouldn't. That's just who I am.


MaisieF 06-22-2012 02:35 AM

Hmm, this is so interesting! I do really miss oysters being vegan. I would still find it weird like others have said to eat them now. I still think of them as 'flesh'.

(Although I feel better now about my 'last meal' being oysters & champagne!)

LedBoots 06-22-2012 04:18 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cato View Post

LOL

That is a good reason :)

Thanks for letting me know about the other brainless animals.

My first reply did not get posted.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cornsail View Post

I don't eat oysters, because if I did I wouldn't be allowed on veggieboards. :p

(also they don't look appetizing)

 

I pretty much agree with there not being ethical issues with killing brainless animals, aside from the environmental damage. After all, when omnis ask "so why is killing plants ok?" I usually bring up the fact that they don't have brains and therefore cannot perceive pain/suffering.

 

BTW, these arguments also apply to scallops, clams, mussels and starfish as well.

Starfish!!!?? Please don't eat them!!


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