Live animal food taboos can be found around the world, as many people are disgusted by consuming living creatures and other societies practice the act regularly.
Eating Live Animals: Seafood Taboos
Consuming live seafood is mostly a tradition of Asian cultures, and particularly of Japanese sushi chefs. Animals like shrimp, squid, lobster, fish and sea snails are sometimes killed just before being consumed or filleted while still alive and eaten raw.
Korean markets often sell live octopus to be eaten, their tentacles still moving as people swallow them. Sannakji hoe is live octopus served with sesame and sesame oil.
Live Animal Food Taboos and Norms
Some of the world’s live animal dishes, found delicious by many cultures and taboo by others, include:
• Casu marzu: This Italian soft cheese contains live maggot larvae and is banned from sale in the country. However, this cheese fetches a high-price on the black markets of Sardinia.
• Insects: Live insects, like stink bugs and tarantulas, are consumed in many places around the world. In some cultures, live insects are eaten in a more ritualistic fashion, while others include insects as staples in their diets.
• Oysters: These foods are consumed throughout the world while still alive. Oysters have caused some debate in the animal cruelty, vegan and vegetarian communities, as these creatures lack a central nervous system and experience no pain, similar to living plants. Live oysters are much desired in restaurants around the world, including in the United States.
• Stone crab claws: In Florida, these claws are harvested from living crabs, which can regenerate their limbs in one year’s time.
• Ying Yang fish: This fish’s tail half is deep fried while it’s alive, and the dish is eaten with the head still fresh and moving. The dish originated in Taiwan but is now banned there. You can still find this fish in China, where the food is popular.
Taboo Foods: Eating Live Animals Isn’t Kosher
Dietary laws in Judaism and Islam prevent followers from consuming any meat that is not from an animal slaughtered in the cultures’ ritualistic manners, meaning that any live animals are entirely taboo.
Any meats cut from an animal that is still alive are taboo foods in Judaism and Islam, as is the consumption of animal blood, which is often a part of live animal eating.