Recognising crabs, lobsters and octopi as sentient could be a game-changer for restaurants | Emma Kay

Did you know, octopi, crabs and lobsters are recognised as sentient beings in the UK after a review concluded that they are able to feel pain and distress?

By Emma Kay
Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 1:23 pm
Cooked Crabs. Picture: Steve Reid 110172-271
Cooked Crabs. Picture: Steve Reid 110172-271

From that review our government is updating the Animal Welfare Law (the Sentience Bill) to include these animals in the sentient line-up. The review defines sentience as any living thing that has the capacity to have feelings such as hunger, thirst, pain pleasure, comfort and joy.

Several studies have shown very strong evidence that this is indeed the case for these very tasty creatures. Those who have carried out the research reports have suggested that they should no longer be boiled alive which is the common practice at the moment. Crabs should not be declawed, and indeed, live crabs and lobsters should not be sold by anyone apart from trained expert handlers.

Certain slaughter methods such as live dismemberment are also falling under scrutiny to see if a viable alternative is available.

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So what does this mean and how will it affect our summer arthropod salads?

Well, it could be an interesting rebranding opportunity for seafood restaurants. The industry is not affected right now but there will be an undeniable wave heading their way in the near future. Current slaughter methods are merely discouraged and are not mandated right now. But restaurant owners should be looking ahead and start to seize their chance now.

Similar to the ‘line caught’ branding for tuna, they could be saying, ‘we are bringing down the boil’ or ‘we are giving the crabs back their claws’. As you can see I am no expert in branding, but you get the picture.

I am pleased to see the government implementing legislation on the back of these reports which does show that they are taking this seriously. It is not easy to define or prove sentience in animals in the first place, and I expect there are those reading this article that are thinking ‘are you serious, crabs’? But the bill does provide vital reassurance that animal well-being is, as it should be, at the forefront.

Leading the line and saying you are a caring and empathic restaurant before your competitors catch on presents a unique opportunity. You can be one of the first. You can set an example. Your brand will be forward-thinking.

Your customer base and community will respect you for pushing humanism and empathy and avoid inflicting unnecessary suffering on an animal. You can encourage other barnacle-minded businesses to follow your example.

Whether they take up the reins or not, it is certainly food for thought. You win either way. Because you will gain customers who will respect you and love your newfound ethics too.

Taking public transport must become more user-friendly

Bus delays, as many Pompey folk will have experienced, are an ongoing pitfall of public transport.

With the winter weather now starting to make its presence known through our wrong choice of outer garment, shivering beside a bus stop, watching buses head of in every direction but yours, adds to our frustration.

The lack of RTI (Real Time Information) at bus stops must be one of the fundamental underlying problems here. Yes, decades ago, there were, on some bus stops, printed time tables, which was accepted, but we have moved on.

There is simply no bridge to the needs of the modern day passengers who, if they have the technological means, and so many do not, have to frantically scramble online to seek answers which are not easily found.

There is no easy way to look up why your bus is delayed. Without a phone, you’ll have no chance.

Don’t suffer SAD alone

Given that we are now approaching the inevitable icy coldness of winter, it is time to look at an element that goes under the radar. Seasonal Affective Disorder, shortened, aptly, to SAD, is a condition in which the mood of sufferers can be severely affected with the coming of winter, to the point in extreme cases some can experience debilitating depression.

The lack of sunlight in the winter means we are exposed to less vitamin D. Many will become less motivated by the seasonal onslaught of winter woe.

Symptoms of SAD can range from irritability, a persistently low mood, heavy feelings of despair and worthlessness, a lack of energy and sleeping longer than normal as well as craving carbs and gaining weight.

Treatments include vitamin D supplements, light box therapy, which is sitting near artificial light and taking to your GP. Don’t suffer low moods during the winter season alone.