How do you cook lobster?
For a long time, we all subscribed to the same lobster-cooking method. You know the one: tossing live lobsters into piping-hot boiling water.
Well, forget everything you once knew about cooking lobsters. With growing evidence that lobsters can in fact feel pain, people are adopting more humane methods. More specifically, those in Switzerland are so serious about changing their ways they effectively banned the boiling water method in January 2018 and ruled that lobsters must be stunned before boiling, with the ruling taking effect in March 2018.
According to PETA, lobsters have a sophisticated nervous system. Invertebrate zoologist Jaren G. Horsley tells them, “The lobster does not have an automatic nervous system that puts it into a state of shock when it is harmed. It probably feels itself being cut… As an invertebrate zoologist who has studied crustaceans for a number of years, I can tell you the lobster has a rather sophisticated nervous system that, among other things, allows it to sense actions that will cause it harm. [Lobsters] can, I am sure, sense pain.”
So, what’s the most humane way to kill a lobster?
First, let’s define humane slaughter. According to the Humane Slaughter Association, it is as follows: “As with mammals, a humane slaughter is one that results in an immediate loss of consciousness, or if slow-acting, induces unconsciousness without discomfort or pain. This unconsciousness should persist until death intervenes.”
Once the new rule takes effect, only electric shock or the “mechanical destruction” of the lobster’s brain will be accepted methods of stunning the animals, according to Swiss public broadcaster Radio Télévision Suisse and the Humane Slaughter Association. Once you stun the lobster, it’s recommended you kill it immediately.
If you want to humanely cook your lobster at home, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Australia has created step-by-step instructions that can be found here.
With so many options for humane ways to cook a lobster, it seems crazy to keep utilizing such a cruel cooking method. Let’s hope other countries follow in Switzerland’s footsteps and ban the inhumane act of boiling live lobsters.
A version of this article was originally published in January 2018.