David Pescovitz at 10:10 am Fri, May 31, 2013
This thoughtful, articulate young fellow explains why he doesn't want to eat octopus. (Thanks, Sean Ness!)
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.
TAGS: animals cephalopods Food
Jim Henson and Raymond Scott's "Wheels That Go" (1967)
Elliot The Bull music video; incredible stop motion animation
this should go on You Tube. so i can save it as a favourite
Wait ’til he finds out the potatoes and rice have to die so you can eat them too.
No eyes, them. Anyone who’s watched an Octopus hunt in the wild knows they’re scary smart. If they could start fires, I bet a little Octopus would be negotiating his way out of eating ape meat instead of the other way around. Yay, water!
I know it sounds hypocritical but I can’t get myself to eat octopus for that reason. They just seem too damn smart.
I’m a partial vegetarian who does eat fish, but after watching some octopus videos and talking with divers about how they behave, octopi are off my menu, too.
I eat pretty much anything, but I’ve taken octopus off the list, too.
One of my friends has an “intelligence level” above which she’ll not eat animals. Fish and chickens are fine. Cattle are the top range of what she’ll eat. Pigs, octopodes, horses, and dogs are out.
“No eyes” is an odd choice to describe why it’s ok to eat potatoes.
Scary enough watching an octopus hunt a crab in the aquarium.
They’ve even been known to move from one tank to another during their hunts!
There’s always someone who points out that plants die…
Because they haven’t received the memo about how animals don’t grow magically out of thin air, and it takes more plants to grow meat than veg.
The distinction between has-a-nervous-system and doesn’t-have-a-nervous-system is easy enough for this two year old to intuitively grasp, yet it seems to be very difficult for many grown adults to understand that distinction.
Unfortunately many grown adults define a nervous system only as the type evidenced in higher animals. Plant are capable of reacting swiftly to their environment and remembering information. It just depends on how you want to view the world and what information is relevant to your situation and beliefs.
We’re growing enough food to feed more than 10 billion people, but most of it is being fed to animals.
Pero las patatas y el arroz no sienten dolor amigo, así que tu argumento es patético
Por eso anestesiamos o atontamos a los animales antes de matarlos, así que, señora mía, su argumento también es patético.
Y si, las plantas también sienten dolor, es un mecanismo básico de supervivencia de los organismos superiores*.
*Excepto por los políticos, esos no sienten dolor.
That´s why we anaesthetize or stun animals before slaughtering em, so, oh my lady, your point is pathetic.
And yes, plants DO feel pain, it´s a basic higher life form survival mechanism*.
*Except for politicians, those feel no pain.
Are you serious? Have you ever seen any material recorded in slaughter houses? A terrible death which occurs AFTER years of horrendous existence filled with pain and suffering. Please do yourself a favour, watch this (or other material of you prefer) and snap out of your ignorance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXSzIhFlz6U.
I can’t understand people who argue that there’s no point in being a vegetarian/vegan BECAUSE plants feel pain too. While I appreciate that plants can feel pain I don’t believe they are self-aware, they have no choices or preferences, unlike animals. We need to think about minimising suffering and it’s well known that factory farming is one of the most horrendous of humans’ inventions. The holocaust continues and we all agree to participate in it by eating meat, dairy and eggs.
I’m not a parent. Are kids usually this lucid or is Luiz just smart?
They all have their moments, but this is remarkable.
They pass in and out of points of amazing lucidity between bouts fantasy and frustration (them, not you… except also you).
Mark is right though and it is also remarkable to have caught such a wonderful moment. A child empathizing with all creatures, suddenly, clearly, the way only a child can. Beautiful
It seems I am the only one thinking that within a week, he may well be saying, “Mom, can we have bacon again? It tastes good. The pigs die, but I want it anyway.”
After all, who is to say what counts as being “lucid” and what counts as a “bout of fantasy”, in the end?
Since what we witnessed and the rationale you propose may result and the other scenarios, like moderation and respect for the source are all not fantastical it is safe to say they are not and the bouts of fantasy I refer to are elsewhere.
All kids are like this, but their questions are silenced very quickly by most parents. It’s part of what’s wrong with the world.
‘If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!’
As a kid, I was forced to eat liver, which I would throw up, and then be forced to eat that… needless to say, I’m vegan now.
See how your parents made you a better person?
The best is when kids are really lucid, but because their brains are still so young, they’re lucidity contains fundamental, hilarious, logical leaps.
I had a preschool student tell me, after clocking another preschool student “But, he was hitting her. And we’re supposed to treat other people the way we want to be treated. So he was showing me that he wanted to be it.” It was this wonderful, thoughtful elaboration on the premise of the ‘golden rule’ that nonetheless kind of totally missed the point of it.
Aw, sweet kid. Nice mum, too.
I like vegetarians, I think their hearts are in the right place. Not the path for me, though.
Go for a middle ground. Eat meat in moderation and try to have it obtained humanely.
This is where I’m at. I’m not morally opposed to humans eating meat. I’m morally opposed to the outrageously cruel and inhumane production/processing in the US.
As long as there are animals that would eat me, I’ll eat them. So, I guess the vegetarians are safe for now, even though yes, their hearts are placed well for the sake of butchering.
That said, I’m sparing in my meat consumption. I try to eat as many legumes as I can, but really enjoy some good barbeque every few months.
Do you eat a lot of carnivores?
Omnivorous humans don’t usually eat carnivorous mammals, but they’ll eat fish (almost all of which primarily eat smaller fish rather than plants), and they’ll eat birds that eat insects. And lots of farm animals are omnivorous – pigs, goats, and chickens will eat just about anything (though they’re more likely to eat carrion than actually hunt), and when my wife was a kid, her farm cows would eat frogs if they could get them.
I ate a weasel once.
How did it taste? Good or no?
Considering the nature of the internet, I at first thought this was a bit of smutty innuendo.
Braised golden weasel with leeks at the now-defunct Hong Kong Flower Lounge in San Francisco. It was translated on the menu as ‘braised game with leeks’. The waiter kept trying to get me not to order it by pointing at my blond companion’s hair and screeching, “Like dog! Like cat!”
No, but I would if they were available. Carnivores are much more difficult to domesticate than herb/omnivores. To the best of my knowledge, the only ones that we’ve managed to tame are cats and dogs (sort-of), and people tend to frown on eating them in the west.
I would, depending on the taste factor. I don’t see the logic in eating/not eating what is determined to be “cute”, because I don’t think hogs are especially cute.
That said, shark definitely needs a little more sauce or butter than salmon to make it palatable for me.
Octopuses are carnivores. In fact many of them eat other octopuses. So if you feel bad about octopuses getting eaten, the most responsible thing to do is to eat the ones which eat other octopuses.
It’s seriously a super-weird criterion to use for justifying eating something. It pretty much limits you to diet of only top-tier predators. And the only vegetable you could eat would be Audrey II. Which is a fictional man-eating plant monster.
Chickens would eat you?
Given the opportunity, chickens will eat damn near anything.
I think if a live person were staked firmly to the ground that a small flock of chickens would definitely, definitely eat them.
Oh yeah, they’re widely known as the piranhas of the midwest.
I don’t think that’s what they really mean by “hen pecked.”
I’ve seen them eat other chickens. And I’m not even sure they were hungry at the time.
“Look into the eyes of a chicken and you will see real stupidity. It is a kind of bottomless stupidity, a fiendish stupidity. They are the most horrifying, cannibalistic and nightmarish creatures in the world.” ― Werner Herzog
I like legumes too, but finding out they don’t really throw themselves off cliffs made it harder to find any to eat.
“Not the path for me.” – I used to say this too. But I did a short “2-week test trial” without meat and felt so good that I stayed this way. Now 20 years later, I can’t ever imagine going back to consuming meat again.
But any reduction you make in your normal meat consumption is both good for you and good for the environment!
Same thing happened to me! Though it was shorter ago. Meat no longer holds any appeal for me. As I said above, it’s just a habit, and like many of those, once you’re not doing it anymore, you don’t miss it.
Exactly, it’s not some inherent physical dietary necessity like some folks like to contend. The meat in our diet is largely a product of cultural conditioning, and that kind of stuff is easily remedied.
I lived with vegan friends for a few years, and because we tended to do a lot of potluck style meals together, I ended up being vegan during that time simply because all the meals I was cooking were ones I was sharing with my friends. That, combined with a job that required regular sizable bike commutes, resulted in my being in the best shape and generally feeling the healthiest I had ever felt in my life until that point. I never went back, and at this point don’t think I ever could. Milk and meat simple don’t register as “food” for me.
Meat’s just a habit. It’s not that hard to get over. Really, it’s not.
Most people can get over eating anything at all in just a few weeks. Drinking in only a few days.
I realize this is off topic, but is there any way you can provide a preference or something to turn off that animated Photoshop-y filter that is applied to the poster frame of every video? I find it annoying and distracting. I came here for a different kind of distraction. :-)
Someone posted a way to do this through adblock in another comments thread. I don’t remember what thread or the exact technique (because i don’t find it annoying), but it had to do with determining the URL of the overlaid image & blocking that URL in your blacklist.
Ah, thank you. You can block the following URL
As a self-professed brutal carnivore, I do refuse to eat octopus; it reminds me too much of the visage of Our Lord Under the Sea. I feel it would be disrespectful… and asking for trouble.
Any critter that can pull pranks on humans for the lulz gets put on the “wouldn’t eat it even if the choice was it or nothing” list. It’s a very short list, consisting of octopus.
Full disclosure: pescetarian long enough that landcritter protein eating is ill advised, even if I were suddenly no longer squicked by it.
”Make us laugh or we eat you.”
I’m sure our Lord would approve. :)
Smart kid, and his heart’s in the right place. I’ve been vegan for a decade now and can’t imagine turning back — no more equivocation, no more bad science
The direct link to the video for those of you who can’t make it play: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRNNzMZgrzs
Why was it captured on camera? Did the mother predict what would happen?
Maybe she just thinks he is cute. It’s entirely possible that there is lots of other footage taken by his mother not being presented here.
I’m not a parent, but this is an extraordinarily odd question. Especially in 2013..
OT, this kid is beyond cute. I can do the no meat thing, but lord, I could never be vegan – gotta have my cheese, man.
Also, not eating honey? That’s just weird..
As a vegan (who would be kicked out of the club house by many vegans for admitting this), I don’t see a big problem with honey. It only hurts animals incidentally rather than intentionally, and, honestly hurts fewer and less complex animals than the farming of most of the plants I eat (which invariably incidentally kills bugs and field mice and so on).
As sweeteners go, honey is certainly more ethical than the refined sugar I know a lot of vegans consume uncritically (“Did you know, Oreos are vegan?!”). A sweetener with the chance of accidentally involving the death or discomfort of an arthropod is certainly more ethical than a sweetener that has a fair chance of deliberately including the bones of complex veterbrates in its bleaching process. (Not all refined sugar uses bone char to bleach, but companies aren’t obliged to report where they get their sugar from, and are constantly changing suppliers, which introduces a kind of Schroedinger’s Cat situation where all refined sugar is and/or is not ethical at the same time).
That’s good to hear. Besides, if someone says they won’t eat honey, that is a slippery slope, argument-wise. Because pretty much every singe thing that they might eat that comes from something in need of pollination is grown by someone that ships and/or keeps bees around for that specific purpose.
Generally speaking, it just doesn’t happen naturally. ESPECIALLY in the CA central valley were every single tree fruit or nut we eat comes from..
But no animals are raised and killed for the sole purpose of making bone char, it’s a byproduct, and one the refineries could probably acquire enough of from animals which die of natural causes. There’s nothing at all wrong with being vegan — it’s certainly better than consuming thoughtlessly — but you sort of have to give up on the notion of a consistent logical structure underpinning your choice and draw some arbitrary lines, the same way many meat-eaters do with octopus or dog.
Just about every vegan I know owns and feeds a most definitely carnivorous cat.
I’ve observed that morals often go out the window when it comes to pussy.
Well, cats are definitely carnivorous, while humans aren’t (or needn’t be) so there’s a distinction there. Cats are supposed to eat meat.
However, there’s still the huge problem of animals that are slaughtered for animal food being subjected to the same inhumane treatment as animals slaughtered for human food (or worse treatment, since there are fewer controls for stuff not meant for human consumption). All the vegans I know who have pets avoid this issue, typically by having herbivorous pets (rabbits are popular). One friend who acquired a rescue dog for the first time in her adult/vegan life has been making its own meat-free protein-rich food, and, for that dog at least, it’s still healthy and nourished.
But, anyway, even if vegans feed their cats meat, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re compromising their ideals (or “giving up on a logical or consistent structure” behind their lifestyle) because, again, cats are carnivorous. Humans are not, or needn’t be.
As for char, using a ‘byproduct’ still financially supports a thoroughly cruel and noxious industry, and and one of the central things about veganism (and what distinguishes it form vegetarianism) is avoiding those byproducts for that purpose. Even if milk is a product that you don’t need to kill the cow to get, the dairy industry’s entailment with other, truly noxious industries and practices – male calves, who obviously won’t ever produce milk, end up as veal.
In my experience vegans don’t simply avoid animal products out of some abstract and arbitrary moral principle – they’re motivated by the same basic principles as vegetarians, but are more scrupulous about teasing out the connections between the ingredients in their food and the killing they don’t want to support.
I mean, yeah, everyone’s just trying their best to be good, and nobody’s thoroughly perfect about anything they do or any moral choice they make. People aren’t especially logical or consistent things. But I don’t think veganism necessitates giving up consistency or logic. It’s just that, as all vegans are human, it typically goes that way.
“Cats are supposed to eat meat.”
Really? By whose decree?
By the decree of anyone who doesn’t want a dead cat.
well.. i m a part-time-vegan and full time vegetarian and i recently watched the movie-documentation “more than honey” about bees..
i am NEVER ever gonna buy that cheap industry-honey again!! it is more chrushed bees with antibiotics and various chemicals + suggar than “honey” :-/
watch the movie here: http://thepiratebay.sx/torrent/8240152/More.Than.Honey.2012.720p.BluRay.x264-ETM_[PublicHD]
greets from Europe
I caught all kinds of great kid moments when mine were little, and that was back in the day of inconvenient VHS camcorders. Look how many car/boat/plane crashes are caught on video now that everyone’s phone is also a video recorder.
First, smart kid and good mother.
But now, my serious question: How do we know plants are not sentient. Yes, they don’t seem to have any nervous system that we detect or recognize, and we don’t see lots of other evidence of sentience, but is that it? If we can’t detect it, it doesn’t exist? Is it possible they just react far slower than we do? Do speedy hummingbirds, roaches, and dragonflies view us as somewhat mobile plants?
I know this sounds like a joke, but think about it for a minute and maybe you’ll see the relativity involved. We assume that all sentience must be like human sentience. Isn’t that terribly parochial? Doesn’t that put us in the group that locked up Galileo? Just wondering.
Well, in order, I’d answer: Yep. If you’re dumb enough that logic will work for you, and many people are even dumber. Some are quite fast. Probably. Yes. Yes.
Remember our linear experience of time is probably an artifact of our meat-based consciousness. Imagine that a tree was not similarly crippled, and experienced everything without the ordering imposed by our incapacities; would it be possible to communicate or even recognize any sentience that was so fundamentally unlike our own?
Instead of “just wondering”, look up how much plants it takes to grow meat.
Then you’ll realize that it’s a pointless question, as a veggie diet spares both plants and animals.
Yeah, when you factor in global ethical dimensions beyond the specious “What if plants have feelings, too?” rumination, a plant-based diet is pretty clearly the way to go.
Of course neither of you answered my question. I asked if plants may be sentient, not if consumption of them is ethical.
They have no mechanism by which they could scaffold any sort of phenomenon we could recognize as sentience, or suffering. But of course they “may” be. Rocks “may” be sentient. But they almost certainly are not.
Factoring in “global ethical dimensions” has led me to the opposite conclusion, I’m afraid. I’m trying to eat more game and ethically slaughtered meat, and raw whole fruits and vegetables, and I avoid processed plant matter from corporate agriculture. Bread and sugar are bad for my health, meat is clearly the way to go.
Even if “ethical slaughter” wasn’t an Orwellian self-contradiction in and of itself, ‘ethically slaughtered’ meat doesn’t mean that its sustainably raised meat. Even if you change practice to make the last 5 seconds of a cow’s life less painful, that has no bearing on the tremendous environmental cost of raising so many cows to that point.
Bread and sugar are bad for your health. So what? So is meat. AND what bearing does that have on the “global ethical dimensions” you were ostensibly addressing? Your points seem rather scattershot.
It seems disingenuous to criticize me for being just as “scattershot” and lacking in detail as you were yourself. All you did was make an unsupported statement condemning the ethics of others, so by comparison I think my own posts here are pretty good.
If you want to get into a “whose lifestyle is more sustainable” bragging contest you will probably want to pick a different punching bag than me. Your fist might hit some nails. And incidentally I eat more bison than cow, so you’ll also need to adjust your aim.
Sparing plants and animals? From what? Certainly not from death – everything dies. Certainly not from suffering – if the claim that vegetarianism will enable more humans to be supported on Earth is true, that will just expand our ongoing displacement of all other large life forms, thus increasing their suffering (until eventually we make everything but humans, cockroaches and corn extinct, I guess).
I hope to nourish other species when I die.
There are a few issues here.
One is that not all plant matter requires the killing of the plant that yields the food. Eating the nuts or fruit of trees is not killing the tree anymore than clipping your toenails is clipping you. I suppose you’re already going down a slippery enough panentheist slope that though could argue that every nut and every apple is a living and possibly sentient being, but I don’t think that’s a very good argument.
Another is that a lot of plant matter is inherently ephemeral and often produced to be eaten. Many individual plants die or go dormant come the winter; their mechanism for self-preservation is to produce seeds which yield a new generation of individual plants (rather than preserving individual lives of individual plants), often having evolved so that animals eat those seeds and shit them out elsewhere to propagate the species.
Often with plants you’re eating a part of something, eating something that will be dead in a month’s time anyway, and/or eating something that includes “being eaten” as part of its reproductive cycle. You might think its human-centered to assume sentience requires an animal-style (central) nervous system. One could argue it’s just as human-centered to anthropomorphize plants by imbuing them with a life cycle, evolutionary development, sensory/cognitive abilities, and survival priorities that are fundamentally human or animalistic.
If we move the question from one of ‘sentience’ to one of ‘capacity to suffer or feel pain’ (which are, of course, related to an extent), there appears to be no physical substrate for any sort of feeling that would bootstrap that kind of experience in plants. ‘Wounds’ to plants are handled by reflexive, decentered systems and aren’t communicated via any sort of nervous-system-analogue (that we’ve seen) to other parts of the plant to to and sort of central processing center. They are almost certainly incapable of suffering.
As for being human-centric, well, being humans confined to human experiences in human bodies, those experiences are pretty much our only basis for scaffolding towards understanding of other entities. And those experiences, and the similarities on experience we observe in other people and animals make it pretty unequivocally clear that they are capable of suffering (and this is corroborated by the presence of a central nervous system quite like ours). So, yeah, even if you’re right and the question of plant sentience is an ambiguous one, the question of animal sentience is explicitly unambiguous (or at least as unambiguous as the question of the sentience of other humans, which is one any non-sociopath and non-solipsist is willing to give the benefit of the doubt to).
Sticking to my question of sentience, I wonder if it’s necessary for a creature to have a “central processing center” in order to feel pain. We’re currently discovering that our own CPC may actually be somewhat more distributed than we previously believed, include the gut. While we benefit from the speed of grouping our decision/action processing in bunches, would that preclude a slower creature like a plant from prospering with an evenly distributed processing system that can survive partial amputation?
Notice how I avoid a discussion of ethics and the possibility of eating the limbs
of moribund nursing home patients who “will be dead in a month’s time
anyway”. Yes, it could be great fun, but on this one I’m just after the science.
In some sense “is it possible?” is a trivial question because yes, anything is possible.
Beyond that, feel free to look at some of the philosophical problems involved with defining and recognizing sentience. We still don’t have any procedures or measurements we can make to prove everyone other than oneself is just a meat robot with no internal life.
In other words, there’s plenty of room to be hyperskeptical and insist that despite the data we do have it’s nonetheless completely possible that plants are sentient. But according to the data we do have plants do not seem to have cells analogous to our nerve cells and so they probably don’t have anything analogous to our nervous systems. I’d say it’s almost as safe to bet that plants don’t have internal lives as it is to bet that other humans do.
But I know the response is just going to be “well that doesn’t prove anything!” so I’m wondering why I’m even bothering.
But God made pigs out of ham, right?
And then He commanded His chosen people not to eat them. What a dick.
But then St. Peter had a vision of a blanket full of delicious un-kosher food dropping out of the clouds, and a booming voice commanded him to eat, and not declare unclean that which God has declared blessed or whatever. Just another one of those New Testament flip-flops.
Bacon raining down from the sky? Now THAT’s what I call a miracle. None of that French cuisine crap like the Second Plague of Egypt.
Old soul. I love it.
I think you can actually see him making the first connection between food and death at one point there. It’s incredibly sweet and touching.
It kind of makes me sad, though, that children are growing up so sheltered from reality that they have to be told that their food was once alive.
Not all of them, thank goodness.
On the opposite side of the coin, even though I can make a mean cajun-style vegetarian (heresy) gumbo, meat is delicious.
I find it WAYYYYYYYY more disturbing that certain cultures eat dog ! Now there are savvy little furry folk……and the way the abuse them by how they display them for sale is horrendous. I’d vote NO economic aid to any country that allows the eating of dogs !!
He, this made me tear up. Wonderful kid.
An excellent example of modern day anthropomorphism most likely induced by popular video cartoons and illustrated children’s story books.
Humans are and ALWAYS HAVE BEEN omnivores whether some folks like to admit it or not…it’s what we ARE.
I have a male friend who is a long time vegan in his 40′s who is starting to show the effects poor bone health with breaks and fractures due too long term vegan diet. Young kids like the one in this video are especially vulnerable to this. Plants have been shown to have levels of consciousness too.
I just want to respond to your statement about one friend who is starting to show the effects of poor bone health, and you are linking this to his vegan diet. There are multiple things in play here. 1.) He could simply be predisposed to having a bone problem, similar to the way I was predisposed to having my retina detach at 19 years old. It’s simply something that happens thru chemical makeup of certain people sometimes. 2.) Having a vegan diet, does not always mean that the person mentioned has followed this appropriately and taken the steps to make sure that he is getting all of the proper vitamins and nutrients he needs. Vegan diets are still filled with junk food alternatives (ie Oreos are technically vegan or at least vegetarian).
Some of the healthiest and strongest people in the world are vegans and they somehow manage to maintain their bone health on a long term, fully vegan diet. So your argument that vegan diets will always cause poor bone health and that we are going to subject our children to that if we make them vegans is just ridiculous.
Speaking as a vegetarian, I must say I am moved by this child. Nonetheless, my wife and I have decided NOT to bring up our future children as vegetarians, mostly out of fear that they would miss out on nutrients necessary for proper child development. We’ve searched the internet countless times, but it seems most studies on vegetarianism have been done on adults, not children. I think this child has made a decision, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he changed his mind in as little as a few weeks time. It should be as simple as that though; a personal decision.
Does everybody buy this?
The kid is just looking for a way to avoid eating octopus, I can’t blame him, I also hate eating gooey sea animals.
That “poor animals” thing seemed to work on his mother, so he kept pushing it until he was off the hook.
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