Animal rights Halloween hazards: Candy corn, chocolate milk, and squid ink pasta with baby octopus

10 incredibly strange cephalopods - click

10 incredibly strange cephalopods – click

Ever notice how those “scariest animal” lists that appear around Halloween (bats! spiders! snakes! sharks!) always omit the most truly frightening candidate–Homo sapiens? I mean, what could be scarier than realizing you’re of the same species as the callous, wolf-killing Idahoan who twirls his gun and revels in his self-congratulatory “John Wayne sh*t” while he films the animal suffering in death throes?!? Yikes.  

And then there’s Halloween candy, potentially the stuff of vegan nightmares given that traditional fare like Brach’s candy corn contains both gelatin and honey. (I get a little green around the gills just thinking about the vast quantities I’ve consumed in days of blissfully-ignorant yore.) The good news is that Jelly Belly makes a gelatin- and honey-free version. The bad news–for vegans and bees–is that it contains beeswax. *sigh* (Unclear on why vegans eschew bee products? Click here.)

Yet another bloodcurdling Halloween proposition: the Peanuts Gang is still pushing chocolate dairy milk as the “official drink of Halloween” (“pick some up for your little monsters”). The monstrous suffering that dairy cows and their doomed offspring endure during their tormented, truncated lives goes beyond diabolical, yet how easily the usually-sensitive Charlie and friends cross over to the dark side.  Ah, the specter of capitalism married to speciesism: their offspring is, indeed, unholy.

How squids and octopuses figure into Halloween (or, at least, into this post)

Our local, daily paper reflects, pretty much, standard American everything–that is to say, animal exploitation is invisible in plain sight. “Play with ingredients that are noir-hued for a grown-up Halloween dinner” encouraged an article (originally from the Chicago Tribune) in Wednesday’s food section. The recipe for sauteed baby octopus over squid ink pasta (stomach-heaving photo at previous link) caught my eye since I had recently glanced over some light reading on pain and suffering in cephalopods–octopuses and squids, specifically–used as research subjects. That led me to seek out more: a sequence of short videos showing an octopus engaged in problem solving (part 1, part 2, and part 3); a video showing an octopus using a tool (amazing!); and an item at Science Daily asserting that

 The cephalopod class of mollusks are considered the most intelligent invertebrates and an important example of advanced cognitive evolution amongst animals in general. …Without exception all cephalopods are active predators and the ability to locate and capture prey often demands some sort of reasoning power.  ~Science Daily

Of course, we don’t need to belabor the intelligence angle when it’s sentience alone that matters, though many humans don’t think of mollusks as either intelligent or sentient–when we think of them at all. Squid? –you mean the software?

That brings us to squid ink pasta. Seriously, who worries about the squid when they see those three words? Not the cook whose “biggest concerns” are, “Is this gonna stain my hands?” “What about my kitchen countertops?” and, “What does it taste like?” Nor the woman who shows us, on video, how to harvest squid ink for Instructables TV (“the tentacles are the best part…everybody wants to fight over the tentacles”).

For the record, if I’m going to fight over the tentacles, it will be with the goal that they remain attached to the living animal. But Halloween calls for fun, not fighting, and what could be more fun than a simple squid hat costume? Imagine the questions you’ll get at the Halloween party, and your ensuing public relations campaign for cephalopods.

Imagine how effective–and alienating–this will be if sauteed baby octopus over squid ink pasta is on the party menu. Happy Halloween!
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More on the amazing octopus from OneKind (HumanKind. AnimalKind. OneKind.)
Humboldt squid: great footage & commentary from a neurobiologist; 3-1/2 min. video
Cephalopod consciousness: Behavioural evidence, here
No-sew octopus costume – here
Top 10 vegan Halloween recipes & treats, here; Vegan Halloween at Pinterest
Ultimate vegan Halloween party menu from VegNews

Comment on this post at animal law blog Animal Blawg.

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