Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Will Not Ordering The Octopus Lead To Reconsidering How I View & Eat Animals?

A few days back I had lunch at a Mexican seafood restaurant here in Houston.  I looked at the menu and saw that I could order octopus. In the past I would have of ordered the octopus. I’ve had octopus many times.

However, since I last had octopus I’ve seen some nature programs showing just how smart these creatures are.  I saw an octopus in a lab leave its tank and slither over to another tank where some food was kept. Apparently the octopus is a curious creature. It will investigate and, seemingly, ponder things it encounters in the ocean.

I looked at the menu and felt a measure of revulsion at the thought of this smart creature being captured and killed.

I’ve been reading Writings on an Ethical Life by Peter Singer. Singer, a professor at Princeton, has written about globalization, euthanasia and animal rights. His book about globalization ,called One World, is excellent and stresses the equal value of all persons wherever they may live on the Earth.    

In a chapter from Writings on an Ethical Life, Singer says the issue is not the intelligence of the animal, as I considered about the octopus, but simply the fact that the animal has a capacity to suffer.

Animal rights issues or becoming a vegetarian  are not things at the top of my list at the moment. However, I was surprised at the intensity of my reaction to the octopus on the menu. Who knows where this line of thought may lead? We always have the capacity to see issues in a new light as we acquire new information.     

May 23, 2007 - Posted by | Books, Sea Life, Uncategorized


  1. That reminds me of the run a way cow that hid at mount storm in cincinnati. I will still eat cows I find them quite good. I am sure when I was in hong kong I ate some sort of cat at some point as well as snake soup.
    When the octopus starts talking to you and asking you not to eat it maybe then i would stop eating them? Maybe not

    Comment by bill brady | May 23, 2007

  2. A talking octopus would make an excellent blog post. If the octopus talked to me I would engage it in conversation and see if it was more clever than people.

    Comment by neilaquino | May 23, 2007

  3. meat is murder! at least that’s morrisey says. i’d probably be dead if i had to kill my own food.
    how do you feel about squid? like say at a punk show in the 80’s. maybe dri?

    Comment by geo | May 23, 2007

  4. A few years ago a collegue made a comment I wasn’t supposed to (but did) hear about a jacket I purchased that contained animal product. She thought I was being hypocritical because I am a vegetarian. However, I have never once told anyone that they should become a vegetarian or not to buy animal products. I have pointed out to people that the production of animal products often has a very negative impact on the environment. Although animal rights are not my only reason for not eating meat, I generally find the idea of eating an animal uncomfortable, which I guess is what you experienced with the octopus. There is definitely a struggle between animal intelligence/ability to suffer versus human preservation. I have yet to find a clear answer. It is very difficult to live in America and avoid all food and other consumer products that have any animal component to them. Many drugs have animal components to them. Those of us who have an affinity for animals have been known to kill a spider or two. What about mosquitos that carry disease to so many people? I guess we all have to decide where we drawn our own lines as consumers and humans. However, there are so many things we could be doing in this country to preserve animal well-being that perhaps we should focus on the big things, like habit preservation, and do our best to reduce our individual impact on the animal world.

    Comment by Barb | May 28, 2007

  5. Hey! Glad that you didnt eat the Octopus. I also eat meat, but stay away from those that seem the most harmful or crual (octopus, veal, tuna). Not sure how I justify, but I do.

    Sort of like my dilema yesterday (Memorial Day). I took the girls to the Cemetary to leave flowers for the Unknown and all the while felt out of place because I hate this war, Administration, and a majority of the Soliders. However, I needed to set a “positive” example.

    Any views on this? Really could use your council.

    D from the 7th Grade.

    Comment by Diane | May 29, 2007

  6. Barb–Thank you for your well-thought out comment. Few problems have a clear cut solution and navigating things as best we can is often the best one could do.

    This is what I’d say to Diane. All I’ve ever been able to do is navigate as best I can. When on vacation I will often go a military cemetary if possible. I did so in San Diego a few months back and visited the big military cemetary in an old volcano in Honolulu a few years back. It’s got nothing to do with what I think of any war.

    Comment by neilaquino | May 29, 2007

  7. i LOVE the future is wild, and as a safeguard, i am allergic to calamari. anybody else know about the future is wild?

    Comment by squibbon | October 9, 2007

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