(OP-ED/ANIMAL CRUELTY) Several years ago, the New York Times reported on a disturbing Chinese food trend that gave worry to the country’s public safety officials: rat meat. Unfortunately, the rat controversy didn’t end there.

In a brand new YouTube video that could even make Hannibal Lecter feel a bit queasy, a man is seen using chopsticks to pick up and eat what appears to be a live baby mouse, wriggling in sauce with other baby mice. In another highly graphic, disturbing, and inhumane video, a man picks up a squealing rodent and eats it alive. This is the new terrifying trend that will make any vegetarian’s head spin.

In a recent YouTube video, a man eats live mice with chopsticks. Photo Credit: dailymail.co.uk
In a recent YouTube video, a man eats live mice with chopsticks. Photo Credit: dailymail.co.uk

But as deranged as it may seem to most of us, the trend of eating live animals is not a rare occurrence. Among common animals that are eaten alive include octopus, frogs, and fish.

Sannakji is a Koren octopus dish, where the live tentacles of the octopus are eaten as they continue to wriggle. While in a frog sashimi, the live frog is stabbed and skinned in front of the customer, with the animal’s still-beating heart left on the plate.

Unfortunately, those defending these practices by citing “tradition” as well as “moral and cultural relativism” are actively protecting animal cruelty. Every culture faces its own set of cruel and outdated behaviors toward animals, and in every case these behaviors are morally wrong.

Photo Credit: YouTube
With frog sashimi, the cruel meal begins by eating the frog’s fresh, still-beating heart. Photo Credit: YouTube

Many would argue that animals hunt other animals and eat them, and therefore there’s nothing wrong with us doing the same. However, they are missing two points:

  1. Animals are doing so for survival and because they require a great amount of protein to thrive. Finding something to eat as a wild animal is not an easy task. Humans, on the other hand, are luckier and have a greater variety of options to choose from–which makes this bizarre trend even more confusing.
  2. Humans are the more evolved species. Wild animals don’t operate in the world of right and wrong, but we do. And most of us can differentiate between the two evils of eating dead animals versus eating live animals. The latter is far more vile, and far more cruel to the animal.

Some animal cruelty apologists attribute the practice of eating live animals to poverty. Yet India, a country mired in poverty, maintains one of the largest vegetarian populations in the world. People who try to excuse this cruel act as a cultural difference are missing an empathy chip.

Even as countries like China industrialized very slowly, and have a large rural population that depends on growing and gathering, there still leaves no excuse for the stark cruelty surrounding the practice. In the modern world, there simply is no place for such inhumanity.

Thankfully, there are people willing to stand up to the cruel treatment of animals in Asian countries. In China, young activists are intercepting dogs being transported to slaughterhouses for their meat, and activists worldwide have successfully put an end to the Chinese dog eating festival.

This is a hopeful sign that those most affected by these customs are no longer hiding behind the tired excuse of tradition. Instead, they are facing these issues head on and making positive changes. We applaud these individuals who refuse to stand on the sidelines while cruelty ensues just for the sake of shock value.

— Sonia Horon, exclusive to Global Animal