Is It Cruel to Eat Squid?

by Becky

March 4, 2021

If you want to follow a cruelty-free lifestyle, you should aim to do so in all aspects of life – this includes what you choose to eat.  

Squid may not be as cute as other animals, but it is still worth respecting them as part of the animal kingdom.

It can be considered cruel to eat squid because they are sentient beings, just like any other land or water animal. However, squid populations are not in danger. So, from a fishing perspective, you can argue that eating squid is not as cruel.

Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, you should still consider the ethics involved in preparing the food you eat.  While squid is an animal, it is generally a sustainable source of meat too. Read on to find out whether eating squid is actually worth it.

Is Eating Squid Cruel?

Killing anything can cause pain as the animal dies, and it can injure the animal if the initial attempt is unsuccessful. When killing an animal to eat it, you’re bound to cause some sort of pain and suffering.

While the act of eating squid may not always be cruel. It’s hard to argue that killing these animals for food is not cruelty-free.

Although squid are not endangered - every time you eat this seafood, you’re indirectly telling the fishing industry to produce and farm more animals to keep up with demand. The more squid they sell, the more money they make.

The Argument for Eating Squid

Now, some argue that eating and even killing squid isn’t cruel. After all, if the animal is already dead, you aren’t doing anything cruel to it. If you want to argue that eating squid is cruel, it’s essential to learn about the other side’s logic.

Consider a couple of reasons why some argue in favor of eating squid.

Short Life Cycle

Compared to other animals, squid farming and fishing is relatively sustainable. The animal grows up quickly and reproduces quickly, making it easy to have a lot of squid in a short period.

Squid fisheries don’t face the same risks of extinction as other fisheries because of that life cycle. Some scientists say that overfishing squid is nearly impossible. You would need to harvest a lot of squid for the species to risk extinction.

Because squid grow and reproduce quickly, you aren’t necessarily cutting off the species when you farm for them. Of course, you’d need to kill the individual squid, but the species can still survive.

Not Endangered

As long as fisheries use sustainable practices, eating squid won’t necessarily make the species endangered. The animal may not even face any threats of extinction.

So, if you’re trying to decide between eating squid and another animal with a risk of extinction – then squid is the obvious choice. A fishery would have to go through a lot of farming in a short period to do a lot of damage to the entire population.

If you eat squid on occasion, then it isn’t going to affect the whole species negatively. But moderation is key here. And, of course, if the animal is already dead, it may be crueler to let the meat go to waste than to eat it.

The Argument for Eating Squid

Squid farming and fishing

Like any other animal, squid have feelings and can feel pain or suffer otherwise when killed. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, you have to agree that eating any formerly living thing is cruel to some degree.

Here are a couple of arguments against eating squid or any other seafood, for that matter.

Squid Are Animals

You can’t deny that squid are animals. They aren’t part of a vegetarian or vegan diet. Squid may look ugly or even disgusting, but they’re still living beings. As such, they can suffer or feel pain when someone kills them for food.

If you believe eating beef or chicken is cruel, squid is the same. The animals may have different habitats, but that doesn’t change anything. Eating seafood is just as cruel as eating land animals.

In fact, squid are considered just an intelligent as their relatives – the octopus.  These animals are proven to be effective communicators that are great at problem solving processing information. Don’t believe us? You can find out everything you need to know here: Is It Cruel to Eat Live Octopus?  

Now, sustainable fisheries and farms can make the farming process easier on squid and other animals. In those cases, the squid may have a more peaceful death. However, it’s hard to ignore the reality that eating squid means you’re probably killing more than just these animals if you support commercial fishing companies.

It’s an unfortunate truth that all kinds of marine life get caught in fisherman nets that are dropped into the water. Small dolphins, sharks and tortoises can all suffer a similar fate too no matter whether you’re fishing crab, prawns, and all kinds of other fish.

A Vegetarian Diet

Some people believe that fish and seafood are part of a vegetarian diet. Pescatarians will eat seafood, but vegetarians will not. It’s important to understand this nuance and how that can affect who will eat squid.

Many vegetarians and vegans choose those diets to avoid animal cruelty. Removing meat and animal by-products from your diet is a great part of a cruelty-free lifestyle.

If you don’t eat squid or other animals, you can reduce the number of animals that die unnecessarily each year. You can enjoy alternatives to still have a varied, healthy diet. But you won’t have to worry about if your diet is cruel or not.

Eating Squid Is Technically Cruel

Of course, some people will argue that there are plenty of squid to go around. That will never change the fact that eating an individual squid is cruel. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or eat meat, you have to admit that eating any animal is cruel on some level.

It doesn’t matter if the farm or fishery uses sustainable practices or more humane killing methods. When you eat a squid, you require someone else to kill it. Killing animals is cruel, so it doesn’t make sense to separate eating from killing. Unless you want to eat live squid, but in that case, you would kill it when you eat it.

While squid do reproduce quickly, that is part of their natural life cycle. Eventually, they will die as the next generation keeps the species alive. If you let squid die naturally before cooking them, that might be considered less cruel. However, in that case, you also have to consider that you are taking food away from other marine life that rely on squid for nutrition.

What About Calamari?

Calamari is another term for squid, though it usually refers only to fried squid. It may also apply to baby squid or to Mediterranean-style squid. Either way, it’s all squid, and it’s all just as cruel as eating any animal.

What to Eat Instead

King oyster mushroom scallops

King oyster mushroom scallops

Fortunately, you can still enjoy the flavors of squid without the cruelty of the real thing. You can enjoy vegan alternatives that use mushrooms.

Consider how you can make vegan calamari at home.

  • Remove the tops of oyster mushrooms and cut the stems into small pieces.
  • Punch a hole into the center of each mushroom.
  • Add two inches of oil to a frying pan and heat it to 350℉.
  • Mix flour, cornstarch, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Toss the mushroom pieces in the bowl with the flour and other dry ingredients.
  • Place the mushrooms in the oil and fry until they are golden brown.
  • Take the mushrooms out of the oil and put them on a large plate.
  • Add lemon juice and parsley and serve with vegan tartar sauce.

Eating cruelty-free calamari can be a great way to satisfy your tastebuds and save the animals and the environment.

Final Thoughts

Like any other animal, eating squid is cruel. Some fisheries may use sustainable practices, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re killing another animal. Fortunately, you can make a vegan alternative to calamari.

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