The Painful Implications of Invertebrates Feeling Pain

Do invertebrates feel pain? Evidently some, like crustaceans do. “Brown crabs rubbed and picked at their wound when a claw was removed, as it is in fisheries. At times the prawns and crabs would contort their limbs into awkward positions to reach the injury…”

But the same article says we don’t have to feel guilty when we smash a stink bug. “Even in extreme cases, insects show no evidence of pain. Imagine a praying mantis eating a locust, [Wageningen University professor Hans] Smid says. With its abdomen opened up, the locust will still feed even while being eaten.” Good to know because I’ve become a regular American Psycho when it comes to stink bugs.

So Science has decided that animals as simple as hermit crabs feel pain. Yet we are led to believe that human embryos and fetuses prior to birth do not, and the research that states otherwise remains controversial. This isn’t a philosophical problem for me since I eat animals and oppose laws outlawing abortion in the first trimester. I accept both are murder. But it strikes me as a bit of a conflict when my liberal friends support abortion without restriction yet won’t touch an egg because of the suffering the hen went through making it.

I’ll start taking vegans seriously when I meet one who opposes abortion for the same reason they oppose consuming animal products.

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  1. Steve D:

    They may feel pain but are they conscious of it? Or to put it more succinctly are they conscious that they are conscious of it? Another way of asking this is; do they know they are experiencing pain?

    I strongly suspect only humans are self-conscious or aware of their own existence.

    Note: almost every vegan I’ve met cites the energy inefficiency of eating meat as their main reason. This makes some degree of sense.

  2. Scott Kirwin:

    I suppose that’s the sensible bar, but what I’ve seen amongst my vegan friends and even vegetarian family members is a refusal to partake in meat due to the suffering it causes. As for energy inefficiency vegetarian primates such as monkeys and gorillas must constantly eat to get enough protein out of the vegetable matter they consume. Vegans can consume supplements to avoid this, but then must consider the energy involved in the production, transportation and sale of those supplements.

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