are oysters vegan

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  1. Racquel Mensinger says:

    No! Definitely NOT vegan! I would NEVER eat them- especially since they’re alive when you eat them! No way.

  2. Great article! Given we choose to take life whenever we eat plants, many vegans consider ‘sentience’ or ‘conciousness’ the moral difference.

    The fact that someone has labelled something an ‘animal’ or a ‘plant’ is just a label.

    If we happen to discover a plant that is sentient and feels pain, I would not be ok with eating it just because it is labelled a ‘plant’.

    Similarly, if an oyster is not sentient and doesn’t feel pain (as appears to be the case), then in my view it is in the same moral category as any other plant.

  3. Nicholas Gerace says:

    The Five Aggregates are what makes a living sentient being a living sentient being:

    1. Form – the body.
    2. Feelings – physical sensations and emotions.
    3. Perceptions – the way things seem to be based upon the senses.
    4. Volitional Formations – free will ability to make choices and decisions.
    5. Consciousness – the mind.

    Do plants have all five aggregates? No, they are not sentient beings. They simply respond to stimuli. There is no intentional harm caused by eating plants, therefore no unwholesome karma will be returned.

    Amoebas, bacteria, and viruses are not sentient beings.

    To find your answer, I might ask myself if oysters have all five aggregates. If they do, they are not vegan. If they do not have all five aggregates, they are vegan. 🙏☸️

  4. Instead of asking what kingdom oysters belong to, we should ask what characteristics deserve moral consideration. The fact that oysters are animals tells us nothing about whether we should eat them or not. Imagine that tomorrow scientists discover a species of sentient plants that can speak to us. They can feel pain and have an advanced society with tools. In this scenario, it would be absurd to say their classification as plants alone warrants us to eat them as vegans. Conversely, imagine they discover a cow with no central nervous system and no nociceptors. It has no neurons at all. It would be equally absurd to say we can’t eat them because they are animals.

    The chief characteristic we care about when we talk about ethical eating is consciousness. While oysters can respond to stimuli, there is just no indication there is an identity that could experience anything. There is no agent to harm our exploit there. Morally, this makes them equivalent to eating plants. The presence of nociceptors and ganglia isn’t enough. There has to be a plausible structure that is even capable of producing consciousness to consider that mortally significant. Oysters don’t have such a structure.

    So to bring this back to definitions. If being vegan means protecting animals, then I think vegans are immoral. However, if being vegan means protecting conscious beings, then I’m a vegan. As a community, we can care more about definitions or we can care more about ethics.

    I know what I care more about.

  5. Harper Lyre says:

    I don’t know why my previous comment added the first sentence.

  6. Harper Lyre says:

    I have been vegan since June 13, 2021 and flesh-free since January 2020. I’m also an animal rights activist and antinatalist. I have researched for more than 120 hours – through reading scholarly articles, books and literature, watching documentaries – the ethics of procreation, carnism, harm reduction, climate change, speciesism, overpopulation, environmental racism, ocean dead zones, endangered and extinct animal species, factory farms, sentience, the abuse and exploitation of humans in the animal agriculture industry, the many health benefits of a whole food plant based diet, the diseases caused by the consumption of animal flesh and their products…and much more.
    I’ve also graduated from the Vegan Activist Academy by PAN as a certified vegan activist and have participated as a mentee through AAM and Surge.
    Prior to becoming Veg/AN, I purchased several pearls. More than 15. All individual, from The Pearl Factory. Watched every oyster get torn open and scraped out. I kept most of them loose to put in a necklace “cage” but I have a few rings and a beautiful octopus pendant.
    Since, I’ve spent a lot of time reading about pearls, the pearl industry and its impact on the oysters/mollusks, the workers who farm them and the environment.

    The definition of veganism – per the Vegan Society – is: “a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

    1. Mollusks belong to the kingdom Animalia – they are animals.
    2. They are exploited to be consumed as food and their products worn as clothing (jewelry).
    By definition, pearls are not vegan.
    However, this may change as we learn more about mollusks. The 17th century philosopher René Descartes alleged assertion that animals are without feelings, physical or emotional. Obviously, we know how that this is abysmally incorrect.
    As a vegan, I will never purchase a pearl or consume a mollusk for as long as I live and I will always speak out for the animals. They are not voiceless. We just don’t speak the same language. Thank you for reading.

  7. If they filter water, wouldn’t they be all full of e.coli and microplastics, etc? Who wants to eat that?

    But more to the point, up until the 1960’s it was believed that human babies didn’t feel pain, and they would perform surgeries on babies without anesthesia. So I find it arrogant for someone to look at something “less developed” than they are and decide that they don’t feel pain. I think ostrovegans should stop the mental gymnastics and just say that whether an animal feels pain or not is only important to them if they can personally emphasize with it. It’s easy to empathize with the pain of something that has eyes or looks cute, and easy to theorize away the pain of something that looks like a rock.

  8. I personally think pearls are gaudy, but I eat oysters. Trying to simplify it into animal and non-animal is just lazy. In this immense universe of ours, how can there possibly be nothing in between? We, humans, are simply calling them animals, despite a MAJOR biological difference. The same silly humans who also called the Earth flat! This is not a simple classification, and like everything else in life, it is not black and white. An even more intelligent species from a different corner of the universe could visit and tell us we actually have 13 different levels of life. The fact is, we can’t be sure of anything unless we can actually experience their existence ourselves. So we do our best. And while I am against suffering, I am also pro-science and advancement. Instead of googling a list of what vegans can and can’t eat, I actually learned about the creatures on our planet myself. That’s how I ended up moving forward from being pescatarian for 25 years, but why I still eat bivalves, local honey, and the eggs that fall out of my friend’s pet chickens (waste not!). I don’t have a label, and you know what? It’s a good thing. Being unwilling to see anything differently than what you’re told is why our species is in the mess it’s currently in. After thousands of years, I’ll never understand how humans have become so close minded in this day and age (both meat eaters and vegans alike!).

  9. Thank you for your kind words, Amanda. It’s incredible just how much nuance there is to being vegan.
    Kudos for making the switch, and I hope your health has benefited.

  10. They are animals, so they’re not vegetarian. While they might not feel pain the way we do, that’s not the point. Any living being tries to avoid harm and detects it in different ways – and reacts to it. Even plants to that. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you don’t eat animals. Period.
    Having said that, I loooove oysters 😉
    – I don’t call my self vegetarian or vegan
    – I’ve had them about two times in my life. Once ages ago in Brittany on vacation in February (don’t go there in February, but there were no tourists and we got them right from the local fisherman). The other time so my husband could taste them.

    Even if you call yourself vegan, I totally get it. It’s a pain to exactly tell people what you eat and why. So vegan is just easier than .. sorry, I already forgot the name. Even if you are 100% vegan every other day – better than never!

    1. Hi Simone, great take!
      I agree with you. Simplify it down to animal or non-animal.
      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts 🙂

  11. i agree with you both it just doesn’t feel right to eat them. Plus, i don’t really buy the sustainability and benefit for the environment argument. What about the gas to farm, the disruption of the land/water, the working conditions of the people in the industry etc. I just wouldn’t fee ok about eating them or wearing pearls.

  12. Even if they don’t have a nervous system and they don’t feel pain, I still find it morally wrong to take away their life.