Awestruck viewers of the Oscar-winning documentary My Octopus Teacher—which highlights the intelligent, curious nature of octopuses—would surely wince after learning that at some restaurants (including in the U.S.), octopuses are eaten alive.
It sounds like a horror scene, but this is how octopuses suffer for the Korean dish sannakji (literally, “wriggling octopus”)—diners hack them apart while they are still conscious and often times desperately struggling to get away.
Just like us, octopuses—who feel pain, too—don’t want to be mutilated to death. See the cruelty that octopuses endure for yourself. These gruesome videos will make you want to keep octopus off your plate:
Octopuses caught for food are violently removed from their natural habitats. PETA’s undercover footage shows one fisher callously chucking a live octopus into another vessel:
PETA Exposes Restaurants That Serve ‘Live Seafood’ Dishes
In September 2016, PETA eyewitnesses visited restaurants in New York and Los Angeles, where mutilated sea animals are served while still alive and conscious. At T Equals Fish in Los Angeles, our observers watched in horror as chefs held down an octopus—nicknamed “Pearl” by an observer—and cut off her sensitive limbs with a butcher knife. The severed limbs, which continued to move and react to stimuli, were served, squirming, to diners. But Pearl’s agonizing ordeal was far from over.
Kitchen staff explained that she would be kept alive until another customer ordered the remaining limbs. According to the chef, after cutting off every limb one by one, he would kill an octopus by ripping them open and tearing out their intestines.
In PETA’s investigative footage exposing Toronto restaurants that butcher and serve octopuses alive, diners are shown picking at a plate of wriggling octopus limbs.
Oldboy Octopus Scene
According to CNN Travel, eating live octopus grew in notoriety in large part because of the infamous scene in Oldboy, a 2003 Korean film. In it, Choi Min-sik—the lead actor—eats a whole live octopus. However, according to director Park Chan-wook, eating the octopuses was “torture” for Min-sik, who is Buddhist. He said prayers of apology to the octopuses he ate, and it took the actor “a long time to recover.”
These videos likely evoke disgust in many viewers. But if you wouldn’t eat a live octopus—wriggling, squirming, and writhing—you shouldn’t eat already-dead ones, either, because they were also cruelly and painfully slaughtered.
Live or Not, Keep Our Fellow Animals off Your Plate!
As My Octopus Teacher teaches us, there is so much to learn from these eight-limbed marvels. Like chimpanzees, crows, humans, and dolphins, octopuses also use tools. Veined octopuses carry coconut shells across the ocean floor before meticulously placing two halves together and climbing inside to hide. Blanket octopuses snatch poisonous tentacles from Portuguese men-of-war and wield them like swords. And mimic octopuses can impersonate more than 15 other species.
These intelligent beings are great escape artists, they’re genetic marvels, they change color to camouflage and communicate, they can operate a camera, they have good aim, they don’t enjoy being fenced in, and—without a doubt—they feel pain. Cephalopod expert Dr. Jennifer Mather explains that octopuses “can anticipate a painful, difficult, stressful situation—they can remember it. There is absolutely no doubt that they feel ”
Living beings—alive or dead—do not belong on restaurant menus. Afford these marvelous sea creatures the same consideration that you’d give to your companion dog—or your son or daughter. Choose plant-based, cruelty-free foods, and keep animals—alive or otherwise—off your plate.
Take Action for Octopuses
We’re calling on lawmakers to introduce legislation that prohibits animals from being mutilated, “prepared,” and served alive. Click the button below to speak up for these animals.