There are a lot of “vegetarians” out there who still order clam chowder, oysters Rockefeller, and scallop linguine, reasoning that the animals who died to make them are “just shellfish.” But there might be more going on than many people realize. Here are 10 great reasons to let bygones be bygones—and bivalves be bivalves:
1. If eyes are windows to the soul, then scallops are very soulful. They have eyes all over their bodies to help them see and escape from predators.
2. Similar to turtles, when oysters sense danger, they hide inside their shells, which snap tightly shut.
3. Fight or flight: Like most animals, scallops flee when they’re threatened. They swim away from predators by flapping their shells.
4. Mussels have been shown to flex their muscles and move around to find a better location. Sound familiar?
5. We don’t know yet if bivalves can feel pain, but if they do, an order of oysters by the dozen means a lot of suffering on one plate. Wouldn’t it be worth bypassing bivalves?
6. Dredging is a drag. Dredging oceans to harvest oysters damages the reefs that provide other animals with habitats and disrupts the ecosystem.
7. Clams can live to be 35 years old, but most are harvested at just 2 years of age.
8. Sea turtles can be injured or killed by the dredges and trawl nets that are used to harvest scallops.
9. Mussel farms are ocean litterbugs. They produce “marine litter” that includes broken shells, rope, floats, and other debris that are often ingested by marine animals.
10. All we are saying is give seas a chance. As oysters, clams, and mussels suck in ocean water to feed on bacteria and phytoplankton, they also ingest pollutants and other harmful chemicals and send the clean, filtered water back into the sea. One oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day.
Like every other animal, oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops play a vital role in the ecosystem, and eating them has damaging consequences. So, let’s protect these little ocean do-gooders instead of being shellfish!
Check out our favorite vegan seafood options here.