Faidley’s Seafood ‘Crab Derby’ Asked to Race Robots, Not Crustaceans—PETA Offers to Provide ’Em

For Immediate Release:
May 6, 2024

Nicole Perreira 202-483-7382


Could the annual Faidley’s Seafood & Lexington Market Crab Derby go vegan? PETA thinks so! Today, the group sent a letter to Bill and Nancy Devine, co-owners of Faidley’s Seafood, asking them to make waves by having participants race robotic or remote-controlled crabs instead of live ones—many of whom would endure an agonizing death in a pot of scalding-hot water after the derby—and nix the post-race crab-eating competition in favor of serving vegan crab cakes and other animal-friendly fare. PETA has offered to shell out for the decoy decapods and provide tasty food to tide over attendees.

“Crabs are intelligent, complex individuals who feel pain and fear, defend their lives, and should be respected rather than being removed from the sea, treated as toys, boiled alive, and torn to pieces,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “Every animal is someone—not something—and PETA is calling on the derby organizers to reimagine the event as a celebration that everyone can enjoy.”

Each person who goes vegan saves the lives of nearly 200 animals—including aquatic ones—every year. To help get locals started, PETA offers a free vegan starter kit on its website and notes that there are many vegan seafood options available—including at celebrated local eateries such as The Land of Kush, Refocused VeganDodah’s Kitchen, and My Mamas Vegan.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

i'm me not meat crab

PETA’s letter to Bill and Nancy Devine follows.

May 6, 2024

Bill and Nancy Devine
Faidley’s Seafood

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Devine:

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally, including many thousands across Maryland—with a suggestion we hope you’ll agree is on track to make the annual Faidley’s Seafood & Lexington Market Crab Derby an inclusive event that the whole community can enjoy, including those who don’t eat or use crabs due to religious, ethical, environmental, cultural, or other reasons.

It may be inconvenient to recognize that crabs are sentient, remarkable animals, but we now know they are, and we must look at them with fresh eyes. Dr. Robert Elwood, a professor of animal behavior at Queen’s University Belfast who has studied crustaceans for decades, says, “Denying that crabs feel pain because they don’t have the same biology [as mammals] is like denying they can see because they don’t have a visual cortex.” Crabs not only feel pain but also remember and actively try to avoid what caused it. They are capable of complex learning and social conformity, have 360-degree panoramic vision, and can be doting parents. In fact, in the U.K., it is illegal to boil crabs and other decapod crustaceans alive, because they are legally recognized as sentient beings.

Would you please update the event (in much the same way that New England no longer promotes whaling but sells everything that celebrates whales) by switching to racing robotic or remote-controlled crabs at the derby and by swapping the crab-eating competition for animal-friendly, environmentally friendly, vegan crab cakes? (Yes, there are such things, and they’re delicious!) To enshore that you won’t be in a pinch, PETA would gladly supply the mechanical crabs and the vegan crab cakes or share our recipe with you.

As your business has been around for more than a century, you’ll appreciate that another crabtivating reason to modernize this event is to keep up with marketing trends. The vegan seafood market is expected to reach $1.3 billion in the years ahead. A whopping 79% of Gen Z already choose to go meat-free at least one day a week, and 65% of Gen Zers say they want a more plant-based diet. Younger people are also increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of food production. Given last year’s below-average blue crab population and the continued threat to these animals from warming waters, the path forward is clear.

Times change, and traditions evolve. In its current form, this event makes light of animals’ suffering, so we hope you’ll choose to become the king and queen of compassion instead of crab cakes. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your response.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid Newkirk


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