National Restaurant Association Members Called Upon to Drop ‘Alien’ Octopus From Menus

Prompted by a New Study of Octopuses’ Genetic Code and Intelligence, PETA Wants NRA CEO to Launch Ethical Restaurant Revolution

For Immediate Release:
August 17, 2015

Lakisha Ridley 202-483-7382

PETA is serving up ample food for thought in a letter sent this afternoon to the National Restaurant Association calling on CEO Dawn Sweeney to urge association members to drop octopus from their restaurant menus in light of a joint study by the University of Chicago and Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. The study reveals that octopuses are far more complex and intelligent than previously known and that they’re capable of forming intricate social bonds. As PETA points out, research now proves that the animals possess 10,000 more genes than human beings, were on Earth long before man, kiss and cuddle with their lovers, and use tools in innovative ways—such as gathering coconut shells to use for protection.

“The late British zoologist Martin Wells said the octopus is an alien,” says University of Chicago researcher Dr. Clifton Ragsdale. “In this sense, then, our paper describes the first sequenced genome from an alien.”

PETA believes that the National Restaurant Association could follow up its successful “Green Restaurant Revolution”—which educated restaurant owners on how to make their establishments more eco-friendly—and jump-start an “Ethical Restaurant Revolution” by asking association restaurants to start an animal-protection initiative by eliminating octopus from their menus.

“Researchers tell us that octopuses were likely the first intelligent beings on this planet, and they suffer immensely when their bodies are cut apart, sometimes while they’re still alive,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA is calling on the National Restaurant Association to do its part to end cruelty to cephalopods by educating its members on why these animals deserve to be spared a death sentence.”

Cephalopods have sophisticated nervous systems that are rich with pain receptors, making them perhaps more sensitive than human children to pain. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—encourages all caring people to leave octopuses off their plates.

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PETA’s letter to National Restaurant Association CEO Dawn Sweeney follows.

August 17, 2015

Dawn Sweeney
President and Chief Executive Officer
National Restaurant Association

Dear Ms. Sweeney,

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), our more than 3 million members and supporters, and everyone who takes animal welfare seriously, regarding the recent research that has revealed that the octopus has 10,000 more genes than humans do and is an extraordinarily intelligent being. These new findings, along with a veritable cornucopia of previous research documenting the octopus’s complex nature, give every thinking person food for thought. One such thought is that it’s time to take octopus off menus. In the past, your organization has hosted a “Green Restaurant Revolution” series to highlight eco-friendly options available to restaurateurs. Will you also consider proposing an “Ethical Restaurant Revolution” by calling on National Restaurant Association members to pledge not to serve octopus in their restaurants? It would certainly win applause from the public and the media.

Researchers tell us that octopuses were likely the first intelligent beings on this planet. Like other species, they are playful, use tools, and are deeply inquisitive about their environment. Some octopus species cuddle with one another, while others have been known to bond with humans. However, octopuses are frequently ripped from their watery homes, stabbed, and cut apart for the fleeting pleasure of patrons’ taste buds. Some are devoured alive, as chefs cut off their tentacles and feed the still-wriggling limbs to diners. Their complex brains and nervous systems are completely ignored, as cooks boil, grill, and hack apart their bodies. It’s like a real-life Little Shop of Horrors.

The National Restaurant Association can help end such cruelty by educating its members about this matter and asking them to consider pledging not to serve octopus. Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to hearing that your organization will be a leader on this issue.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk

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