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Some countries like France consider snails a delicacy, while other countries like Morocco sell them as affordable street food. While we’ve normalized eating snails around the world, the truth of the matter is that consuming these tiny creatures is inhumane and in some cases, dangerous. Despite not being able to display emotions that humans can understand, snails deserve to live and be left alone.
Here’s why you should say no to your next escargot.
They’re Killed Horribly
Snails are either boiled alive or doused in salt. They might even be thrown into a casserole live then popped into the oven to cook with the rest of the ingredients. While there is no humane way to kill an animal, these methods are particularly gruesome.
Like other creatures, snails find heat painful and unpleasant and will attempt to get away from it if presented to it. One paper found that snails reacted to temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius, which is much colder than a boiling pot of water or scalding oven. Another study found that similar to humans, giving snails opioids reduced their aversion to heat.
Yes, Snails Have Emotions
Snails don’t have brains, which helps a lot of people justify their reasons for eating them. However, research has found that these sensitive creatures have feelings. A paper by Dr. Sarah Dalesman at Aberystwyth University looked at the effects of snails in social isolation. The study tested how well snails were able to form long-term memories in isolation compared to when in a group.
In social settings, some snails were able to form memories. However, once the snails were put in isolation, the ability to form memories was weakened. The study concluded, “that the relationship between exploration behavior and memory changes when the social context is altered.”
One might describe this as the effects of loneliness; one of the most profound emotions humans have the misfortune of experiencing.
Snails are host to a plethora of dangerous diseases. Rat Lungworm Disease is a popular and life-threatening illness spread by snails and rats. Rats are the only species where the parasite can live a full lifecycle but snails often eat their feces and become carriers of the disease, too. Uncooked snail dishes and fragments of snails in unwashed produce are often the carriers of Rat Lungworm, although freshwater crabs, frogs, and land crabs can carry the parasite, too.
Several snail-borne parasitic diseases can harm human health and cause socio-economic issues in tropical and sub-tropical diseases. These parasites hurt the “lungs, liver, biliary tract, intestines, brain and kidneys, leading to overactive immune responses, cancers, organ failure, infertility, and even death.”
A Completely Unnecessary “Luxury”
Like caviar, foie gras, veal, and lobster, most people don’t need to eat any of these “delicacies.” They are marketed as fancy and desirable, but the reality is the only expensive thing about any of these foods is the lives they’ve taken in the process.
No one needs to be eating snails. It is a completely unnecessary “luxury” that does more harm than good. Spreading the research and information on their ability to feel heat, isolation, and most importantly, the range of deadly parasites they host is the most effective way to decrease the global consumption of snails and save countless snails from being boiled alive.
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