Eating live animals

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Sannakji is live octopus that has been cut into small pieces and served with its arms still squirming.
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Youtube video of the preparation and eating of sannakji

Eating live animals is the practice of humans eating animals that are still alive. It is a traditional practice in many East Asian food cultures. Animals may also be eaten alive for shock value. Eating live animals, or parts of live animals, may be unlawful in certain jurisdictions under animal cruelty laws. Religious prohibitions on the eating of live animals by humans are also present in various world religions.


As a crime[edit]

In October 1963, a case was reported in Vitória de Santo Antão, Pernambuco, Brazil. A man named Antônio Pinto bought a donkey for three thousand cruzeiros. He then galloped with the animal and stopped at every bar he sighted to have a drink. Then, he bit on the animal's ear strong enough to swallow it. He said that he had eaten the animal's ear as a "snack". Finally, he strangled the donkey with a cord.[1][2][3]

In 2006, 49-year-old Reggie Paul Fountain ate his pitbull puppy alive. He bit off the animal's ear and carried it around with him as he ran around his neighbourhood in his underwear, covered in blood, before he was restrained by police. He was arrested, and explained that he was on PCP and cocaine.[4]

For shock value[edit]

Several television game shows such as Fear Factor, Survivor and I'm a Celebrity feature segments where contestants must eat live animals including spiders, cockroaches and grubs. On his show Man vs. Wild, host Bear Grylls is sometimes shown eating various insects alive. There have been calls to ban eating animals alive on these shows.[5] A YouTube channel called "Food for Louis" shows Louis Cole eating live animals.[6]

Traditional food[edit]


In Japan, Ikizukuri ("prepared alive") is the preparation of sashimi ("pierced food") made from live seafood. The most popular sea animal used in ikizukuri is fish but octopus is typically the only species that is still moving on the plate.

Another fish dish invented by a Taiwanese chef from Chiayi, is called Yin Yang fish (also dead-and-alive fish) in which the fish's body (but not the head) is rapidly deep-fried and served while the head is still fresh and moving. It is prepared extremely quickly, with care not to damage the internal organs, so that the fish can remain alive for thirty minutes.[7][8]

In an interview, celebrity chef Raymond Blanc stated that in Japan, he had eaten live eels. He was advised to add vinegar and sake, which made them jump around, and then swallowed them whole.[9]


In 2012, a video showing a woman in Japan eating a live frog was posted on YouTube and went viral. In the video, a live frog is seen stabbed alive, stripped of its skin, and its inedible innards removed to be served as fresh sashimi on an iced platter.[10]

In 2007, a newspaper reported that a man from south east China claimed that eating live frogs for a month cured his intestinal problems. He also eats live mice and rats.[11]

Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods ate frog sashimi in restaurant seafood name Asadachi in Shinjuku. Though most of the frog is served dead (and raw), the meal begins by eating the frog's fresh, still-beating heart.[7]


Consuming the beating heart and blood of live snakes has been a reported practice among some locals and tourists in certain parts of Vietnam, particularly Le Mat village in Hanoi.[12][13] The practice was documented on Gordon's Great Escape when celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay swallowed the beating heart of a cobra at a Ho Chi Minh eatery.[14][15] It was also consumed by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain[16] in the same city.[17]


In Korea, Sannakji is the preparation of live octopus that has been cut into small pieces or prepared whole, and served with its arms still squirming.[7]

Sea urchin[edit]

Sea urchins are prized as a delicacy in many places worldwide (particularly in Japan, France, South Korea, Chile, New Zealand, the Philippines, Italy, Spain, the Mediterranean,[18] and North America)[19] for their briny-flavoured gonads. The gonads are often eaten raw, such as in sushi (typically called uni), and some people prefer to eat them immediately after they are cut open. Scissors are often used to avoid the protective spines whilst cutting the animal open. The gonads do not move, even when taken from the live animal.[7]


In China, drunken shrimp is a dish that can be served live, although it can also be prepared with dead shrimp.[20] When served live, the shrimp, usually 10 per serving, are first doused in a strong liquor which makes them less likely to struggle while being swallowed and also creates a flavourful marinade. A plate is typically held over the bowl to prevent the shrimp from leaping out as they are much more active than when served as Odori ebi.[7][8]

Odori ebi ("dancing shrimp") is a type of Japanese sashimi that contains young shrimp, usually only one individual per serving. The shrimp has its shell removed and sometimes its head as well. These can be deep fried and served alongside the rest of the shrimp, which is still moving its legs and antennae while being eaten. The shrimp only dies when chewed.[8]


Oysters are the most common animal eaten alive, as it is generally their state when served raw.[21][7]


A chain of restaurants, based primarily in Copenhagen, serves a salad crawling with live ants. The ants are chilled so that they move slower, and are supposed to taste like lemongrass.[8]


Live cockroaches were eaten in a competition in Florida in 2012. The winner collapsed and died from asphyxia due to choking and aspiration of gastric contents.[22]


Casu marzu is a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese that contains insect larvae.

One example of eating live larvae is the witchetty grub of Aboriginal Australian cuisine, which can be eaten alive and raw or cooked.[7]

Casu marzu is a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese, notable for containing live insect larvae. It is found almost exclusively in Sardinia, Italy. Casu marzu goes beyond typical fermentation to a stage most would consider decomposition, brought about by the digestive action of the larvae of the cheese fly Piophila casei. These larvae are deliberately introduced to the cheese. The cheese received attention on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. Zimmern described the taste of the cheese as "so ammoniated" that " scorches your tongue a bit." The cheese is known to leave an aftertaste for a duration of up to several hours.[23] Similar milk cheeses notable for containing living insect larvae are produced in several Italian regions.[24][25][26]

Religious prohibitions[edit]


According to the Talmud, the sixth Noahide Law (Hebrew: שבע מצוות בני נחSheva mitzvot B'nei Noach, lit. "Seven Laws [of the] Children [of] Noah") sets out a moral and religious imperative not to eat of a live animal. The Tosefta contains more explicit language on the subject, stating not to eat "a limb torn from a living animal".

As a Noahide Law, this law is said to apply to all the "children of Noah"—that is, all of humanity—as a requirement to ensure a place in the World to Come (Olam Ha-Ba). The laws of Kashrut, on the other hand, set out additional regulations which are binding upon Jews only.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Comeu as orelhas do jumento para depois enforca-lo: Loucura, Diario de Noticias (November 1963)
  2. ^ Comeu as orelhas do jumento e depois enforcou-o com as rédeas, Diario de Pernambuco (October 29, 1963)
  3. ^ Comeu as orelhas do jumento e depois enforcou-o com as rédeas: Recife, Correio Braziliense (October 31, 1963)
  4. ^ Man Accused Of Eating His Dog Alive, KSLA (April 13, 2006)
  5. ^ Alice Wright (22 Nov 2017). "It's time to ban eating live creatures on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here". Metro. Retrieved 2019-09-16.
  6. ^ Tring, O. (2012). "The man who eats live animals". theguardian. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Nelson, B. "7 animals that are eaten alive by humans". mother nature network. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d Griffen, S. (2013). "10 animals that people eat alive". Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  9. ^ "Raymond Blanc: 'These little live eels jump from the bowl and down". The Independent. 2011-02-06. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  10. ^ "Viral video of live frog sashimi sparks protest". 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  11. ^ "Eating live frogs, rats "cures tummy upsets"". Reuters. 2007. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  12. ^ Phillips, Jak (2013-03-11). "I Ate and Drank Cobra in Vietnam's Snake Village". Vice. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  13. ^ Diroy, Text by Stacey Lastoe; video by Diana. "Hanoi's most popular snake restaurant beckons adventurous diners". CNN. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  14. ^ "11 Foods Eaten Alive That May Shock You | Food Network Canada". Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  15. ^ Jamieson, Alastair (2011-05-15). "Gordon Ramsay eats beating heart of a snake". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  16. ^ Collett, Michael (2018-06-09). "Anthony Bourdain took us on a journey of the world — often by eating really strange things". ABC News. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  17. ^ "Adventures in the food trade". The Globe And Mail. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  18. ^ Guðmundur Stefánsson; Holly Kristinsson; Nikoline Ziemer; Colin Hannon; Philip James (October 2017). Markets for Sea Urchins: A Review of Global Supply and Markets (PDF) (Report). Matís. pp. 3, 11. 10-17.
  19. ^ Sun, Jenny; Chiang, Fu‐Sung (2015-11-01), "Use and Exploitation of Sea Urchins", Echinoderm Aquaculture, pp. 25–45, retrieved 2020-03-18
  20. ^ "Off the Beaten Palate: Live drunken shrimp". Shanghaiist. 2013-03-23. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  21. ^ "Just FYI, Raw Oysters Are Alive Until You Eat Them". HuffPost. 2017-05-25. Retrieved 2020-03-18.
  22. ^ "Cockroach-eater 'choked to death'". BBC News. 2012-11-26. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  23. ^ "Video "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Sardinia season 6"". 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  24. ^ Comuni italiani. "Cacie' punt". Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  25. ^ Prodotti tipici. "Formaggio saltarello" (PDF). Retrieved 30 April 2011.
  26. ^ Prodotti tipici. "Pecorino marcetto" (PDF). Retrieved 30 April 2011.