Oysters are okay to eat for some vegans – here's why
How can a person committed to not eating animal products justify the consumption of oysters? Well, it all boils down to some long-forgotten sixth grade science class lessons.
Though oysters definitely fall somewhere within the animal kingdom, some argue that they are more akin to plants. Consider the immobile nature of the oyster, for starters.
And then there’s the fact that oysters lack a central nervous system, casting their ability to think and feel – at least in a manner that humans can make sense of – into doubt.
While oysters might not have brains in the vertebrate sense, they do possess some comparable organs to humans. Chief among these are an oyster’s heart and its kidneys.
Beyond that, things get questionable, with ganglia and nerve cords rounding out the animal’s main organs. You can see how a vegan on the verge of pescetarianism might be inclined to see more differences than similarities when they look at an oyster.
There are some surprising environmental justifications for oyster consumption as well. Some 95% of the oysters that make their way onto those round beds of ice in restaurants the world over are farm-raised.
These farms are distinctly beneficial in nature because oysters are essentially living water purifiers. A single oyster is able to filter five liters of water each hour. And it takes just an acre of underwater land to raise 750,000 of the little guys at a time.
No waterway-polluting fertilizer is used in oyster farms, and no land must be cleared to make space for them to grow. In this way, the cultivation of oysters, fueled by commerce for the sake of eating them, is a net positive for the environment.
Still, not every critic is convinced that oysters are an appropriate fit for consumption, let alone by vegans. It wasn’t all that long ago that the great thinkers of the day argued that other mammals couldn’t feel pain in the way that humans do.
We now know that to be false. So should oysters be eschewed by vegans? Only time and science will tell.