Some people make a distinction between animals that are “nice” like cats and dogs and those that are part of nature, like snakes and oysters. I guess my distinctions are wild or pets, food or non-food. Those categories are loose and animals can be in either or both categories.
I bring all this up because I seem to think about some animals Americans call “food” as non-food. Specifically, shellfish. I think of oysters, clams, lobsters, shrimp, and the like as wild creatures. Like most Americans, I’ve never butchered my own meat and to be honest, I like the little bubble I live in. If I had to butcher, I’d definitely be a vegetarian. While at the beach, my in laws usually do a crab dinner, shrimp dishes, and eat other “non-food” food so those nights I eat something else. My instinct is rather like people who visit cultures who eat grasshoppers. 🙂 I know it’s in my head that shrimp is a weird thing to eat.
In the same vein, I think a lot of people kill fish or crabs at the beach just because they want to play with them. That’s wrong.
Stay with me here. I collected some bivalves in a bucket with sea water and sand to show Moxie. They open and use their foot to pull the sand out from underneath themselves and sink deeper into the sand, then use their gulls to pull in water and filter out food. I explained this all to her and I know that at almost 2 she’s not “getting it” but I think it’s important anyway. She needs to know about how the world works and I also want to teach her about animal cruelty. It’s important to me that she knows it’s wrong to collect sea animals and kill them out of neglect our malice. Catching ghost crabs because it’s “fun” and letting them die in a net or bucket is not ok.
After I talked to her about the bivalves, we set them free in the surf. Moxie’s aunt commented that she was nice, that K (name withheld for anonymity) liked to torture fish before tossing them back. That’s just wrong and hurts my heart.
There’s a Jewish idea called tikkun olam that basically means repairing the world. I think being kind to animals, whether it’s a dog or a cat or a bivalve, is part of that.