Crustaceans are the collective terms for crabs, lobsters and molluscs. Along with scampi (Italian for ‘small lobster’), barnacles and sand hoppers. Crabs are cute little creatures who often get injured when parents take their children ‘crabbing’ and in real life, they like to drum to each to communicate, how cute is that? They don’t always walk sideways, but they like to use their 10 legs to run away sideways, if chased by a predator. A wonderful mother, a crab often releases thousands of eggs at once. Unlike an octopus, a crab does not usually die giving birth.
Hermit crabs don’t have a shell, so they send out signals to each other, when a shell becomes available. More crabs climb in and die. So while they search out rotting plants and animals to eat, they often come across plastic debris and try to turn it into a shell, but can’t get back out. They die from dehydration or sun exposure, and the other hermit crabs get the scent and try to use the plastic bottle as a shell too.
On beach surveys, it was found that each found bottle contained an average 9 hermit crabs. These little guys who are ‘the recycling trucks of the shore’ constantly eating up dead plants and animals, are now trapped in plastic bottles the world over. One marine biologist calls them ‘beach vacuum cleaners’ that are so important to our ecosystems.
Leave the Crabs Be
Crabbing is a popular seaside pastime, but does the crab agree? Not likely, according to Dorset Wildlife Trust. They say that the crabs (lured by bacon) often end up getting injured, as too many are put in buckets. It’s no good ‘releasing them to the sea’ if they spend the rest of their lives in pain, with missing limbs. Many crabs end up fighting, getting too hot or even suffocating in the buckets.
There are better ways to teach children about wildlife. But if you do take your child crabbing, then have no more than three crabs in a bucket, fill the water frequently and keep the bucket somewhere cool, until release. Use a small fishing net to transfer them to the bucket then return them back to the sea within 10 minutes (find a safe low place to gently replace in the sea, don’t drop them from above). Crabs may still nip with their pincers. But that’s the price you pay for taking a private creature out of water, just so that your child can observe a frightened and probably shocked creature.
How to Help Crustaceans
- Read the open letter by Crustacean Compassion, asking government to recognise crustaceans as sentient beings. They want better welfare in tanks and certificates of competence for chefs.
- Pick up your litter. Hermit crabs often use other shells to make their homes. But they often mistake tin cans and other debris for shells, and then get stuck in them. Over half a million hermit crabs have been killed by plastic litter, it’s estimated by marine biologists. If you smoke, use a Boodi personal ashtray.
- Report stranded or injured creatures to British Divers Marine Life Rescue (the coastguard and RSPCA can put you through) and The Wildlife Trusts.
- Fishing for scampi also by-catches other creatures like sea turtles and dolphins. If you eat it, Marine Conservation Society says only buy from companies that guarantee they use no by-catch methods.
Meet a Lovely Lobster!
Little Difference cards are made from post-consumer waste paper.
Lobsters are fascinating creatures that have an interesting lifestyle. They never stop growing (they eat each other!), taste with their legs and chew using a set of teeth on their stomachs! Around for eons, they are also at risk from by-catch of other seafood, as many get trapped in nets.
Some people like the idea of buying lobsters in tanks, and setting them free. Of course the restaurant may then catch more (which rather defeats the object). If you wish to do this, be careful as most lobsters will die from stress anyway (especially if the weather is too warm), and you can kill it if you don’t put it back into the exact ecosystem it lived in (you’ll also have to safely remove and dispose of elastic bands around the claws). When marine biologists were asked what would have happened if Tibetan Buddhists that released lobsters into Massachussetts had done this in warmer waters, they would have suffered the same fate as being cooked in boiling water, as the ocean would be too warm for them.
Plant-Based Crab, Lobster & Scampi
Many chefs argue that certain species do not feel consciousness (oysters, mussels etc). But studies show the opposite is true. Read Metazoa on the conciousness of animal minds and the Peter’s other book Other Minds (which explores the fascinating world of the octopus – the closest thing to an intelligent alien on earth).
Easy Vegan Crab Cakes (Minimalist Baker) are made with chickpeas and jackfruit. Made in one bowl, these are crispy and flaky, and can be made gluten-free. A crab cake is basically a fishcake, wrapping the crab meat in breadcrumbs. Don’t let pets have any leftovers, as these recipes contain pet-toxic ingredients.
Tartare sauce is often served with fish and chips (or in this case, vegan fish and chips!) Similar to mayonnaise, it adds onions, pickles and parsley. The word is named after the Tatar people, from Turkey. Here are some plant-based alternatives. Vegan Tartare Sauce (The Veg Space) is a simple recipe, inspired by the popular conventional sauce that is often used to serve with vegan fish cakes or vegan crab cakes. Popular in New England, this sauce (named after the Turkish Tatar people) is basically mayonnaise, with added ingredients of onions, pickle and parsley. This one is made with capers, gherkins, fresh herbs and lemon. Great with vegan ‘fish’ and chips’.
- Sacla Vegan Tartare Sauce is sold in a glass jar with metal lid. It’s good in potato salad or with vegan fish fingers.
- Inspired Vegan Tartare Sauce is made with rapeseed oil and gherkins, capers, mustard, shallots and lemon juice. Enjoy with mashed sweet potato, chunky potato chips. root vegetable patties or crudities.
- The Bay Tree Vegan Tartare Sauce is made with lemon juice, tarragon vinegar, onion, capers, lemon, gherkins and olives, with herbs of parsley and tarragon. Good with fries.
The Best Vegan Lobster Rolls (Crowded Kitchen) are made with hearts of palm, celery, green onion and parsley, in a mayo yogurt sauce flavoured with mustard, hot sauce, lemon juice and paprika. Choose multi-stemmed hearts of palm rather than single-stem (the trees die, once cut). Avoid seaweed for thyroid/iodine issues.
Vegan Scallops (Veggie Society) are made with King oyster mushrooms, which even look like scallops, due to the stem. You can make these extra authentic in taste, by adding a little crumbled seaweed (not for iodine/thyroid issues).