"So then here is a question that's all but unavoidable at the World's Largest Lobster Cooker, and may arise in kitchens all across the U.S.: Is it all right to boil a creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure? A related set of concerns: Is the previous question irksomely PC or sentimental? What does "all right" even mean in this context?"
Lobsters are long-lived, advanced crustaceans and I welcome treating them as well as possible under the circumstances. But just from the experiment as recounted in the post (crabs leave a burrow to avoid electric shocks) I don't think it's necessarily clear what sort of sensations they are exposed to due to the boiling. I once heard a well-known ethologist (and animal welfare advocate) argue that since the crustaceans have not evolved with fire and other extreme temperatures as a common hazard, they don't have the same sort of sensory responses to it as terrestrial animals. They leave areas with temperatures which are harmfully high for them, but the experience for them may be more akin to us seeking shade on a too hot day than us being scalded. So cooking may actually be a comparatively humane way of killing them. If better data about the crustacean minds contradicts that, his assessment needs to be updated, of course, but just from what we see from the BBC I'm not convinced that is the case.
To kill crab my dad uses something like this. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Dewit-Junior-Spade-T-Handle-31-3...
He flips them over and cuts them right down the middle hitting both nerve receptors almost immediately. I find it to be fairly humane, and boiling live crab never sat right with us. I doubt this method will be changed in favor of poking them to death nor do I really think poking them is much (if any) more humane.
I imagine this could be used on lobster too but we don't catch lobster, so I don't know.
I mean, the intent is nice, but writing unenforceable laws is rarely a great idea. I dunno if the law is specific to commercial kitches or not, but it should be - probably even then only the food processing plants that they mention. It's pointless to legislate this sort of thing at the individual level that you can never ever reasonably enforce.
The premise here is that lobsters feel pain, and the article doesn't really jump through many hoops to prove that. A creature moving away from something that might kill it (as with the crabs and shock) isn't really evidence for pain.
If we don't know for sure whether crustaceons feel pain, how can we know if different methods of killing them are reducing the pain? The article suggests "stunning the crustacean by chilling it..in an ice slurry". How do we know that this is not unbearable pain and agony for them?
If lobsters do feel pain, throwing them into a pot of boiling water probably activates the pain. But offering alternatives that cause "less" pain when we don't even know if/how much pain is caused by any method could be making the situation even worse.
Clove oil works well, according to Dave Arnold: http://www.cookingissues.com/index.html%3Fp=5731.html
Humanely killed cows taste better than ones saturated with stress hormones. Finding a similar effect in lobsters may do more than trying to convince people to do the right thing.
I don't understand, is chilling it then cutting it in half really less distressing than boiling them. Don't they die quicker and suffer less if they go directly into a boiling pot?
The best I can come up with: nuke it. That way, there will be no time for pain signals to travel along its nerves and reach its brain; the nerves will be gone long before.
Serious question, how to drown a lobster?
Lobsters can live a very long time if not killed. Very long.
Takes a great deal of mental gymnastics to try and convince yourself there's some "kind" way to take a sentient creature's life. The "kindest" thing to do would just be to leave them alone.
Just rest assured that whatever you do to a lobster, nature has done far, far worse to uncountable trillions of creatures over a few billion years.