Octopus, once reviled by many has become an increasingly hot ingredient in restaurants across the country with crispy octopus, octopus salad and braised octopus dishes and recipes cropping up on menus left, right and center. Over 97,000 metric tons of octopus was imported to the United States in 2016- that’s a whole lot of cephalopod!
Octopus as food may be delicious, but when you consider octopus the animal you might have a change of heart, mind (and stomach). Octopuses have massive brains. Along with cuttlefish, in fact, they have the highest brain-to-body mass ration of all invertebrates as well as many vertebrates.
The intelligence of octopuses is well documented. They can navigate mazes, solve simple puzzles and open jars; there have been countless octopus escapes from aquarium enclosures with the animal’s deliberately short circuiting power supplies with jets of water and plugging up valves to cause their tanks to overflow. In the wild octopus species have been seen using coconuts shells as shelters as well barricading themselves into caves, nook or crannies for the night by stacking rocks on top of one another. Of course many do eat other intelligent animals (like pigs), animals that demonstrate personality and emotional intelligence and are frequently kept as well loved pets, but many are also wholly unaware of the acute intelligence that octopuses possess.
As well as being intelligent, it seems they might also have personalities and (dare I say it) emotional intelligence- PETA would certainly agree. Though I for one have eaten and enjoyed my fair share of crispy tentacle with romesco (yum) one viewing of this YouTube video converted me in an instant.
A man, walking along a beach, comes across an octopus that is stranded. It is covered in sand, curled up and dying. The good Samaritan, finding the creature in distress, scoops it up in a plastic container, walking into the ocean up to his ankles and gently plops the poor little octopus onto the sandy ocean bottom. Immediately something begins to happen! The dehydrated animal starts pulsing and growing, with flashes of colors shooting through its entire body. Then something magical happens. The octopus, having come fully to its senses, crawls, several feet, towards its rescuer, pauses and then reaches out a single tentacle to grab the man’s shoe-clad foot. It stays there for a full 25 seconds in a gesture that is unmistakably one of thanks, before crawling, calmly and elegantly away.
If you were aver on the fence about whether or not to eat octopus, this video will surely result in your answer being a firm ‘no’. To learn 6 reasons to give veganism a try, click here.