For most people, accidentally stepping on a snail is a pretty rare occurrence, but it can happen. You feel bad for a second, decide whether it needs to be put out of its misery, and then carry on with your day.
But one lady in Tel Aviv recently changed the game of accidental snail-crunching forever, when she decided she’d rather pay a veterinarian to fix up the shell of a crushed snail she’d stepped on.
That’s a nice idea, I guess. But how much money does this lady have, that she wants to pay a vet to reconstruct a snail’s shell, and has time to reorganize her own day around this project? Does she ever eat escargot? Does she even know that snails are gross?
Really though, this kind of behaviour is amazing. It’s not easy to broaden your circle of compassion to include everything that can suffer. And it’s often a one-way street: once you start to see yourself in that other being, you really can’t go back.
For example, people who raise pet pigs sometimes find that they can no longer eat pork. People who learn about how veal is made often stop eating it. And people who get really consistent about the concept of suffering often stop eating animal products altogether.
One problem though: meat is tasty, even snail meat. And gluing a snail shell back together costs time and money.
The good news: if you want to stop causing animal suffering, you don’t actually have to quit eating meat altogether. Ethicist Peter Singer, the father of animal rights, has written that people who go vegan for ethical reasons should still feel fine about eating oysters, because oysters don’t have central nervous systems, and therefore cannot feel pain.
So feel free to chow down on some oysters without feeling bad about yourself. But the next time you crunch a snail on the sidewalk on your way to work, maybe it’s time to open up your wallet and save the little guy.