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Are Oysters Vegan?

by Toni Olukiran

2min read

It may seem like an open-and-shut case, but the amount of people who consider themselves vegan but eat oysters might surprise you. So, are oysters vegan?

What are oysters, anyway?

Oysters are the common given name for bivalve molluscs, which are the same family as clams, cockles, and mussels. As you already know, they live in the ocean and are effectively headless, invertebrate creatures (they don’t have spinal columns).

But why do some people consider oysters to be vegan?

Oysters are living creatures, so the assumption would be that they’re not vegan. However, as oysters do not have a central nervous system, they are not believed to be sentient and so don’t feel pain. As a result, some vegans who turn to the diet for reasons of animal cruelty may make an exception knowing that ultimately oysters don’t feel anything. As well as this, 95% of oysters in the world are farmed, however, the farming is sustainable and actually doesn’t negatively affect the environment. Oysters purify the water they’re in, taking in CO2 and nitrogen from the atmosphere, meaning they can actually impact the environment positively. As lots of people go vegan for environmental reasons above all, some make an exception for oysters due to its sustainable and environmentally-friendly farming practices.

But are they really vegan?

By definition, no, oysters are not vegan; they are still living organisms which means they can’t be considered a vegan food. Given the facts, it’s not surprising that oysters draw mixed responses from vegans, but it is ultimately down to an individual whether they feel comfortable eating them.

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Toni Olukiran
by Toni Olukiran

Toni is one of our lovely Content Marketing Interns, and when she’s not writing posts about everything from Jamaican cooking to vegan champagne, she’s making a Spotify playlist (she was at 200, at a last count) or playing tennis in the park.

Read more from Toni


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