Caviar is salt-cured fish eggs (sometimes called “roe”) from sturgeon or other large species, and even though it’s considered a “delicacy,” it really is as gross as it sounds.

The internet has been freaking out over stomach-turning videos that show how caviar is typically obtained. As workers pull fistfuls of eggs from the insides of these fish, it immediately becomes clear that there’s nothing luxurious about this disgusting food.

Because wild sturgeon populations have been depleted, caviar producers around the world have switched to industrialized aquaculture farms. These facilities are often filthy, and confined sturgeons are forced to swim through their own waste. Females are sometimes cut open while they’re still alive so that their eggs can be ripped from their ovaries.

But no matter how it’s obtained, caviar is always a product of cruelty and death.

Just like other animals, fish experience pain and fear—and they want to live. When they’re yanked from the water, it’s a terrifying and excruciating experience for them. They begin to suffocate, their gills often collapse, and their swim bladders can rupture because of the sudden change in pressure.

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Those killed for their flesh suffer, too. Slaughter plants in the U.S. make no effort to stun fish, who are completely conscious when they start down the slaughter line. Their gills are cut, and they are left to bleed to death, convulsing in pain. Large species, such as salmon, are sometimes bashed on the head with a bat called a “priest,” and many are seriously injured but still alive and suffering when they’re cut open.

All animals deserve to live free from suffering and exploitation, not just the cute and cuddly ones! Have compassion for fish by leaving them and their eggs off your plate. Check out our vegan fish recipes and our free Guide to Going Vegan to get started.

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