7 Animals That Are Eaten Alive by Humans

Down the hatch!

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Most people prefer their food to be fresh, but there are some people and cultures that take that aesthetic to the extreme. Card-carrying PETA members beware: Here's our list of seven animals that are eaten while they are still alive. (Text: Bryan Nelson)

Octopus

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In Korea, it's called "sannakji" — a live octopus that has been cut into small pieces or prepared whole, and served with its arms still squirming, sucking, grasping and wriggling on the plate. Sannakji connoisseurs enjoy more than just the taste of the fresh meat; they enjoy the sensation of the still-active suction cups on the octopus' arms as they stick to the mouth and attempt to climb back up the throat. Novices are advised to chew before swallowing to avoid the threat of being choked.

Fish

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In Japan, fish that are prepared for sashimi while still alive are called "ikizukuri." The fish is typically filleted without actually being killed and served while the heart is still beating and the mouth is still gasping. Sometimes the fish is temporarily returned to an aquarium to swim around and recover for a second course. Another dish, popular in China, is called "yin yang fish," in which the fish's body is rapidly deep-fried and served while the head is still fresh and moving. Need proof? Check out this video of a freshly served yin yang fish.

Sea urchin

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These echinoderms may not look too appetizing given their spiny exteriors, but they are prized around the world for their fishy-flavored roe and flesh. Though they are often eaten raw, such as in sushi (typically called "uni"), some people prefer to eat them immediately after they are cut open. Scissors are often used to get past the protective spears. Check out this shocking video to see how they are prepared and eaten straight out of the ocean.

Frog

Yo! Japan and DaraKero_F/Flickr (frog).

Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods" has eaten some strange things on air before, but even the gag-proof host admitted that he had never eaten anything "that's moved so much" as when he took a taste of frog sashimi. Though most of the frog is served dead (and raw), the meal begins by eating the frog's fresh, still-beating heart.

Shrimp

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One common way that shrimp is prepared to be eaten alive is via a dish called "drunken shrimp." Popular in China, the shrimp are first doused in a strong liquor that stuns the tiny crustaceans by making them drunk. This not only makes them less likely to put up a fight on the way down, it also creates a flavorful marinade. A plate is typically held over the bowl to prevent the shrimp from leaping out. You can see video proof of the dish here.

Grubs and insects

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If you've ever seen the reality shows "Survivor" or "Fear Factor," then you've probably been witness to live insects being consumed. In many parts of the world, the practice is fairly ordinary. Insects and their larvae offer excellent sources of protein, and many who have been brave enough to try them will stand by their flavor. One example is the witchetty grub of Australian aboriginal cuisine, which can be eaten alive and raw or cooked.

Oysters

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Irish essayist Jonathan Swift is famous for having said, "He was a bold man that first ate an oyster." But to those of Western persuasion, oysters are the most common animal often eaten raw and alive. In fact, oysters are considered the healthiest when eaten raw on the half shell.