While this blog post may not be aimed at vegans, since they usually know the answer already, I think it is an important one to make and an important issue to talk about.
Ever since we were kids, we were told that fish is healthy for us, that fishing is a fun relaxing activity to do with our fathers and grandfathers and that eating fish is GOOD. We are, perhaps, not explicitly told that fish doesn’t have feelings and emotions, we aren’t really told that fish don’t feel, we aren’t told that fish is “less than” other animal, but the discourse and behavior surrounding eating fish says exactly that to us indirectly.
I never ate much fish in my life, mostly because I hate the smell and taste of most fish, but also because I was a big fan of Finding Nemo as a kid. Watching it obsessively probably sparked something in me that felt like fish were real creatures with feeling too.
If any of you ever had pet fish, you probably noticed that they have behavior of their own, you probably cried when one or two died and you probably felt an attachment to them. If we are able to have fish as pets and eat the same thing later for dinner, how come we don’t eat cats and dogs too?
The case for not eating fish
Did you know that it is estimated that we kill around 1 to 2.7 trillion marine animals annually?
Do fish feel pain?
Short answer – YES!
Their nervous system is similar enough to those of mammals and birds to show us that they do in fact feel pain. We can also see that as when fish are hurt in a way that would hurt another animal (such as us), they change their behavior to show they are in pain.
Then why have been ignoring this fact for so long?
The truth is that it is easier for us to recognize pain in animals that vocalize it. Pigs’ squeaking when they are in pain is one of the most heartbreaking sounds to ever hear – yet we still hurt them! Now, can you imagine how little compassion there must be towards an animal that is not even able to vocalize their pain, when the one that is able to still can’t make us stop hurting it?
Fish are intelligent
Fish are actually not any less intelligent than many other animals that live on land. Fish are able to:
- learn how to evade a trap and remember it a year later
- learn from each other
- recognize fish they’ve spent time with previously
- have social hierarchies
- know their place within those hierarchies
- remember complex maps of their surroundings
- work together with different species – cooperative
- create alliances
- remember which fish are cooperative and which are not
- feel emotions
- get stressed
- relieve stress
- be annoyed
- be upset
Learn more about fish’ intelligence and the horrible fishing methods we use that cause suffering and death here:
It is time we change how we view fish, time to change our habits and see fish for who they really are!
What about the ocean?
One of the ways to contribute towards saving our oceans is to stop eating fish. Marine oceanographer Sylvia Earle argues that it’s time to think of fish as something more than an edible commodity. According to her, they play a crucial role in the ecosystem that outweighs their value as food.
“They’re part of the systems that make the planet function in our favor, and we should be protecting them because of their importance to the ocean. They are carbon-based units, conduits for nutrients, and critical elements in ocean food webs. If people really understood the methods being used to capture wild fish, they might think about choosing whether to eat them at all, because the methods are so destructive and wasteful.” Source
Did you know that tuna can live up to 30 years? We often think of fish as those sea animals that are around just for a bit… but that’s not the case at all.
Can I just say how much I dislike the fact that if I type fish in google, I mostly get results for recipes and dead fish, and almost no pictures of the live animal? Same goes for chicken…Give it a try and see for yourself.
And please, consider taking fish off your plate.