Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Fishy Practice

In this blog we have had some interesting debates about whether it is necessary to go completely vegan if one is really concerned about issues of animal cruelty. While acknowledging that veganism is the ideal diet for all those concerned about the welfare of animals, the well-being of the planet, and their own physical health, I argued that a vegan diet is far too difficult for most people to follow, and that a more viable option for most people would be to follow a low-fat vegetarian diet such as the one recommended by Dr. Dean Ornish that includes limited amounts of low- or non-fat dairy products (milk, egg whites, yogurt, and cheese), ideally from animals that have been raised humanely. I agree, however, that the goal of anyone even remotely concerned with issues of animal ethics would be to eat as much of their food as possible from plant-based sources and to dramatically reduce their consumption of all animals and animal products.

There are some confused individuals, however, who believe that they are following a vegetarian diet, even though they still eat fish regularly (they are technically referred to as pesco-vegetarians). It’s almost as though these people have convinced themselves that salmon, tuna, and Chilean sea bass are not really animals, and that the rules they follow with regard to the humane treatment of other species don’t really need to be applied to marine life. Let’s get this straight: (1) fish are sentient life-forms like all other animals and they feel as much pain as other animals when they are slaughtered, and, (2) if you are concerned about issues of animal cruelty, you will eat fish as regularly as you would a slab of cow flesh…which means not at all.

When one considers the health risks involved in eating fish loaded with mercury (e.g., tuna, swordfish, shark, etc) and other dangerous containments such as lead, industrial chemicals (e.g., PCBs) and pesticides, it becomes evident that—despite all of the propaganda issued by the USDA and their pimps in the corporate fish lobby—the risks involved in eating seafood very well may outweigh the benefits. And when one realizes that our current fishing practices are driving many of the world’s marine populations to extinction, there is even a greater moral argument for eliminating fish from one’s diet.

I would like to hear how our pesco-vegetarian friends justify the consumption of seafood while clearly having moral qualms about eating land-based animals. I may be a bit naïve, but I don’t really understand how it is any more ethical to chow-down on salmon steak than it would be to consume a hunk of cow, pig, or chicken. Could someone explain the logic of this to me?


  1. Do you really think it would healthy if the entire planet ate vegan. HAHAHA. boy that is rich where would all this vegan food come from and how long would it take before humans are fighting with the over populated animals for vegan food. Hey Mike would you be so concern if were eating sewer rat and if we did there probably wouldnt be an infestation problem. I pose a question is it any less cruel to these animals to kill them or let them starve to death? Finally I never got involved in your vegan project but I did watch the videos PETA puts out to scare people away from eating meat and while it is graphic it failed to move me. Why is it such a crime to remove the teeth, beaks or tusks from animals that may injure each other, oh I forgot there is no anesthia. Well what did animlas do prior to vets, there was all types of procedures performed on animals for centuries and they did nt seem to mind. This whole premise whether it applies to animals or fish is ridiculous, my bible says "let humans have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle and over the wild animals of the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth", and for you leftists out there look up Darwinism if you believe God to a hoax. Survival of the fittest and evolution says that species adapt and overcome or disappear so I guess if animals were so smart then they would be eating me, ther are some that could. The fish have the same deal I love to spend time in the ocean but if I catch my demise as dinner to a large ocean dweller , please no tears for I was a volunteer to the ocean food chain.

  2. First of all, there would be no over-population of animals if we didn't breed them for human consumption. So, we don't have to worry about animals starving to death if we don't keep eating them

    As for the argument against cruel treatment of animals on factory farms, if you don't understand why debeaking chickens or branding cattle, or neutering piglets are morally problematic practices, then nothing that I say will likely illuminate you.

    We may have been given dominion over the birds of the air and the fish in the sea according to the bible, but such dominion demands moral stewardship on our part. This means that if we are going to use animals as food--and I am not convinced that we should be doing this--that we treat them with compassion while we are raising them and try to slaughter them as painlessly as we possibly can (although I think that slaughter by its very nature is inherently cruel and brutal, isn't it?).

    Finally, I'm glad that you love seafood so much, because, at the rate we are depleting the ocean's livestock, in a relatively short amount of time you may not be able to enjoy the pleasures of sautéed scallops, steamed lobster, or poached salmon. That is the price that we human beings will pay for being the most invasive species on the planet.

  3. If there would not be over population without factory farming then how do you explain the deer population overgrowing, we are not farming them. There are numerous area with heavy enviromental impact do to the over growth of deer when hunting is banned. I guess we shouldn't live in thise areas. Those woodland animals certainly take a chunk out of agricultural yields and certainly would cause a problem with the vegan food supply, and yes they do starve in the wild. Mike you are world traveler tell me how is the cow population in India probably similar to the rat population in Manhattan, no factory farms for rats but we are at loss for a means of control. Like I said if we ate them it might be different. Please Mike in the futre don't misquote me, because what I said was that if a large fish or swimming mammal was to eat me as I played in the ocean then I fully accept responsiblity since I would have been a willing participant in THEIR food chain. I never mentioned scallops or shellfish. You leftist color everything.

  4. Forgive me for misquoting you. BUT with the exception of human beings, every other animal species that overextends itself winds up starving and their population numbers are reduced to reasonable levels. That is nature's way of making sure that there is some kind of ecological balance in the world.

    So far, we human beings have gotten away with abusing the planet's limited resources, but eventually we will have to pay for our stupidity. When there are no wild species of fish left in the oceans, we will have no one to blame but ourselves. I just pity the next generation, who will be forced to reap the consequences of our gross selfishness.

    Those folks who have consciously adopted vegan or vegetarian diets are to be congratulated--not scorned--for having the moral courage to behave more responsibly than the rest of us. Can't you at least admit that there may be something admirable in what they are trying to do????

  5. Let me be clear I am not scorning thier behavior when it comes to their choices. My problem becomes when the soap boxes come out and the judgements are hurled. I hate wasting things especially food of any sort. I will routinely eat the same leftovers for days in a row because I know people go without. That doesn't mean I have the right to chastize people who don't act like me becasue I think I am more moral than they. There in lies my only problem with this crew, liberarians preach freedom but it always seems to be the freedom to act as they do. I abstain from many things that are known to cause societal problmes but that doesn't give the right to attack those who choose to use those things safely. Not everyone that eats pork chop is killing the earth, and not all those who vegan are saving it so save the militant soap boxes and let's find a middle ground. Vice President Gore was out promoting his movie and his mansions were doing $300,000 in electric a month, hence my oppostion to extremes. All politics is local so I choose to use flour bulbs and conserve and teach my kids the same but I think this cause may be better served by inclusion rather than shame and seperation. Finally Humans are starving all over this planet, I guess we would be better served if they died quickly and reduced the surface population. So let me know should I cry for the chattle or for the dying humans, I will concede global thinking is good but militant action never is.


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