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For this week’s #MeatlessMonday, I’d like to introduce you to Neptune, my sweet companion in college. While betta fish are not widely consumed by humans, as far as I am aware, fish are often given a sort of “other” status in conversations about the ethical and environmental implications of eating animals. The sad truth is that the eating of fish implicates these issues equally, if not more so, than the eating of land animals. First, the environmental concerns: commercial fishing, sorely under-regulated (from my first-hand, professional experience working on the issue), utilizing techniques such as bottom trawling, is certainly “efficient” in that it kills a lot of marine animals, so many that nearly half the fish populations in the world are under pressure, but it kills a lot of other animals, too. “Bycatch” animals usually comprise 1/3-½ of the total catch, and usually do not survive after being thrown back into the water… Not to mention that bycatch often includes beloved “charismatic” animals such as sea turtles, whales, and seals. 💔🐳🐢 Derelict fishing gear causes painful, long deaths in animals like whales. And, “sustainable” or “locally-sourced” seafood can also have problems; for example, in much of the Caribbean, conch populations are in trouble because fishermen, unable to afford to wait, catch them before they are mature enough to reproduce. “Farmed” fish implicate a lot of the “yucky” issues found in other factory farmed meat, including filthy conditions, pollution, and antibiotic use.
As for the ethics of eating fish, they are often given little regard because they are more “different” than us humans than fellow mammals such as cows and dogs. However, the latest research on the subject indicates that fish DO possess consciousness and memory, and while it is not agreed upon that they experience pain the *same* way that humans do, there is little dispute that they respond the same way to stimuli. Plus, as I learned from my little friend Neptune, fish have lots of personality.
So, out of respect for our oceans and their residents, please keep #fish off of your plate today… Or forever! Fish are friends, not food! 🐠 #vegan #vegansofig #nevillenoms