By Greg Lawson -
When we mention the ten billion animals that die every
year in the US for our dinner plates or the 50 billion that are killed
world wide each year for human feed, we are neglecting to mention the
fish. Aquatic life forms are not included in that total because they are
impossible to count as individuals; instead they are measured in tons,
close to 75 million tons annually.
This bothers me. When a body count is measured by weight
instead of by individuals, it seems rather callous.
Many years ago I was a pesco-vegetarian during the early
part of my journey to veganism. I remember the excuses I used, that fish
were low on some arbitrary scale of intelligence or ability to feel,
that eating fish didn't have the same disastrous effects on the
environment that the factory farming of cows, pigs and chickens have.
Later I learned that the oceans of the world have been
overfished. Numerous species are gone now and many species teeter on the
brink of extinction. All of the world's major fisheries have either
reached or exceeded their limits. As a result, the farming of fish has
become a fast growing industry. Today, nearly one quarter of the world's
catch of fish is used to feed farm animals including farmed fish. The
most common species farmed are trout, salmon and carp.
In order to save the decreasing supply of wild fish, and
to save money, scientists in England have just developed a chemical that
makes farmed fish into vegetarians. I'd like to get my hands on that
chemical, I have a few friends who could use a dose.
Maybe turning farmed fish into vegetarians will save
some of the wild fish stocks, but it seems a silly half solution.
Turning people into vegetarians would save a lot more. Why aren't these
scientists working on a chemical for humans?
The British scientists say the chemical is a naturally
occurring pheromone and that it is unlikely to adversely affect their
health. I never trust scientists who use words like "unlikely."
Farmed fish have many of the same problems other farmed
animals have. Antibiotics are used to promote growth and this can result
in an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. A variety of chemicals
are used as disinfectants for equipment and for pest control in the
tanks. Residues can be passed on to humans who eat these fish.
There is as much cruelty in the farming of fish as there
is on any other factory farm. Please don't be a part of the cruelty. The
most important step that any individual can take for all animals and for
the environment is to go vegan.
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