Something that I have never understood, is why so many people fail to consider fish, as meat. Perhaps it’s a religious thing. I hear Christians eat fish on Fridays or something. Or maybe people just don’t care much about fish. They aren’t cute furry animals that we have close bonds with and the fishing industry is so out of sight.
There are many vegetarians (actually pescatarian) who still eat fish despite giving up all other types of meat. So what’s the deal with fish?
- Omega 3 – Fish is an excellent source of Omega 3 Fatty acids which are essential to human health and functioning
- Protein – like other meats, fish is high in protein. However, it is considered to be healthier and it is recommended to eat fish at least one or two times a week. In particular, salmon is packed with vitamins and protein
Omega 3s, protein and vitamins – what more could you want in a meal? Yes, fish tend to be high in these things, but there’s a catch. . .
- Mercury – most sites that address mercury levels in fish will tell you that it’s nothing to worry about. But then they continue to warn you not to eat too much and that pregnant women should avoid it (bad for fetal development) . . . but I thought it was nothing to worry about? Their main point is that fish amass higher levels of mercury over time, so larger fish (such as tuna, shark, etc.) will have higher levels than smaller fish such as salmon. Stick to small portions and small fish
- Plenty of Fish in the sea – In 2012, a professor from the University of Toronto estimated that if we continue to fish at our current rate, we will run out by 2050. So Perhaps you think the answer is farmed fish
- Farmed Fish – not all fish are equal. Farmed fish tend to have lower levels of Omega 3s because they are fed fishmeal
- Plastic – human beings are not the cleanest species. We produce a lot of trash and a lot of it ends up polluting waterways and oceans. Plastic makes up a large portion of this debris. Aside from eating it, microscopic plastic can also enter a fish through its gills. It can take up to 6 times longer for this to exist its system than if it was ingested orally. With the amount of plastic floating around out there, I wouldn’t be surprise if you were eating a bit every time you take a bite
- In addition to this, millions of sea turtles, seals, birds and other marine life die every year because they get tangled in plastic debris, or mistake it for food. To help stop this, reduce the amount of plastic you use and remember to recycle. 4Ocean has a great campaign that works on cleaning up the ocean that I would totally recommend checking out – https://4ocean.com/
- Bycatch – bycatch is when fish or other marine life are caught unintentionally while catching a target species. Bycatch can include the wrong species (even turtles and dolphins), sex, or undersized fish of the target species. Some of the bycatch species are endangered and this is a serious threat to their population
- Carbon Footprint – fishing uses up a lot of fuel. The fish that require the most fuel to catch are: Shrimp, lobster, salmon, scallops, tuna and sardines. Due to the depletion of wild fish, boats have to go out further to find them. After meat and dairy products produced on land, fish has the highest carbon emission, with that of tuna being equal to chicken
- Contaminants – factories, farms and storm runoff all contribute to the growing contamination of water. It’s bad for the fish, kills aquatic plants and can be a harm to you as well
- All the other stuff – Don’t forget about all the other reasons why you should not eat meat: The Meat Myth
Okay . . . so maybe there are a few downsides to eating fish (2 pros – 7+cons), what should you do? For one, you can cut down on the amount of fish you’re eating, or cut it out altogether.
- Be Aware – it’s important to be aware of all your choices and the consequences they have, both for your health, and the world you live in. When you buy fish, find out where it came from, how it was caught or farmed. Was there bycatch or habitat destruction as a result?
- Support local & sustainable business – a lot of fish in North America is imported, which mean it has a higher carbon footprint. Do a little research and find out where you can buy fish caught locally and sustainably in your area
- Get your nutrients from other sources – you don’t have to eat fish to get omega 3s. Leafy greens, flax, walnuts and soybeans are all plant based sources