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Guess What? Fish Are Not Swimming Vegetables

Written by PETA | June 25, 2007

I don’t know about you, but I always get a little bristly when my “almost” vegetarian friends tell me that they “only eat fish.” Of course, I totally believe that nobody is perfect, myself included, and that every small step people take to help animals is important. I just don’t understand how fish got so removed from the compassion radar that some people actually call themselves vegetarians while scarfing down tuna melts?

Richard Seaman/Creative Commons
They may not be as cute and cuddly as dogs and cats, but they feel pain and value their lives just as much.

Anyway, my point here is that everything I read about fish intelligence and sentience just blows me away. And this story from the UK put a smile on my face. It’s just kind of nice to see the plight of our piscine friends finally being taken seriously . . .

Toniluca/Creative Commons

Commenting is closed.
  • eric says:

    sometimes i let my mind wander off and imagine how it would feel to watch a wild dog eat my amputated arm.

  • Rose says:

    Hey there I’ve been reading about the fish and feel I need some help. I don’t know why I eat them sometimes. I feel worse having milk or eggs sometimes even. I guess I try to rationalize it. It is bad I know.

  • Me again says:

    How do we know about the wonderful cognitive capacities of fish? Animal research. Animal rights activists don’t seem to make distinctions here either anyone who is not vegan is evil just like anyone who does animal research. It doesn’t matter if it is noninvasive behavioral and designed to improve welfare. All is “animal research”. As a vegetarian not vegan an animal lover and a person who does behavioral work with animals already in zoos I was very upset to recently find my research the target of animal rights activists. Why? Because my work involves keeping wild birds with minor but permanent injuries captive when some people think they should be killed instead. Absurd! This extremism makes enemies of reasonable people. In addition I was very sympathetic to the medical researchers whose children were threatened in the name of “preventing cruelty”. Terrorism is not an appropriate tactic in a democratic society. My posts don’t seem to make it past the censorI dare you to post this one.

  • josh says:

    yall makin me hungary

  • Mel says:

    Not a fish post but a general observation and reply to Jonesy. I would suggest an online university nutrition course once you become vegan. I did one and I am so glad! I was assured that I was not slowly killing my family through lack of proteinB12 etc. etc. If you go to a traditional nutritionist they could still try to tell you that you need animal products… When my GP tried to tell me that I needed to eat yogurt for sufficient calcium I just smiled and reminded myself that my one nutrition course was probably one more than she had taken at university. One last point…my dictionary defines vegetarians as “one who only eats vegetables”. Enough said.

  • A says:

    Other side Pescetarian. Pescopollo pescevegetarians…………….. so many titles and so little time. What came first the chicken or the egg? If you eat eggs….lactoovo vegetarian most popular in western world I say that being nice because I told someone I would be kind seriously though..chicken or egg? Did you know Darwin was a vegetarian? Bit o random info for ya. Ohhhh its hard but i promised..why couldn’t I have read this one b4 Ana’s asking to be nice..rrrr

  • Otherside says:

    Vegns eat veg… piscatorians eat fish see “pisces” the fish starsign if you don’t understand it’s like calling yourself dave if your name is bob! PERSONALLY I believe eating fish is WORSE than eating mammals because fish generally have no laws governing their wellbeing they die SUFFOCATING or being CRUSHED under the weight of their fellows. Unless you catch the fish yourself and ensure that you kill it quickly I can’t believe you understand. I went fishing in my youth and it put me off. I was forced to eat fish when I wanted to be vegetarian by people who didn’t understand you can be perfectly healthy without it. Now I am vegan! So there ARE steps.. but I think those that might “feel guilty” or those that might “feel superior” are here on PETA’s website trying to do the same thing work towards a sustainable future where no animals will die for the sake of taste fashion or sport. Now all you vegetarians… ARE EGGS VEG? just a thought

  • Ana says:

    Liz Thank you for your post. Exactly my thoughts. And I also am sick of those questions. I applaud your whole post it makes complete sense and is right on target.

  • maddy says:

    My words exactly oldrnwiser. “There must be more reasonable people somewhere who respect beginners.”

  • Maya says:

    Oldnwisr you’re absolutely right that there are snobs who post here but I hope that does not discourage you. You should know that in PETA’s FAQs they make it very clear that they have no problem with tribal groups eating meat. PETA is just horrified with the way that farm animals are treated and the cruel way that fish are killed and the ocean polluted etc. Of course they care about individual animals too but they are actually very understanding people. I have dealt with them through emails and they are very kindhearted. Please be careful when switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet. Consult a nutritionist or doctor so you don’t get sick. We want the good folks like yourself to stick around a long time!

  • Jonesy says:

    I really think you should reread the post oldrnwisr. No one’s being snobby but PETA has every right to ask people not to eat fish. It’s kind of central to what they do. “Of course I totally believe that nobody is perfect myself included and that every small step people take to help animals is important.”

  • Keith P. says:

    Fuck you peta get a life you are a joke. save a child instead of a fucking animal. FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • oldrnwisr says:

    I think there are PETA snobs among you. I am someone toying with the idea of becoming a vegan but the fact that I still occasionally eat fish and even chicken means I don’t belong here. There must be more reasonable people somewhere who respect beginners.

  • A says:

    Hey hey hey bloody hellsince we have been debating what a real vegetarian is today i believe 37 were killed by a suicide bomber today! Peace and respect to all of you! Had to read Washington Post..put things in perspective. Love all animals and people do what you can!Much respect. A

  • A says:

    wtf a it was not address to Jack it was addressed to canaduck…Read my full comments b4 you decide to be so self righteous please. Please read my 2nd comment to please Liz or whomever. I DO NOT EAT FISH IT WAS AN EXAMPLE OF DOING ONE THING IS BETTER THAN DOING NOTHING IF YOU PLEASE! i do not eat fish any seafood of any kindnothing with eyesor a beating heart!!!! Damn thats wrong potatoes have eyes.At least i caught that so you don’t have to get all crazy about potatoes having eyes.If i missed any veggies with eyes please comment and let me know. I am a hortophagos!!!!

  • Liz says:

    Let’s clear something up here while it may be a good step in the right direction to avoid eating land animals consuming fish does not make you a vegetarian! Our beef is not that it has to be “all or nothing” but that you shouldn’t be calling yourself a vegetarian when you aren’t. Vegetarians don’t eat animals. Being picky about which animals you eat still makes you an omnivore! It’s the abuse of the term that is wrong it just confuses everyone. I’m personally sick to death of hearing the question “But you eat fish right?” Sometimes I even get the occasional “You don’t eat chicken either?” Ridiculous!

  • wtf a says:

    hello A. Did you read “every small step people take to help animals is important”? Jack was being super nice on this one but you let your guilt make you get all upset. Don’t blame Jack. Blame your own guilt for making you feel bad.

  • A says:

    Canaduck No need to be sorry. I am a vegetarian. I never stated that I was a meat eaternotice the use of the word IF in my previous comment i was simply saying by putting people into categories is not really helping animals and if you only do eat pork YES you are helping other animals. Like I said is it all or nothing when it comes to be a part of PETA now?

  • Maya says:

    Jack you know I’m a big PETA critic sometime and I did not find the post offensive. I felt a bit sad when I read the “scarfing down a tuna melt” comment because I did eat those before I became vegetarian. I think that fish are very odd animals to most people and demystifying them will make them seem more sentient to people. I actually know people who own fish and cannot bring themselves to eat fish because of it ironically. To be honest though I find that keeping fish is as bad as eating them. Erica good for your husband! I think it’s great that he’s cut down his comsumption of meat. Please visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium website they can tell you which fish are more sustainable than others. Eating ecofriendly fish means less whales and marine animals get killed and less chance of polluting corals and oceans. httpwww.mbayaq.orgcrseafoodwatch.asp Let’s face it it’s sad that any animal has to die for us but vegetarianism WILL NOT happen in the next five minutes. If everyone cut down to just a few fish meals a week it’s much more likely they will give it up completely. In the meantime we must remind people that our oceans are in huge trouble and if ANY of us are to survive we must live compassionately and thoughtfully. ps The book ENTANGLEMENTS by Tora Johnson is a great book on this subject as well. Jack please keep reminding us to treat fish with compassion!!

  • Jack says:

    Sorry if you found this one offensive A! It certainly wasn’t intended to be. Just a gentle reminder that fish have feelings too not a diatribe against people who still eat fish. On a personal note though I became vegetarian at a young age I didn’t become vegan or stop wearing leather until years later. That doesn’t mean that I was a bad person before but I did appreciate and ultimately benefited from receiving a few nudges from people whose opinions I valued towards making even more changes in my life that would help animals. Like I said we all do as much as we can and every little bit that someone does is valuable but I do believe that it’s part of PETA’s role to ask us to do even more.

  • Erica says:

    I’m tired of people getting put into categories I am a new vegan and my husband decided to give up all meat but fish and I am very proud of him since he would never have done that had I not become vegan and he used to be a big meat eater by giving up most meat he is doing something really helpful for the earth and I am not going to chastise him if he eats fish once in a while.. IMO any change someone makes for the better is a GOOD thing the all or nothing attitude needs to be disposed of since not many people are going to give up all animal products but MANY will give up some. Making them feel guilty for not giving up all is going to have the reverse effect and they may give up altogether. Nitpicking is bad it’s sort of like arresting someone for Jwalking when a robbery is happening down the street..

  • Canaduck says:

    Sorry A you’re not a vegetarian. What if you just ate pork and no other meats? Would you still be insisting that you’re vegetarian then? You’re MOSTLY vegetarian sure and that’s really great. You are making a big difference!! But don’t please don’t pretend that fish doesn’t quite count as animals. And I agree with Maya that people might consider fish consumption differently because supposedly fish are still allowed to live out their lives naturally before they’re caught and eaten. The fact is though that fish factory farms do exist httpwww.factoryfarming.comfish.htm and moreover fishing even in the open ocean is a huge detriment to the environment. Bycatch pollution etc are causing crises in the seas. Do some research about it and learn why and how and to what degree.

  • Maya says:

    Fish are one of the most beautiful things on this planet. They are very intelligent and both seeing them be eaten and kept in captivity is painful for me. I do think some understanding is in order here. People who do not like factory farming often turn to fish because unlike cows and pigs some fish are allowed to live their lives in the wild before being caught and nonmotorized fishing does not contribute to global warming. Many people who only eat wildcaught fish feel as though this is similar to the way a tribal islander would eat “meat” in a minimally harmful way. In a way it is better than factory farming. Howver it is still harmful to the waterways. I’m not crazy about aquariums but the Monterey Bay Aquarium has good information on why fishing is having a seriously bad impact on the world’s oceans. We should point out that motorpowered boats do contribute to global warming that lead sinkers kill half of the loons that die from manmade causes that many seabirds die from fishing line wrapping around their intestines and that many marine animals like swordfish and other endangered animals die from the sideeffects of fishing. Neuroscience has now proven that many parts of the brain previously deemed “useless” are now beleived to have real potential so that even animals with small brains may have rich emotional lives. I think fish may be far more advanced than previously thought. Fish are one of my favorite animals and I hope PETA will continue this campaign to stop their horrible suffering from fishing and from being kept captive. Thanks!

  • Jaclyn says:

    I think a lot of vegetarians or partialvegetarians find the transition easier when they eat fish. A lot of people don’t eat cows pigs chickens turkeys turtles ducks… but they do eat the ocassional fish or shrimp. Lets not exclude them and make them feel bad when they are doing so much to help already. As time comes fish will probably be taken off the menu. Give people a break. Anything you do helps. And yes I agree… fish are not swimming vegetables and yes they are wonderful beings that deserve as much respect as the other animals. But I think that if we start to get mean and tell people that they can’t be called vegetarians we are really turning people away.

  • A says:

    Has PETA lost its way? We seem to be attacking one another instead of helping and teaching.Exclusive club???? So if i give up all meat except fish I am not helping in any way? Well I guess that my efforts here are useless.Give all or nothing should be the new topic for this blog!

  • Ana says:

    I am really glad you brought up the topic of fish. Many times I have to remind others that fish are not vegetables. Why do people insist on calling themselves vegetarian when they are not? It is not an exclusive club it is people like me veganwho decided because of ethical reasons that eating the remains of slaughtered animals is wrong and contributing to their demise is immoral. It also is bothersome when people ask me “You eat fish”? Why have fish been removed from the radar of sentience and compassion? Eating fish not so bad not to the fish it isn’t. They are sentient beings also. Good blog.