There are many disgusting things about sushi, but one of the most horrifying realities of this cuisine is that—along with the billions of fish who are killed—thousands of turtles, dolphins, and other sea life are caught or become entangled in fishing nets and discarded as “bycatch,” all so that you can eat just one serving of sushi. According to Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals, 145 species—other than tuna—are regularly killed while tuna are being fished. Some of this bycatch also includes hammerhead sharks, common seahorses, puffer fish, orcas, and green turtles, to name just a few.
Bycatch occurs when animals get entangled in fishing nets and hooked by long lines. Once anglers realize that they’re not the specific species of fish that they were initially looking for, the animals are thrown overboard. If they’re not already dead, they fall victim to swarming birds or slowly bleed to death in the water. According to Foer, “The average shrimp-trawling operation throws 80 to 90 percent of the sea animals it captures overboard, dead or dying, as bycatch.”
While bycatch is certainly disturbing, it’s hardly the only horrifying truth about sushi. There are so many negatives, in fact, that BuzzFeed filmed folks learning the horrors of sushi … white eating it! Discover for yourself what the facts are, and find out what you can do about it.
Parasitic Worms Are Showing Up in Sushi
Hundreds of animals may have died for your serving of sushi, but the anisakis is a parasitic worm who lives in raw fish. They also live in human bodies. Recently, they have been showing up in sushi. When people swallow the anisakis larvae, the parasites attach to the stomach wall or intestines, causing pain, nausea, and vomiting and—for some people—digestive bleeding, obstruction, swelling, and a skin rash.
Popularity of sushi has brought rise in parasitic infections, warn doctors | World news | The Guardian https://t.co/tSlaW3JWLJ
— John Ashton ( you, us, I) (@Johnrashton47) May 12, 2017
What Is ‘Uni’?
Uni—named for the Japanese word for “sea urchin”—is commonly featured among sushi dishes. But what many don’t know is that uni is actually sea urchin gonads. That’s right—you’re eating testes sushi.
Your Peeled Shrimp Is Most Likely Produced Using Slave Labor
The United States imports about 50 percent of the shrimp harvested in Thailand. According to Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International, “If you buy prawns or shrimp from Thailand, you will be buying the produce of slave labor.” So beware—not only does ordering that shrimp tempura roll mean killing and eating defenseless animals, it could also mean actively supporting human slavery.
— Tim Pawsey (@hiredBelly) June 10, 2014
Anal Leakage … Enough Said
— Carol Holder (@CarolHolder212) December 11, 2012
Imitation Crab Meat: The Hot Dog of the Sea
Imitation crab meat, also referred to as “crab stick,” is a hodgepodge of processed paste made from other ground-up fish—and sometimes other meat, starch, and other colorings and flavorings, according to Spoon University. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and preservatives have also been found in the knockoff crab meat. Next time, think twice before ordering that California roll.
— Curiosity (@curiositydotcom) December 3, 2016
Is Your Sushi Order Worth Dying For?
A survey conducted by Rutgers University found that people who eat sushi weekly are in danger of excessive mercury poisoning, a potentially life-threatening condition.
Fish Feel Pain
Fish are smart, interesting animals with their own unique personalities, and just like dogs, cats, and humans, fish feel pain. Without any legal protection from cruel treatment, these intelligent, complex animals are impaled, crushed, suffocated, or cut open and gutted, all while they’re fully conscious. Whether the fish are raised on aquafarms, caught in the ocean by giant nets or long lines, or hooked at the end of a fishing line, eating them supports cruelty to animals.
You’re Convinced—Now What?
If you don’t want 145 animals dying so that you can eat a single serving of sushi—and if you’re not a fan of eating testes or the products of slave labor—swap your sushi order for a delicious and nutritious vegan option. We offer a ton of helpful vegan sushi references, including PETA’s Top 10 Restaurants for Vegan Sushi, a simple and delicious vegan sushi recipe, a video on how to make a vegan sushi burger, and a five-step tutorial on turning a tomato into tuna:
Going vegan can help save all animals used for food. Luckily, it’s easier than ever, thanks to PETA’s vegan starter kit. Click the button below to order your free kit and start saving lives now.