When I started my journey to become vegan, I knew it was going to be difficult but also important in my goal to live the most eco-friendly life possible. I also know to achieve a big goal the best strategy is to make small reasonable changes. The first year I gave myself the freedom to be a pescatarian. So, I cut out meat but continued to eat seafood. That year is over, and it is time for me to cut out seafood. I have always loved seafood so this one was going to be harder than chicken, cow, or pig.
Scrolling through Netflix on this Memorial Day weekend, I stumbled upon a documentary called "Seaspiracy". It was as if the universe knew I would need a little push in the right direction. Here is what I learned and unlearned...
There is no such thing as sustainable fishing. As a consumer you cannot ever be sure where your meal came from. You may think that fish farming is the solution. More fish are going into fish feed than what is being produced. This is the opposite of sustainability.
Fish are not good for you. We think that due to the high levels of omega oils that we are getting better nutrients when eating fish. What we are not being told is that they are contaminated with heavy metals and microplastics. The "Omega" oil is produced by algae which is consumed by the fish and then squeezed out of them to be put into a pill. So, then I ask, why don't we just get it from the algae which is something that could be sustainable without the cholesterol, fat or contaminants?
Eating fish has a huge effect and mankind cannot live on a planet with a dead sea. Fish cannot reproduce at the rate we fish today. I we continue this way there will be no more fish in the sea by 2048. Other species rely on the fish populations. The predators need a healthy amount of fish for consumption. Other organisms rely on the waste produced by fish for nutrients. Dolphins and whales are being slaughtered because they are "competition" that would eat the fish we might be able to catch. There is also by-catch which is the amount of sea life that will die "accidently' due to the nets that capture all the fish we eat. Speaking of plastic nets, this fishing gear makes up the MAJORITY of the garbage and plastic in the ocean! So, if you are my people and carry around reusable straws and grocery bags, eating fish is contributing even more than the plastic versions of these items we hate so much.
The fishing industry is subsidized. Even if you don't eat fish you are still paying for it with your tax dollars. Subsidies were created to ensure food security but have actually caused food insecurity in many locations. The UN estimates we would need $30 billion to combat world hunger. The amount of money subsidizing the fishing industry is about $30 billion. Coincidence? I think not.
So why are these facts not broadcasted more? Why do we know all about how plastic is destroying our oceans health, but we hear nothing about fishing which has a large impact? The truth is that this industry is extremely corrupt. These organizations operate under the same morals as drug cartels and human trafficking. Many of these companies even use slave labor to cut costs. This is a nasty business.
So, what can you do? Stop eating all seafood. This includes shrimp and tuna! Support non-profits like Sea Shephard that actively chase illegal fishing boats and fine them.
Call or write your congress member and try to disrupt the lobbyists that protect these companies.
Remember no one can do everything, but everyone can do something!