30 by 30 – No. 24 Stop Eating Fish

Posted by: Maggie

I’m doing 29 up big! I plan to accomplish a number of things, better define the kind of person that I am and want to be, and have a fun year doing it! Follow along as I check things off my 30 by 30 list!

I think some people were confused by this one on my list. No. 23 is Focus on Healthy Eating, so stop eating fish seemed a little contradictory. Fish is supposed to be a super healthy food, right? Well, yes and no. The “No” part is just one of the reasons I decided to stop eating fish. I’ll get to that in a minute. There are three big reasons this made my list.

1. I’m a Vegetarian (and in case you’re new here, so are Josh & Eleanor, we’re an adorable family of vegetarians). I know some vegetarians aren’t strict about abstaining from fish, but eating fish has always made me feel like a hypocrite. I’ve been a Vegetarian for almost 17 years, and I’ve attempted to give up fish just about once a year for those 17 years. These days I really only eat fish once a month at the most, but I know I shouldn’t be eating it at all. Fish are animals too and I don’t eat animals. Somehow, because I love Sushi I’ve managed to rationalize my fish consumption with various ideas that I no longer feel have any merit. No more rationalizing for me! I plan to be a good Vegetarian from now on!

2. Fish Isn’t Safe to Eat. Oooooh controversial statement right? People think fish is a healthy food, and it’s true that fish can be safe and healthy and it’s sorta possible to get some of that safe & healthy fish, but for the most part it’s not. And it’s not worth the risk for me. Last year I read What to Eat by Marion Nestle. It is an incredibly thorough and entertaining guide to food, it’s healthfulness and safety. I highly recommend it, in fact, I’m planning a whole post on it soon. In the Fish section of the book, Nestle explores the health claims regarding fish and the safety of eating fish. She explains that while fish are a good source of protein and unsaturated fats and excellent sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, the safety risks may outweigh the health benefits. In short, most fish have safety issues ranging from high levels of Methylmercury, PCBs and related toxic chemicals in wild and farmed fish to antibiotics, disinfectants, and pesticides in farmed fish. Additionally, there are problems with labeling that makes it difficult to know which fish is okay to purchase and which is not.

As for health, protein and healthy fats are abundant in non-animal foods, and Omega-3s while less common, can be obtained from plant sources, like beans, nuts and seeds, and flax seed and canola oils. If you must eat fish, there are lists you can use that will tell you which fish is safe to eat. For me, it’s not worth the risk.

3. Fishing and Fish Farming is Cruel to Fish and Destructive to the Environment. I just read Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. Over the years, I’ve read a lot about the horrors of factory farming, the human rights abuses and animal abuse, terrible things that make your stomach turn and bring tears to your eyes. But I’ve never read much about fishing or fish farming until Eating Animals. I’m not going to go into details about it, but I will say that Foer described enough cruelty and environmental destruction to make me never want to eat Sushi again. I urge you all to read this book.

It’s been a little more than 6 months since I’ve had any fish and I don’t intend to have any ever again. So, I’m crossing this one off the list! Goal accomplished!

You can check out my 30 by 30 list HERE and let me know if you’ve got a list of your own that you’re working on.

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