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Brooks Lindsay

Hello, I thought that this article on Debatepedia, which breaks down the pros and cons of vegetarianism, could help. I think the main argument against "Pescavegetarianism" centers around the argument that meat eating is primarily bad because it inflicts pain on other animals. Fish, like other animals, experience pain. With suitable nutritional alternatives to fish and other meat, humans should opt not to inflict pain on any animals, fish included.



Thanks for your kind and thorough response. I'm glad that you support gradual vegetarianism/veganism, I just didn't get that from the original post and was concerned because I have met militant vegans whom I thought were very destructive to the vegan movement. Not saying that you're militant in any sense (I don't get that impression from your response) but the comment that it irritated you to hear those kinds of terms self-applied to people made me fear that your verbal response to those people who used them might be overly negative. Obviously, there's a huge difference between a blog rant and ranting at people, but I just wanted to hear how you presented the topic to omnivores in person.

Thanks as well for the website, I will definitely check out the fish toxins argument. I will admit that I know less about it than I would like, so I'll be happy to study up.

I do understand your irritation about the semantics since you're obviously someone who cares about all creatures, whether they are "cute" or not. And I agree with you - if you're going to give up meat, with as many healthy vegetarian options as there are for a person to meet their nutritional needs, giving up fish should be an easy choice. It's all the nutrition with none of the risk.

[My primary interest is not animal liberation, although I do find "animal welfare" ridiculous (that's an essay for another time). Making the animal more comfortable before you kill it, to me, is absurd.]

I also agree with you that it is ridiculous. I am very interested in sustainable agriculture and considered organic farming at one point before I went vegetarian (complete with food livestock like sheep and cows) until I realized I would be unable to kill anything by hand which had once been under my loving care, or ever drive a cow I raised from infancy to some warehouse to be "processed" by meat-packers. So while I'm still planning to run a farm which concentrates heavily on the production of fruits and vegetables, it will also be one on which animals are not killed or mistreated.

I only support animal welfare in its execution because the cold truth of the matter is, animals are now being brought up for food, and it will probably be a very, very long time before animals aren't used for food. If that time ever comes, which I doubt unless there is some serious destruction to our planet which makes the raising of livestock impossible and the existence of "hunt-able" populations of wild animals obsolete, then animal welfare will not be necessary. But until then, if livestock is being raised for food, I want to be assured that it is raised and slaughtered humanely.

When people ask me why I don't eat meat, I don't tell them it's because animals are our equals and we don't have the right to eat them, because not many of the majority believe that, and it tends to give them the immediate knee-jerk reaction, "Wow, this carrot-munching girl is off the deep end. I love meat and I never want to be like these people. If I give up meat people will think I'm a tree-hugging sermonizing radical too."

Instead, I tell them that I don't eat meat because most meat is produced in a way which I consider to be cruel and an abuse of our stewardship of the earth and to fellow creatures who trust us. Abusing the trust of a codependent creature is one of the worst sins to me, worse than abusing a kid because a LOT more people care about the abuse of children when the abuse of animals is so much more savage. Nobody is skinning kids alive or loading their bodies from a freezer into a flatbed (a job I did once for three months one summer in college at a municipal animal shelter).

I guess my main point was just that I believe militant social progress is counter-productive, and I wanted to make sure that wasn't your stance.

To sum up, I don't think you're being militant, I just got the mistaken impression that you might be. It's just that I have met several vegans who *are* militant and so I have an immediate negative response to anyone who says in a snide, holier-than-thou manner to some curious omni who asks why they are vegetarian, "I don't eat anything with a face." Because the subtext of dialogue like that is, "I don't eat anything with a face (because I'm a better person than you, you gluttonous murderer)." People just don't react well to that attitude

To me, a more effective way of enlightening people about vegetarianism/veganism is to come at them from an angle which is most relative to them. And intolerance shuts down any kind of intellectual progress. Without compassionate communication and education, the vegetarian/vegan movement gets nowhere.

Thanks again for your time.

Highest regards,


Lots of pescovegetarians and whatnot are not moving closer to veganism because veganism is not their end goal. Many pescovegetarians choose that route in particular because fish is the healthiest meat available and they are not interested in animal rights at all.

[Depends on how you define healthy and the source of the meat. IMHO, fish is overhyped as healthy.]

As far as the health concerns go, there are many scientific arguments that the mercury threat involved in eating fish is unsubstantiated - the main threat it poses (if any) is to pregnant women, who are asked to abstain from MANY food sources - nuts, alcohol, etc...and the amount of mercury-exposed fish most pregnant women eat is well below threat threshold. The chance of mercury poisoning from fish is definitely less than that of intaking pesticides from supermarket vegetables. And even the fattiest wild-caught fish still has only about half the fat of beef (with none of the hormones/antibiotics inherent in agricultural livestock).

[PCBs, dioxin, and mercury issues with fish, especially "fresh water" fish has been well documented (check out the Environmental Defense Fund website, somewhat middle-of-the-road). That the conservative "experts" in our federal medical establishment issued warnings should also give one cause for concern. If you've a cite or resource that indicates the chances of, say, high pesticides, doxin, or mercury is less in fish than other meat or vegetable sources, I'd love to see it.

Anyway, the word "pescavegetarian" makes no sense. If you only eat organic free-range beef and plants, does "bovovegetarian" mean anything useful?]

While I feel that commercial fishing is inherently cruel and very, very destructive to the environment, I think lifestyle-labelling elitism, which seems in my experience to originate from within the animal liberation sector, hurts the movement for vegetarianism and veganism as a whole.

[My primary interest is not animal liberation, although I do find "animal welfare" ridiculous (that's an essay for another time). Making the animal more comfortable before you kill it, to me, is absurd.

My point to someone calling themselves a pescavegetarian, and of course they can call themselves what they want, for me, is that it is a bizarre use of the words and, to some degree, an insult to those of us who are vegetarians or vegans.]

Turning off omnis to the concept of a cruelty-free diet by sneering at them and saying, "Go big or go home!" is a good way to encourage people to give up giving up meat entirely. Which is worse - a pesco-vegetarian who is committed to better health/less animal cruelty, or a relapsed omnivore who goes back to eating whatever he wants, burned by vegetarians/vegans telling him his efforts were not good enough? Not only is he no longer abstaining from meat because of negative peer influence, he is also more likely to speak out AGAINST vegans/vegetarians. "I tried going that route once, and those people were a bunch of higher-than-thou douchebags. I'll stick with the sirloin, thanks."

[I have no problem with someone eating fish, I do with them calling themselves pescavegetarian and helping promulgate a useless term that I find unhelpful in general. I have many friends gradually giving up non-vegan foods, and I always encourage them. I only discuss "why" I don't eat a particular food when asked.]

Even if a person eats fish and abstains from every other meat, or eats chicken and abstains from every other meat, they are still saving lives, regardless of their motives. That is an undeniable fact. Yes, people should do something because it is the right thing to do, but as long as they are doing the right thing, even if it is only edging gingerly into progress, why knock it?

No offense intended. Just my two cents. I'm of the camp that tolerance is the key to social progress, because not everybody is willing to go "cold tofu" in a single night. And people have the right to be proud of any positive change they make in their lives, no matter how small.

[Of course they do. Again, my "rant" was primarily an issue of semantics, and to a lesser degree, pointing out the any reason to give up meat, imho, also applies to fish.]

I don't eat fish because I keep goldfish as a hobby, and they're as dear to me as any pet I've ever owned in my life, regardless of the fact that they are not furry...(but I don't call them lake kittens any more than I would call a diseased duck liver foie gras...)

[Reminds me of interviewing Dr. Tom Regan when he pointed out that dolphins are kept in tanks, but they usually swim 40 to 100 miles A DAY. Elephants roam similar distances (which some people believe accounts for unusual behavior when confined in zoos). I feel the same way about wing-clipping to enable a pet owner to keep their bird from "flying away" or "hurting itself." There's something wrong, to me at least, about confining an animal that has the capacity to fly, wander, or swim, significant distances as part of their normal genetic makeup to an area that works for the "owner."

As to goldfish, I found some interesting info about them as pets I'll post in the near future, as an FYI.

But, people do what they want, it's not my main issue (there are so many!). Animal issues are often akin to religion and politics, in that (a) you have to be careful when talking to anyone about them and (b) lotta faith involved, and matters not easily looked at in black'n'white.

In any case, you are obviously a very compassionate person, and I respect your opinions, appreciate your thoughtful comments, and wish you the best.


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