I had been stuck for years as an aspiring (aka, unsuccessful) vegetarian. In my twenties and early thirties, the addiction to meat kept me from walking the path my moral compass set before me. Simply “knowing better” wasn’t enough when faced with a menu or standing at the deli section of the grocery store.
Frustrated with my lack of follow-through, I finally took drastic measures and exposed myself to food industry photographs that graphically documented the fate of cows, pigs, chickens, sheep and other animals on factory farms. I can never dislodge those images from my brain nor the heartache that arises when they occasionally still pass through my mind. But my behavior changed immediately and permanently, or at least for over ten years now and running.
The one missing piece to the story is the fish, how they slipped right through my watery vegetarian resolve. I can’t remember the rationale at the time – whether I considered them lesser conscious beings or just needed to have something with protein to eat. But continue to eat them, I did.
When I read now of the ecological collapse in the seas driven by industrial fishing, I realize that eating fish is no longer sustainable. It’s an environmental issue, as well as a moral one. So I am ready, as of writing this, to eliminate fish from my diet (though I might make a rare exception when camping to go creek fishing with my son). Unlike other actions, this one doesn’t require any prep time or effort. It’s just a turning away from another section of the grocery store.
On a related note, if you’re tired of the forced choice between a plant vs meat-based diet, check out the article below on a whole new option: food made out of unicellular life –microbes. The article is one of the most hopeful I’ve read in a long long time, addressing how various environmental crises (global soil crisis, global warming crisis, pollination crisis, farming-related pollution, water shortage, among others) can be solved by the precision fermentation of proteins.