Guest article by Ellie Israel
When transitioning from vegetarianism to veganism, often the last living being to be deleted from the diet is fish. Presumably, this is because fish are perceived as mindless beings who have no ability to feel pain and whose only purpose is to aimlessly swim about.
A new study, conducted by Joseph Garner Assistant Professor at Purdue, has found that fish actually do feel pain in the same manner as you and I do. By injecting a group of fish with morphine and another group with saline prior to subjecting them to burning sensations (without damaging tissue) both groups reacted by wriggling. The ones that had been on morphine, however, went on about their business while the other group acted with defensive behaviors indicating wariness or fear and anxiety. This experiment showed that fish do not only respond to painful stimuli with reflexes, but also change their behavior after the event.
Suffering in fish is seen everyday outside of the laboratory, as well. When a fish is removed from it’s natural environment and exposed to the air they, in essence, drown. Think of it as waterboarding in reverse.
And, btw, fish are not mindless and their lives do have meaning. In a study at the University of Edinburgh, fish who learned to escape from a net retained the ability eleven months later which would be equivalent to a human recalling a lesson learned forty years before.
Fish also learn by watching other fish, recognize and remember one another and exhibit social behaviors comparable to primates. And, according to Oxford University research, fish can also complete some mental tasks that are too complex for dogs.
If the above information is not enough to keep fish off your plate consider this: Because fish live in heavily polluted water you may be poisoning yourself with every bite of fish you take.
The University of Illinois researchers discovered increased levels of PCB’s in the blood of fish eaters and noted these subjects had difficulty recalling information they had learned thirty minutes earlier.
Patients with increased mercury level in their bodies showed symptoms of hair loss, fatigue, depression and headaches. These symptoms improved when they stopped eating fish.
Harvard scientists have found that fish consumption can cause irreversible impairment to brain function in children, prior to and after birth.
So, fish’s life may be simple compared to ours but it is their life. Please allow them to live it in peace, not only for their sake but for yours as well.