Little updates: The Snapper is completely back to normal with no need for pain meds and eating normally (like a horse); little house has NO BASEMENT! In the midwest!; I am too sick to exercise, starting antibiotics this afternoon–we’ll start next week, and in the meantime, hide your scales!
On to present business. I am not politically active when it comes to my version of vegetarianism, though I am always happy to explain it to inquirers (who have been nothing but courteous and complimentary, by the way). What it comes down to for me is 1) I’m not pleased with the meat industry’s treatment of animals, however much my girl Temple Grandin has succeeded in improving it; and 2), most importantly, it is an ethical position relative to the world food supply: you can feed more people with grain than you can with meat. If we all ate less meat and were generous with what we didn’t eat fewer people would be hungry. I say it’s an ethical stance because I don’t believe for a second that I am lessening world hunger by not eating any meat but fish. It’s a lifestyle choice that keeps me close to my concerns with hunger and poverty and hopefully encourages other people to do the same.
Which is why I was on www.goveg.com* the other day–my food choices make me periodically curious about what PETA is up to and if there is any new and interesting research or thinking. Whereupon I clicked on “Fishing Hurts” and learned about a 2003 study that indicated fish feel pain, anxiety, and fear as they are being killed. I also read a number of articles on the site explaining that conditions in fisheries and farms are inhumane to fish, and that far from being brainless little nothings they have social structures and emotional relations to one another that are similar to mammals. I did some googling and found mention of another study from the University of Montana. I don’t fully understand the science, but a researcher there maintains that the physiological responses the 2003 study claims indicated fear were nothing more than reflexes of some sort and reasserted the long-held (by me, too) assumption that fish do not suffer in their deaths. The 2003 study looks reputable but the Montana one is in a journal of a title that makes me suspect it is tied in with the fish industry. So honestly I don’t know where to go with this one. Do fish suffer or don’t they (and if they don’t feel pain, are there other issues with the dignity of their lives?)? Then there’s also the issue of massive water pollution, chemicals, etc. that all make their way into our fish.
Attic Man suggested that if the fish industry bothers me I should also be looking to take dairy off the table, as the issues there are similar, and in that case, we know chickens and cattle don’t like being stuffed into small, airless spaces. I responded that I feel my body needs dairy, but that fish is really optional (though very, very loved), and that I’ve made my peace with dairy because I am not able to afford free range, organic, etc. (I try to as often as I can, esp. because my body does better with hormone-free milk). I am all about what people’s bodies seem to be telling them. But I don’t know if this is a satisfactory position ethically or not. I don’t know how much the fact that I LOVE fish and dairy plays into things. I love poultry but gave up that…I even eventually gave up locally hunted venison (yum).
For the record I am not against killing animals as long as we need them (and we mostly don’t) and that the killing is done quickly, compassionately, and as painless as possible.
I’m thinking about giving up fish and seafood for Lent to enter a period of discernment about it. Any thoughts?
*Yes, this woman is from my alma mater.
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