Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fish AGAIN? Yes. Fish. Again.

I'm aware that November is Vegan Mofo (the vegan month of food) when vegan bloggers everywhere put up lots and lots of recipes and celebrate cooking and eating, and I think that's great -- especially because I read a heck of a lot of vegan blogs.  But I can't really participate.  I don't even invent many recipes.  But it's ok, I'm totally used to being an outsider even amongst outsiders.  In the words of Elliott Smith, I'm not uncomfortable feeling weird.

On the subject of feeling weird, do you know how many people I met this weekend who told me they are vegetarians who eat fish?  This upsets me so much, as readers of my blog know all too well.  Not sure of what I speak?  See here and here.  And what you've got to understand about me is that not only will I not allow offensive things to stand without comment, but I'm inordinately articulate and expressive, especially when spouting my oft-repeated spiel about fish.  This one girl I met at a party told me that she was a vegetarian who eats fish and I told her "Fish is the worst thing to eat!" and she said, "I've done a lot of research and I know fish is the BEST thing to eat, and I only eat wild-caught salmon, nothing farmed."  Even though she was getting the information from a person dressed as a cat burglar, I pretty much blew this young woman's mind explaining how we're decimating every level of the ocean food chain.  How it is really no good to eat even Alaskan wild-caught salmon even though the Monterey Bay Aquarium web site says that is a "best choice."  I explained that the MBA is being conservative, suggesting the "best choices" among a list of very bad choices because they're not prepared to take the radical step of advocating for the complete ceasing of eating sea life.

Of course, as always, I made sure to explain to her that if she must eat sea life, she should eat clams, oysters, mussels, scallops -- "Things in a shell like this," I always say, gesturing with my hand like Pac-Man.  I explained that those things are farm-raised and vegetarian, so they do not use fish meal and are a great deal more sustainable.  I like to give people options, since people pretty much freak out when I tell them about fish.  They have NO IDEA, and this information makes them feel paralyzed with worry and indecision.  I tell them, flat out, that is is completely immoral to eat most fish, and how can you continue to do something you know to be immoral?  For me, that's a very compelling argument.

I hope you all find this visual aid to be helpful.
A friend of mine posted on my facebook wall this link to a New York Times article about how keeping carnivorous animals (like cats) in your home is extremely harmful to the environment and to fish populations.  It's written by Paul Greenberg, the author of the book Four Fish, and someone I respect as being one of the few warriors out there trying to spread the word about fish.  I find his op-ed to be beyond compelling and, although I've never done this in the past, I want to figure out a way to have my cat eat vegan or meat scraps or something (I have no clue where to get meat scraps).  But certainly, after Rory passes from this life, I will not be getting another cat.  I am very curious to know what other animal-lovers think of this article.  Any feedback?

Honestly, I do feel that I make a difference each and every time I give the fish speech.  My friends are sick of it, but they understand and they love me, so they accept it and move on.  I told this awesome girl I know about fish at Friday's party, and her boyfriend works at a sushi place and always posts pictures of sushi on his facebook, and when he arrived later, she said to him, "You should let Melissa talk to you about fish, it's really important."  That kind of support really means a great deal to me, and I'm sure that the most powerful thing I can do is actively spread this information the way I have been.  So I'll keep on.

Coincidentally, right now Simon Winchester is on NPR's Radio Times talking about how the once extraordinarily plentiful cod in Canada are now completely decimated.  Thank you, Simon Winchester.  Although he described Chilean Sea Bass as "completely sustainable" just because the British government actively enforces poaching rules.  I'm not sure he really gets it.

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