When your convictions are challenged

Hey, and happy 2015! New years is my ‘vegan anniversary’; three years ago I decided to give this way of living a shot, had sushi for dinner on NYE, and that was that. In all honesty, it wasn’t that big of a change at the time — I had stopped consuming most dairy products a long time before that, and hadn’t been eating other meats than fish for about two years prior. And, fish is what I’d like to talk about today.

It’s a complicated story and I’m not that good at cutting things short, but the main gist concerns doubts that I presently have about whether or not to (occasionally) add (certain) fish to my (otherwise vegan) diet. Why? Because I want it. Because I want it in a way that possibly indicates that I’m deficient in something. Because I can’t remember whether some of the (not nice) ways that I’m feeling also were present when I did eat fish. Because I go to grad school studying nutrition and I’m learning that the omega-3 fatty acids (ALA, EPA, and DHA) are likely to soon be labeled as ‘essential’. If I remember correctly, ALA already is denoted as such, but not the other two, which may be because the body has the ability to convert ALA (shorter chain length) into the other, longer, two. The crux is that this capacity for conversion is so limited, so inefficient, that recommended amounts of EPA and DHA will not be produced, no matter how much ALA one consumes.

Now, there are things I ‘learn’ in school that I don’t agree with, that I think are outdated, which makes me doubt almost everything that is handed to me there. Questioning is healthy, but where’s the limit? It’s not like I aim to be someone who thinks that some superior council is conspiring against the population that choose to dabble in academia, making sure that what is conveyed within that field is of the character that they decide and manufactured for their benefit. I want to believe that most of what is included in curriculums is as true as can be and based on good science. Ignoring and discarding legitimate science is something I’ll leave for the ignorant and religious nuts.

So, let’s assume that EPA and DHA are, in fact, needed for the body to be healthy. This automatically implies that plant-based sources of omega-3 (which consists of ALA) are inadequate for fulfilling one’s requirements in this department. Fish and seafood are then the main sources of these fatty acids, and – logically – the more oily the fish, the more you’ll get in one serving. I’m talking mackerel, herring, salmon, sardines, and anchovies, to name a few.

But even if I’d become a tad healthier, wouldn’t I hurt the environment more if I ate fish than I may be hurting myself by abstaining from it? It’s no secret that the fishing industry is wreaking havoc on our oceans – and the our is a big part of the problem. It’s called the Tragedy of the Commons. Even if I’d choose fish with abundant stocks (like the small fish that I mentioned), I don’t know what a product label really means (even though I know what it’s supposed to mean). Something can be labeled organic and be shit for you. So, I’m skeptic, and I’m scared.

Lastly, fish are animals. Admittedly, I don’t greatly connect with them and I honestly don’t think they have as much ‘being’ to them as mammals do – but this may just be due to that it’s much harder to see because we’re more distant from them. I’m a mammal, and on some far-fetched evolutionary level it makes sense that I care more for them. But I also know that this may just be something that I choose to believe to support my cause (/cravings). I mean, when I was an omnivore, and went fishing, I didn’t quickly and efficiently kill the fish that I caught. It felt too brutal, so I’d take them off the hook and throw them into the bushes behind me, and keep fishing. When I was done, I’d go get the (now dead) fish and head back home up the hill without having murdered a thing. Ain’t my fault they can’t breathe air.

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