Cruelty and fish


For the most part, the farming of animals in the developed world is reasonably humane - outside the horrors of factory farming. An out-and-out vegan will have nothing of this and insist that any farming is inherently cruel. It is difficult to argue completely against  this as the slaughterhouse and the separation of  a young calf from its mother can never be a something out of Disney – but I think my initial statement can stand scrutiny. When an animal is to be killed, it is generally done quickly and the intention is to minimize suffering. There is ‘sympathy ‘ for the animal.

Why does this break down when it comes to fish? The casual cruelty meted out to them is extraordinary. We hook them in the mouth and then leave them on a deck or bank to suffocate to death. If they are lobsters, shrimps or crabs we not only boil them to death but do it slowly by bringing them to the boil from cold. Millions of sharks are caught every year and, alive, have their dorsal fin hacked off. They are then thrown back to die slowly in their element in which they can no longer survive.

Apparently fish and crustaceans don’t feel pain. I don't think so. Have you ever tried to touch a live fish in water? It doesn’t look or feel like something desensitized to me. Why do we leave our common sense and humanity at home when it comes to fish? Probably because they stretch our anthropomorphism – and they don’t scream.


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