Saturday, December 15th, 2018

Chicken and Fish Don’t Grow On Trees

Published on July 9, 2009 by   ·   34 Comments Pin It

Do you consider yourself a pescatarian, or do you “only” eat chicken and fish? Then this is for you.

Over the last couple years, I’ve noticed some similar recurring responses that people have when I tell them I’m vegan. They go something like this, “Oh, I’m practically a vegetarian. I mean, I don’t eat red meat.” Or, “I don’t eat any land animals, just fish.” Maybe people equate red meat with more health risks, or maybe people can more readily identify with cows or lambs or pigs, and so they stop eating them. Whatever the reason, it seems the majority is more comfortable forgoing steak rather than sushi. But, in the interest of logic, ethics, and even your health, it makes more sense to leave chicken and fish off your plate.

Why? Well, if you’re concerned with how the animals you eat are treated, hear this: chickens are probably the most abused animals on the planet. I’m not kidding. The Humane Slaughter Act, a loosely enforced law that is supposed to reduce the suffering of animals killed for food, conveniently excludes all birds. That means that there are absolutely no laws on the books to protect chickens. They are kicked, punched, thrown around, have their legs broken, beaks cut off, and many are boiled alive in a defeathering tank when they are not properly slaughtered. All of this is legal.

Image courtesy of Farm Sanctuary

Image courtesy of Farm Sanctuary

Chickens make up over 95% of all the animals slaughtered in the US. The sheer numbers killed are astounding. Over 9 billion chickens are slaughtered each year. That’s 24 million a day, 300 per second. By the time you’ve finished reading this, thousands of chickens will have been killed. Logically, it takes a lot more chickens than cows to feed a person. Not that I’m endorsing beef, just pointing out the obvious. Couple that with the enormous popularity of chicken meat and the numbers start adding up.

The other thing about chicken you might find shocking is that it contains a shit load of cholesterol. In fact, pound for pound, chicken pretty much has the same amount of cholesterol as red meat! It may be “leaner” with regards to fat but trust me your arteries will not know the difference. Considering that heart disease is the number one killer in the US, that should give you some serious pause. Did I mention there is absolutely NO cholesterol in plant foods? Just sayin’. {EDITORS NOTE: Chicken are also really affectionate, they have a language of over 25 “words,” and are full of cuteness.   Don’t believe us?   Hit up a Sanctuary and spend some time with one.)

Rescued chicken

Rescued chicken: Symphony was rescued, and will live out his life happily at Farm Sanctuary.

Now let’s get into fish. So many fish are killed each year for food that we can’t even count them in terms of individual animals. They’re measured by weight, hundreds of thousands of tons, which amounts to billions and billions of animals. Commercial fishing has become so ruthless they now employ enormous fishing nets called trawlers –when I say enormous, I mean it — you can fit up to twelve 747s in these motherfuckers. They literally rake miles of ocean catching all kinds of sea life indiscriminately. Bycatch is the industry euphemism used to describe the wildlife caught by trawlers that were not specifically targeted and are considered inedible. In other words, millions of sea turtles, dolphins, and birds are needlessly killed each year.

Your Tuna melt had a face.

Your tuna melt had a face.

In fact, we’ve overfished the oceans so much that 90% of all large fish, such as tuna and swordfish, are gone. Bluefin tuna, a popular choice for sushi aficionados, is practically extinct. It’s literally an endangered species. If you wouldn’t order a Bald Eagle sandwich or a Panda Bear burger, why the hell would you order Bluefin?

Now I can already hear you saying, “But fish is so healthy.” Check yourself. When you’re done reading this, type mercury and PCBs into Google. Those are two highly toxic materials that are regularly found in fish these days thanks to all the pollution we’ve dumped in the oceans. In fact, many doctors are now telling pregnant women to cease fish consumption altogether. There is also growing evidence of pharmaceuticals ending up in the oceans that fish consume which messes with their hormones and sex organs. That’s right, your Chilean sea bass is a chick with a dick. And here’s another fact that’ll twist your knickers something fierce, remember the chicken cholesterol issue, well the same goes for fish. Most fish has the same amount of cholesterol as chicken or beef.


One issue that is rarely talked about is fish farming. Please understand that this may be touted as “sustainable” but the conditions in fish farms are sickening. Fish are literally crammed in areas so small they hardly have room to swim. And what they’re swimming in is mostly their own shit and are covered with lice. Appetizing, right? To prevent disease they are doused with antibiotics to keep them from getting sick. And on salmon farms, workers artificially color the salmon pink by dying the water since the salmon are not eating the crustaceans that naturally give their flesh a pink hue. Most fish on farms are actually fed corn, because so much of it grows in the ocean. Welcome to the world of frankenfish.


Now, I know most of us don’t think of fish having feelings or experiencing pain, but the most recent scientific studies tell us that fish have a brain and a central nervous system similar to mammals. The science is in: fish can suffer. Even if they experience only half of what we feel, can we really defend how we treat them? The catfish on this North Carolina farm (above) are being snapped into the shackles of the eviscerating machine. The conveyor belt runs through a machine that slices open the fish’s bellies and rips out their organs. The fish are still conscious and struggle throughout this process. There are no laws protecting fish at any point in their lives, including slaughter.   As Peter Singer says; “All the arguments to prove man’s superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering the animals are our equals.”

While we should applaud any effort people make to reduce suffering with regard to what they eat, I think we can all do better. Challenge yourself. With all the amazing alternatives out there to chicken and fish, weaning yourself is easier than ever.   There’s even vegan sushi nowadays! I’d like to leave you with one more startling statistic: scientists now say that if we don’t stop our current fishing practices, the oceans will collapse by 2048. Let’s all be conscious before we sit down to our next meal. Every bite counts.

via Ari Solomon. Ari is the Director of Communications at Mercy For Animals and the Co-host of the Sam Simon Show. Fridays 6 PM EST Channel Bubba1. You can follow him on twitter @VeganAri 

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Readers Comments (34)

  1. Ariela says:

    Woo sing it GirlieGirl Army Boy! If this doesn’t set all those fish and chicken eating “vegetarians” straight i don’t know what could!

  2. Danielle says:

    What a well-written and informative blog. So many people think they’re doing something good by forgoing beef in favor of chicken and fish. I’m so glad you wrote this.

  3. Danielle says:

    What a well-written and informative post. So many people think they’re doing something good by forgoing beef in favor of chicken and fish. I’m so glad you wrote this.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Great piece, Ari! It’s so easy to leave animals off our plates that we have no reason to cause the suffering of any animals chickens and fish included!

  5. tapp says:

    I love meat and fish, they are very healthy and are part of the human life. Eat em all!

  6. Megan Hansler says:

    While I was transitioning to veg, I ate fish. I thought I needed the protein LOL! I did dump the fish, and I am so glad. Uh, Mercury…no thank you.

    Great read..thanks! :)

  7. Susan says:

    Ari Solomon, you are one smart VEGAN cookie! Thank you for writing this important piece. So many people still believe we can go on using all the earth’s resources like there’s no tomorrow. And, isn’t it time for us to evolve beyond causing the pain and suffering of other creatures on this planet? Enough is enough. Go Vegan!

  8. Larry says:

    Great post Ari! Really really well written!

  9. Claudia says:

    Thanks for posting this. It reminded me why I’m vegan. About chickens: My dad grew up with one. That chicken was originally intended to end up in soup, but his family couldn’t bear to kill her. So the chicken (named Susie) lived with them, and became the playmate of my dad. She waited for him everyday when he came home from school. I love hearing those stories about her – Chickens are just really fascinating animals.

  10. Nityda says:

    I’m so glad this post is here. I think it’s funny; when I tell people I’m a vegan I get the same reactions–“I don’t eat red meat,” etc. I think people feel guilty and they want us to think that they’re not monsters. Then when we break the harsh truth to them about chickens, turkeys, fish etc., they feel even guiltier. The challenge for us, is to bring people this information without attacking them so that they will listen, and hopefully, make some positive changes. This blog does a great job of that.

  11. Jamie C says:

    Great piece. Restaurants should tell people this info instead of their daily Specials!”

  12. VeggieTart says:

    Excellent article!

  13. Chrissie Eden Vazquez says:

    But what to eat instead for protein besides tofu (which I am sick to death of)? I don’t have time or a budget to spend 2 hours in the kitchen every night or consume my weight in vegetables. As it is, I’m lucky if I eat twice a day!
    Oh, and a fun PS–I’m gluten intolerant so loading up on stuff like seitan is not an option. FML! Any other readers gluten intolerant?

  14. Jenni says:

    Chrissie – legumes, legumes, legumes!! You can create very simple dishes out of black beans, channa, black eyed peas, kidney beans, etc,! We rarely eat any tofu or seitan. Good luck experimenting!

  15. K says:

    You’ve got to check out the Inconvenient Truth of Fish movie called…

    I just saw it this past week with coworkers (we were watching a pre-release) and it’s awesome. Are humans collectively smarter than yeast? :)


  16. Christina says:

    Thanks for bring up the fish farming issue!

    Have you heard about feeding chickens TO fish? Kona Blue Water Farm’s includes chicken trimmings in the feed for it’s Kona Kampachi (their brand name for yellowtail). As a vegetarian who only occasionally eats fish, I was pretty upset to find out that if I were to eat their fish, I’d be consuming chicken as well – and all the antibiotics, etc that goes in to farming chickens. We have a paper that mentions it at

    Thanks again for bringing up this important issue!

  17. elaine says:

    Good article. Off to blog on similar issue. :)

  18. K says:

    there’s an insane article about some ozzie bluefin catching captain of industry starting to grow eggs from live tuna in a big seaquarium on his ranch… and the way they got the female tuna to start spawning is to speargun them with female hormones…

    (in the current august 09 issue of bloomberg markets, “bluefin blues”)

    messing with nature instead of harmonizing with it always leads to disaster.

  19. Jennifer B says:

    WOW!!! You enlightened me (as usual) chicken slaughtering is the worst!!! Thank you CJ-good stuff….

  20. Meredith says:

    I just can’t get into going meatless. I know it’s the healthiest option, but my brain still says “no.” The slaughterhouse pics and videos aren’t effective on me (desensitized?). Is there any other brainwashing tools, to get me to change my mind?

  21. Jessica says:

    This is an amazing piece. Thank you.

  22. Suasoria says:

    Meredith: the power to change yourself is not in your brain, it’s in your heart. It’s not about changing your mind – it’s listening to your soul. You can do it! I know you can!

  23. Chloe Jo says:

    Hey Meredith… forget about the animals for a second (I personally couldn’t, but in this case…) and think about the environment (18.5 % greenhouse gases are from factory farms!!) and your body – read a very technical book – ie no animal info – simply nutrition called THE CHINA STUDY – it will shock you into wanting to live a longer, cleaner, healthier life. Them go to good vegan restaurants and meet some fun vegan peeps – you’ll realize how EASY it is.. and how delish! Plus – after a few months cleansing from animal bodies/ bi-products – all my health issues went away, my body looked amazing, and my skin glowed! Try it! How about a 30 Day Veg Pledge…?

  24. Ariela says:

    Meredith- If the slaughterhouse pics and videos aren’t effective in getting you to go meatless, start studying up on 1. the scary realities of the hormones and artificial crap they load meat and dairy up about it in books like Skinny Bitch or The Omnivores Dilemma and 2. the beautiful realities of how amazing your mind and body will feel after you go veg (I promise you’ll feel sexier then ever, not to mention incredibly enlightened and toxic free!)

    Another thing to do is to check out some of the great vegan restaurants in your area, or make yourself vegan food for a week from amazing recipes you can find online. After you introduce your body, and your taste buds to the amazingly delish world of veg cuisine you will be brainwashed fo life!

    Hope this helps girl! :)

  25. kimsy says:

    Great article!

  26. Masha says:

    AWESOME article.

  27. Lyndsay O. says:

    What do you mean by “the oceans will collapse?” Do you mean they will stop being sustainable, or something actually physical??

  28. Ann says:

    T H A N K Y O U !

  29. Kylie says:

    I HATE when people say they’re “select vegetarians” and all that BS!!


  30. […] Tuna-Free Sandwiches Maybe you are pregs and aren’t doing fish.. maybe you are vegan and don’t want to partake in the mass killing of beautiful fishies and the eradication of our oceans.. or maybe you simply think tuna is icky. Perfect for picnics, lunchboxes, late-night snacks, and pretty much any other time you might need a sandwich, these fish-free hand-holds are delicious, or, if you’re feeling punny, de-fish-ious. (And, let’s be honest, when are we not feeling punny?) Just remember, if you’re making these for a date-night entree, nothing says “I love you” like a diagonal cut.   Oh, and in case you didn’t know already… chicken and fish don’t grow on trees. […]

  31. Vee king says:

    Great article! Chrissie, I know TWO very healthy gluten intolerent vegans. I spend much less time in the kitchen than when I wasn’t vegan (as I no longer have to rid my food of all the nasty poisons.) It’s a bit different and requires more thought for the first few weeks, but get a good book on it and youl’ll soon be healthier, happier helping save the planet and be getting a big thanks from the animals you are no longer killing. Good luck! :)

  32. Kent Åsberg says:

    Strong article – I’ll do my best to spread the message.
    Thanks to Guest Blogger and Girlie Girl Army Boy Sgt, Ari Solomon.

    Kent Åsberg, Vellinge, Sweden

  33. jenny nilsson says:

    I agree to most of this…BUT the argument about cholesterol is not true!! That argument is not nessesary at all.Check out were the so called science about the danger with cholesterol comes from…it is not unhealthy to eat fish and chicken because of some cholesterol….the rest is correct…about mercury and all that shit…not to forget the antibiotica resistent bacteria that is in chicken and many other things.

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