I am a vegetarian, but I also eat fish. Officially I am a Piscolactovegetarian, although I scarcely ever drink milk. I happen to be of the opinion that fish is a good dietry option, it is excellent protein, and has lots of good nutrients.
I am not a vegan, I think its practically impossible to be a true vegan, so I’m not going to try and be a half hearted one.
But I am aware of siginificant problems with fish – there is what most of us are aware of – the destruction of the Cod population for instance, and the junk that gets fed to farmed fish.
But recently reading Taras Grescoe’s amazingly good book – Bottomfeeder – really opened up my eyes to the reality of the state of the world’s fisheries.
The fact that Grescoe remains a seafood lover encouraged me to continue eating fish, but the book certainly gave me some serious questions to ask whenever I buy fish.
Recently writing a primer on ethical lifestyles I gave fish a brief mention, blurting out that we should aim to eat fish that come from the middle of the food chain, namely Mackerel, Sardines, Pilchards etc.
But in fact I was wrong, yes Sardines and Pilchards are sustainably managed at the moment, but Mackerel arent! How did I find this out?
I sent away to the Marine Conservation Society, and they sent me their excellent ‘pocket fish guide’. This handy credit card sized fold out card lists most of the common fish available, and tells you whether they are suitable for purchase or not. Absolutely invaluable if you cant store an encyclopaedic amount of fish knowledge in your head.
The cards are free, although you may want to give the MCS a donation in return.
To find out more, and to read up more details about sustainable fish and shellfish eating, see http://www.fishonline.org and if you can, get hold of a copy of Bottomfeeder, which I wholeheartedly reccomend as an excellent read.
It is gripping in the way that a good novel or travel book is, and absolutely bursting with important information about all the fish the world has to offer.
Unless you’re tickling your own trout from a wee stream out the back of your house – you need to read this book and check out the MCS. Superb.