A month ago, I posted to my Facebook the comment:
"I've been vegetarian for 28 years now, but I am contemplating putting fish back into my diet for health reasons. Being vegetarian is one of my moral & ethical cornerstones. If do this, it would not be done lightly. I was wondering if some of you would want to share input or advice.
I should note that I have no dire current health condition that would require the consumption of fish. The only reason I am considering this at all is because of brain research on the correlation between fish consumption and protection against alzheimers and other illnesses that cause brain decline.
From what I've read, the omega 3 acids in fish work differently from those found in flax seed. If there are vegetarian alternatives that do the same things, I would be interested."
The responses to this posting were huge. I expected to get some teasing about this from meat eaters, and I did get a little. There were the standard comments about how fish is okay but bacon is yummy. There were also comments about humans being part of the food chain, which sort of suggested that I was silly to have qualms on this issue.
But the vast majority of the comments were really thoughtful and supportive. There were vegetarians who hoped that I could find an omega 3 source that I liked, omnivores who noted that recommendations to add fish to the diet were usually aimed at those who don't eat a vegetarian diet, and links given to sustainable fishing sites should I choose to introduce fish back into my diet. Nearly everyone said that they would support whatever decision I made, many realizing that this was a HUGE moral dilemma for me.
So... What was my decision?
After thinking about things, and weighing alternatives, I elected to stay vegetarian. My reason for initially giving up fish years ago was the over fishing of the oceans. If anything, that reason is still valid today. I've always believed that it was important to live my values. And one of those is to try to live lightly on the planet I inhabit, and cause as little damage to it as possible.
Yes, I remember fish as being a yummy food. Fish is the only meat that I remember with fondness, and that I missed from my diet when it left. Yes, I acknowledge that fish is an ultra-healthy food, full of omega 3s and other useful things. But after doing research, I've read about algae supplements that might supply the right kind of omega 3 acids. The existence of a possible vegetarian source excites me, and I am willing to give it a shot.
Now, I should say that I hate supplements. I believe in having a diet of whole, real foods rather than a nutritionally vapid meal that is enriched by over priced pills, vitamins and supplements. But I'm willing to make an exception for something that is providing a nutrient I am not able to get elsewhere. We'll see if it proves helpful to my memory, and if I don't notice a difference after a few months, I can always drop it again.
So... for the moment fishes, I'm happy just to watch you swim.