There is evidence that pescetarians have better health outcomes than vegans. These studies aren’t definitive, but it’s also worth noting, that Asian diets are often high in fish, and there are some populations with very good health outcomes there, such as the blue-zone population in Okinawa, Japan. Dietary science is very much a mess, but I strongly believe that if vegans advocates aren’t clear about the dietary science, this issue could cause a LOT of blowback. If, eg, in 10 years, it’s definitively show that consumption of fish adds, say 3 years to health-span and vegans have been misleading the public about this, I predict that it will be very bad for the social acceptance of veganism.
Beyond the considerations of being misleading about the dietary science, IF some amount of fish consumption is indeed healthy, then the moral case is far from clear. Humans are animals too. Many of us find staying healthy an intrinsic good, and having our loved ones be healthy is also an intrinsic good. This would trade off against the welfare of fish.
Personally, I would be very very happy if fish consumption was show to be neutral or negative for health outcomes, both for the animal welfare considerations, as well because of the state of the oceans, and also for aesthetic reasons: fish are incredibly beautiful and majestic animals and I find it unsettling to consume them. Currently, I eat sardines from the seafoodwatch.org’s recommended list a couple of times a week—this is my main deviation from veganism. I’d be happy to return to full veganism if the evidence supported it.
Thank you for this, an important point. According to my own research, the main benefits of fish consumption to human health are omega-3-fatty-acids. These inherently stem from various algae which ultimately end up in the fish bodies through the food chain. I personally consume algae oil as an supplement for DHA and EPA and make sure to get a lot of omega 3 from flax, hemp and chia seeds.
Of course you have to do your own research on this, but please also keep in mind the potential amount of antibiotics, microplastic and heavy metals that might be found in various fish.
Hi Ruben, it’s true that omega-3s seem to be important, but the research on omega-3 supplementation consistently seems to find almost no effect or tiny effects, or sometimes even small harmful effects (examine.com’s pages are a good starting off point for this).
Again, while it’s true that seafood may have yucky contaminants in it, eating small fish close to the bottom of the food chain here seems like a situation where moral and nutrition concerns align—briesling sprats and pilchard sardines have very very tiny wee little brains, and it seem less likely to me that they suffer much. They’re also wild caught, so have at least had free lives.
The supplement industry, OTOH, also has documented problems with contamination, and many supplements are poorly absorbed—consuming an isolated compound generally doesn’t seem to be fungible with eating a whole food.