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Fish for thought.

Tara1978Tara1978 UK Veteran
edited July 2016 in Diet & Habits

Thoughts please -
I've found myself becoming pretty much vegetarian in my diet, but do eat fish/seafood a couple of times a week. Not wanting to start a debate on the vegetarian question ( I know there are many threads on this), but I would like views on if fish are sentient beings, feel pain and suffer during the journey from sea to plate? Are fish more sentient than say prawns? I'm very content vegetarian food, discovering a whole new range of recipes, but do still occasionally crave meat (me bad, must work on this, i am aware).

I hope this discussion doesn't upset the resident crustacean here on N B =)

Shoshin
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Comments

  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    I think they probably do. And being an occasional/social carnivore, this causes me some guilt.

    DavidTara1978
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    All we humies have are speculation and theories about whether fish etc. feel pain.
    If you spoke fish-ese, you could ask.
    :grin:

    Tara1978
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Fish for thought.

    @Tara1978

    My personal thoughts

    "If it runs on land, swims in the sea or with wings takes to the air-
    For me it's not a food source, it knows fear and so I care! "

    However this might be of some help in your quest for peace of mind when selecting a meal that does not squeal
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pain_in_fish#Controversy

    Tara1978
  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    I ate a lot of fish in S Fla when I went fishing with friends. They didn't seem real happy when I cut their heads off.

  • Tara1978Tara1978 UK Veteran

    @grackle said:
    I ate a lot of fish in S Fla when I went fishing with friends. They didn't seem real happy when I cut their heads off.

    I don't expect they were! Having read the Wiki article suggested by Shoshin, it appears that although they may not react as humans do they will alter their behaviour to avoid a repeat of a painful experience. Looks like cauliflower steaks for me then =)

    Steve_Bpossibilities
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Tara1978 said:
    I hope this discussion doesn't upset the resident crustacean here on N B =)

    Don't mind me ... I only have 100 000 neurons for a brain ...
    As well as being a symbol for Christ, fish in Buddhism are a symbol for the enlightened. Something about having no eyelids like Bodhidharma and always being wake ...

    If fish were actually enlightened sentients would you still eat them? [lobster puts up guilty claw :3]. Yum!
    If 'fish for brains' Ms MacDonald Trumple can be considered sentient and unworthy of the 'eat the rich' campaign, then I might start changing my omnivore diet ...

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau: When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    edited July 2016

    I recently heard about some vegans that eat immobile bivalves (oysters and mussels) on the grounds that there is no coherent basis for saying that they are sentient. I haven't looked into it to have an opinion but it may be something you'd like to think about.

    https://sentientist.org/2013/05/20/the-ethical-case-for-eating-oysters-and-mussels/

    lobsterTara1978
  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    I have worked in zoos as a keeper, and also in other capacities, in close association with a wide variety of animals. I have no hesitation in stating that all animals and plants are sentient beings - there is no easy out there for the serious Buddhist practitioner. Life is, almost by definition, sentient.

    What are we going to do about that? Just the best we can, no more and no less.

    lobsterShoshinTara1978RuddyDuck9
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Fosdick said:
    I have worked in zoos as a keeper, and also in other capacities, in close association with a wide variety of animals. I have no hesitation in stating that all animals and plants are sentient beings - there is no easy out there for the serious Buddhist practitioner. Life is, almost by definition, sentient.

    What are we going to do about that? Just the best we can, no more and no less.

    Really? Plants are sentient beings? Hmmmmmm......

    person
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    Fish have brains, sensory neurons, and repeatable aversion to painful stimuli.

    Plants?

    Seriously, plants?

    person
  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    @Bunks , @Steve_B

    Really? Plants are sentient beings? Hmmmmmm...... Seriously, plants?

    By the broadest definition, yes - having sensation or feeling, as opposed to being numb or dead. Plants also respond repeatably to stimuli, they just do it rather slowly.

    Definitions of sentience vary, and some appear to require consciousness, or a vertebrate nervous system, or a number of other qualities clearly applying to humans. These sometimes appear to me to be veiled attempts to attribute sentience solely to human beings. From the standpoint of deciding what is worthy of our compassion, I don't find these distinctions very useful.

    RuddyDuck9
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    There are some quarters that maintain plants respond favourably to some types of music, and unfavourably to others. What this actually means is that the sounds made by music are manifested as energy waves. Some waves affect plant growth and health positively, others, negatively.
    Some music, for no discernible reason makes us weep with joy, other music leaves us cold.
    It's therefore not too much of a stretch to consider that it's the sound-waves that also have an effect on our psyche.

    I mentioned binaural beats some time ago, used in association with hypnosis.
    And as William Congreve said,

    "Musick hath charms to soothe a savage breast,
    To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.

    lobsterpersonRuddyDuck9
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    'Cut me do I not bleed sap' as a willow once said to me ...
    http://opcoa.st/0nxh7

    Sometimes it is the degree of exploitation, sentience and block headed insistence of taste, convention and choice ...

    In an ideal world I would live off moon beams and feel guilty over stealing the suns rays ... but that is a god realm problem. Not sure if gods are sentient at all. I do know angels taste of chicken and devils of barbecued chicken with fish sauce ... [lobster goes to naughty corner with the god eaters] :3

    ... and now back to the Buddha Menu ...

    Tara1978person
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    @lobster said:
    'Cut me do I not bleed sap' as a willow once said to me ...

    "Bite me" the broccoli said to me (sentiently).

    Shoshinsilverdhammachick
  • Tara1978Tara1978 UK Veteran
    edited July 2016

    @lobster said:

    In an ideal world I would live off moon beams and feel guilty over stealing the suns rays ... but that is a god realm problem. Not sure if gods are sentient at all. I do know angels taste of chicken and devils of barbecued chicken with fish sauce ... [lobster goes to naughty corner with the god eaters] :3

    ... and now back to the Buddha Menu ...

    Lobster very bad! But the smell bbq chicken would test me to the limit I fear!! BBQ lobster with garlic butter...........

    Thank you all for your insight and wisdom.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @Tara1978 said:
    Thoughts please -
    but I would like views on if fish are sentient beings, feel pain and suffer during the journey from sea to plate?

    Yes to all of the above.

    The science on fish sentience is extensive, and it all points in one direction: Fish are individuals who are similar — emotionally, cognitively, and behaviorally — to land animals. While they don’t scream out in pain, they do feel pain. And, while most of us don’t get to know them because they spend all their time in the water, those who do know them respect them as individuals. Writing in New Scientist, Professor Culum Brown explains: “In many areas, such as memory, their cognitive powers match or exceed those of ‘higher’ vertebrates, including non-human primates. Best of all, given the central place memory plays in intelligence and social structures, fish not only recognize individuals but can also keep track of complex social relationships.”¹

    Brown explains that fish “feel pain in ‘exactly the same way we do.’” When they’re pulled out of the water, they experience stress such that their stress hormones are “exactly the same as a person drowning,” except that the fish experience this agony for 20 to 30 minutes.

    http://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/the-someone-project/fish/

    SpinyNormanpersonlobsterTara1978
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    I used to love oysters. I lived in France and well, you know,... I mean, oysters are typically French.
    I stopped because I realised that I had 12, individually-killed-just-for-me creatures on a dish.

    Ain't no Buddhist got any time for that!

    RuddyDuck9
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @seeker242 said:

    @Tara1978 said:
    Thoughts please -
    but I would like views on if fish are sentient beings, feel pain and suffer during the journey from sea to plate?

    Yes to all of the above.

    The science on fish sentience is extensive, and it all points in one direction: Fish are individuals who are similar — emotionally, cognitively, and behaviorally — to land animals. While they don’t scream out in pain, they do feel pain. And, while most of us don’t get to know them because they spend all their time in the water, those who do know them respect them as individuals. Writing in New Scientist, Professor Culum Brown explains: “In many areas, such as memory, their cognitive powers match or exceed those of ‘higher’ vertebrates, including non-human primates. Best of all, given the central place memory plays in intelligence and social structures, fish not only recognize individuals but can also keep track of complex social relationships.”¹

    Brown explains that fish “feel pain in ‘exactly the same way we do.’” When they’re pulled out of the water, they experience stress such that their stress hormones are “exactly the same as a person drowning,” except that the fish experience this agony for 20 to 30 minutes.

    http://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/the-someone-project/fish/

    I have always seen "sport" fishing as a particularly cruel pastime.

    seeker242Bunks
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    I have seen and heard that fishing is 'justified' as a hunting/game sport, because the fish do have a good chance of escaping capture, and the odds are more in their favour.
    But I don't think that justifies anything.

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited July 2016

    Are they sentient beings? For a machine to be sentient in the general meaning of the term, it would have to be self-aware. No, I don't think fish are self-aware. I don't think evolution has graced them with emotions. Neurobiologists say fish do not have the neurons that process pain the way we do, although they certainly do have many senses including some we don't.

    I think the problem is that the yardstick we're using - sentience - is outdated. Sentience means the ability to feel emotions, not intelligence. The people back then had no concept of neurons or parts of the brain that evolved for emotions or that intelligence is a sliding scale.

    When Buddha laid down his Precepts, he didn't just say "don't kill anything" but "avoid killing sentient beings" so he must have thought there were non-sentient beings. But no list of animals was preserved in the Sutras, and you know hands must have shot up with "What about fishes?" "What about spiders. I kill a lot of spiders!" type questions he had to answer.

    So to be on the safe side, many Buddhists don't kill anything.

    Shoshin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @Cinorjer said:
    Are they sentient beings? For a machine to be sentient in the general meaning of the term, it would have to be self-aware. No, I don't think fish are self-aware. I don't think evolution has graced them with emotions. Neurobiologists say fish do not have the neurons that process pain the way we do, although they certainly do have many senses including some we don't.

    I think the problem is that the yardstick we're using - sentience - is outdated. Sentience means the ability to feel emotions, not intelligence. The people back then had no concept of neurons or parts of the brain that evolved for emotions or that intelligence is a sliding scale.

    When Buddha laid down his Precepts, he didn't just say "don't kill anything" but "avoid killing sentient beings" so he must have thought there were non-sentient beings. But no list of animals was preserved in the Sutras, and you know hands must have shot up with "What about fishes?" "What about spiders. I kill a lot of spiders!" type questions he had to answer.

    So to be on the safe side, many Buddhists don't kill anything.

    I think 'the safe side' is a more skilful place to be than ' Sentience means the ability to feel emotions, not intelligence', in my opinion.

    They feel a form of distress. Whatever we use to quantify that pain or distress, to me, is immaterial. They feel it.
    And humand wilfully inflict it.
    That, to me, is unacceptable.
    Simply because we cannot compare it to our own levels of pain and distress doesn't devaluat them as creatures, and does not abdicate us from Acting responsibly.

    CinorjerSteve_BTara1978
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I came across a reference the other day that Buddha once instructed his monks that if the animal had been killed especially for them, the meat should not be accepted. If on the other hand it had been killed for other reasons, then it was ok to eat meat. It seems good guidance.

    Where does that leave us with the modern food chain? Although the animal has not been slaughtered specifically for you (in most cases), you are helping to perpetuate the industry by buying meat.

    So I choose to do a little middle-way'ing, and eat meat very rarely. Generally when I'm out at restaurants or at a friend's barbecue and it is hard to avoid. I do eat more fish and eggs currently, it's an issue I am not totally resolved on yet.

    Bunks
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @federica said:> I have seen and heard that fishing is 'justified' as a hunting/game sport, because the fish do have a good chance of escaping capture, and the odds are more in their favour.
    But I don't think that justifies anything.

    I agree. And how would a fisherman feel if somebody put a huge hook through their cheek and then dragged them along underwater till they nearly drowned?

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited July 2016

    @SpinyNorman said:

    @federica said:> I have seen and heard that fishing is 'justified' as a hunting/game sport, because the fish do have a good chance of escaping capture, and the odds are more in their favour.
    But I don't think that justifies anything.

    I agree. And how would a fisherman feel if somebody put a huge hook through their cheek and then dragged them along underwater till they nearly drowned?

    I know the empathy is there, but the problem with that argument is, the fish aren't humans and we're not fish. We experience the world in different ways. If the question is, are fish sentient, that's a different question from should we go fishing for fun. I don't fish anymore because I don't like to eat fish. However, I see no difference from fishing for sport and sticking them on the grill, or buying fish sticks in the grocery. Given that huge fishing trawlers are raping our remaining fish stock with huge nets to fill our freezer sections, catching and eating a couple of fish locally might be the lesser of two evils.

    I also don't kill bugs if I have an option, but that's because I just don't want to kill anything if I can avoid it anymore. I definitely kill the hell out of fleas, since I have 3 dogs in the house. So I guess you could say I obey the precept but the sentient part is irrelevant to me. I avoid killing, period. But I'm not religious about it. If that makes sense.

    silverTara1978dhammachick
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited July 2016

    @Cinorjer said: ...I know the empathy is there, but the problem with that argument is, the fish aren't humans and we're not fish. We experience the world in different ways. If the question is, are fish sentient, that's a different question from should we go fishing for fun.

    I addressed these points in my previous response to you...

    I don't fish anymore because I don't like to eat fish. However, I see no difference from fishing for sport and sticking them on the grill, or buying fish sticks in the grocery. Given that huge fishing trawlers are raping our remaining fish stock with huge nets to fill our freezer sections, catching and eating a couple of fish locally might be the lesser of two evils.

    That's like saying Mass genocide is a hideous, inhuman and abhorrent crime, but murdering a couple of people is perfectly acceptable.

    I also don't kill bugs if I have an option, but that's because I just don't want to kill anything if I can avoid it anymore. I definitely kill the hell out of fleas, since I have 3 dogs in the house.

    There's a difference between killing an insect that actually causes harm, pain and the spread of several diseases, and killing creatures that are free and doing no harm to anyone...

    So I guess you could say I obey the precept but the sentient part is irrelevant to me. I avoid killing, period. But I'm not religious about it. If that makes sense.

    So you're selective about which bits do, and the bits that don't match your lifestyle...?
    That's not a prod in the chest, actually. That's clarification.

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    Then there is Larry the Lobster who will be enjoying his remaining years in a Maine aquarium. No longer dreading the cooking pot. The article didn't state if he was known by our@lobster.

    Cinorjerdhammachick
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    ^^ Good points. I can't argue with them, really....^^

    (* conscience * ;) )

    I'm afraid I'd make a pretty poor monk.

    Yeah, me too (gender aside)...

    Cinorjerdhammachick
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Hmm....sorry for the digression but, I just wondered how is it monks are called monks?
    And yet are famous for 'losing' their monk-ey minds? Yes, it's a bit silly. :3

    Cinorjer
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited July 2016

    And now for a humorous interlude which cleverly links "monk" and "fish".

    Shoshin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @silver said:
    Hmm....sorry for the digression but, I just wondered how is it monks are called monks?
    And yet are famous for 'losing' their monk-ey minds? Yes, it's a bit silly. :3

    It comes from the Greek word, 'monakhos' meaning 'solitary' or 'alone'.

    They often talked to their invisible friends, but as they were figments of their imagination, they were called monakhos myalo... or monkey mind, in English.

    Believe that, and you can come and watch me braid gravy, too....

    silverRuddyDuck9
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    It's safe to say that sentient being means different things to different people ...So when it comes to what is a sentient being??? I guess it's a case of... do what one feels is the 'right' thing to do...
    "One Sentient Being's "meat" is (could be) another Sentient Beings mother father brother sister etc etc"

    Tara1978FosdickCinorjer
  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    Love and do what you will, as Augustine would have it. I don't agree with Augustine on many things, but this line seems apt.

    ShoshinCinorjerTara1978Vastmind
  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    Well I must be suffering from lobstermania. That is what Dr Fish came up with. Right there on the net. Several entries for the Lobster Liberation Front. What a hoot.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @grackle said:> Well I must be suffering from lobstermania. That is what Dr Fish came up with. Right there on the net. Several entries for the Lobster Liberation Front. What a hoot.

    I'm glad you didn't get a load of prawn. :p

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    A load of anything is more than required. I'm always happy to share.

  • SwaroopSwaroop India Veteran

    I looked up sentinent and it means able to feel. Even single cell animals and plants are able to feel and react to stimuli. So a strict interpretation of the precept would rule out pretty much all food.

  • RuddyDuck9RuddyDuck9 MD, USA Veteran

    Well, I guess the only thing to do is go Breatharian.

    seeker242Tara1978Swaroop
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    Swarovski, I don't think reacting to a stimulus constitutes feeling. Elevators respond to me pushing the buttons, but they are quite unfeeling. And Republicans respond to stimulus but also are unfeeling. OK to eat them?

    SwaroopRuddyDuck9
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @Steve_B said:
    Swarovski, I don't think reacting to a stimulus constitutes feeling. Elevators respond to me pushing the buttons, but they are quite unfeeling. And Republicans respond to stimulus but also are unfeeling. OK to eat them?

    (Who's 'swarovski'....? O.o )

    RuddyDuck9
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    Sorry. Bizarre autocorrect. Swaroop.
    Just did it again! Had to fix it manually. Also, 'bizarre' autocorrects to 'buzz are.'

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    Buzzare!

    RuddyDuck9
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Usually happens when you are using a foreign language keyboard setting with its own autocorrect settings.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    We don' have no foreigners here.... hees all Heenglish. :p

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Well... I iz a continental 'ropean, so technically a wee bit foreign to uk and USA folks... Speakin' teh lingo as a languagmo segundo... o:)

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    "Plants are just that, rooted in the ground nowhere else to go
    and when rip some are plucked and eaten which is their natural flow

    Some seeds might pass on through the body, and out amongst the crap
    back into the ground to begin again ...Oh what an ingenious honeytrap ! "

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @federica said:> We don' have no foreigners here.... hees all Heenglish. :p

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