| Recently, I teamed up with
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to work on
an issue that is very close to my heart: vegetarianism. I slipped
on a sexy mermaid outfit and was photographed ‘swimming’
with beautiful, exotic fish to encourage Indians to ‘try
to relate to who is on your plate’ and to gently remind
them that ‘fish are friends, not food’.
After seeing my ad for PETA, many of my friends asked me why I
got involved with the animal rights group.
Simple. These days, there is no need to kill fish – or any
other animal – for food. There are so many delicious and
nutritious vegetarian options to choose from – in every
part of the world – that I promise, you will never miss
the meat. Best of all, when you clear your plate of animal foods,
you will walk away with a clear conscience, since vegetarian diets
are good for you and for animals.
Let us start with animals. You have probably never thought
about it before, but fish suffer horribly on the journey from
sea to supermarket.
A recent study by researchers at the Roslin Institute in Scotland
proves what animal advocates have been saying all along: Fish
can feel pain, as all animals do. Dr Lynne Sneddon, who led
the study, says her work demonstrates ‘that noxious stimulation
in [fish] has adverse behavioural and physiological effects.
This fulfils the criteria for animal pain’.
Fish who are caught for food are often impaled, thrown, crushed
and mutilated – all while still alive – then left
to die slow and painful deaths by suffocation.
Many commercial fishing boats use huge nets, some stretching
for kilometres, which swallow up everything – and everyone
– in their paths. Fish come out of the nets with their
skin scraped completely raw from being forced to rub up against
rocks, debris and other fish trapped with them. Pulled from
the ocean depths, the fish undergo excruciating decompression,
often so intense that the internal pressure pops their eyes
out or pushes their stomachs up through their mouths before
they are tossed on board, where many slowly suffocate or are
crushed to death. Others are still alive when their throats
and bellies are cut open.
And for what? So many beautiful, thinking, feeling animals –
who value their lives as we value ours – needlessly killed
because we humans are addicted to the taste of flesh. I don’t
want these wonderful animals to be killed for me.
not only does fishing hurt fish, it hurts other animals, too.
Countless birds and other animals suffer, and many die, from
injuries caused by swallowing fishing hooks or becoming entangled
in discarded lines or nets. More than 50,000 Olive Ridley turtles,
a protected species under the Indian Wildlife Act, were killed
during a recent nesting season by the rampant trawler fishing
along the coast of Orissa. We can help stop this by thinking
twice about what we put on our plates.
Even if you are not ready to go vegetarian to save animals,
how about doing it to save yourself? Did you know that fish
and shellfish can accumulate extremely high levels of toxins,
including PCBs, dioxins, mercury, lead and arsenic? These toxins
can cause human health problems ranging from kidney damage and
impaired mental development to cancer and even death.
And here is some frightening news: Research shows that mercury
levels in fish are on the rise in India. Kids who eat fish contaminated
with mercury can suffer from irreversible neurological damage.
Women who eat it may see an increase in the level of mercury
in their blood, which affects their developing babies when they
Dangerous chemicals concentrate in the tissues of fish from
interior waterways, as well as in those from the oceans. According
to an article in The Times of India, the Ganga pollution-monitoring
project run by Patna University showed that fish taken from
the river contained levels of insecticides and other toxic chemicals
far in excess of permissible levels – including 16,000
times more DDT than was present in the water. If you think fish
is a health food, think again!
flesh also contains excessive amounts of fat and cholesterol
– two things your body certainly does not need –
just like the flesh of other animals does, and eating animal
foods has been directly linked to heart disease, strokes and
cancer, three of the county’s leading killers. If you
are eating fish to boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids,
which are helpful in fighting heart disease, try what we vegetarians
eat instead: healthy flaxseed or linseed oils, as well as green,
Tasty, traditional meatless dishes – from curried chickpeas
with peas and potatoes to spicy yellow dal and cauliflower pakora
– are favourites around the world. Why not keep the animals
off your plate, fish included, while enjoying a delicious diet
free from toxins, cholesterol and animal suffering?
To learn how easy it is, visit PETAIndia.com.