FISH — an unsustainable and unhealthy alternative to red meat

In a 6-13-2011 New York Times editorial, I thought they did a great job of explaining the sheer unsustainability of our dependance on fish as one of our primary sources of food. As they pointed out, many countries are now in the global fishing business with high quotas and modern equipment — and, as a result, we are now running out of fish.

A 2003 study by the Fisheries Center at the University of British Columbia shows the plunge in predatory fish over the last century. A map of the Atlantic in 1900, based on that data, is filled with colored splotches showing concentrations of fish. In 2000, the map is nearly empty.

Widely regarded as a health food -- particularly if you compare it to beef or pork

In the past twenty years or so, millions of people around the globe have cut back on their consumption of red meat, but have simply replaced that “protein” on their plate with fish — a food that the vast majority of the western population believes is a truly healthy food. They also truly believe that we “need” to eat plenty of animal protein in order to be healthy.

Following my speech yesterday at the Graduate Club next to Yale University — and after hearing my comments about the natural diet for our species being whole plants, a gentleman came up to me and asked, “But fish is okay, right?” I didn’t have the time to give him the complete answer, which would have been the following summary of how I feel about our love affair with fish:

  1. Fish is not a whole plant and is not part of the natural diet for our species. If we were designed to eat fish, we’d be out there swimming around with them — and the bigger ones would be eating us.
  2. Fish were not put in the ocean by the creator to serve as a food source for humans; there were millions of fish in the ocean long before there were any humans on this planet.
  3. Fish are a key part of the delicate balance of harmony and biodiversity of this planet; by wiping out the predator fish population around the world, we have disrupted nature and have no idea how much damage we have done.
  4. Farmed fishing is no better; not only is it an environmental disaster, but the entire process is grossly inefficient and unsustainable.
  5. The animal protein in fish is just as harmful to humans as the protein in pigs and cows; it promotes cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases.
  6. The only good news about fish is that it contains omega 3’s; of course we can get that from flaxseeds or walnuts without the heavy dose of cholesterol and pollutants that come along with the fish.
  7. We’re running out of fish with less than 2 billion of our 7 billion people eating them; just imagine how much worse it will be when more of us give up our “red meat” and more of the third world adopts our grossly unsustainable way of eating.
  8. In the great 2009 movie HOME, they reported that humankind has inflicted more damage on the fragile harmony of nature in just the past fifty years than all previous generations of humans in the past 200,000 years. Wiping out the predator fish of our oceans is a huge part of that damage.

J. Morris Hicks at the helm off Newport, RI. Unlike many human endeavors, sailing consumes no fossil fuels, harms no other creatures and provides recreation for humans without damaging the fragile harmony of nature.

Do yourself, your family and your planet a favor and return to the natural diet for our species just as quickly as you possibly can. Don’t want to be a vegan? Then you might want to climb aboard our 4-Leaf train and let us help you find your way to vibrant health.

The good folks at the New York Times have done us a great service by pointing out what a mess we have made with regards to the fish in the sea.

Although they haven’t yet learned about the fact that we don’t “need” to eat any animal protein whatsoever, they have clearly pointed out the unsustainability of our current way of feeding ourselves. The editorial ended as follows:

So far, the sensible remedies — including lowering quotas, limiting seasons and retiring fleets — have gone nowhere. Choosing a sustainable fish for supper isn’t enough. Both commercial fishermen and the politicians that do their bidding must recognize that global overfishing by many nations now threatens the oceans and the economies that depend on them. And the only way to deal with that threat is with strong international rules to end all unsustainable fishing.

You may want to check out one of my earlier posts on this topic:

FISH…the natural diet for humans? A “big picture” view

If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

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About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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2 Responses to FISH — an unsustainable and unhealthy alternative to red meat

  1. jmorrishicks says:

    Gareth, thank you for your comment. If you’re interested in scientific facts; I would recommend that you read The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell of Cornell. Also, you may want to read our book that is featured on this site. I am not a nutritional expert, so our book has 306 footnotes, referencing the source of all of the facts that we quoted. Thanks for the tip on omega-3s. I notice that my publisher also caught my error in our printed book. Best, J. Morris Hicks

  2. Gareth says:

    You make some pretty wild statements here – there is more than 2 billion people that eat fish, not all aquaculture is an environmental disaster and unsustainable, even the text under your photo saying that sailing consumed no fossil fuels – when you’re sitting on a boat that has a large amount of synthetic materials in its componentry, and a HUGE carbon footprint during its manufacturing process.

    I’d love to see the evidence on which you base your claim that fish promotes cancer, heart disease etc – and the same for the generalization that fish come with pollutants and cholesterol. Most fish have a lot less cholesterol than most red meat, and walnuts are higher in calories than many fish/seafood options.

    Saying that if we were meant to eat fish we’d be swimming with them is an interesting analogy – if we were designed to eat plants shouldn’t we all be standing knee-deep in a field?

    And for what it’s worth, the plural of Omega 3 is not Omega 3’s. There’s no apostrophe in a plural!

    I’ll refrain from commenting on the claim that the “natural diet” for humans is plant-based only. Since man evolved through homo-erectus and beyond (sorry , a ‘creator’ didn’t put us here, or put the fish in the ocean… we all evolved), we have eaten meat- and fish-based protein. Few if any human populations have been herbivorous.

    I’m more vocal than many about unsustainable fishing, ocean depletion and the associated problems, but if you’re going to make an argument about why people shouldn’t eat a certain thing, you’ll retain credibility by sticking to facts!

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