It’s customary for Catholics not to eat meat on Good Friday. For many kind and merciful people, this includes avoiding fish, too. Some theologians even suspect that Jesus may not have actually eaten fish and that the word is simply a mistranslation. (If you want to learn more about this issue, please see Jesus People for Animals or read the article “Didn’t Jesus Eat Fish?” by Andy Alexis-Baker in A Faith Embracing All Creatures.)
While we may never know for sure whether or not Jesus ate fish, we do know for certain that fish are made of flesh, bone and blood – just like cows, pigs, chickens and other animals are. They are sentient beings and included in God’s teachings about compassion, peace and love. Like all of God’s creatures, fish have the capacity for connection and tenderness. They reportedly enjoy contact with other fish and gently rub against one another, much as a cat might weave in and out of your legs.
If we believe that kindness is a virtue, as most of us say we do, then we shouldn’t wilfully engage in unkind actions, including fishing. The commercial fishing industry slaughters billions of fish each year, and sport fishing and angling kill millions more annually. Fish are impaled, crushed, suffocated or cut open and gutted, all while they’re still conscious.
Fish on aquafarms spend their entire lives in crowded, filthy enclosures, and many suffer from parasitic infections, diseases and debilitating injuries. Conditions on some farms are so horrendous that many fish may die before farmers can kill and package them for food. Those who survive are commonly starved before they are sent to slaughter in order to reduce waste contamination of the water during transport.
How can anyone allow this in good faith? If we profess to believe in peace and mercy, then we shouldn’t support practices that involve violence and bloodshed, especially when we can all live quite happily and healthfully on plant-based foods, as God originally intended.
This Good Friday, please choose to eat vegan foods, such as Gardein Golden Fishless Filets, which can be found at most IGA supermarkets and other stores. They taste great and are good for us, too. They are cholesterol-free and have none of the mercury or other toxins so often found in fish flesh. And each moist and flaky fish-free serving has only 180 calories and contains 9 grams of protein and 32 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.
Of course, if you prefer, you can always enjoy one of the light and tasty recipes from PETA’s vegetarian/vegan starter kit. We can all choose what to eat on Good Friday and every other day of the year, but what will it say about us if we choose to be cruel when we have the choice to be kind? Please go vegan for Good Friday.