What is the big problem with salmon, or any fish? It has lean protein and omega 3′s right? And ‘fish probably don’t even feel pain’! I was a fisherman for most of my youth before becoming vegan, so I’ll leave the ethical dilemma of fish alone for now after pointing out that they have nervous systems virtually identical to our own, and address the question in terms of nutrition.
I can understand the allure of eating fish for health reasons: we hear it is a superfood everywhere and I even struggled with that idea myself for a long time. In fact, fish was actually the last food I gave up before becoming 100% plant-based (I love sushi…but I just switched to veggie rolls). Does a fish fillet possess protein? Absolutely, no argument. However, a study out of Harvard recently illustrated that protein from animal sources, even after controlling other factors like dietary fat and cholesterol, still significantly increased heart disease risk in American men, whereas plant protein reduced it. And this exactly matches Dr. Campbell’s findings in The China Study regarding cancer; animal protein, even the leanest and purest sources, will promote cancer growth. And something many people fail to realize is that fish, like any other animal tissue, contains cholesterol! In fact, salmon has more cholesterol than either bacon or ground beef (90mg vs 75mg, 80mg per 100g respectively), and most people outside the Paleo diet craze will agree that bacon and ground beef are not heart healthy foods! So consuming even the cleanest and most pristine fish would still increase your risk for these deadly diseases, which are the #1 and 2 killers in the United States.
And, unfortunately, fish is far from pristine. Fish is actually the most contaminated food source you can eat, and the larger the fish (ie tuna, swordfish, etc) the more concentrated the contamination becomes. Every bit of pollution you can imagine, be it in the form of emissions, garbage, sewage, runoff, pesticides, you name it, will eventually wind up in the ocean, where it usually stays for good and becomes ever more concentrated. Sounds like just the place you want to get your food from, right? Here are a couple of videos that demonstrate just how dangerously contaminated this ‘health’ food is:
Levels of highly toxic flame-retardant chemicals and PCNs in different foods:
The effects eating fish could have on your children’s IQ:
So to sum it up fish promotes heart disease, cancer, and all the other major chronic diseases that ALL animal products promote, and it poisons you to boot! For those of you who are eco-minded, you should also keep in mind that wild fish stocks are being depleted at a rate far faster than they can repopulate, and that many major food species are estimated to go extinct within the next 50 years or less at the current rate of harvest. Being a parent really puts that into perspective for me…I grew up loving the ocean and am still an avid bodysurfer whenever I get the chance. Growing up I spent hours on the beach and in the water just watching the teeming activity of all the ocean life. Do I want to leave a world covered in barren ocean, a grim, dead landscape devoid of anything but toxic chemicals, to my son? NO! All in all, I’ll stick to Beans & Greens for my lean protein source, thanks!
If you enjoyed the videos above, I highly recommend you subscribe to Nutritionfacts.org! This is now my go-to resource for nutritional info, as Dr. Greger does a prodigious amount of research to bring you short concise videos on any nutritional topic you could dream of!