Fish Aren’t Animals: A Seemingly Common Misperception

By Published On: 17 January 2013Last Updated: 15 February 2017

Insects, amphibians, fish, and birds do not have similar qualities – facial expressions, for instance – that make it easy for us to conclude that they are “like us.”

What's in this post

By Daria Zeoli, Guest Contributor

A friend of mine recently had a discussion with several people who did not believe fish was meat. Some of their reasoning came from the fact that according to Catholic doctrine, they are allowed to eat fish on days where meat is prohibited.

Two weeks after this discussion was related to me, I had my own fishy experience at work. Paul McCartney’s Meatless Monday campaign came up and a co-worker asked me if one could eat fish on meatless days. When I said no, that fish is meat, an animal, I was met with a “No they’re not!” Why? My co-worker raised her hands to the sides of her head, flapping them back and forth like gills. “They just go ‘glub glub glub.’” I explained that fish actually are social and feel pain, and was met with a skeptical look. The existence of a nervous system was also met with less than enthusiasm.

I did not roll my eyes (I’ve discussed why in a previous post), but unfortunately, this is not an uncommon opinion. Earlier this week I read the following comment on a gossip blog discussing Anne Hathaway and her vegan shoes for Les Mis: “I don’t eat meat but I do eat fish and chicken.”So how do we break this misunderstanding? Biologist Jonathan Balcombe currently has a survey on his website, “What do you think of fishes?” that will help with research he’s currently doing for a book on “fish biology and behavior, human attitudes toward fishes, and the diverse and evolving relationships humans have with fishes.” This is obviously a topic that needs discussing!

It seems to be human nature not to be able to relate to things that are different from us. It’s easier for us to see a mammal as “like us” because, we are, after all, mammals. Insects, amphibians, fish, and birds do not have similar qualities – facial expressions, for instance – that make it easy for us to conclude that they are “like us.”

Is this why it’s so easy for people to go fishing and not even think of the pain associated with a fish having a hook through its mouth? Is this why we don’t think twice about burying our pet goldfish “at sea” in the toilet bowl at the end of its life? Is this why the depletion of our oceans isn’t seen for the very real crisis it is by much of the population?

The miscategorization of fish as “not animals” by human animals is just one example of the great disconnect that occurs when it comes to relating to other living beings on this planet.

What has your experience been with fish? How do you think we can go about changing the perception that they aren’t animals?

Photo:  Dive Site – Seychelles


  1. Ben September 5, 2021 at 1:25 am - Reply

    I agree with you, that fish are animals. They have as much right to life and liberty as you or I. Myself, I don’t draw any lines, at plants, or fungi. All life is sacred. When I eat things, I try and make sure they had a life, and were respected. I avoid corporate food, whether it be a lettuce from California that is draining the Oglala aquifer for corporate profit, or a pork chop carved off some poor caged animal. Things from local farms, that respect our ecosystem, are consumed with gratitude, whatever class scientists would put them in. Broccoli smile too, if you look carefully. Or at least I think so. But I find your intentionality to be lovely, whether you and I share every detail or not.

  2. Ben September 5, 2021 at 1:09 am - Reply

    Actually, fish are friends, not food. If you don’t believe me, ask Bruce.

  3. Essere May 3, 2018 at 9:30 am - Reply

    I don’t consider small fish meat because they digest like vegetables.

    Why are fish considered meat?

    • Edward November 12, 2018 at 6:16 pm - Reply

      Fish eat other fish. Humans evolved from fish. That is all that really needs to be said here.

    • Nicholas November 5, 2019 at 10:28 am - Reply

      so does every other food that we eat

  4. Garren May 30, 2017 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    Who the fuck wrote this lol of course fish are animals lol

    • phil blowfish July 7, 2017 at 9:28 am - Reply


    • Cynthia July 11, 2017 at 2:49 pm - Reply

      Then you must have run into NONE of the perhaps 80 or more people I’ve met in the last 5 years who when told “I’m a vegetarian” respond, “oh, cool, but you still eat fish right?” It’s a very bizarre mentality, which seems to be shared by most meat eaters. Which is what led me to search today “why do people think fish aren’t food” and subsequently to this article.

    • gregg mushroom July 28, 2017 at 1:26 pm - Reply

      i thought animals are warm blooded. fish are fish cold blooded

      • Joce Wills November 25, 2017 at 1:07 am - Reply

        I see where you are coming from but at the same time that would make reptilians not animals

      • Erik Von Handorf March 29, 2019 at 5:33 pm - Reply

        An animal class is made up of animals that are all alike in important ways. … The five most well known classes of vertebrates (animals with backbones) are mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians. They are all part of the phylum chordata — I remember “chordata” by thinking of spinal chord.
        Species: buccinator
        Family: Anatidae
        Genus: Cygnus

  5. Erik March 15, 2017 at 8:30 am - Reply

    People just want to believe their own lies. I don’t think they actually believe that fish are not “meat”, but they can feel good about not eating “meat” for a day or adhering to whatever bullsh*t religious rhetoric they are caught up in. I blame religion for this – any logical person realizes fish are animals. Same as the [insane] rule about “split hoofed” animals vs “single hoof”. People are aghast at the thought of eating a horse, but its the exact same as a cow!!

    • Aaron February 13, 2020 at 2:43 pm - Reply

      Can horses chew their cud like cattle? The horse’s (non-ruminant herbivore) gastrointestinal tract differs from that of cattle (ruminant). The horse’s soft palate closes after it swallows food, trapping the food in the larynx. … Therefore, horses cannot regurgitate their food and chew it again like cattle can….God forbids Moses and his followers to eat swine “because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud.” Furthermore, the prohibition goes, “Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch; they are unclean to you.”… Whoever picks up one of their carcasses must wash his clothes, and he will be unclean till evening. “`Every animal that has a split hoof not completely divided or that does not chew the cud is unclean for you; whoever touches [the carcass of] any of them will be unclean… ask yerself is a horse hoof the same as a cow, cows an horses are not the same. an it also says all meat is clean. mark 7.

      • Bryan McGregor December 7, 2020 at 1:38 am - Reply

        Lololol.. a biblical verse to counter modern knowledge? I have nothing against religion but If you use it to ignore science in this day you aren’t using your religion right.. for the days it was written it was to help you for the technology of its days, not to tell you tiny devils live in anything that may carry diseases if you can’t keep it well without the witchcraft of refrigeration or preservatives…

  6. Anthony Malena July 10, 2016 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Someone better go fix that horribly written Wikipedia entry then! And I quote…

    A fish is any member of a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic craniate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups.

    • Elana July 18, 2017 at 12:37 pm - Reply

      And you think Wikipedia is a reliable source? The open platform where ANYONE can right ANYTHING about ANY subject. My dude…

      • Mike February 3, 2019 at 3:44 am - Reply

        I was having a bit of trouble with the use of the term fish. Fishes properly used refers to multiple species of fish whereas the term fish as a plural noun should only be used to refer to two or more fish of a single species of fish.

      • Ben September 5, 2021 at 1:16 am - Reply

        I am a Wikipedia editor with over 60,000 edits. Your opinions about Wikipedia are uninformed. Everything in Wikipedia is cited from sources, which you can look up. Many articles are locked for the general public, generally contentious ones like Donald Trump’s, and you can’t say “anything”, without it being quickly reverted, if it doesn’t belong. Some sketchy material gets in for a while, although you can spot it easily, but basic science like “fish are animals”, is highly reliable on Wikipedia.

  7. elayna June 7, 2016 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Fish have hearts. Beating hearts. That pump blood.

    • Aaron February 13, 2020 at 2:46 pm - Reply

      you know what else has a heart a spider.. you care if i kill a spider?

      • Paul April 20, 2022 at 7:45 am - Reply

        Well yes, there are enough people out there who would detest unnecessary killing of spiders when you could also catch them and bring them outside of your house/flat instead. Why? Because they are animals, too and have a nervous system and therefore the ability to feel pain. Just because lots of people are irrationally afraid of non-poisonous spiders or find spiders in general ugly, doesn’t give one the right to kill that animal. The reason why less people would care if you killed a spider than they would if you killed a vertebrate is described in the article. They are less similar to us. But this distinction is purely emotional and unreasonable.

      • Apalled March 25, 2023 at 10:53 pm - Reply

        I don’t know what kind of website this is, but I was searching for why hypocritical Christians don’t eat “meat” but eat fish, and saw this article.
        Scientifically, fish are animals, just like rabbits and snakes and lizards and sheep and chicken. No ifs ands or buts. No further discussion about it.

        No idea why any idiot will think otherwise. It is not about what you think (that small fish are not animals, they digest like vegetables, or that they are cold blooded and are not animals), it is about facts. Spiders are also animals. They are not insects, but they are animals. The animal kingdom is one of the largest and major taxonomy categories which is then divided further, of which spiders are one type (arachnids), insects are another and it also includes fish.

        And while I’m here… Not everything that swims is a fish. Whales are not fish.

        People here in the comments seemed not have learnt anything despite the article.

        I repeat one more time: fish are animals.

  8. I__AM__GOD April 15, 2016 at 7:34 am - Reply

    I guess the author flunked High School science. They belong to the kingdom- Animal. The five kingdoms are Animals, Plants, Fungi, Protoctists, Bacteria (Prokaryotes).

    • Carlos February 14, 2017 at 8:23 pm - Reply

      You must not have read the article carefully. The author clearly states that fish are animals. The article states that there is a misperception that fish are not animals not a misperception that fish are animals. A few commenters here have made the same mistake.

    • Paul December 13, 2017 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      You probably flunked elementary school reading comprehension.

  9. Aaron Schmitz March 9, 2016 at 8:49 am - Reply

    Wrong. Fish ARE animals.

    • Mumblefluff February 6, 2018 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      That’s what she said, can you even read?

  10. Robin December 28, 2015 at 7:59 am - Reply

    The origin of fish not being meat actually had nothing to do with it being an animal, though that’s all the more reason for Meatless Mondays, which is about not eating animals, to include fish. Originally, during lent the idea was that people should not indulge. Meat like cow and pork were very expensive, and eating such foods at the time was considered an indulgence. Fish was very cheap, so was generally considered a different thing to other meats. For similar reasons, one starving village, when they queried the pope on whether rodents could also count as fish, were told yes. Obviously a rodent is not a fish, but equally obvious is the fact that if you’re eating rats, you probably aren’t indulging. Of course, since Meatless Mondays is not about indulging in luxuries and is about the suffering of animals, then there’s no reason to make a distinction of sea vs. land animal.

    Then, of course, before that was also the fact that in judaism you could eat fish and dairy, which again had nothing to do with the suffering of the animal.

  11. David Goldmeier September 6, 2015 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    I am not sure if anyone has already explained this, but I’m pretty sure that this whole misunderstanding relates to Judaism. This is one of the VERY FEW things you can correctly blame Judaism for! First, obviously fish are animals, and cannot be consumed by anyone who is strictly vegan or vegetarian. However, in Judaism, fish are treated differently than any other animal. Because the Bible says you should not “boil a calf in it’s mother’s milk,” [in fact, it says it twice!], the rabbis quickly ordained that dairy items should not be consumed along with beef products. Later, they expanded this to include poultry products (maybe that explains Anne Hathaway’s comment?). However, the rabbis never added fish to the list of things that cannot be eaten with dairy products. So, there are “meat” dishes (beef, chicken, etc), “dairy” dishes (cheese, milk, etc), and “parve” foods that can be eaten with meat or dairy dishes. That list includes fruits, vegetables, herbs, and FISH. So, to a Jew, fish is NOT meat, though it is an animal. As for Catholics, do not forget that a number of early Christians were originally Jewish. Easter is the original Christian holiday and central to the religion. So, in some ways Easter is tied in with Passover, the Jewish holiday. In fact, initially, some early Catholics observed Easter the day prior to Passover, believing Jesus was the “Paschal lamb” sacrificed to God for mankind’s redemption. I am pretty sure this explains why Catholics can eat fish on the Fridays leading up to Easter, but not things that meet the Jewish definition of “meat.” I hope this is helpful!

    • Lisa January 31, 2017 at 1:07 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your information written well.

  12. Tom Churcher August 1, 2015 at 11:29 am - Reply

    I am currently in hospital for kidney stones (nothing to do with being vegetarian I checked). On the menu when you order your food there is a fish pie option with about 3 types of fish in it and a big V for veggie next to it. This is a hospital – the National Health Service. Now they do a fantastic job, the staff and service are invaluable. But it seems anything other than humam biology is not their forté. Interesting point I thought I’d share.

    • Daria Zeoli August 1, 2015 at 3:29 pm - Reply

      I’m glad to hear that your hospital staff is fantastic, even if their menu is lacking accuracy. This misconception runs very deep, huh?

      I hope you’re feeling better soon, Tom!

  13. allanfry May 25, 2015 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    Fish are indeed animals and I laugh at Vegans who say they eat fish and chicken, I see them as idiots, plane and simple.

    • Uggbootdiva November 1, 2015 at 6:48 pm - Reply

      Possibly not as idiots, perhaps uniformed. Do you laugh at a mouse’s stupidity to go for cheese and get caught in a trap? Perhaps I am being harsh and it’s just an expression?

    • John April 19, 2016 at 8:33 am - Reply

      I don’t think that’s how you spell plain.

      • Lisa January 31, 2017 at 1:09 pm - Reply

        No need to correct ones misuse of word.

        • Carlos February 14, 2017 at 8:33 pm - Reply

          If you don’t, perhaps they’ll continue to misuse it. If it was an oversight, no offense was expressed.

  14. […] Fish are animals, folks. They are living beings with their own interests. They don’t grow to 90 lbs to be cut up and served at the local Whole Foods, to be tweeted about like a thing, to be confused with plants. […]

  15. whatheheck March 3, 2014 at 11:13 am - Reply

    ” gregg January 31, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Any creature that has animal cells is an animal. Daria are you aware that it is impossible to be a true vegan. Because without vitamin B12 you eventually die. And the only source of this vitamin is from a living organism, an animal (not plant). So saying your a vegan is like saying i’m catholic but don’t believe in Jesus.
    Hope this doesn’t offend i’m just saying what is fact! Not opinion.”

    ARE YOU STUPID? I’m vegan and I get my B12 from other stuff like different sorts of veggies…. are you actually serious to think you can only get B12 from animals?? I don’t eat animals and guess what, 20 years later I’m still alive and well… :/// what the hell is wrong with you people… do your research for fk sake.. B12 is found in numerous different foods! stop being so goddamned brainwashed!

    • ChipsAhoyMcCoy August 4, 2014 at 3:57 pm - Reply

      Even if B12 wasn’t found in foods other than animal products, ethical (not dietetic) veganism and vegetarianism are about reducing pain. The only difference between the two is the extent to which one is willing to reduce the pain and suffering in our fellow animals. So many people confuse reduction with elimination.

    • LiliaWodna December 22, 2014 at 5:34 pm - Reply

      Lies. B12 is naturally produced in our intestines and mouth. Are you
      aware that 15% of Americans have B12 deficiencies, while only 1% of the
      American population are vegan. Do the math on this one, it has nothing
      to do with veganism, but with the absorption of our intestines… and
      just so you know, there are millions of vegans all over the world, they
      don’t eat animals diary or eggs, and yet they are ALIVE and WELL. My B12
      levels have been perfect for years! Stop spreading lies and get an

      • Carlos February 14, 2017 at 9:54 pm - Reply

        B12 is produced by bacteria residing mostly in the large intestine. Absorption of B12 doesn’t occur in the large intestine. B12 along with bile and secretions can make it’s way into the small intestine in small amounts and be reabsorbed there but it doesn’t appear that this on it’s own would be enough to maintain B12 stores. It appears the amount of soil cobalt is the key to B12 absorption.

    • Lady Dre November 28, 2016 at 2:33 pm - Reply

      a quick google reveals no unfortified vegan sources of B12 other than yeast extract and you’d need to eat a lot of marmmite…..

  16. Chris February 7, 2014 at 5:30 am - Reply

    I think you should read this article. It might help you understand what you’re talking about a little better.

    • Daria Zeoli February 7, 2014 at 5:57 am - Reply

      I’ve read that article, and I’ve also read about conflicting studies that fish do feel pain. I’m going to err on the side of caution, but really, I don’t feel that pain receptors are the be-all and end-all of the debate on whether we should exploit/kill animals or not. They’re talking about creating farmed animals who don’t feel pain, but that doesn’t make me any less likely to eat one.

      • Jim T August 1, 2014 at 3:30 pm - Reply

        So…if pain receptors at not the end all be all, what makes you think plants don’t feel? Maybe we should stop eating them as well.

        • Daria Zeoli August 2, 2014 at 5:49 am - Reply

          What I said was that pain receptors are not the be-all and end-all of the debate on whether we should exploit/kill ANIMALS or not. Are you really asking if we should stop eating plants? Is it a serious question requesting a serious answer, or is it stump the vegan time?

          Just asking before I invest the time in a genuine response :)

          • Jim T August 13, 2014 at 11:34 am - Reply

            I’m serious. Stop eating plants. I think they feel pain and so they do.

            • ChipsAhoyMcCoy August 13, 2014 at 8:06 pm - Reply

              If you’re not willing to have a serious debate about the topic, why are you even participating in one?

              • Jim T August 13, 2014 at 9:04 pm - Reply

                Why so serious? Seriously lighten up. Maybe eating a burger or bacon will help.

                • Your Daily Vegan August 14, 2014 at 10:36 am - Reply

                  Jim T. – While we encourage discussions that show both sides of the issue being discussed, we do not permit nonsensical comments such as “Maybe eating a burger or bacon will help” as it adds no value to the conversation. Please be aware, we do moderate our comments and will not permit this type of dialogue. Any further comments of this nature will be blocked.

                  • Jim T August 14, 2014 at 10:57 am - Reply

                    Feel free to moderate or block all comments as nonsensical as mine. Did you read where I was called a troll? There were how many comments before mine? How many views of the article? Yet I come to try and lighten things up on a topic that isn’t at all serious and get called a troll but you tell me you don’t like my dialog! I was having a lively debate and trying to keep it lite. I guess just like everyone in the world if you don’t agree it’s wrong and you can’t think another way. Nice thanks for turning another person completely off to all thing vegan.

                    • Your Daily Vegan August 14, 2014 at 11:20 am

                      Jim T – With respect, veganism is about life and death- it is a very serious topic of conversation. I admit, I did miss the troll comment, however that doesn’t at all negate your nonsensical comment about eating bacon. Those types of comments are not helpful to the conversation and serve no purpose other than to antagonize vegans. I accept that the world is filled with people who disagree with my position on this topic- but just because they do doesn’t mean that I’m the one with the wrong frame of mind. So, if you are turned off of veganism because I won’t permit antagonizing comments, well then you probably weren’t serious about veganism in the first place. And in that case, it’s not me- it’s you.

                    • Jim T August 14, 2014 at 12:02 pm

                      “It’s not me- it’s you.” Really? You don’t know me but let me tell you I like to have humor with everything I do. Read my first comment about nerve cells. That was serious. I don’t care that the article contradicts itself. Pointing it out was all wrong. I get it. So If I don’t agree with you and don’t talk like you then I’m wrong. Got it. I’m done.

                    • LiliaWodna December 22, 2014 at 5:42 pm

                      If you see something wrong in the world, it’s not only your right, but your responsibility to act and try to stop it from happening. You can’t tell vegans to mind their own business and expect them to close their eyes and look the other way when living beings are suffering because of a choice YOU made. If you saw people on the street catching dogs and breaking their legs you have the right to act and stop it… wherever there is pain inflicted onto another, there will always be people who will try and stop it. Don’t expect anything other. It will always be your choice with what you do or eat, but it’s not your right to take lives of others and say it’s your business, that’s like saying you rape women occasionally and no one should care.. and just for the record, plants have no nervous system, they cannot feel pain. But if I were to follow your logic, it would mean whenever you cut some bushes in your yard you give them anesthetics… seriously, just stop.

              • Jim T August 13, 2014 at 9:25 pm - Reply

                But out of curiosity, it’s not okay to eat animals but their by products are okay? I’m talking leather, oil, rubber, milk, eggs, vaccines, etc. Just Google all the items we get from cows alone and you’d realize being completely vegan is impossible.

                • ChipsAhoyMcCoy August 13, 2014 at 9:34 pm - Reply

                  So that’s reason to not reduce the pain and suffering we inflict on them?

                  • Jim T August 13, 2014 at 10:11 pm - Reply

                    That’s not what I asked. Can’t answer or afraid to?

                    • ChipsAhoyMcCoy August 14, 2014 at 1:17 am

                      The answer is implicit.

                    • Jim T August 14, 2014 at 7:53 am

                      What answer? You haven’t answered at all. You say I’ve gone on my moral high horse but I just asked a question which you never answered. You could have answered with some real information and possibly converted a meat eater to vegan but instead you want to avoid real questions and call people names. In the future just answer the questions as honestly as you can. Otherwise you come across as disingenuous and a bit dishonest. There really was no reason for you to get all twisted. None of this is that serious. Have you seen the news? Many more important things going than worrying about whether plants feel pain or who eats what. Do what you want but don’t be surprised when others don’t automatically follow your belief system without question. You have a lot to do with presentation and you need to work on that.

          • Carlos February 14, 2017 at 9:13 pm - Reply

            While I agree with you regarding pain receptors, I believe all animals are food to another animal. This is a fact of nature that cannot be disputed. If nature intended it to be that way, therefore it is a harmonious fact of life. Why couldn’t all animals in nature have been plant eaters? Dead animals would still decompose and be consumed by bacteria. Plants, as today, would have defenses such as poisons and would develop a quicker growth cycle. Yet nature produced fruit on trees that animals could actually eat and produced predators to feed on other animals, Look at our teeth, they are not the teeth of herbivores and neither are our stomachs. Some argue the cruelty of killing animals, but nothing is more cruel than nature herself. Zebra literally aborting fetuses in order to escape being mauled by lions. Animals drinking at a watering hole only to have half their rear quarters bitten off by a crocodile and left to die nearby with the part of them that escaped. These are horrible images captured on film but a reality of nature nonetheless. I see nothing unusual about eating animals other than we now do it in an automated high speed operation in our fast paced world. Is it immoral? I don’t know. Are we the only animal with morals? If so and morals do not exist in nature, it therefore must be a manmade thing especially if you don’t believe in God. If you are a Christian, and believe in the Bible, Genesis states,”God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” This could be interpreted to mean we have the right to kill them and eat them. If you don’t want to eat animals, peace be with you, but I dislike the activism that occurs. I think in general if people express with their dollars as to how they want animals treated that are killed for consumption, then it will happen.

        • ChipsAhoyMcCoy August 4, 2014 at 4:02 pm - Reply

          Plants don’t have a brain, thus there is no structure for the plant to feel pain. There are however mechanisms of reaction to the environment, but these are very simple. For example, plants without enough sunlight grow spindly, this is due to a plant hormone that is not stable in sunlight. It’s that simple. The plant is not feeling the lack of sunlight and deciding to grow spindly in an effort to grow through the canopy. You need a brain to feel and plants do not have brains.

          • Jim T August 13, 2014 at 11:33 am - Reply

            I don’t know. Maybe science hasn’t figured it out yet. In time we could find out that they do feel. Stop eating them!

            • ChipsAhoyMcCoy August 13, 2014 at 3:20 pm - Reply

              And eat animals instead that are fed with much more plant matter? Your position is ridiculous however you look at it. Its what happens when you come to a debate from an emotional standpoint instead of a rational one.

              • Jim T August 13, 2014 at 4:38 pm - Reply

                Calm down. Relax. I’m not being serious. But seriously we both have the freedom to eat just about whatever we want. I truly don’t care what anyone eats or doesn’t eat. Each one of us can choose whatever we want.

                • ChipsAhoyMcCoy August 13, 2014 at 8:03 pm - Reply

                  So why do humans not have the right to eat other humans? What are the ethical reasonings behind it?
                  Personally, yes; I have a problem with you killing other sentient beings to eat them. Just like I would if you were eating humans, I see no difference. Humans don’t have a greater right to life than other sentient beings, and you can survive just fine off a plant-based diet.

                  • Jim T August 13, 2014 at 8:38 pm - Reply

                    Feel free to eat humans. Some have and some do. I truly don’t care what you do. Let me live my life and you live yours. You might find life is much more pleasurable when you mind your own business and stop worrying what others are eating.

                    • ChipsAhoyMcCoy August 13, 2014 at 9:38 pm

                      Is this how you think? I wonder if you also consider a cannibal butchering your own mother to be “minding his own business”.

                    • Jim T August 13, 2014 at 10:10 pm

                      What would you like me to do about cannibals?

                    • ChipsAhoyMcCoy August 14, 2014 at 1:19 am

                      There is no sense in perpetuating this conversation any more. You’ve gone on your moral high-horse and do not want to debate, just troll.

                  • sammc February 4, 2015 at 5:43 am - Reply

                    We might not have any greater right to life but I don’t think if you were to walk in front of another carnivorous animal that they would stop and think about it, we are a race of meat eating animals, I don’t see any lions or tigers pushing away a big gazelle and opting for a salad, if you walked in front of a lion he won’t have second thoughts, they eat to survive just like we do so why should we change our eating habits that we have all been born with ?

                    • Daria Zeoli February 5, 2015 at 7:09 am

                      You’re really going with the “like lions do” argument? Were you born with eating habits that involved cooking meat and seasoning eat until it’s edible? Are your digestive tract and intestines just like those of a carnivorous animal? Do lions and tigers round up a bunch of docile animals in an industrialized system so that they can eat cellophane-wrapped slabs of meat that aren’t recognizable as animals? Better yet, do you wait for an animal to “walk in front of you” so you can opt for it instead of a salad? C’mon.

                    • Jennifer Reynoso July 2, 2015 at 3:31 pm

                      Sorry but your analogy is ridiculously flawed. We are not carnivores. We should not be compared to them. Do you see any sharp larger than normal canines in your mouth for tearing flesh? Do we eat animals raw? Our digestive systems are not meant for eating animals, if it were we would be able to eat them the same way carnivores do.

                    • John April 19, 2016 at 8:31 am

                      I eat fish raw. Are fish animals? Just kidding, I read the article.

            • Daryl Smitts August 25, 2014 at 6:32 pm - Reply

              that’s just your ego spouting out a bunch of caca because you can’t give up your addiction to eating flesh, bones and blood… nasty.

          • TheTon July 11, 2015 at 11:56 am - Reply

            But it HAS TO have a sensory system of some sort to react to their environment no?

            • ChipsAhoyMcCoy July 11, 2015 at 10:01 pm - Reply

              Your PC reacts to you plugging in a USB device; does this mean it can feel pain?

        • Marisa July 11, 2019 at 5:34 pm - Reply

          Exactly! As plants are also very much alive and too feel pain.

          And yes, fish are animals.

  17. gregg January 31, 2014 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    Any creature that has animal cells is an animal. Daria are you aware that it is impossible to be a true vegan. Because without vitamin B12 you eventually die. And the only source of this vitamin is from a living organism, an animal (not plant). So saying your a vegan is like saying i’m catholic but don’t believe in Jesus.
    Hope this doesn’t offend i’m just saying what is fact! Not opinion.

  18. Geona October 1, 2013 at 1:19 am - Reply

    I’m a vegetarian living in Spain, so it’s not only fish I’m supposed to be fine with eating, but all seafood and ham as well. (I mean, all beliefs and practices aside, how could anyone not eat ham?)

    It’s pretty clear when you think of the old ‘animal, vegetable or mineral’ categorization that fish are… what else could they be? But part of the reason people doubt in terms of what is ok for us veggies to eat is because there are so very many self-defined vegetarians out there who only avoid runners, e.g., but will happily wolf down swimmers and/or flyers.

    But I think the post is correct – the perception that fish aren’t animals is that they are not commonly considered cute and cuddly, their babies do not remind us of our babies, etc. I personally do not feel a lot of empathy for fish, if I’m being honest. I choose a live-and-let-live approach with them.

  19. Mary August 7, 2013 at 11:28 am - Reply

    I was dumbfounded when someone asked me if I ate fish – I never even considered that someone would think a fish was not an animal! I also had a fish aquarium when I was younger and I had a large angel fish that would literally eat food out of my hand and I swear it wagged it’s tail when I came to the tank in the morning, and I cried when it died…. I wouldn’t even consider eating fish! After reading this article, I can see how some people have been “programmed” to not consider fish or fowl an animal – but my philosophy is that if it has eyes and a mom – not gonna eat it! (ok – you could argue the particulars of that statement, but you get my drift….) :-)

  20. Carrie July 21, 2013 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    I actually /am/ a vegetarian and I roll my eyes when people ask me if I eat fish or chicken. Hello!? Are fish and chickens plants? I didn’t think so. I have my saltwater tank, and the fish are very clever and very happy, though I can tell when they are afraid or angry. My male betta is very clever, and I once had him doing some tricks for me. His babies are all very intelligent and I love seeing them explore new things and learn how to be fish. They are very curious. The fish at my school are very clever as well, from the tanked bass to the tilapia and catfish in production tanks. The chickens at the school are too smart for their own good, and not particularly nice, but for all intents and purposes, these animals are all living, eating, oxygen breathing, fraile, emotional beings just like humans, dogs, horses, cattle, and all other mammals.

  21. Daria January 19, 2013 at 10:06 am - Reply

    Richard, your comment reminds me of the fish my dad had in aquariums over the years. Not only would they anticipate being fed, they’d swim to the top of the tank to be pet. Jonathan Safran Foer discusses our relationship to fish in his book, Eating Animals. Definitely worth a read, vegan or not!

  22. Richard Evans January 19, 2013 at 5:14 am - Reply

    Thanks for ruining it for me! (please. don’t roll your eyes. please.) Thank you seriously though, I have barely given this consideration, and always considered fish their own category.

    However you’re right. Approaching an aquarium the first thing fish do is frenzy to the top in anticipation of food. There’s a level of consciousness there that can not be denied, even in inedible fish. The mental separation likely dates back to early fishing experiences and being reassured the fish, just like the worm, felt no pain, as it flip flopped around gasping for H2O. Natural instinct understands it is wrong, then years of conditioning convinced otherwise.


  23. Daria January 18, 2013 at 6:11 am - Reply

    I hear ya, Ania! Seeing as fish are dissected in high school classrooms somewhere between the frog and the fetal pig (something I don’t think we should be doing), you would think it was obvious that it wasn’t a plant biology course!

  24. […] Fish Aren’t Animals: A Seemingly Common Misperception […]

  25. Ania January 17, 2013 at 9:07 am - Reply

    Great post — even on a simpler level, it’s astonishing how many people don’t think of fish as animals or as ‘meat’. It’s a common discussion that I end up hearing, and trying to not get too worked up about — it seems like some sort of failure to understand basic biology!

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HELLO! I'm KD Angle-Traegner.

Writer, activist, and founder of Four Urban Paws Sanctuary. I’m on a mission to help people live a vegan life. Read more about KD…