Fish – Why Animal Products Harm


Fish is not a health food by any means. Widespread pollution makes fish and shellfish so dangerous to eat that the Government recommends limits for their consumption. Fish oil is not the miracle cure-all it was promised to be either – it doesn’t prevent heart disease and may be contaminated too. Going fish-free can protect your health and contribute to a more sustainable future.



  • Fish are contaminated with a vast number of chemicals and heavy metals. It’s why the Government recommends limiting their consumption.
  • Fish oil also contains many of the chemicals that may have adverse health effects.
  • Cooking fish at high temperatures produces yet more toxic compounds that may increase your risk of cancer.
  • Farmed fish contain more pollutants than wild fish.
  • The human body needs small amounts of omega-3 fats to function but fish do not make them and we do not have to consume fish to obtain the fats. Omega-3s are made by tiny algae that fish eat.
  • We can either get omega-3s from those tiny algae (as supplements) or choose plant omega-3s – both sources are healthy, unlike toxin-containing fish and fish oils.
  • Fish oil doesn’t prevent heart disease.
  • Fish farming directly promotes the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria – a major public health threat.
  • Eating fish and shellfish puts you at risk of food poisoning. Pregnant women, babies and children are advised not to eat raw shellfish at all and to avoid certain other fish.
  • People who often eat fish and shellfish, as well as meat, are at high risk of gout – a painful joint condition.
  • Commercial fishing and fish farming are not sustainable, they seriously damage and pollute the environment and decimate wild fish populations.

Keep reading for detailed information and references!

Toxins in fish

All the world’s oceans and rivers are contaminated with chemicals and heavy metals, such as mercury. These toxins build up in the fat in fish, particularly in oily fish.

Fats in fish

When you eat fish, you’re not just eating omega-3 fats, you’re also eating saturated fat and cholesterol, both of which are linked to heart disease.

Fish oil and heart disease

Fish oil, with its omega-3 fats, is touted as a supplement meant to reduce your risk of heart disease but science says something else.

Fish farming and antibiotic resistance

Fish farming means that huge numbers of fish are reared in overcrowded conditions where infection spreads easily so antibiotics are used in large amounts – triggering emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Food poisoning

Fish can carry a wide variety of bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause food poisoning and a host of nasty illnesses.


Gout is a painful condition which affects the joints and it has characteristic flare-ups called gout attacks. High consumption of fish can directly contribute to gout.

Fishing and fish-farming and the environment

It may seem like there’s plenty of fish in the sea but the opposite is true. Fish farming is not the answer as it has its own plethora of problems and negatively affects the environment.

How to change your diet

Going fish-free is not just a healthy choice, it’s also an ethical and sustainable one. If you’re used to meals based around fish and other animal products, the idea of a plant-based diet may be daunting but we’re here to help make it super easy!

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All about fish

Find all the above and more in Viva!’s resources on fish:

Delve deep into the science beyond health claims and fish in The Fish Report.

Find out more about fish, fish oil and omega-3s in the Fish-free for Life guide.

Or see the summary in this handy Fishing for Facts factsheet.

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