When I was a small child, my grandfather would take me fishing with him. When I was really little, he would do the fishing while I walked along the river bank looking for frogs and turtles. I always loved animals so to me going fishing with my grandfather was so much fun. As I got older he taught me how to fish. I would always have a bucket of water by the river bank, so when we caught a fish it would go right into the bucket of water. As an animal lover I never wanted the fish to die. I thought that by putting them into the water, they would be OK. We would take the fish home and I would transfer the fish into a large dish pan where I could watch them swim. They fascinated me. In my child’s mind they were my pets and I loved watching them. Eventually they would always die (I now know it was due to lack of oxygen in the water). My grandfather would then clean them and we would eat them. I never made the connection back then that it was cruel to the fish.
My awakening began as an adult. I remember being in a restaurant and ordered trout off the menu. The trout arrived on the plate with head and tail attached. I was horrified! The dead fish seemed to be staring at me. This made me SO uncomfortable. I flagged down the waitress and had her take it back to the kitchen with instructions to remove the head and tail. Once it didn’t look like a fish any more, I could go back into my denial and eat my meal.
It always did bother me how the fish would struggle as I tried to reel it out of the water. It bothered me that the fish would bleed as I removed the hook. If the fish swallowed the hook, it was often embedded in the gills or stuck into the digestive tract. Still I would shrug off the discomfort. As I became more interested in spirituality I started to gravitate away from eating animals and animal products. It was a gradual progression. I lost all interest in fishing. It didn’t feel right to me anymore. I could finally see it for what it was- cruel to the fish. I could see the sentience in their eyes. I learned that fish are very intelligent. They are very social animals and can recognize other fish in their school. They have complex nervous systems just like mammals do. They feel pain and suffer like all animals. I haven’t eaten fish or any animal in over 16 years now. My only regret is that I didn’t awaken sooner.