Vegan Fishing


The other day, the dog and I were going for a walk around a man-made lake. The weather was really nice, but I was still surprised to see no less than 15 people scattered around the edge of the lake, fishing. This particular lake didn’t strike me as much of a hotspot for fish (this is the same lake where I shot a set of photos featuring abandoned shopping carts), but it still got me thinking.

Fishing is one of those activities that’s viewed by many cultures as one of the most meditative, relaxing ones we can engage in. It forces us to slow down, be patient, and live in the moment. Unfortunately, it also means injuring or killing fish (yes, even if you throw them back). So, I got to thinking… is there any fish-friendly way to go fishing?

The act of feeding fish is harmless enough as long we’re careful about what we give them. But just tossing food into the water lacks the in-the-moment quality of sitting in a rowboat with a fishing pole in hand (I’m guessing here… I haven’t been fishing since I was a kid). So, would there be a way to take a standard fishing pole and replace the hook with something that can hold food while it sits in the water but not injure the fish when he tries to eat it? Do things like this already exist?

I’ll smile the first time I hear someone say, “I just fed a 7 1/2 pound perch!” rather than “I just caught a 7 1/2 pound perch! *”

* May be followed by “and it was the best moment of my presidency!”

20 Responses to “Vegan Fishing”

  1. B

    my favorite thing to do in asia was to join the buddhist monks in feeding koi fish in lotus ponds. did it almost daily. very meditative, watching the fish amble in and out of the light and shadow between the underwater vines, and getting to know individual fish by their markings and attitudes. nice. not sure how that would work with US fish and bodies of water tho.

  2. Jennifer Shmoo

    This is such a timely post! My son was just asking me if there was some way he could go fishing. There is a kids’ fishing pond and large river running through here, so fishing (and hunting) are big here. He was wondering if there was some way to attach food to a fishing rod “with clay or something” so the fish could eat it and not get hurt. Please let me know if you come up with anything!

  3. Ann O'nymous

    Just taking a regular fish hook and filing off the barb and dulling the end of the hook should work. If you put the food on carefully, it should stay on until the fish comes by but still come off easily when the fish bites at it.

  4. C

    I don’t think it would be worth your time to try and “feed” fish from a pole. I doubt you’d even know if a fish came by and took your bait. I go fishing all the time and my bait gets stolen without me even knowing. It would be more exciting to just throw the food in the water.

  5. TurbineB

    Vegan fishing response:
    Historical perspective: Fishing and hunting is a means of survival that has existed throughout human history for far, far longer than any ideas of choosing a meat or dairy-free diet or indeed an entire ‘philosophy’ of doing so. Without hunting and fishing, humans would not have survived – period. An interesting way to think of it might be to consider that hunters and fisherman have been so successful in helping the human race survive, they’ve afforded you the choice of a vegan or vegetarian diet, which has only been possible in a relatively recent span of time.
    Fishing and hunting, though not done for survival purposes by most in modern times, are still widely enjoyed, cultural/traditional practices that humans enjoy. Laws govern certain practices as permitted or not based upon the science supporting the activity. I do not hunt, but I fish regularly and possess several fishing licenses over several states – which totals quite a lot of money, much of which is used to support the management of the fisheries (habitat improvement, breeding programs, etc.). When I fish, I am legally exercising a privilege granted by a valid license.
    If you choose not to consume animal products, great. I’m not confronting you in public and asking you to consider how ridiculous you’re being in choosing a diet which is essentially a modern-day whim vs. something ‘natural’ and which should be adopted by everyone. Keep this in mind when you decide to approach a total stranger who is fishing, and doing absolutely nothing wrong aside from not comforming to your personal life philosophy. Out of curiosity, do you feed your cats a vegan diet? Do you permit your pets to access the outdoors where they may kill other wildlife? Do you approach your grocer and ask them “why they are hurting so many animals” in their meat/dairy section? Do you approach people farming pastures and ask these questions?
    Personally, I would be so annoyed by someone like you bothering me, asking these questions I would purposely throw hooked-fish onto the bank to dry in the sun (which is legal, and in accordance with non-game fish regulations in VA) out of spite even though I primarily fly fish and practice catch-and-release for virtually everything.

    Since most of your comments appear to be in support of veganism, I don’t know whether this response will be posted or filtered out.

    I have no idea where you are on the vegan-insanity scale (1-10), which may preclude you from even entertaining ideas beyond “don’t hurt animals” but here’s at least one for you.


  6. Haydo

    TurbineB, Cool story bro.

  7. Thatch

    You say fishing was a means of survival for the human race. This is true, and no intelligent person would argue with this fact, although it may be argued as to what extent this was carried, as recent findings have found that early man was primarily vegetarian. Veganism, however, as a philosophy, would ask why in the modern day world would it be necessary to hurt, kill, and consume a living being? The answer is rhetorical- it is not necessary for survival to consume any animal products, and it is not neccessary to consume these products to be extremely healthy.
    You also say fishing/hunting are practices that humans enjoy. This is a selfish and humanistic way of viewing the Earth and it’s children; we all are global citizens and it is silly to think that one race should act as a superior force over any species or individual.
    You say not to approach someone who is not “conforming to your personal life philosophy!”. This strikes me as ludicrous, as veganism is the most selfless philosophy one could adopt- your philosophy is human centered, veganism is global-citizen centered, often humbly placing humans below other animals in terms of importance. For example; if humans were eliminated from the earth today, in 50 years, the ecosystem would balance out. If all insects were eliminated from the earth, in 50 years, the ecosystem would be in ruins. In regards to your scenario of approaching a fisherman, how about the same situation in a strictly human.
    setting; say you come across a man raping a women in a public park; because rape is against your philosophy you don’t rale women; however, because that man’s personal philosophy does not exclude rape, should you turn your back and allow him to continue misusing another being?
    As far as your questions; as a vegan, I do not own a cat or a dog (in fact, no one actually owns an animal, or land for that matter, but that is a different debate), I do not seek out people to chastise about their choices because a) People who don’t wish to become better people and people with closed minds don’t want to listen, b) I feel compassion for people as I myself used to eat an omnivorous diet before I educated myself and c) I have converted many friends to vegan/vegetarian diets, but only if they initiate the conversation (this is again because only someone who is genuinely interested in positive change will take the effort to explore these types of topics).
    I’m so sorry you would be annoyed by someone asking you these questions. I wonder if it is as annoying as someone tearing a hook through your face, tearing you out of your environment into one which you will suffocate, leaving you to “dry in the sun” ( a legal activity), and then cutting you apart and eating you.
    “Vegan Insanity,” huh?

  8. Thatch

    *strictly human setting;
    *you don’t rape women

  9. James

    I saw a video online of people “magnet fishing”. Basically you drag a body of water with a large magnet tied to a rope in hopes of finding metallic coins, jewelry, knives, trash, or whatever. I used to love fishing when I was a kid, but not as much the actual fish part. I think that magnet fishing is a cool idea that is easier on my conscience, but is still ritualistic and gets me out to the river.

  10. Jon


  11. Max

    Try flyfishing without a hook! :-)

  12. Sean

    @TurbineB nobody actually confronted you or even challenged your beliefs. The initial posters question was simple and personal to them. It asked if there is a way they can get the meditative experience of fishing without harming or killing fish. It had nothing to do with your choices. If you want to pointlessly pull fish out of their water and dry them in the sun then that is on your conscious. In fact you might have been the first one in the conversation to begin attacking another’s belief system and even resort to violence as a means of proving your point. If anything is worrisome it is this.

  13. None of you Business

    Ya people can eat animals and kill them but there’s a way to do that if you do it a wrong way than its considered cruel

  14. James O'Heare

    I would love to go feeding fish from time to time as well and have wondered these same things. One problem I struggled with is that if you use some kind of fishing gear, you condition the fish to approach it and put them more at risk. Can’t see how to get past that so I basically abandoned the idea myself.

  15. Ben

    Interesting debate. I am pondering whether vegans class themselves as vegans first of humanitarians?

    I like others have started to question my requirements to eat meat? Personally I’ve cut down to once a week, trying to go full vegan for health benefits rather than the care of animals. I do understand that it is cruel to slaughter animals for my meat desires but also understand that people have choices and a freedom is that if they wish to engage in such activities (that are deemed legal) such as fishing then that is their choice.

    My question or more likely my scenario is this. If you were in a burning house and could only save either your child or your cat, who would you save? You could only save one. I only ask this as the original starting point to my comment was humanitarian v vegan. I feel that sometimes we forget that people have choices and just because we don’t agree with them doesn’t mean they are stupid, wrong or anything negative. Just that we are different, we do have a right to challenge others opinions but we also have a right to respect others opinions whether espically in the ever growing vegan world, which I actually appalled and support.

  16. Mary

    Has anyone tried the barbless/dull hook idea? It seems like it would work but I don’t want to hook something!

    And does anyone know if attaching a go pro to the line works? If so what type of line did you use, and did you use any weight?

  17. Briar Lee Mitchell, EdD

    wow..ummm…do none of you know what Vegan means? Hello!!!! fishing you airheads…how fucking stupid and heartless can you be?

  18. CH

    I think all the person wanted to know is if there is a cruelty free way to fish as I was just searching this same thing. Not preaching about being a vegan or anything. I eat meat but I don’t want to hurt or kill animals personally. I’m sure there are many meat eaters who could not stomach even walking through a slaughterhouse let alone working there but they still eat meat. When I eat meat, I don’t think oh that’s an animal, I just eat meat because it’s food.

  19. Veganlightenment

    I’m currently transitioning to the Vegan way of life myself, on the journey you might say.
    For many reasons too. One of which is obviously the apalling cruelty metred out by the meat and dairy industry on a daily basis, but also, and perhaps more sellfishly, my own physical, spiritual and mental wellbeing and developement, becoming the best version of myself, so I can have the best, most positive impact on the world and the people I encounter every day. But I find so much negetivity targeted towards the “newbies” like myself. Very few people are fortunate enough to be brought up within the vegan community(and I truly believe it should be thought of as a community not just a lifestyle. Where we are all in it together as a collective, where we can TOGETHER truly change the world), I also assume that many of the haters were brought up in the more traditional western way, like us newbs, consuming meat etc. So why feel the need to act so self righteous and judgemental, to someone either living with the same beliefs and practises you used to accept as “normal” or even more baffling to berate and mock the people that are obviously on the journey to becoming fully vegan(not many people can click their fingers and become fully vegan overnight, for most it’s a process). They think they’re somehow better people because they came to the same conclusions a little sooner than the newb? Surely us newbs deserve praise, support and encouragement. Surely if you’re so SUPER vegan then it should be your desire for this to spread far and wide, to truly change humanity and the world for the better. For every person to value animal lives, wellfare and habitats to the extent we all do. “The more the better”, “everyones welcome”… surely that would be a more positive outlook to inspire real change, as appose to the “omg you eat meat… jerk” “wow what a dumbass that thinks fishing is ok”. If you think veganism is some kind of “cool” club, where certain people aren’t welcome or aren’t good enough, smart enough, cool enough, then I think personally that you’ve missed the point a bit(personal opinion ofcourse) and are depriving yourself and perhaps others of the opportunity to really grow and evolve as people, into something truly beautifull. The truly positive and genuine will to help another on the path to enlightenment through veganism(and other means) not only aids the person being helped but the person offering said help selflessly. Surely the act of helping others and leading by example everyday is a positive way of giving back to the community, spreading the word. This thing we call “veganism” is afterall inherantly positive. Positive impact on animals, positive impact on the individual, on the collective, on the planet. I could literally list off positive effect after positive effect. So why dilute such a positive movement with any negetivity? Before you judge and criticise others, ask yourself how you could help or advise them. Are you so perfect afterall? Weren’t you once learning the way, and naively asking questions that to some, probably sounded a bit daft or obvious? We are all on a journey, all growing, all trying to become “better”. Remember… There is no room for ego in the development of self… and thats where we must all begin. Positively changing what WE do, to positively change ourselves first and foremost, but at the same time changing our impact on the planet to a positive one, that includes our impact on other humans(humans are animals afterall ;). Once we become fully vegan however, we will grow into a shining beacon of veganism, we radiate this positivity to everyone we meet, everyone we discuss veganism with, everyone we help, guide or advise. We cant help it, we glow and shine and become truly intruiging and interesting. People that once scoffed at not eating meat suddenly sit up and take notice. Wether it comes from something so simple and perhaps vein as noticing your lifelong achne has cleared up and you now have beautiful skin, wether it’s your attitude, your outlook, your depression went away, your anxiety has gone, your all new positive aura… They WILL want to ask questions, and it’s your duty… no, your privalige to reply selflessly and with love. But don’t worry, if you appease the vegan Gods, you will be rewarded with “good vibes” and happy thoughts lol. This is truly a never ending positive energy for the world to use, and it WILL use it(just ask Nikola Tesla lol). The more people you help or chat to, the better you’ll feel. The better you feel the more intrigued other people will become. Hopefully one day they will continue the cycle and begin their own journey… Wether they insist on consuming only banana smoothies after one day, or instead just stop consuming dairy at first… It’s the beginning of a new cycle, and spread of the new positive energy that surrounds and radiates from each and every one of us. This, like i’ve said, in turn, can and will inspire the positive results you’ve had in others. Personally I would be so gratefull to one day inspire just one single person to change their life. To change life-long, fast-held beliefs, to begin to question what the mainstream drills into all of us everyday, and to consider another direction entirely, soley based on the results they’ve seen within my life, for them to want to grow, or to be part of something great because of me in some small way, and for so many other good reasons. It is necesarry to inspire the will to change in others. If after all, vegans behaved in the negetive way i’ve experienced all too often, and were more interested in wearing “cute” vegan tshirts and being abusive to anyone who dared to be slightly different, or to be at a different point on their journey, then I wonder how is this great awakening going to occur? Or when? When newcomers and people showing a genuine interest in this way of life, are mocked and humiliated by the apparant “enlightened” vegans, that should imo know better, and be helping to truly change our reality for the better, yet seem to be intent on exluding anyone that doesn’t measure up to their skewed sense of what everyone should be. I myself have been on the receiving end of such abuse and belittlement, and it almost turned me away from my personal journey, because most vegans I encountered seemed more interested in themselves and their own ego. Well to me they’re dammaging the community greatly, shunning new comers that have genuine questions like “is fishing ok”. Sure you may find fishing an appaling cruelty with no just cause for the pain and distress caused to the poor fish. So then what??? Get angry that someone doesn’t think the same way as you? Abuse them and generally be a dick? Yeah real “enlightened” dude. Maybe these people should first look at themselves and their motives to behave in such a way. Negetivity on that level doesn’t come from a good place(perhaps some meditation and introspection is in order lol). But hopefully people like me, wont get discouraged by the hate and will persavere. One day gaining SUPER vegan status and instead spreading the love lol. And hopefully the more people that convert, the more positive role models will step forward, positivity will once again rise above the few negetive nellies that are obviously in it for the wrong reasons. Or atleast have somehow forgotten, what they atleast hopefully once believed was a thing of beuty, worthy of sharing with as many people as possible, not clutching to ones chest so tightly they squeeze the life out of it, and instead leading by example. The world needs more positive role models in general, it needs more positive examples of how veganism cant just change your life, or the ones around you, but it can raise the vibrations of nations, change long held negetive ideals of the masses, change political policy and laws to protect the planet and all who inhabit her. Veganism is spreading regardless of the negetive minority. VIVA LA VEGANISM! Be good to yourselves, and to one another… Much love!

    Veganlightment 🤗 xxx

  20. Wisata

    A very good example

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