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!”

16 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?

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