For the last three years, plastic straws have been the boogieman for the destruction of our oceans. Restaurants have ditched them, consumers have bought up reusable straws, and each time you see a plastic one, we imagine a turtle with a straw through its nose (or is that just me?).
Statistics below from Seaspiracy
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1. Ghost Gear
Don’t get me wrong, reducing plastic use in any form is incredibly beneficial for the environment and you should keep using your reusable straws! But as it turns out, straws make up about 0.025% of all the ocean plastic. Where is all that other plastic coming from? Well, the majority of it is called Ghost Gear (dun, dun, dun). Sounds scary right? There’s a reason for that! Ghost gear includes fishing nets, lines, and equipment that is no longer in use. But just because it's no longer in possession of a person, doesn’t mean it stops fishing. These nets still continue to capture wildlife well after they are retired. In fact, 46 percent of ocean plastic comes from fishing nets!
Each hour these nets do quite a bit of damage...
“They are responsible for the death of 300,000 dolphins, whales and porpoises every year, and 30,000 sharks per hour.” - Stuti Verma
And those are just the nets left behind. Bycatch is what happens when humans intend to capture one species, and end up catching a few other undesired species along with them. #SaveTheTurtles became a popular hashtag associated with the reduced use of straws, but over 250,000 sea turtles are killed as a result of bycatch each year.
3. Bottom Trawling
As you learned in grade school, the ocean is a rich, delicate, and diverse ecosystem. Our coral reefs and ocean floors are home to millions of species of plants, algae, and natural habitats. Their natural beauty and importance to the function of our planet is unmatched. Oceans are responsible for 85 percent of the air we breathe and absorb 400 percent more CO2 than the Amazon. It is quite literally our life force, and the lungs of the earth.
Bottom trawling is the act of dragging a weighted net along the bottom of the ocean floor in order to capture animals for consumption. This act destroys habitats. This commercial fishing tactic destroys around 4 billion acres of sea forest each year. Not only are habitats and animals destroyed, but this creates dead zones that contain no oxygen and can be deadly and toxic.
So if you really think about it, yes, plastic straws do contribute to the destruction of our oceans but if we are being honest with ourselves, the real issue is the commercial fishing industry.
“Even if not a single gram of plastic entered the oceans from today onwards, we would still be ripping those ecosystems apart, because the biggest issue by far is commercial fishing,” - George Monbiot, journalist and environmental activist
It really does make sense...
If you’re trying to save the oceans and fish, then well...don’t eat fish! It’s as simple as that.
But we get it, sometimes giving up familiar favorite is hard. But know this: even reducing your seafood consumption can make a huge difference, so if you’re weary about giving it up all together, try to reduce your intake by 50 percent.
And hey, if you’ve given up straws, keep that up, too! Every action makes an impact.
Worried about Omega-3s? Don't be! Guess where fish get so darn Omega-3 rich. From sea plants!
Farm raised fish are actually fed Omega-3 supplements so their meat contains the nutrient, as well. Same goes for chickens; their eggs are so Omega-3 rich because they are given flaxseed and other supplements. Mind blown yet?
Go right to the source and either enjoy sea veggies from companies like Atlantic Sea Farms, or get yourself a supplement. No need to get second-hand Omega-3s.
Photo by Atlantic Sea Farms
1. King Oyster “Scallops”
3 king oyster mushrooms (cut into 1” discs)
1 teaspoon of nutritional yeast
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup of veggie broth
2 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ a cup of minced parsley
½ teaspoon of tamari
½ a teaspoon of maple syrup
Sea salt to and black pepper to taste
- Whisk together all ingredients and fold in mushrooms to marinate for 10 minutes
- Heat up a nonstick skillet or pan, and place mushroom slices, cut side down and pour in the remaining liquid. Cook over medium heat.
- Cover and cook until liquid reduces, and mushrooms are softening. Add water if needed.
- After the bottoms begin to crisp, flip and brown the other side of the mushrooms.
2. Heart of Palm “Calamari”
Image by Strength and Sunshine
Check out this recipe for vegan calamari. (It's gluten-free too!)
3. Watermelon “Tuna”
Image from PlantYou
You're gonna want to try this recipe for vegan tuna. Option: Enjoy this recipe without the oil.
BONUS: Mix with a little MamaSezz Mac Sauce and use in sushi!
4. Vegan "Tuna" Sandwich
MamaSezz Tuna "Ish" is just about the most eco-friendly, healthy fish alternative you can get. We use Maine kelp that is sustainably sourced and loaded with natural nutrients! It's also one of our top selling products, which isn't a surprise to us because our MamaSezz team's obsessed with it, too. Try it on a whole grain bun today!
We have a vision for healthy eating and a healthy planet and take extensive steps to optimize our supply chain, reduce waste, and improve our energy and water efficiency. Read about our zero waste commitment here.
- Overfishing, bycatch, bottom trolling the ocean floor and abandoned fishing gear are the most deadly threats to our oceans.
- The oceans account for more CO2 than the Amazon Rainforest.
- The best way to save the oceans, is by eating less seafood.
- With so many fantastic, flavorful and healthy alternatives, why bottom feed? Save the planet and reduce your seafood intake today with plant-based alternatives to fish that are healthy and delicious.
By Caroline DiNicola Fawley
Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.