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May 2016
 

The Bellinghman
Date: 2010-02-18 12:59
Subject: Sin and vegetarianism
Security: Public
There seem to be a tradition that although vegetarians may not eat beef, port pork, chicken and other such products of mammals and birds, that they can still eat fish. (Whether they can eat alligator, turtle, locusts, snails or other creatures is not something I've yet found out.) Like many others, I've often wondered about the origin of this, since it seems a bit weird, but the other evening, I think I encountered a plausible reason.

It appears that it comes down to the Christian tradition of fasting. Supposedly, the reason for 'not eating meat' during Lent, or on a Friday, or if you're a monk or the like, is that eating meat is indirectly partaking of the original sin. Animals reproduce by breeding, and in the case of mammals and birds, breeding involves copulation. If copulation is sinful, then the product of copulation - even that of animals - is also to some extent sinful, and therefore their flesh should be avoided.

Fish, on the other hand, do not copulate. Therefore, the flesh of fish is not the product of sin. And thus it is permitted to eat fish.

Okay ...

(Though whoever categorised whales as fish never went out with the sperm whalers. And also not all piscine species use the eggs-and-milt approach.)

Edit: for silly typo - thanks Feòrag.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2010-02-18 14:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
For eels, eel traps were the typical method. And there were some quite industrial methods of catching river fish, too, such as the fish-weir.

I certainly wouldn't want river fish from the near downstream of a town, but upstream ought to be OKish.
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Sarcasticia Nitpickerson
User: tisiphone
Date: 2010-02-18 14:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Everywhere's downstream of somewhere. Well, except in the Scottish highlands I guess, but... then you're in the Scottish highlands.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2010-02-18 14:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, I did say 'the near downstream'. The rule of thumb I grew up with was that a dead animal (a drowned sheep, for example) will pollute a small river for a mile or so downstream. Reeds and water-weed make good filters, and there's also dilution from tributaries and side streams.

But there's a reason why in those days even children were given beer to drink. (My father had small beer when at school, about WWII. I attended the same school a quarter century later, and we got water.)
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Sarcasticia Nitpickerson
User: tisiphone
Date: 2010-02-18 14:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
(Mind, this is my hangup, not medieval English people's hangup.)
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