Just like people, fish have feelings too

A fish’s tale: Like Nemo, many of the Trinidadian guppy fish attempted to hide when they were given an unfamiliar home.

A recent research project found that guppy fish have their own personalities. Some are brave, others shy, some take a while to feel at home. How did scientists make this amazing discovery?

What’s happening

Scientists at Exeter University watched fish respond to stressful situations. When put in a new tank some attempted to hide; others tried to escape; some were timid at first but then began exploring cautiously. How do we know from this that fish have personalities? Should we eat them if they do?

Find out more

Small Trinidadian guppy fish were moved one at a time from one tank to a new tank. Then, lifelike models of predatory birds and fish were showed to the guppy to simulate real-life stresses they deal with in their natural environment.

They are not the only creature to cause astonishment in the scientific world. Many studies have suggested pigs are as intelligent as dogs and feel emotions. Last year researchers at Queen Mary University of London found evidence to suggest even bees can feel optimistic. This discovery supports vegetarian and vegan life choices when it comes to eating animals or animal products.

This said, there is evidence to suggest that cutting out all animal products is not healthy for everyone. So, should everyone go vegan?

Some say…

“Yes!” say some. Going vegan means you make more effort to think about your diet. For too long humans have had a bad impact on the food chain, consuming too much meat. Many people will not listen to benefits for the environment or to their health. Maybe they will listen to this argument; we should stop eating animals because they have feelings too!

Others think…

“No!” say others. We have become too sensitive. Humans are born meat eaters. Harvard University found eating meat 2.6 million years ago helped us to evolve. This diet change does not alway lead to better health; vegans must eat vitamin B12 to stay healthy. We need to get better at understanding where our food comes from before making a decision.

You Decide

  1. Could you stop eating all animal products?


  1. Could you go vegan? Plan a three course meal using no animal products. Make sure your food is nutritious. Use this helpful guide from the Veganuary team.
  2. If you are able to do so, cook this meal for you and a friend. Remember to ask for help from an adult in the kitchen. What did you think about this kind of food? Could you go vegan? (Remember it is important to understand nutrition (getting food the body needs) to be healthy: the Veganuary website - click Why, then Nutrition - gives a vegan point of view.)

Some People Say...

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Mahatma Gandhi

What do you think?

Word Watch

Animals that hunt and eat other animals. The heron is an example of a predatory animal.
Natural environment
Environment is the surroundings or conditions in which creatures or plants operate; they affect whether a living thing can survive there. Natural means derived from or in accordance with nature. A fish’s natural environment is water.
A person who does not eat the meat of any animal, including fish.
A person who does not eat any meat, including fish, but also does not eat or use animal products.
Animal products
Anything from animals a human might eat or use, for example, milk, honey, eggs and leather.
The food chain
How series of living things rely on eating the next one to get the food, and thus nourishment and energy, they need to live.
To develop gradually over time. Humans developed millions of years ago, many scientists believe humans evolved from fish.
Vitamin B12
A nutrient that supports healthy blood cells. People who do not get enough may feel weak and tired. B12 can be found in meat and animal products but vegetarians and vegans can take it as a vitamin instead.


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