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87. Is eating fish violence ?
Q. You say that those who eat fish should be provided with it. Does not this entail violence both for him who eats and him who provides the fish?
A. Both commit violence. So do those who eat vegetables. This kind of violence is inherent in all embodied life, therefore, in man too. It is in this condition and in spite of it that we have to practise non-violence as a duty. I have often indicated how we may do so. The man who coerces another not to eat fish commits more violence than he who eats it. Fishermen, fish vendors and fish eaters are probably unaware of any violence in their action. Even if they were they might look upon it as unavoidable. But the man who uses coercion is guilty of deliberate violence. Coercion is inhuman. Those who quarrel among themselves, those who will stoop to anything in order to amass wealth, those who exploit or indulge in forced human labour, those who overload or goad or otherwise torture animals, all these knowingly commit such violence as can easily be stopped. I do not consider it violence to permit the fish eater to eat fish. It is my duty to suffer it. Ahimsa is the highest duty. Even if* we cannot practise it in full, we must try to understand its spirit and refrain as far as is humanly possible from violence.
Bombay, 11-3-'46
Harijan, 24-3-1946