I’ve long held the belief that if fish could wince, they would be afforded far more empathy.
A bunch of random thoughts.
I remember when I was younger in school we had to dissect worms. The teacher took live earth worms from a bait cup and dropped them in rubbing alcohol (I think it was alcohol) to kill them. I remember they were all wriggling pretty violently, as if in pain, and I asked the teacher if they were in pain to which the response was "No. Earthworms don't feel pain." I told my parents that night about class, not about dissecting the worms (which was cool), but about how I learned they can't feel pain. To which my parents dropped me a weighty concept, if something has the capacity to exist and interact with the world, it has the capacity to suffer. That doesn't mean everything suffers in the same way or to the same degree, but that suffering is a key part of existing. It's something we need to keep in mind as we interact with the world around us.
I have no qualms about eating meat, though like I've said on here before I've significantly cut back on sea food for environmental reasons (our oceans are being dangerously over fished). In fact, I'm slowly over time trying to figure out how to be a more environmentally conscious eater. Every now and again, the subject of insect based protein sources come up as a means of providing a more ethical and resource friendly way to provide protein for the world. Insects are already a major protein source in a lot of communities and I think as the concept gains traction in the western world, it'll be a new diet choice for people who want to think ethically about how they consume food. Both from an animal rights stand point as well as an environmental/resource stand point.
Our abilities as a world to protect biodiversity is a pretty big concern of mine. Not enough attention is given to our lakes, rivers, and oceans, which is pretty concerning because they hold a significant amount of the earth's biomass. It doesn't surprise me though that we don't give them as much thought because A) while most of us live near water we don't live in water so we don't pay as much attention to what we do to our water and B) fish and mollusks and plankton and such aren't cute and cuddly. Know what's important for the environment? Fish, insects, frogs, lizards, mice, birds, worms, fungus, molds, water cycles, mineral cycles, on and on. Know what's marketable? The cute and fuzzy and the bold and fascinating. It's easy to say "Save the tigers!" because it's hard to get people to be worried about some random frog in Asia but it's easier to get people to be worried about tigers. By getting people interested in protecting the tiger's environment, we're also protecting that same environment that plays host to the frog. The same is true for whales and dolphins and reefs. It's easier to get people interested in those than it is a bunch of random fish.
I think though, maybe it's time we as a planet stop thinking "tiger" or "whale" and start thinking fish and frogs and insects and mold. Cause they all matter, whether we think they're deserving of empathy or not.