Keeping fish off our plates, and our oceans alive

As a family business, all of our products that we make are created with our children and grandchildren in mind. Our current food system is totally unsustainable and if we keep on going at our current rate, there will be nothing left for our future generations to survive on. Indeed, as the Native American proverb goes: “We do not inherit the ocean from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

We are driven by our own family’s need for food that has a light impact on the planet and by our own children’s livelihood in the years to come. This is why we started creating meat-free products. It became apparent, however, that it’s not only the forests and the land that are impacted by our food choices, but the oceans as well.

The ocean covers 71% of the earth’s surface, serving as a major component of our ecosystem. It is responsible for every two breaths we take. The ocean produces more oxygen than the entire world’s rainforests. It absorbs almost half of the carbon dioxide. 86% of drinking water comes from the oceans. Our survival is closely linked to the survival of the ocean. Yet it is under threat due to overfishing, ocean dead zones, pollution, species extinction, habitat destruction, climate change.

With scientists confirming that we could see fishless oceans by 2048, we were determined to create a plant-based alternative to fish. Sure, we had already created the Fry’s Battered Prawn-Style Pieces – which, through our customers’ purchasing, resulted in over 3 million prawns from being caught in 2018! But we needed something else. We needed something bigger, better and different, and that would save our oceans and the lives of millions of sea creatures. And we needed something that would nostalgically speak to good ‘ole fashioned fish and slap chips, wrapped in newspaper, that also contained the same amount of omega fatty acids as tuna.

The idea behind creating a fish-style fillet began when my family was at the beach. My youngest son saw fish being caught in the distance. As a young, passionate ocean lover who dreams of becoming a marine biologist and protector of the seas he was deeply saddened at the thought of ocean life being killed; and so asked his grandparents what they could do to help. This sparked the idea to create a product that offered the taste, texture and versatility of a piece of battered fish, the Fry’s Fish-Style Fillet!

What is the state of our oceans?

  • 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted.
  • As many as 2.7 trillion animals (fish and by-kill) are pulled from the ocean each year, by fishing methods such as trawling, purse seine, long lines, explosives, and other techniques that are damaging ecosystems.
  • As many as 40% of fish caught are discarded every year.
  • 1/5 of fish worldwide are incorrectly labeled. This means that seafood labels cannot be trusted.
  • Animal agriculture is fueling sea life depletion at a rapid rate.

How are land animals negatively affecting our seas?

Pigs, chickens and cows being responsible as the world’s leading oceanic predators. Farmed land animals are the leading causes of sea pollution, species extinction, habitat destruction and ocean dead zones. Our appetite for meat is affecting the state of our waters.

Why is this the case?

  • Livestock operations on land have resulted in more than 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones in our oceans around the world due to waste runoff.
  • Pesticides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops poison waterways.
  • Animals are sometimes fed fish as part of their diet, further depleting the seas.

Could farmed fish (aquaculture) be the answer?

  • Farmed fish are unhealthy: They are fed antibiotics, and prone to many bacterial pathogens and diseases that are highly contagious due to the crowded pens in which they live. Their waste and parasites spread to nearby wild fish, plants and the surrounding ecosystem too.
  • The ocean is still being depleted: 1/3 of all wild fish caught are fed to farm animals and farmed fish.
  • It is not energy efficient: takes up to 2kgs of fishmeal to produce 0.4kg of farm-raised fish sold in stores.

What then is the solution?

To stop eating fish – there is no such thing as sustainable seafood. We can no longer fish at the scale that we are currently doing, otherwise, we could see fishless oceans by 2048 and we will not be able to survive.

  • As a society, we all need to reduce our global demand for meat and animal by-products. This means switching your meat with a plant-based alternative (like our burgers, nuggets, sausages and pies), taking part on Meat-Free Mondays or going entirely plant-based!
  • We need to switch to fish-free plant-based alternatives. You can try out our new Fish-Style Fillets and Battered Prawn-Style Pieces.
  • We must limit the use of agricultural fertilizers.
  • Farms must implement effective water treatment to offset chemical run-off.
  • We need commitment and change on a local, national, and global level from the public and private sector and consumers.

We are the only hope for the ocean. And the ocean is our only hope for survival.


By Tammy Fry, International Marketing Director of The Fry Family Food Co. and Director of Meat Free Mondays in South Africa

About the author:

Tammy is a dreamer, a philanthropist and a person who believes they can change the world.

As the eldest daughter of the Fry Family – three generations of vegetarians and makers of plant-based protein foods, she is a passionate advocate for plant-based nutrition and cruelty-free foods.

She has been at the helm of product marketing at The Fry Family Food Co. and Director of Meat Free Mondays in South Africa and Australia for over a decade.  In these roles, she is guided by nutritional expertise, a love of fitness, love of the environment, and an outdoor lifestyle. Enabling others to live a happier and more energetic lifestyle through plant-based nutrition is the cornerstone of her passion.


Have yourself a sustainable Christmas


by Tammy Fry Kelly, Marketing Director – Fry’s Family Foods

Let Your Heart Be Light

I just walked into the shops this weekend to find myself faced with shelves and shelves of Christmas goodies, baubles, tinsel, lights and the list goes on and on! The retailers are all over the Christmas mayhem – let me reword that… the retailers are creating the Christmas mayhem.  Most of these goodies are of course “made in India” or “made in China”.  Although I do not have a problem with imported goods, I do have a problem with creating plastic junk that ends up in boxes in my house or in the dump.

I always try and look at the bright side of things, so I have decided that seeing that I do have a few weeks to prepare for 1 day, I should not give in to those last-minute emergency gift-buying sprees and start to think like the eco-conscious girl that I am!


Did you know?

1) Last year, 75% of people received a gift that they didn’t want.

2) 13.7% of people will throw away these unwanted presents

3) Gumtree estimated that 14.3 million unwanted gifts were given last year!

4) South Africans produce over 10 million tons of waste every year

Christmas Gifting

Let’s get sustainable:

If you intend to buy a material object, think twice. To quote a funny man;

“A house is just a place where we keep our stuff while we go out and buy more stuff” – George Carlin

Choose experiences over stuff or something to look forward to after the one single day.  Why not a voucher for a restaurant or a cooking class; instead of a new coffee machine. Sign your dad up for a gardening class over the weed wacker. There are some fantastic Digital Magazines available and they make the perfect e-stocking gift.

The options here are endless; membership trials for a gym/dance/yoga/Crossfit/surfing class… or a spa treatment are far more valuable than more things.

Sustainable Seasoning’s Eatings

Christmas is about giving and remembering why we give – let’s not let Christmas become about materialism and the turkey on the table. If you are truly wanting a sustainable Christmas, then you would need to look at the foods you are consuming. Food choices have the biggest impact on the environment.

Consider what you are eating at your Christmas Dinner. Turkeys are one of the worst treated animals in factory farms so please think compassionately when you choose. There are plenty of meat-free options to choose from, check out these 6 ways to have the best vegetarian Christmas. Eat less meat and more veg. A plant-based diet is not only better for the environment but it is also better for your health. Try and at least commit to eating a flexitarian diet (consciously cutting out meat a few days a week).

And last but not least, do something or give something to someone in need. Adopt a grandparent who may not have a family to share Christmas with, give to someone in need, or assist a community group with an initiative that they already have. By making someone else feel good, you too will feel good.

Here’s to a more sustainable, healthy and compassionate Christmas! Do you have any more tips? Let me know now!