Sam Carter Architects Seaspiracy credit Tom Barnes
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Architects’ Sam Carter: Why you need to watch Seaspiracy on Netflix

Architects frontman / Sea Shepherd Ambassador Sam Carter discusses the importance of Ali Tabrizi’s alarming new documentary on Netflix, Seaspiracy.

Having been vegan for nine or 10 years, every now and then you almost need a reset of why you do these things. It doesn’t mean that that’s an easy thing, but you watch something like Seaspiracy and you feel that fire burning inside you again. I’ve been an Ambassador for Sea Shepherd for five or six years, and I’ve been on their boats meeting countless people that work for them; I speak to people from Sea Shepherd daily who are on boats in places like Liberia. That being said, I could not believe what I was seeing [when watching Seaspiracy], and there’s so much more to learn from it. 

One of the main things that really struck me was that I knew about the corruption and greed in the meat industry, and I knew that there was that in the fishing industry as well, but I didn’t realise the lies around plastic in the ocean. Plastic sucks, obviously, but we’re led to believe that our little plastic straws are a bigger issue than the fucking [fishing] nets. And, actually, since watching Seaspiracy, when I pick up rubbish on the beach while walking my dogs – which I was doing anyway, because I couldn’t imagine just walking past it and leaving it there – I’ve noticed that the majority of the things that I’m picking up are fishing nets, or bits of fishing nets. I didn’t even think about that before! You’re like, Oh yeah, it must be local.’ But, actually, it’s probably been carried through the Gulf Stream. It’s nuts. You realise how shady it all is, and in the documentary you see how you’ve viewed these things as a kid: you’re not thinking about these fucking super trawlers, you’re thinking about Captain Birdseye on his tiny little boat getting two or three fish. But that obviously can’t feed the whole world, you know?

The situation in the ocean is the same as on land [with animal agriculture], but people just can’t see it; it’s easier for them to close their eyes and say, Oh, I’m vegetarian but I eat fish because my fish is sustainably sourced.’ Or, Fish don’t have feelings.’ Or, I need the oils and the fatty acids.’ It’s just bollocks; it’s just people telling themselves things to make themselves feel better, because there is that part inside of you knowing, I don’t want to know about this or watch this documentary because it’s going to be really painful.’ But what would you rather do? Constantly have that feeling in your head that you should be doing something and you should watch this because it is happening, or just be like, Well, I haven’t watched this so it isn’t happening’? 

While I was watching it, it came to a point where I thought, I actually can’t just sit by and watch my friends do this stuff anymore.’ I have to have these conversations. I turned round to my fiancée and said, I’m gonna piss off a lot of people, and I’m gonna upset friends about this,’ because it’s just mad that this is all there in front of them – it’s one click away and people would rather pick things that are easy to get fucked off about! It’s just that thing of ignorance is bliss, isn’t it? Like, If I don’t see it, then it’s not happening.’ 

I’m not perfect, but I feel like I do everything I possibly can. I’m not saying that I’m plastic-free, and sometimes I probably do the recycling a little bit wrong (laughs). No-one’s perfect, but I’m trying, but I’m doing the best that I possibly can so that I know that I’m going about my way my life in a positive way. If I have children, I want them to be able to see whales in the ocean, I want them to see fish. With climate change, people just don’t think that it’s going to happen to their generation – like 2048. That’s not that far away for a fishless ocean. Humans are fucking lazy and will wait until the week before when someone goes, There’s one fish left,’ and then everyone will go, Why didn’t anyone tell me?’

Since we lost [late Architects guitarist] Tom, there was a period of time where I was really nihilistic about everything, where I just felt like, What’s the fucking point? I don’t care.’ You’re putting so much effort and time and care into trying to push this positive message, and then you’ll see everyone getting up at the Royals instead – it’s like, Are you fucking kidding me?!’ And then it falls on Greta Thunberg to try and start a conversation about climate change, and you think, Why is every news station not talking about that?’ I feel into this trap of, Why isn’t my fight going to make a fucking difference?’ That was about going through personal trauma and taking time to reset myself, because you can’t fight the good fight all the time if you’re trying to do it with a broken knee or something; you need to be at full strength to be ready to take the shots.

People are used to their routines and they don’t want to hear this stuff; they want to go on their way and have their smoked salmon for breakfast with their eggs. They don’t want to hear that their smoked salmon has been dyed – it’s been coloured to look like that and is actually grey and full of maggots. Most people don’t even know that an egg is a fucking chicken period! So it took me a bit of time to reset and be ready to make that change. And, actually, through doing talks, and things with Sea Shepherd, and recording this latest record [For Those That Wish To Exist] and focusing more on climate change and where we’re heading, that reignited my fire. It was like, Okay, I feel stronger now, I’ve had that time to get that pain out of my system and come to terms with what’s happened.’ Two of the guys in the band have kids, and I want to fight for them; if not for me, I’m gonna fight for them. They’re the ones that are going to have this earth, and how are we going to leave it? Am I going to be able to look them in the face when they’re 18, 19, and be like, I tried as hard as I could for you?’ Or did I just go, Oh well! No-one else is doing anything about it.’ It’s easy to feel [helpless] and like you can’t make a difference, but I always try to tell people that you vote with your pocket; you vote with what you buy in the supermarket when you get fishless fingers instead of fish fingers. When they do their stock takes at the end of the day, they see that it’s selling more than the other one. And if you can start that conversation within your family, you’ll make such a big change.

Netflix Seaspiracy poster

It becomes very apparent when you watch something like Seaspiracy that there is no way to govern and follow how sustainable’ any of this is. It’s one person’s word against another, and there’s no-one else in the room, or on the boat. A captain can say, No, we didn’t catch any dolphins,’ but he could have caught up to 100! There’s no-one out in the ocean to [verify it]. And, also, the people that have these sustainable’ stickers on the side of their tuna pay for that badge; people don’t understand that this badge is not given to them for good practice. It’s the same in the UK with chickens, and with any kind of meat. They say grass fed’ or locally sourced’ – it’s all excuses for why people continue to justify what they’re doing. It’s a way for them to cover their guilt and go, Well, this animal had a good life.’ How good of a life did it really have? Because it died earlier than it should have done – it was killed. 

I always think of it like this: baby calves are taken away from their mothers as soon as they’re born; they’re not even allowed the milk that is there for them, because we take it. That calf is put down and sold for veal, and the mother is just distraught and depressed. These animals have emotion, and grief, and there’s proof of that. Now imagine if your dog had a litter of puppies, and someone walked in and just took the puppies. Imagine how upset your dog would be. You can see that your dog shows emotion, and that is what drives me crazy: the complete speciesism of one animal’s life not mattering as much as another’s. I’ve got pigeons living outside my house that I feed every day! I can’t just walk past them and leave them. These [‘sustainable’] badges just make people think that they’re doing the right thing – Oh, these tins of tuna say that they’re dolphin friendly, so at least it’s not hurting any dolphins.’ People know that killing something is wrong – that’s your moral compass. But if you give them the excuse of, Well, it was in a field,’ or, It’s free range,’ then they’ll take it. Free range doesn’t mean shit – it means nothing. It just means they’re not in a cage, but they’re still close to each other that they’re burning their fucking knees on their own piss because they can’t walk away from anything.

For taking a step in the right direction towards saving the ocean, cutting fish out is good. Eighty-five per cent of the world’s oxygen comes from the ocean, and if you take one animal out of that ecosystem, we’re done. There are so many animals that are so close to being taken out of it, and there’s such an important chain that goes up. We take thousands of sharks out of the ocean every hour, and I just can’t even fathom it. It’s unbelievable. But this is the way that we need to start to save the ocean, and then I think that would start a chain of events. I always try to explain to people: my life didn’t get any worse when I went vegan! Nothing changed, and it just made me feel like I was doing something. It’s just food, and I don’t miss meat because there are some amazing substitutes out there. In fact, I felt like my palate got bigger when I went vegan, and I started eating so many other things that I’d never eaten before. I felt better, and nothing was dying for me to eat. And I think it all starts there, and not eating fish is almost an easy one. And then eventually you’re like, Hang on, what’s the difference between that and other stuff?’ It’s putting those two together by yourself.

If you’re already vegan, I ask, What else can you do? Where can you go?’ Things like animal sanctuaries, it’s things like Sea Shepherd and these organisations that aren’t getting handouts from the government. The fishing industry is kept alive by the subsidies – that’s why they can sell their food so cheap. People always say, Vegan food is so expensive’ but it’s not. The last time I checked, salad is still the price of salad, and a potato is still the price of a potato – it’s pretty cheap! When you look at meat, the reason it’s so cheap is because the government is paying you to eat it, for some weird fucking reason. So looking into local animal rescue charities, or local into supporting local vegan businesses or cafes is important – anything you can do to keep those places afloat is a good thing.

After watching Seaspiracy, I’d say Cowspiracy is another really good documentary to watch, and I think [director Ali Tabrizi] had a part in it as well – they’re sort of sister movies, and they’re both amazing. Earthlings is amazing, too, and it’s voiced by Joaquin Phoenix. There’s a lot to take in, and I feel like once that fire is ignited, there’s a lot there to keep it burning. I genuinely think this documentary is so important, and the conversations that will come from it are so important. But, also, you do have to treat people with kindness when they’re waking up to these things, because it is shocking, and it is alarming. You’re brought up a certain way to think certain things, and when that changes it can be really confronting. It takes people a minute to get used to it; they don’t like change, and they don’t like having to face up to these things. But it’s not their fault – it’s not our fault. It’s our fault if we choose to see this stuff and then not do anything about it. It’s within us to make these little changes that will then create massive waves.”

Seaspiracy is out now on Netflix. Architects’ For Those That Wish To Exist is out now via Epitaph Records.

Posted on March 29th 2021, 6:00p.m.
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