Why Be Pescetarian?

Posted Mon, 08/17/2009 - 3:32pm by Liora Hess

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You've heard the benefits of being a vegetarian, but perhaps the thought of giving up all meat just seems too difficult. Maybe you are concerned about getting enough protein. If so, becoming a pescetarian may be your answer.

Pescetarian is a relatively new word, according to Merriam Webster. Coined in 1993, its source is likely the Italian pesce (Latin piscis, meaning fish) combined with the English arian in the word vegetarian. A pescetarian (or pescatarian) is someone who eats seafood as their only source of meat. They may or may not eat dairy products; however, they do not eat poultry, beef, or any other meat.

Some refer to a pescetarian as a vegetarian who eats seafood. Someone whose diet is composed primarily of fish would be a piscivore. Other synonyms that are sometimes used for pescetarian are fishitarian (or fishetarian) or pesco-vegetarian.

Why be pescetarian?

There are a myriad of reasons a person becomes a pescetarian. Some do it for ethical reasons. Often pescetarianism is part of a transition to a vegetarian diet. Others do it for health reasons. Some choose to eat no other meat because of ethical concerns. For others it is as simple as the diet suits their palate best. Even more eat a pescetarian diet for a combination of these reasons.

The nutritional benefits of eating seafood while avoiding red meat and poultry are many. Unlike most red meat, seafood is typically low in saturated fat, which is the primary cause of high cholesterol. Some fish are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and can contribute to raising HDL (the good form of) cholesterol and protect against heart disease.

Ethically speaking, a pescetarian diet is kinder to animals and the environment. An omnivorous diet uses more fossil fuels and water and contributes to rain forest depletion and water pollution. Additionally, you do not have to search far to find undercover videos revealing the heinous abuse of livestock.

Finally, eating a pescetarian diet can be easier on the wallet. This is especially true if you eat kosher or organic meat, which can be very expensive.

So what are the downsides to becoming a pescetarian?

Toxicity. Since consuming a large amount of fish high in toxins, such as mercury and PCBs, can be unhealthy, a wise pescetarian makes sure to eat a variety of fish and become educated about which fish should be eaten in limited quantities.

Ethical concerns. While pescetarianism is easier on the environment and avoids the ethical concerns surrounding the care of livestock, some argue that aquatic creatures are sentient beings, meaning they suffer pain.

Fewer food choices. Naturally, as you limit your diet, your food choices will become fewer. However, with a pescetarian diet, you'll still have plenty of choice nearly everywhere you go. Most restaurants offer some vegetarian or fish choices, and if they don't, you can certainly ask for a menu item to be modified.

While a person must weigh the pros and cons of a pescetarian diet, most agree that eating less meat in general is better for health, animals, and the environment. If you are interested in becoming a pescetarian, stay tuned for details about how to make your transition an enjoyable and successful one.

Resources:
Pescetarian Life
The Picky Pescetarian
Pescetarian Living

Comments

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Today, I became a

Submitted by Lola on Wed, 08/18/2010 - 3:30pm.

Today, I became a pescetarian. For these reasons:

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2) My hair is going to be WONDERFUL from all those good omega 3 oils from fish :)

3) Baked tilapia is heaven's food

4) VERY healthy choice... You still get your protein, but have all the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle! <3 

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I have been a pescetarian for 2 years now. I keep trying to switch to vegetarian and I fail. I feel so bad for eating fish (because of the significant problem with overfishing. Oh well. One of these days, I will become a full vegetarian.

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