We’ve all met them or come across someone at least once in our lives – a vegetarian who eats fish. Technically, they would be considered a pescatarian but it does pose an interesting question. Why do some “vegetarians” choose to add fish to their plant based diet? Why fish and not, say, a steak or bacon?
What is a vegetarian or a pescatarian?
“Vegetarian” is a broad term for a person who restricts their diet by not eating animals or (to an extent) animal by-products.
The term vegetarian can also be sub divided into more “correct” terms. We have those who will eat dairy products and eggs (lacto-ovo-vegetarian), those who will eat dairy products but not eggs (lacto-vegetarian), those who eat eggs but not dairy products (ovo-vegetarian) and then those who avoid all animals and animal by-products altogether including both dairy and eggs as well (vegans).
Generally speaking and in everyday language, we use the term vegetarian to describe a person who does not eat animal meat.
A pescatarian is a person who does not eat animal meat but will allow themselves to eat fish. So strictly speaking, our ‘vegetarian’ friends who eat fish should really be described as pescatarians. However, the term pescatarian isn’t as widely used or known so perhaps this is the reason why so many pescatarians describe themselves as vegetarians.
So why fish?
To answer this one, we asked our fish eating vegetarian friends to get some insight into why they chose to eat fish. Interestingly, we found that the answers varied depending on the reasons why they became vegetarian in the first place:
The Sympathetic Vegetarian
The results we discovered from interviewing people who became vegetarian due to their sympathetic nature towards animals and their dislike of animal cruelty generally fell into two categories. Some considered eating fish as they believed that if treated with care, a fish would not feel any pain when it was killed. We’re not 100% sure where they received this information from or whether there are any scientific facts to back this one up but this was their belief.
The other group of sympathetic vegetarians went back to eating fish as they felt less emotional connection towards a cold blooded animal versus a large warm blooded one. Some of them just don’t consider fish as animals. Which leads to more questions – do they only stop at fish or do they also consume other cold blooded animals?
The Healthy Vegetarian
The healthy vegetarians are those who turned vegetarian for health benefits or reasons. The reasons for these vegetarians eating fish were much more varied and it would take us forever to list them all but one strong result we discovered was that they believed that the oils and omega-3 in fish were much healthier and better for you compared to attempting to get the same amount from non-fish products, such as chia seeds. They generally see other meat as unhealthy but believe that seafood is healthy.
What do you think?
Are you a vegetarian who eats fish or seafood? Do you have a friend who does? What are your thoughts on this?