What Is a Pescatarian? What Do Pescetarians Eat?

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Pescatarian (sometimes spelled "pescetarian" with an e) is a word sometimes used to describe those who abstain from eating all meat and animal flesh with the exception of fish. That is, a pescatarian or someone who follows a pescetarian way of eating maintains a vegetarian diet with the addition of fish and other seafood such as shrimp, clams, crabs, and lobster.

In other words, a pescetarian (noun) is a person who eats fish, but doesn't eat steak, chicken, pork or any other kind of meat - only fish and seafood in addition to vegetarian foods such as beans, vegetables, fruits, dairy and grains, and a pescetarian (adjective) diet is a diet that includes fish but not steak, chicken, pork or any other kind of meat.

Reasons to Go Pescatarian

Although the word is not commonly used and a pescatarian is not technically a vegetarian, more and more people are adopting this kind of diet, usually for health reasons or as a stepping stone to a fully vegetarian diet. What are the reasons for adopting a pescetarian way of eating? Proponents cite roughly the same motivators as full vegetarians and even vegans: personal health weight-loss and longevity, a reduced environmental footprint, and animal cruelty concerns. Some people also follow a pescatarian diet for religious reasons.

Pescetarians often believe that moderate consumption of fish or fish oils, which are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, is necessary for optimum health, although vegetarian alternatives, such as flaxseed oil and hemp foods are available.

Pescatarians may also believe that fish are a needed source of protein, but there are plenty of meat-free and fish-free sources available to vegetarians and even vegans, including eggs, low-fat dairy, beans, lentils, nuts and more.

Worried about getting enough protein on a vegetarian diet? Don't be! There are plenty of ways to maintain a protein-rich diet without consuming meat or fish.

Are Pescetarians Considered Vegetarian?

No. A pescatarian is not a vegetarian or even a type of a vegetarian. There is much confusion over what a vegetarian is and isn't, but no definition of the term ever includes fish or seafood. To be 100% clear, a vegetarian diet excludes all animals; and fish are animals. Therefore, a diet that includes fish, or a person who consumes fish cannot be properly called a vegetarian. A pescatarian is NOT a vegetarian, and a vegetarian diet does not include fish. Period.

Are Pescetarians the Same as Semi-Vegetarians or Flexitarians? 

Not really, but sort of. A "semi-vegetarian" -or a "flexitarian"- is someone who eats a mostly vegetarian diet, occasionally supplemented by meat, though there's no real agreed upon definition of how often one can eat meat and still call themselves a semi-vegetarian or a flexitarian: Once a day? Once a week? Once a month? Pescetarians are not restricted to "occasional" fish and may eat fish as little or as frequently as they prefer.