A pescatarian, a term that, in its etymological roots, blends the Italian word ‘pesce’ (meaning ‘fish’) with the more familiar ‘vegetarian’, is an individual who, whether driven by health considerations, moral convictions, environmental concerns or some intricate combination thereof, opts to exclude the flesh of terrestrial animals from their diet but permits—perhaps with some degree of culinary gratitude—the consumption of fish and sometimes other sea creatures. This diet, one might speculate, reflects a middle ground of sorts: an ethical negotiation between the carnivorous and the herbivorous, where the consumption of fish, beings seemingly further removed from our mammalian kinship and complex central nervous systems, is viewed as more permissible than, say, that of a cow or a chicken. One might also ponder on the ocean’s vastness, its inscrutable depths, and how that spatial vastitude affects our moral calculus. But then, as with many dietary choices in the modern age—a period marked by an ever-intensifying consciousness of the interplay between nutrition, ethics, and environmental sustainability—there is often more beneath the surface than what first meets the eye.
What is a pescatarian?
A pescatarian is a term for people who abstain from eating any meat but will still consume fish, vegetables, fruits, and grains. The word pescatarian derives from the Latin word “Pisces,” which means “fish.” Pescatarians may be vegetarians who are not ready to give up eating fish, or they may be people who want to start eating healthier.
A pescatarian diet is sometimes considered more beneficial than strict veganism because it promotes omega-3 fatty acids from fish. And most typically eat eggs and dairy, although some do not. Technically, a pescatarian who eats eggs and dairy would be called a lacto-ovo-pescatarian.
There is no set way to become one. Some people choose to gradually cut out meat from their diet while others make the switch all at once. Becoming a pescatarian is a choice, and it may not be easy for some people to make the change.
Why do people choose pescatarian diets?
The reasons people choose to become a pescatarian are varied. Some people may prefer it because they have ethical qualms when it comes to the consumption of meat. Some people might choose it because they want to lose weight, some might do it for their health, and still others might do it because they want to reduce their environmental footprint.
The diet is a healthy alternative to many because it encourages high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. The diet can also help prevent or manage diabetes and lower the risk for certain types of cancer.
There are also some environmental benefits, such as decreased greenhouse gas emissions from methane released by livestock and reduced fossil fuel usage. And less indirect energy demand to produce food for livestock than for humans.
Is the pescatarian diet a healthy choice?
It is not difficult to become a pescatarian. Still, it is essential to ensure that you have an adequate intake of protein and other nutrients to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
This type of diet can be challenging to maintain because it requires extensive planning and preparation, but it has many benefits that make it worth considering. A pescatarian diet follows a vegetarian diet with the addition of fish. They are animal-free and plant-based but also include the consumption of fish.
Athletic performance and fitness considerations
Some athletes who are pescetarians eat fish and other seafood and vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, and nuts. It is not difficult for an athlete to become a pescetarian because they can still eat lean protein like tofu or soy burgers for breakfast or lunch. Snack on plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day, and then add some fish in the evening.
However, a pescatarian diet may also be unhealthy if it includes many refined carbohydrates or processed foods. Athletes who are pescetarians eat a well-balanced diet that includes protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Some athletes who are pescatarians include Novak Djokovic and Cam Newton.
Cooking pescatarian at home
If you’re looking to make a pescatarian meal at home, you’ll need to make sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables, grains like rice and pasta, nuts, and legumes. Fish like salmon, cod, tuna, and tilapia are all great sources of protein found in the ocean.
One way to make a pescatarian meal is by grilling fish with vegetables. Or try fish tacos with vegetables instead of meat.
One of the easiest ways to make pescatarian meals at home is by using a crockpot. Simply make lentil soup with carrots, celery, and onions. Or try spaghetti squash with tomato sauce and dairy free cheese on top.