What Is a Pescatarian and What Do They Eat?Posted: June 26, 2022
In this article I will be discussing the benefits of Pescatarian Diet and a few pitfalls people run into in following it.
A pescatarian is someone who adds fish and seafood to a vegetarian diet. There are many reasons people choose to forgo meat and poultry, but still eat fish. Some people choose to add fish to a vegetarian diet so they can get the health benefits of a plant-based diet plus heart-healthy fish. Others might be trying to curb the environmental impact of their diet. For some, it might be simply a matter of taste.
Most simply, a pescatarian is someone who doesn’t eat meat, but does eat fish.
Of course, just as vegetarian diets can vary widely, so can pescatarian ones. It’s possible to eat a meat-free diet that’s full of processed starches, junk food and fish sticks, rather than a healthier one based on whole foods.
Why Do People Choose a Pescatarian Diet?
There are many proven benefits to plant-based diets, including a lower risk of obesity and chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes . According to research, you can get many of those protective benefits from a pescatarian diet too. One study found that women who were pescatarians gained 2.5 fewer pounds each year than women who ate meat.
And people who shifted their diet in a more plant-based direction gained the least amount of weight, showing that reducing your animal consumption may be good for you no matter your current eating patterns.
Additionally, one large study looked at people who ate meat rarely or were pescatarians. They had a 22% lower risk of dying from heart disease compared to regular meat-eaters.
Raising livestock comes with a high environmental cost. According to the United Nations, raising livestock contributes to 15% of all human-made carbon emissions. In contrast, producing fish and seafood has a lower carbon footprint than producing any type of animal meat or cheese.
A 2014 study calculated that diets of fish eaters caused 46% less greenhouse gas emissions than the diets of people who ate at least a serving of meat a day.
What Do Pescatarians Eat?
A typical pescatarian diet is primarily vegetarian with the addition of seafood.
Pescatarians Do Eat
- Whole grains and grain products
(My Meal Delivery Service uses on gluten free grains)
- Legumes and their products, including beans, lentils, soy and hummus. I personally do not use soy as I have a severe allergic reaction to it and use 0only Tempeh in the service. I use Coconut Aminos as a substitute for soy sauce) I do use miso and tempeh and miso are both fermented foods that aid in developing good gut flora and are easier to digest than other forms of soy)
- Nuts and nut butters, peanuts and seeds
- Seeds, including hemp, chia and flaxseeds
- Dairy, including yogurt, milk and cheese
(my service a lactose and gluten free. I use coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, etc. I make these myself as they are much richer in taste as well as having to chemicals added as boxed milks do)
- Fish and shellfish
There are many health benefits of adding fish to a vegetarian diet.
Many people are concerned that completely excluding animal products or avoiding animal flesh could lead to a low intake of certain key nutrients (.In particular, vitamins B12, zinc, calcium and protein can be somewhat harder to get on a vegan diet (11Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
Some plant foods, including walnuts and flaxseeds, contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fat. However, this type of ALA is not easily converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the body.
DHA and EPA have additional health benefits, helping not just the heart, but also brain function and mood. In contrast, oily fish, such as salmon and sardines, contains EPA and DHA.
Boost Your Protein Intake
Humans only need about 0.8 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight daily to stay healthy. That’s about 54 grams for a 150-pound (68-kg) person. However, many people prefer to eat more protein than that.
A high-protein diet can be hard to achieve with just plant proteins, especially if you don’t want extra carbs or fat with your protein.
Fish and other seafood offer an excellent source of lean protein.
Seafood Is Packed With Other Nutrients
Beyond omega-3s and protein, seafood is rich in several other nutrients.
For instance, oysters are extremely high in vitamin B12, zinc and selenium. Just one oyster delivers 133% of the RDI for vitamin B12 and 55% of the RDI for zinc and selenium (18).
Mussels are also super rich in vitamin B12 and selenium, as well as manganese and the rest of the B vitamins (19).
White fish varieties such as cod and flounder don’t deliver much omega-3 fats, but they are a source of extremely lean protein.
For example, just 3 ounces of cod provide 19 grams of protein and less than a gram of fat. Cod is also an excellent source of selenium and a good source of phosphorus, niacin and vitamins B6 and B12 (20).
You’ll Have Extra Options
Being a vegetarian can be limiting at times.
Eating out at restaurants often leaves you with a not-so-healthy choice, with dishes like cheesy pasta as the main “veggie” option.
If health at least partially motivates your food choices, then becoming pescatarian will give you more options.
And fish is generally a good one, especially if you get it baked, grilled or sautéed, as opposed to deep-fried.
Drawbacks of the Diet
There are not many health drawbacks of this diet.
That said, some people may be more vulnerable to high intakes of fish.
Fish, especially larger species, can contain mercury and other toxins. For this reason, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that young children and women of childbearing age, especially pregnant and nursing women, should avoid tilefish, swordfish, shark and king mackerel.
These populations should also limit albacore and yellowfin tuna to one palm-sized serving or less per week. Light tuna is lower in mercury and it’s fine to eat 2–3 servings a week.
Since this diet is primarily vegetarian, it’s subject to some of the other traps that frequently accompany vegetarian diets. For instance, it can be easy to overeat carbs, especially if you rely on lots of processed grains.