Popular Diets
The Pescetarian Diet

Pescetarianism is a diet in which a person eats any combination of vegetables, fruit, nuts, beans and fish or seafood, but does not eat mammals or birds...

Preparing Fish

Preparing fish in popular diets

Fish, sometimes delicious, sometimes healthy.

Some pescetarians eat eggs and dairy products, while others do not. The most recent Merriam-Webster Inc.’s dictionary includes a new entry pescetarian, which they define as a "vegetarian whose diet includes fish." The word itself blends the Italian word “pesce” which means fish and the English word "vegetarian". Most vegetarians do not eat fish and will not consider pescetarians to be true vegetarians in spite of any dictionary or word origin.

Some pescetarians see their diet as a sort of halfway house on the way to becoming a vegetarian or even going vegan. They choose not to “go all the way” in one fell swoop. Many people believe that eating fish is healthier than eating meat, which contains high levels of saturated fats. Eating some kinds of fish can raise your HDL (high-density lipoproteins) levels, and remember that another name for HDL is “good cholesterol.” Some people claim that HDL protects against cardiovascular diseases. Another benefit of eating fish, especially oily fish, is the increase in omega-3 fatty acids, said by many to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer, in particular breast, colon, and prostate cancer. On the dark side, fish may contain toxins such as mercury and PCBs.

Some pescetarians feel that it is more acceptable to kill and eat fish and seafood than to kill and eat land animals and birds. One argument consists in setting up a spectrum of animals running from microbes to primates, saying in effect that almost nobody objects to killing microbes and that fish are closer to microbes than to us or our simian friends. Another argument states that the environmental impact of eating and perhaps raising fish and seafood is much less than the impact of raising cattle for market.

Many pescetarians claim that fish, unlike mammals and birds, cannot feel pain. The scientific jury is still out on this question. Most animals consumed in North America have been raised for market. On the other hand, most fish and seafood are free-range. Furthermore, fish and seafood require less food per edible pound than do animals and birds. So we may be “wasting” fewer calories of our hungry planet by eating fish and seafood.

Pescetarian feast in popular diets

What is tastier than shrimps and scallops?

A 2006 United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization report entitled Livestock's Long Shadow estimates that livestock are responsible for approximately 18 percent of the global warming effect, a greater contribution than caused by transportation. Livestock produce methane as part of their digestive process and their manure contains nitrogen. Furthermore, grazing land means deforestation. A fish diet substantially reduces these global warming factors. However, overfishing has destroyed many natural habitats and fish-farming also has serious environmental impact.

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