What is a Pescatarian and what do they eat?

A pescatarian is someone who adds fish and shellfish to a vegetarian diet.

There are many reasons why people choose to give up meat and poultry, but still eat fish.

Some people choose to add fish to a vegetarian diet so that they can get the health benefits of a diet based on plants plus heart-healthy fish.

Others may be trying to curb the environmental impact of their diet. For some, it could simply be a matter of taste.

This article explains more about the benefits and drawbacks of a Pescatarian diet, including exactly what a Pescatarian does and does not eat.

What is a fisherman?

More simply, a pescatarian is someone who does not eat meat, but does eat fish.

The term pescatarian was coined at the beginning of the 1990s and is a combination of the Italian word for fish, "pesce" and the word "vegetarian". Sometimes it is spelled "pescetarian", but this means the same thing.

In the scientific literature, this diet is often described as "pesco-vegetarian" and is included in the spectrum of vegetarianism (1).

According to that definition, a pescatarian is someone who chooses to eat a vegetarian diet, but who also eats fish and other seafood.

It is a diet largely based on whole-grain plants, nuts, legumes, healthy and healthy fats, and seafood plays a key role as the main source of protein.

Many fishermen also eat dairy and eggs.

Of course, just as vegetarian diets can vary widely, so can fishermen. It is possible to eat a meatless diet that is full of processed starches, junk food and fish sticks, rather than a healthier one based on whole foods.

Summary: A pescatarian is someone who follows a mainly vegetarian diet but also eats fish and seafood.

Why do people choose a Pescatarian diet?

There are several reasons why people can choose to eat a Pescatarian diet. These are some of the main ones.

Benefits of health

There are many proven benefits for plant-based diets, including a lower risk of obesity and chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes (2, 3, 4).

According to the research, you can also get many of those protective benefits of a Pescatarian diet.

One study found that women who were fishermen gained 2.5 pounds less (1.1 kg) each year than women who ate meat (4).

And people who changed their diet in a more plant-based direction gained the least amount of weight, which shows that reducing animal consumption may be good for you, regardless of your current eating patterns.

Another study concluded that fishermen had a lower risk of developing diabetes by 4.8%, compared with omnivores by 7.6% (2).

In addition, a large study looked at people who ate meat rarely or were fishermen. They had a 22% lower risk of dying from heart disease compared to those who eat meat on a regular basis (3).

Environmental concerns

The raising of livestock has a high environmental cost.

According to the United Nations, livestock farming contributes 15% of all man-made carbon emissions (5).

In contrast, producing fish and seafood has a lower carbon footprint than producing any type of meat or animal cheese (6).

A 2014 study estimated that fish-eater diets caused 46% less greenhouse gas emissions than the diets of people who ate at least one serving of meat per day (7).

Ethical reasons

Ethics can be one of the main reasons why people choose to become vegetarians. It can also be an important reason for fishermen.

Some of the ethical reasons why people choose not to eat meat include (8, 9):

  • Opposite killing: They do not want to kill animals for food.

  • Inhumane factory practices: They refuse to support industrial farms that raise livestock in inhumane conditions.

  • Deficient working conditions: They refuse to support industrial farms that have poor conditions for their workers.

  • Humanitarian reasons: They consider that producing grain for animal feed is an unfair use of land and resources when there is so much hunger in the world.

Eliminating terrestrial animals from your diet addresses some of these ethical concerns. That said, aquaculture and overfishing can also be problematic.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program is an excellent resource for finding fish that are caught or farmed ethically.

Summary: There are several reasons why people choose a Pescatarian diet, including concerns about health, ethics and the environment.

What do fishermen eat?

A typical pescatarian diet is mainly vegetarian with the addition of seafood.

The fishermen eat

  • Whole grains and grain products.

  • Legumes and their products, including beans, lentils, tofu and hummus

  • Nuts and butters, peanuts and seeds.

  • Seeds, including hemp, chia and flax seeds.

  • Dairy products, including yogurt, milk and cheese

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables

  • Fish and seafood

  • Eggs

Fishermen do not eat

  • Cow meat

  • Chicken

  • Pork

  • Lamb

  • Turkey

  • Wild game

Summary: A healthy diet of pescatarian is largely composed of minimally processed plant foods, in addition to seafood and possibly dairy and eggs.

Benefits of adding fish to a vegetarian diet

There are many health benefits of adding fish to a vegetarian diet.

Many people worry that completely excluding animal products or avoiding animal meat could lead to a low intake of certain key nutrients (10, 11, 12).

In particular, vitamins B12, zinc, calcium and proteins may be somewhat more difficult to obtain in a vegan diet (11, 13).

Adding seafood, including fish, crustaceans and molluscs, to a vegetarian diet can provide a variety and beneficial nutrients.

Get more Omega-3

Fish is the best way to obtain omega-3 fatty acids (14).

Some plant foods, such as walnuts and flax seeds, 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 (15, 16).

DHA and EPA have additional health benefits, which help not only the heart, but also brain function and mood (17).

In contrast, fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, contain EPA and DHA.

Increase your protein intake

Humans need only about 0.8 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight per day to stay healthy. That's around 54 grams for a 150-pound (68 kg) person.

However, many people prefer to eat more protein than that.

A diet high in protein can be difficult to achieve with only the proteins of plants, especially if you do not want carbohydrates or extra fats with your protein.

Fish and other seafood offer an excellent source of lean protein.

Seafood is full of other nutrients

Beyond the omega-3 fatty acids and proteins, shellfish are rich in several other nutrients.

For example, oysters are extremely high in vitamin B12, zinc and selenium. Only one oyster provides 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 in manganese and the rest of B vitamins (19).

Whitefish varieties such as cod and flounder do not provide much omega-3 fat, but they are a source of extremely lean protein.

For example, only 3 ounces of cod provide 19 grams of protein and less than one 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 will have extra options

Being vegetarian can be limiting at times.

Going out to eat at restaurants often leaves you with a not so healthy option, with dishes like pasta with cheese as the main "vegetarian" option.

If health at least partially motivates your food choices, becoming a fisherman will give you more options.

And the fish is generally good, especially if it is baked, grilled or sautéed, instead of fried (21).

Summary: Adding seafood to a vegetarian diet gives you more options and is a good way to get protein, omega-3s and other nutrients.

Disadvantages of diet

There are not many health drawbacks of this diet.

That said, some people may be more vulnerable to high fish intakes.

Fish, especially larger species, may contain mercury and other toxins (22, 23).

For this reason, the US Food and Drug Administration. UU (FDA) recommends that young children and women of childbearing age, especially pregnant and lactating women, avoid finfish, swordfish, shark and mackerel (24).

These populations should also limit albacore and yellowfin to a portion the size of a palm or less per week. Light tuna is lower in mercury and it is okay to eat 2 to 3 servings per week.

Since this diet is mainly vegetarian, it is subject to some of the other traps that often accompany vegetarian diets. For example, it can be easy to overeat carbohydrates, especially if you rely on many processed grains.

Summary: There may be some drawbacks to eating a pescatarian diet. It is easy to overeat carbohydrates and some fish are high in mercury.

The bottom line

A pescatarian diet can be quite healthy.

In addition, it allows you to avoid some of the ethical and environmental problems associated with diets that include meat.

In addition, this way of eating provides more flexibility and some extra nutrition compared to a standard vegetarian diet.

In general, eating a diet based on plants with some seafood is a healthy option.

Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/nutrition/pescatarian-diet


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