Curious about my pesctaraian diet and what is a pescatarian? Today I'm sharing a pescatarian for beginners' guide including why I eat the way I do, what is a pescatarian and whether the diet is healthy. Plus practical tips and recipes on becoming a pescatarian yourself.
Before we dive into today's post I don't want anyone to think that I'm preaching to them that one way of eating is better than another. I do believe that there are many different types of healthy diets and not one fits everyone's personality, body type, and individual health needs. I've hesitated over the years writing a post like this because I don't want any of you guys to feel that you are excluded from this blog because you don't eat the way I do. This blog is for more than just vegetarians or pescatarians. In fact, I write my recipes to feed my family including my meat-eating hubby so I feel like they can be enjoyed by everyone... no matter what label you put on your diet. My goal is to inspire you to try new recipes including lots of veggies and occasionally fish or seafood.
That being said I do get a lot of questions about being a pescatarian and what is a pescatarian and I wanted to finally formally address it here AND share some ways you could become a pescatarian too IF it's something that has sounded interesting to you. I've been living the pescatarian lifestyle for over 20 years so it is something close to my heart.
Consider this a Pescatarian for Beginners guide of sorts.
Learn More About the Pescatarian Lifestyle: 15 Healthy & Satisfying Pescatarian Dinners, 5 Day Pescatarian Meal Plan & Shopping List, Pescatarian vs Vegetarian, & Pescatarian Meal Prep
Pescatarian for Beginners
What is a Pescatarian?
So what is a pescatarian? A pescatarian is someone who adds fish and seafood to an otherwise vegetarian diet. My version of this includes dairy and eggs. It's a great diet because it provides flexibility and ease to a vegetarian diet because you can eat more and usually don't have trouble eating out. Because it is less restrictive I think it is easier to keep for the long haul. Pescatarian and Flexitarian diets are becoming increasingly popular because it's a great way to get the health benefits of eating a more plant-based food while having some flexibility to enjoy in moderation some other foods you enjoy.
Funny story! I actually didn't call myself a pescatarian until I moved to Asheville. If someone asked I'd mention "I am a vegetarian who eats seafood." When I moved to Asheville, which is a city that is very inclusive of alternative diets, I learned the label for my diet from kind folks who told me that I'm not the only one who eats this way! For years not many people were familiar with the term though and when I said I was a pescatarian a lot of time I got met with the question... "You're a pesca-what?"
After YEARS of eating this way, it feels nice that it's becoming more mainstream. The pescatarian lifestyle is gaining momentum because it's a fabulous way to eat.
Why I'm a Pescatarian
Before we dive in, I thought I'd share how I became a pescatarian. The story starts WAY back when I was in 8th grade. I was pretty naive and collected stuffed cows for fun. I also LOVED eating chili-cheese burritos at school at the time but it never clicked with me WHAT I was actually eating. I had a friend not so kindly point out to me that I was eating my "friends" and I stopped eating beef cold turkey and never looked back. I stopped eating all the other meat a few years later. Other than those burrito's I didn't like meat that much so it was easy for me to give up. Once I knew what I was eating I didn't want to eat it anymore. It was really that simple for me.
In college, I was having trouble figuring out what a balanced diet with enough protein looked like so I started eating seafood and fish again. Back then it was also harder to eat out without eating fish as vegetarian dishes were hard to come by in restaurants. I actually grew to love seafood and found I was healthier when I included it in my diet.
This way of eating has stuck for 20 plus years because I simply don't have a taste for eating meat anymore. I have no desire to eat it and as an animal lover the thought of eating it grosses me out. I honestly don't judge anyone who feels differently, but the pescatarian lifestyle is what works for me.
I eat fish because I like it, it gives me an easy source of protein, and it has lots of health benefits. It also makes cooking for my family easier because my Hubby loves fish as much as I do. I know some people may not understand why I eat fish but not anything else but that is just the balance I have found in my life.
For those of you who are curious, the Hubs eats meat but mainly eats it for lunch when he eats out at work. Luckily he doesn't mind eating vegetarian and pescatarian dinners. Up until the twins came along I didn't cook or have meat in the house. Now that I'm making food for the twins I will occasionally give them chicken or turkey. I think it's important for me to not exclude an entire food group from their diet because they are so young. I want them to be able to eat and digest all foods and make up their own minds about their diet when they are old enough. For now, though they eat mostly what I do with a couple meals with meat thrown in a week.
Pescatarian for Beginners: Health Benefits of a Pescatarian Diet
The key to my pescatarian diet is it starts with a basic plant-based diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. When a vegetarian diet is actually based on good, fresh food it can help your blood pressure, blood glucose, reduce your cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. Eating a wide variety of colorful vegetables can pack your diet with natural vitamins to generally keep you healthy and energized.
Adding fish to a plant-based vegetarian diet can help several types of nutritional deficiencies vegetarians can often get if they aren't careful. Fish adds protein, vitamin B12, and omega fatty acids to the diet filling in some gaps making the pescatarian diet even healthier! It is absolutely possible to get everything you need from a vegetarian diet but eating fish and seafood makes it a little easier to have a well-rounded diet without as much fuss. Also eating fish improves heart health. Eating it just once or twice a week shows a 50-percent reduction in the risk of sudden cardiac death in healthy adults.
What I eat is basically like a Mediterranean diet and has all of those benefits too!
I think the pescatarian diet is a good one because it sets you up for success. You are still eating mainly plants and doing so much for your health and the environment. Plus I feel becoming a pescatarian is easier... especially with food like this!
Vegetarian and vegan diets can often feel very restrictive and because of that many don't stick with them for long. Eating seafood and fish opens up so many doors of food you CAN eat so you don't feel deprived. Eating out and cooking for others is simpler. The best diet isn't a diet at all but a lifestyle and I feel like the pescatarian diet is one many could adopt and keep for a very long time.
What Can A Pescatarian Eat?
Curious about being a pescatarian for beginners and what can a pescatarian eat?
One common misconception of a pescatarian diet is people think I eat seafood daily. Unless I'm on vacation at the beach, I don't. I eat a mainly vegetarian diet with shrimp and seafood added in a few times a week. Depending on what I have going on in any week I eat seafood and fish 1-5 times. I don't need or want seafood that often.
What Can A Pescatarian Eat:
- Vegetables - fresh & frozen
- Diary - cheese, yogurt, etc.
- Nuts and Seeds
- Fish- salmon, tilapia, mahi-mahi, grouper, cod, etc.
- Seafood - shrimp, clams, mussels, oysters, etc.
What I don't eat:
- Any other type of meat!
Most of my grocery cart is usually fruit and vegetables. That's my biggest pescatarian for beginners tip... fill your cart with produce! I get protein from sources other than fish including beans, grains, dairy, and tofu.
I buy a lot of frozen seafood and fish. Since I live in the mountains there is not a lot of fresh - never frozen - seafood available. Most of what is in the seafood counter are the same frozen seafood I buy and has been thawed out by whoever is working that day. I think it makes more sense to just buy it frozen myself and then have it to thaw out whatever day I need it. If I get lucky and see something that has never been frozen at a reasonable price I snag it up... but frozen is often the way I go because it means I usually end up with a fresher product.
Is Being a Pescatarian Healthy?
I think it's also important to point out that being a vegetarian or pescatarian isn't automatically healthy. You can be a vegetarian and eat nothing but bread, pasta, and pizza or a pescatarian and eat fried seafood. When I was just starting out as a vegetarian as a young teenager I ate so much pasta and pizza because I didn't know what I else I could eat. My poor Mom was clueless about what to cook for me. Back then alternative diets were not as popular and there were not as many resources or options in the grocery store. I sometimes can't believe all the vegetarian and vegan products in the stores these days just in the regular grocery store.
If you want this (or ANY) lifestyle to be healthy it's important to have your meals include a variety of fresh food including a big chunk of fruits and vegetables. If you follow the diet in that way being a pescatarian can be healthy.
Is the Pescatarian Diet for You Too?
Maybe!!! If you are curious about wanting to eat less meat for moral, health, environmental or economic reasons the pescatarian diet is a great one to consider. Being a pescatarian is a great balance of helping all of those causes you want to help but still getting the extra oomph to your diet that eating fish adds.
I feel like this less restrictive diet is more likely to stick and something more sustainable than vegan or vegetarian diets. It's easier to include the proper nutrients in your diet, eat out and even entertain. You get all the benefits of a vegetarian diet PLUS the nutritional bonus of eating fish a few times a week.
This diet has worked for me for over two decades and might work for you too!
My site is filled with great vegetarian, vegan and fish/ seafood recipes.
Here are quick links to the recipes...
More Resources on Becoming Pescatarian
This is the beginning of my Pescatarian Diet series! Also, check out my 15 of my most favorite pescatarian dinner recipes including EASY ways to cook fish and seafood. I'll also have meal planning tips and a meal planner with a grocery list!
- 15 Easy & Healthy Pescatarian Dinners Where You Will Not Miss the Meat
- 5-Day Pescatarian Meal Plan & Grocery List
- Pescatarian Meal Prep
- Pescatarian vs Vegetarian: Which Diet Might Work for You
Pin for later!
Do you have any questions about being a pescatarian?