“You’re a Pesca-what?” What is a Pescatarian Diet and Why I Follow It

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“You’re a Pesca-what?” What is a Pescatarian Diet and Why I Follow It

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 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.

Shrimp, Avocado, tomato and cilantro

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.

Salmon Foil Packets with Vegetables

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.

Honey Lime Rainbow Fruit Salad recipe

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!

BBQ Shrimp Marinade Recipe

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.

The Best Portobello Mushroom Burger recipe

What Can A Pescatarian Eat:

  • Vegetables – fresh & frozen
  • Fruit
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Grains
  • Diary – cheese, yogurt, etc.
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Beans
  • Tofu/Tempeh
  • Fish- salmon, tilapia, mahi-mahi, grouper, cod, etc.
  • Seafood – shrimp, clams, mussels, oysters, etc.

What I don’t eat:

  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Pork
  • 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.

I also consider mercury levels of the fish and which ones are more sustainable with the Monterey Bay Aquarium list.  With that said, I do love a good fresh tuna dish and enjoy it in moderation.


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.

Cucumber Avocado Simple Quinoa Salad


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!


Pescatarian Recipes

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!




Pin for later!


Your turn!

Do you have any questions about being a pescatarian?

By | 2021-01-15T14:46:38-05:00 February 12th, 2020|All Vegetarian, Food, Pescatarian Meals|16 Comments


  1. Meloney Seawright December 20, 2020 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    After Christmas I will be getting rid of meat in my diet. I will be doing fish vegetables & fruit I feel better & think more clear,eating that way if we all would just stick to portion size we would be better off.I really believe we have a lot of health issues today bc of over eating our bodies are not made to digest massive amounts of food. Processed being the worst.Thank for the recipes

  2. […] fondly remember her making meatloaf in the microwave.  That might actually be why I’m a vegetarian/pescatarian… but that’s a story for another day. […]

  3. […] have nothing against eating carbs.  I don’t follow a low carb or keto diet (I am a pescatarian!) and I love potatoes of all kinds.  BUT I know many of you avoid carbs (hello… Pops!) […]

  4. Tangele April 28, 2020 at 11:44 am - Reply

    This information was very helpful. I’m new to beginning a pesterian for health reasons. Thank you for this.

  5. […] when I was sick as a kid, but I hadn’t really ever found a great substitute for that since I stopped eating meat.  I decided to create a soup that would not only hit that flavor you have come to know and love […]

  6. […] a teenager… although my early attempts were not super successful.  I remember when I first stopped eating meat I decided to cook for my family and a simple vegetable stir fry seemed like the perfect dish to […]

  7. […] started my series on the pescatarian diet last week with sharing my journey to becoming a pescatarian, what the diet […]

  8. Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy February 15, 2020 at 11:10 am - Reply

    If I weren’t married i’d Be pescatarian, too. I actually do like beef, but I don’t crave it. There was a time my husband & I lived apart (for a couple of years) due to his job (we did see each other once a month or so). I never ate meat when he wasn’t there.

    Luckily he likes fish. 😊 He will grudgingly Eat the occasional vegetarian meal (like once a week), and I get tired of making two meals, so I still eat everything. But I definitely limit red meat — I try for only every other week but sometimes it’s every week.

    I love that you preface it by saying you don’t have an agenda though!

  9. Leslie February 13, 2020 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    I’m so thankful you have found something that has worked so well for you. Thank you for sharing your tips!

  10. Angela Campos February 13, 2020 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    I may have to give this a try! I did ok with Veganuary, but that is not something I could do long term. Your recipes look amazing!!!

  11. Natalie February 13, 2020 at 9:35 am - Reply

    You explained everything so well. Thanks! This diet could be fit for me. I already eat a lot of seafood and veggies. Worth of trying.

  12. Abby Langer February 12, 2020 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    My daughters and I love fish! Any kind, really. I love the versatility of fish — you can put just about anything on it!

  13. Deborah Brooks February 12, 2020 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    I have recently been trying to add some fish into my vegetarian diet. I am starting slow. I am not doing shellfish. So far I am enjoying fish tacos with hallibut and cod. Helpful post thanks!

  14. Rachel February 12, 2020 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    We eat seafood about once a week. I do enjoy a good fish. Halibut is my favorite. And honestly I love shrimp and crab, too.

  15. Lisa Ballantyne February 12, 2020 at 10:07 am - Reply

    A most informative post, Julie! I love seafood and could eat it 24/7 if that were possible!

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