Pescatarian is a vegetarian diet which comprises of aquatic animals such as fish. The word “pesce” has Italian roots and means fish in Italian. Therefore, all those people who give weightage to fish in their vegetarian diets are known for the Italian term. Pescatarian diet eaters are also referred to as pescatarians or pesco-vegetarians.
There exist no hard and fast rules which draw a clear line between a pescatarian diet and a vegetarian diet. Moreover, there also exist no rules which dictate how many times you need to have fish in your meal to be considered a pescatarian. So, by this information, you can either be eating a fish in all your meals or every once in a while, to be known as a pescatarian.
If we take the approach that nutritionists take, then a pescatarian is a person who makes sophisticated decisions when planning out his meals and is health-conscious. They could also be people who are taking a vegetarian diet from a perspective based on fish in order to associate themselves with plant-eating. Moreover, they could also be those who are simply avoiding red meat in order to better their health by sticking to a long term pescatarian diet.
Now that you have some understanding about a pescatarian diet and pescatarians let’s have a look at the pros and cons of the diet.
The Pescatarian diet is high in protein content as meat. Fish and other aquatic animals provide a lot of it. So, all those people who have eliminated red meat from their diets find it easier to follow a pescatarian diet as it fulfills the protein requirement better than a vegetarian diet. Another plus point is that fish provide complete proteins, so there is no need to combine proteins in order to fulfill the nutrient requirement.
Another advantage of a pescatarian diet is that you get the best of two worlds. On one hand, you receive the health benefits of following a vegetarian diet and elimination of red meat. Whereas on the other hand, you get all the benefits which come with making fish a component of your diet.
The benefit of eating fish is that it has low amounts of saturated fat and contains a lot of important nutrients. Replacing red meat with fish means you will be cutting down on fat and calories in your diet. This will help you maintain weight in healthy boundaries.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Eating fish like salmon and trout means you will be boosting the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your body. Supplements are an option for many people to get their dosage of omega-3 fatty acids, but health experts always recommend fulfilling the intake from food. Your brain health and heart health are both improved with the intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
Eating a pescatarian diet also has positive environmental impacts. This belief is held by people who have pointed out that the procedures of processing and raising meat leads to dangerous emissions and takes up a good amount of land. Whereas, if the meat in the diet is replaced by fish, it would not only be healthier but also sustainable.
There are several benefits attached to eating a pescatarian diet. However, it does not come without any pitfalls. Let’s move to them now.
Foods that are part of the pescatarian diet are not budget-friendly. The main reason behind this is that fruits and vegetables have to be bought fresh. Moreover, fresh fish is also preferred by most people. Therefore, the cost of the diet becomes high. However, you can always go for bulk buying of vegetables and fruits. They are as healthy as fresh ones. Moreover, you can always buy frozen fish and store them for future use.
Higher in Mercury Content
Seafood often has toxins in it. Mercury is known to be found in many fish as well as other harmful toxins. Therefore, a person following a pescatarian diet needs to keep a check on which fish has what toxins. The best choices for people are lobster, herring, freshwater trout, and scallops. There also other good choices, which include snapper, grouper, halibut, and monkfish. People should avoid fish, such as orange roughy, shark, and bigeye tuna.
Low in Vitamin B-12
Another drawback of a pescatarian diet is the lack of Vitamin B-12. This essential nutrient is most commonly found in animal meat. You need this to maintain the formation of RBCs, a healthy nervous system, and for protein metabolism.
The Bottom Line
Pescatarian diets, like every other diet, has its pros and cons. However, it is evident from the discussion above that the pros outweigh the con. Moreover, there are several ways with which you can counter the cons and lessen their impact or completely eliminate their effect.