The term pescatarian (also spelled pescetarian) is being heard more and more. As we strive to take good care of ourselves, including eating a healthy diet, we search for ways to improve our diets without having too many limitations. The pescatarian diet was born from this need.
The term pescatarian is quite new. The word pescatarian was created in the 1990s based on the Italian word for fish (pesce) and a related term, vegetarian. Therefore, if you call yourself a pescatarian, you eat fish and seafood, but no other meat. (any animals). A pescatarian diet is based on the absence of meat in your diet.
If you truly want to become a pescatarian and follow a true pescatarian diet, then you need to get all the facts, including what it isn’t as well as what it is.
What Is a Pescatarian?
If you truly want to go down the pescatarian path, it’s a good idea to plan ahead. To be successful at anything, we need to fully understand it first.
Following a pescaterian diet consists of a vegetarian with the addition of fish and seafood. Many people hear the word pescaterian and think of someone only eating fish. Most people don’t think of seafood as being included in the fish category when in fact seafood is included in the pescatarian diet.
Why Become a Pescaterian?
There are many different reasons why someone becomes a pescatarian. At some point, something triggers us and we give a pescatarian diet a try. There are 3 categories that typically contain the reasons why someone chooses a pescatarian diet.
Some people choose a pescatarian diet for health-related concerns. Some people choose a pescatarian lifestyle due to concerns about the environment. Still, others choose this way of eating pescatarian for ethical reasons. That reason is often personal and everyone has their own.
Benefits of a Pescatarian Diet
Some health benefits include lowering the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes and lowering the risk of obesity
One of the environmental benefits is reducing the number of greenhouse gases (such as nitrous oxide, methane and carbon dioxide), that are emitted because of raising livestock and other animals.
Some ethical reasons include: reducing the number of animals slaughtered and reducing the number of animals treated inhumanely
When you decide to live a pescatarian lifestyle, you want to make sure you are ready and understand what it means on a day-to-day basis.
The main commitment is the commitment to remove all meat from your diet. All meat includes not just red meat, but pork, chicken and other poultry as well. Remember you are not limiting the amount of chicken you eat to once a week or only eating red meat on special occasions.
You are committing to all or nothing. You don’t have to commit to all or nothing, but then you will not be a true pescatarian.
If you have a family, you also need to think about how these restrictions will affect them. If they are not pescatarians, they may not like having fish, quinoa, and beans instead of chicken, hamburgers, and ham.
You can always make something separate for them. This decision will require you to have meat in the house. It will also make meal preparation take longer.
Think about what following a pescatarian lifestyle means on a daily basis. You are bound to be put in some awkward situations. For example, you may be getting together with friends and someone decides to order a pizza. You don’t think about it and the pizza arrives with pepperoni and sausage.
Another example is that you are at an important work meeting and your manager decides to carry it on through lunch. She has her assistant order sandwiches from a nearby sandwich shop.
Your boss nor her assistant consulted anyone about what to order. A platter full of sandwiches arrive. There are 3 choices, ham, turkey or beef.
Another scenario is that you are invited to someone's home for dinner. You don’t know the host very well, and she doesn't know you are a pescatarian. The dinner starts off with soup, which happens to have chicken in it and is made with chicken broth as well. Next, the main course pasta, which has meat sauce.
You may think these situations won’t happen. Eventually, you'll plan on telling everyone you are a pescatarian.
If you find yourself in one of these scenarios, you will just eat around the meat. This option may be fine if you know the people and they won’t be offended if you don’t eat. Many people will be offended or will feel bad for not having something for you to eat.
If you are committed to being a pescatarian, there are things you can do to help make life a little easier. The most important is to plan ahead.
You will find it more difficult to just grab something to eat when you’re busy or throw something together because you haven’t gone to the market. Planning ahead means planning your meals in advance and knowing what you are getting at the market. Planning also means that you will need to consider preparation time for making meals.
If you are going to a restaurant, you also need to plan ahead. If possible, look at the menu if you aren't familiar with it. Look for a few good choices. If you just pick one, what if they're out of it?
Until you have been on a pescatarian diet for a while, you may get discouraged with the lack of menu choices. It’s sometimes difficult to find something to eat at some restaurants. Keep in mind, most restaurants will allow some type of substitution or are able to make the dish without meat.
You will probably prepare more meals to eat at home when you follow a pescatarian diet. It may be challenging to figure out what to eat at first. Having many meal choices and recipes will keep you from getting bored from eating the same food and it will also help you get all the nutrients you need.
There are a plethora of meat replacements available if want to go down that route. Most of these imitations are made with soy. If you are looking for something similar to chicken, but not chicken or a hot dog that isn't a hot dog, you will find options.
It does make meal preparation easier if you are cooking for others. Most times you can just replace the real thing with the substitute, a tofu dog for an all-beef frank, for example.
If you want to avoid or limit the amount of Imitation meat you eat, there are still many options besides all the types of fish and seafood available. Sometimes it just takes creativity. As more and more people choose to be pescatarians, more cookbooks and recipes are created with the pescatarian diet in mind.
Quinoa is the pescatarian’s friend. Unlike other grains, beans, and legumes, quinoa is a complete protein all alone. Quinoa can be used in place of rice or other grains. You don’t need to add beans or other incomplete proteins as you do with rice to get all the nutrients.
You can make a vegetable soup, add some quinoa and you have a meal. Quinoa is an ingredient in many recipes. It’s even used to make burgers and patties. You will be surprised at the number meatless burger recipes are out there, many using Quinoa.
Our bodies need complete protein. Generally, if we are not on a restricted diet, we get our complete protein primarily from, meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. As pescatarians, we get our complete protein from fish, eggs, and dairy, but also from combining various foods to form a complete protein source. When two incomplete sources of protein are combined, a complete protein is created
For example, when you combine beans, lentils, or peanuts with grains such as whole wheat or brown rice, a complete protein is formed. Spanish rice and re-fried beans make a complete protein, for example.
Many people like protein powders. They are quick and easy to prepare and are usually high in protein. They come in a variety of formulas and flavors. Whey protein is popular, but soy protein, hemp protein, pea protein, and many others are available. Fruit, veggies, yogurt, peanut butter, and other healthy foods can be added to the protein powder for a variety of different tastes.
Before deciding to become a pescatarian, and follow a true pescatarian diet, it’s wise to learn all the facts. Following a pescatarian diet consists of following a vegetarian diet with the addition of fish and seafood.
It’s important to plan ahead when shopping for groceries or going to a restaurant. Planning gives you time to explore different food options, and it also helps keep you on track. It may be challenging at times, but sometimes all it takes is a little creativity.