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Title: Pescetarianism  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Vegetarianism, Saraswat cuisine, History of vegetarianism, Vegetarianism and religion, Fruitarianism
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Pescetarianism (also spelled pescatarianism) is the practice of following a diet that includes fish or other seafood, but not the flesh of other animals. A pescetarian diet typically shares many of its components with a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet and may include vegetables, fruit, nuts, grains, beans, eggs, dairy, and insect byproducts (such as honey, carmine, or shellac), but a vegetarian diet excludes meat. The Merriam-Webster dictionary dates the origin of the term pescetarian to 1993 and defines it as: "one whose diet includes fish but no other meat."[1]


Pescetarian is probably a neologism formed as a blend of the Italian word pesce ("fish") and the English word "vegetarian".[1] The Italian word is pronounced , while the English neologism is commonly , with a /sk/ sound, thus differing from pronunciations of similar terms in English and Italian.

Pesce in turn derives from the Latin piscis,[1] which has the form pisci- when it serves as a prefix, as it often does in scholarly terms (e.g. "pisciculture" /ˈpɪsɨkʌltʃər/ or "piscivore" /ˈpɪsɨvɔr/). Note that a piscivore, as a type of carnivore, eats a diet primarily of fish, whereas the neologism pescetarian refers to persons who consume plant derivatives as well as fish. A similar term is vegequarian.


Health considerations

Japanese nigiri-sushi. Many cultures offer pescetarian-friendly cuisine.

One of the most commonly cited reasons is that of health, based on findings that red meat is detrimental to health in many cases due to non-lean red meats containing high amounts of saturated fats,[2][3] choline and carnitine.[4] Eating certain kinds of fish raises HDL levels,[5][6] and some fish are a convenient source of omega-3 fatty acids,[7] and have numerous health benefits in one food variety.[8] A 1999 meta-analysis of five studies comparing vegetarian and non-vegetarian mortality rates in Western countries found that in comparison with regular meat-eaters, mortality from ischemic heart disease was 34% lower in pescetarians, 34% lower in ovo-lacto vegetarians, 26% lower in vegans and 20% lower in occasional meat-eaters.[9]

Concerns have been raised about consuming some fish varieties containing toxins such as mercury and PCBs,[10] though it is possible to select fish that contain little or no mercury and moderate the consumption of mercury-containing fish.[11][12]


Similarly to vegetarianism, some pescetarians adopt the diet on the basis of ethics, either as a transition to vegetarianism, not treating fish on the same moral level as other animals, or as a compromise to obtain nutrients not found in plants as easily.[13]

Abstinence among Catholics

Adhering to a diet closely resembling pescetarianism is a form of penitence among Roman Catholics. Such an approach is mandatory of Catholics on all Fridays of the year, except in places such as the United States of America, where the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops made the practice optional but recommended. It is still mandatory on Ash Wednesday and every Friday during Lent, and some Traditionalist Catholics choose to abstain from meat during the entire 40-day Lenten season, as was common practice in earlier times.[14]

Comparisons to other diets

Pescetarianism is similar to many traditional diets emphasizing fish as well as fruits, vegetables and grains. Many coastal populations tend to eat this way and these features characterize the traditional Mediterranean diet and the diets of many parts of Asia, Northern Europe, and the Caribbean. These traditional diets tend to also include meat although it is peripheral. In common with some vegetarians, pescetarians often eat eggs and/or dairy products, in addition to fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains.

Pescetarians are sometimes described as vegetarian or pesco-vegetarian, but vegetarians commonly do not consider the pescetarian diet to be vegetarian. For example, the Vegetarian Society, which initiated popular use of the term vegetarian as early as 1847, does not consider pescetarianism to be a vegetarian diet.[15] The definitions of vegetarian in mainstream dictionaries sometimes include fish in the diet.[16]

Hindu communities

By tradition, most Hindu Brahmin Communities ( the Priestly Class) follow a strict lacto-vegetarian diet. However, there are a number of Brahmin sub-groups that allow fish eating. These include the Goud Saraswat Brahmin community from Coastal South-Western India.[17] This community regards seafood in general as vegetables from the sea. They refrain from eating any land based animals. Other Hindu communities who consume seafood in great quantity are the Maithili Brahmin and the Bengali Brahmin.[18] The latter also eat meat on special occasions.

List of pescetarians

This is a list of notable people who are or were pescetarians.

See also

  • Semi-vegetarianism - other forms of semi-vegetarianism that include occasional meat consumption


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External links

  • What is a pescetarian?
  • Pescetarian Life
  • Type of Vegetarian Diet, Body Weight, and Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes
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