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Fish is Not Vegetarian, a "Well-Balanced" Rant

How did it ever get started that people think eating fish is vegetarian?No fish
Fish is not vegetarian food (well, it's actually not even food in the first place, but if you are going to eat it, please don't call yourself a vegetarian).

This myth is perpetuated over and over. Not only by people who work in restaurants and have been misinformed (likely from someone who called themself a vegetarian and then ordered the fish plate), but also from the general public, and even the media keeps putting this drivel out there.

Last week CNN puts out a definition of vegetarianism, and says that it may include fish (read it here). This week Bloomberg Businessweek puts out a short piece on eating a "well-balanced vegetarian diet" and again says that fish is a good source of protein for vegetarians that eat it (read it here). Ugh.

I will never understand why someone calls eating fish vegetarian. It is not. If you are someone that only eats fish, and not other animals, you are a pescetarian. That is not the same as a vegetarian. A vegetarian does not eat animals. Fish is an aquatic animal.

Furthermore, why must every omnivore that writes about vegetarianism include the words "well-planned?" Do they really think we are all sitting around planning out our nutrients each day? They must think that we have difficulty getting protein, when vegetarian protein sources are actually in abundance. And for the masses, eating a non-vegetarian diet (which seems to not require that it be well-balanced) must be super healthy. Blah.

Considering the number one killers in this country often come as a result of eating artery-clogging animal products, perhaps that label should be attached each time they discuss a non-vegetarian diet.

Please help to crush the myth that vegetarians eat fish... a "pescetarian" is no more a vegetarian than:

  • bovineaterian (one who eats a vegetarian diet, plus cows)
  • porcineaterian (one who eats a vegetarian diet, plus pigs)
  • poultryaterian (one who eats a vegetarian diet, plus poultry)

You see where I'm going with this... if you eat animals, any animals, you are not a vegetarian. Please, let's clear up the confusion regarding this issue, as well as the "well-balanced" one.


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Wow. As if the misinformation weren't rampant enough, now CNN is going to add to it? I hope they see the comments and correct that.


I know, Jessica. It's crazy! Bad enough when the general public is saying that, but for the media to is a bit much. People rely on them for accurate information.


This bugs me almost as much as the idea that vegans can eat honey (since when are bees not animals?). At least with fish-eating vegetarians I kind of realize where that got started. Vegetarians are usually defined as "people who don't eat meat", but "meat" has had different definitions, especially in other languages where the word commonly translated as "meat" really does exclude fish. And there's that whole "meatless" days in Lent thing for Catholics which doesn't exclude "seafood". I can almost see why some people would be confused if they were told that vegetarians are just people who don't eat meat -- rather than people who don't eat animals.

But when people just don't know what an animal even is? That's just so ignorant it hurts. Even as a vegan, I've gotten the, "What about fish? They're not animals!" Ugh! Some people really need to retake biology 101.

FYI, chicken + veg eaters are pollotarians. Regardless, thanks for pointing out that that and pescetarians are no more vegetarians than bovineaterian. I still get people acting like I should be happy that they don't eat red meat, like I only care about cows and not the many more chickens and fish they're eating.


It drives me nuts, Meg! So many people don't realize that fish are animals. How can that be?!

Here's my thoughts on the vegan honey debate:


Thanks for this post. Those two issues have been on my mind too,


My pleasure, Michelle! :)
Thanks for the feedback!


I'm happy if people are working toward a vegetarian lifestyle even if they do eat fish, though I have to admit I'm kind of annoyed when people start going through a list of things, asking what I do and don't eat. Especially when people say, "So you're a vegetarian... do you eat fish?" Actual vegetarians don't eat any kind of meat, but eliminating a certain kind of meat is at least a step in the right direction (just don't claim to be veggie).


I agree, Katie... any reduction in eating meat is a step in the right direction. But it drives me crazy when people eat fish and say they are vegetarian. Ugh! :)

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