Yesterday morning I was live on a local radio station program: V-103 The Frank and Wanda Morning Show discussing what pescatarians eat, the health benefits, and tips to stick with this eating plan. I had a blast answering callers questions along with staff questions. My time on the show passed by quickly. I realized after the show I didn’t get the opportunity to go into detail about a pescatarian lifestyle. I wrote this blog post to explain the benefits and obstacles of a pescatarian lifestyle and how to overcome those obstacles with simple solutions.
What is a Pescatarian?
A pescatarian is a person who adds fish and seafood to a mostly vegetarian diet.
Foods pescatarians eat
- A variety of fish and shellfish (shrimp, lobster, scallops, oysters, mussels, clams, etc.)
- Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, bulger, millet, oats, wild rice)
- Legumes including beans, peanuts, lentils, tofu, and hummus
- Nuts and nut butters, and seeds (sunflower, pumpkin)
- Seeds including hemp, chia, and flaxseeds
- Dairy products including milk, yogurt, and cheese
Foods pescatarians don’t eat
- Wild Game (duck, goose, rabbit, quail, etc.)
Following a nutritious pescatarian lifestyle involves eating a variety of fish and seafood to get essential nutrients such as Vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, calcium, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. Adding foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, walnuts, cabbage, brussels sprouts) have shown to help prevent heart disease, stroke, and may play a protective role in cancer.
According to research studies, pescatarians have a lowering risk of developing diabetes and dying from heart disease compared to meat eaters.
Obstacles to maintaining a pescatarian lifestyle
- No planning. Switching to a healthier lifestyle means planning meals in advance so you’re not tempted to eat foods you are trying to avoid.
- Making changes all at once. Start with small, simple changes like eating fish or seafood 3 days a week instead of 7 days a week.
- Not eating a variety of plant-based meals. You don’t have to eat fish or seafood for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Try vegetarian chili with cornbread or a veggie omelet.
Downsides to a pescatarian lifestyle
There aren’t many downsides to this lifestyle however if you’re concerned about mercury levels and other toxins in fish, minimize consumption of larger fish. Examples are tilefish, swordfish, shark, and King mackerel. Pregnant women and breastfeeding women should avoid these fish and consume 8 oz to 12 oz of other fish and seafood and 6 oz of albacore tuna per week.
Overeating carbohydrates especially processed grains is a downside of any mostly vegetarian meal plan. Follow My Plate www.choosemyplate.gov to get the appropriate food portion sizes.
- The Pescetarian Plan: The Vegetarian + Seafood Way to Lose Weight and Love Your Food by Janis Jibrin MS RD
- The Vegiterranean Diet: The New and Improved Mediterranean Eating Plan–with Deliciously Satisfying Vegan Recipes for Optimal Health by Julieanna Hever MS RD
*I have not prepared any recipes from these cookbooks. These cookbooks were chosen because registered dietitians are the authors.