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Pescetarianism is a dietary choice, in which a person does not consume the flesh of land dwelling animals. In contrast to a vegetarian, a Pescetarian eats fish and seafood, it is similar to (and often contains) the Mediterranean diet. Pescetarianism is the chosen diet of some people for various reasons, most commonly cited are health benefits.

Pescetarians eat fish, as well as shellfish, crustaceans, and the like, but exclude all

Pescetarian Diet
Pescetarian Diet

meats derived from animals which dwell on land and sometimes animal products. The word pesco is usually assumed to derive from the Latin for fish, piscis, but the vowel e suggests the influence of a Romance language such as Spanish or Italian.

As of August 2004, "pescatarian", "pescotarian", and "piscatarian" could also be found on the Internet, but "pescetarian" was perhaps the most popular (while Italian pesce is pronounce with a soft "ch", the English term is usually pronounced with a hard "c".) "Pescavore" is also quite common, formed by analogy with "carnivore" (though the more regular word piscivore already existed).

Less commonly used terms found include Aquatarian and "Fishetarian", the latter of which was used in print as early as 1992.

There are many rationales for maintaining a pescetarian diet. Some pescetarians simply do not enjoy the taste or texture of eating meats from land animals. As with most dietary choices, the rationale behind it can differ greatly from person to person.

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. Furthermore, eating certain kinds of fish raises HDL levels, and some fish are a convenient source of omega-3 fatty acids, and have numerous health benefits in one food variety. Some health websites also state that pescetarianism lifestyle is a more healthy diet than vegetarian and vegan ones.

It can be claimed conversely that fish also contain toxins such as mercury and PCBs,] though a careful selection of fish can ensure a low-risk or toxin-free product.

For some the rationale is ethics: believing that either the treatment, or simply the killing and eating, of mass market "meat" mammals is unethical. The rationalization for eating fish is usually that pescetarians feel significantly less moral attachment to non-land creatures. Other ethical reasoning includes; "I have to eat some kind of meat" (see complete protein), "fish are less intelligent than other animals", "fish are not mistreated in the same way that factory farmed animals are" or "hooked/netted fish do not suffer as much as land animals that are shot in the wild".

For many the issue comes down to explotation and suffering/pain. Many vegetarians wish to eliminate the suffering and pain caused unto animals in the farming and slaughtering process. Because it has never been conclusively shown that fish, crab, lobster, and shrimp (among other sea creatures) have advanced brain functions or feel pain, the rationale to protect and avoid eating these animals doesn't exist. These types of pesca-vegetarians are often quick to point out that should evidence arise in the future, they would eliminate fish from their diet as well.

There is also the belief that the predator-prey relationship between man and animals is part of the "natural order of things" and that, therefore, hunting animals from their own habitat for food is acceptable (as opposed to farming them in an artificial one).

Another ethical consideration of many pescetarians has to do with the inefficiency of red meat as a food source. Most cattle, pork and chickens that supply the United States meat market are not free range. Instead, they are fed grains that are grown for the sole purpose of animal feed. The amount of calories in the grain needed to feed a cow, pig, or chicken (to a lesser extent) greatly exceeds the nutritional value of the meat these animals provide. Were this grain to be used for human consumption instead, far more food could be provided. Considerations of overpopulation and the restricted amount of arable land usually play a role in this pescetarian rationale. This view is complicated by the fact that farming carnivorous fish species requires large inputs of wild fish for feed.

A 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that livestock are responsible for roughly 18 percent of the global warming effect, outstripping even the contribution of transportation. The main greenhouse gases produced by livestock are methane — the natural result of bovine digestion — and the nitrogen emitted by manure. Furthermore, the deforestation needed for grazing lands also contributes to global warming, by eliminating the CO2 sinks that forests provide. Thus some pescetarians choose their diet in an attempt to reduce "livestock's long shadow." Many pescetarians therefore eat predominantly wild caught fish, using guides such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood WATCH to determine which fisheries are sustainable and which ones are overused.

Comparisons to other diets
Although people who participate in this diet consider it an entirely separate diet to vegetarianism and veganism comparisons are commonly struck up between them. Both Pesco-vegetarian and vegetarian diets can be each environmentally unfriendly if precautions are not taken, due to the problems of overfishing, by-catch and in both diets, habitat destruction (through arable farming in vegetarianism). For this reason, some pescatarians focus on eating species that are most sustainably fished and avoid many farmed fish (e.g. salmon) also.


This entry is from Wikipedia, the leading user-contributed encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional editors (see full disclaimer)

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