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Pescetarianism /ˌpɛskɨˈtɛəriən/ (also spelled pescatarianism) is the practice of a diet that includes seafood, but not the flesh of other animals. A pescetarian diet typically shares many of its components with a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet and includes vegetables, fruit, nuts, grains, beans, eggs, dairy, and insect byproducts (such as honey, carmine, or shellac), but unlike a vegetarian diet it also includes fish and shellfish. 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 [ˈpeʃe], while the English neologism is commonly /ˌpɛskɨˈtɛəriən/, 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[edit]

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[edit]

Adhering to a diet closely resembling pescetarianism as a form of penitence was mandatory for Catholics on Fridays until the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops made the practice optional but recommended. However, 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 Lent period, as was common practice in earlier times.[14]

Comparisons to other diets[edit]

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.

Pescetarians are sometimes described as vegetarian or pesco-vegetarian, but some vegetiarians do not consider the pescetarian diet to be vegetarian. In common with some vegetarians, pescetarians often eat eggs and/or dairy products, in addition to fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains.

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 vary.[16]

List of pescetarians[edit]

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

See also[edit]


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  45. ^ Harvey Levin (20 October 2009). TMZ Live, "Balloon, Mel and Manson Madness". Los Angeles, California: TMZ Productions, Inc. Event occurs at 21:14. Retrieved 7 December 2009. "Yeah…I'm not a vegetarian; I'm a pescetarian, and I'm trying." 
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