Plant-based diets have successfully made it past the initial buzz, proving that they are here to stay. However, their widespread popularity and adoption led to their various versions according to different groups of people’s dietary needs and preferences.
Veganism and pescetarianism are two of the most popular versions of plant-based diets. However, while most people are somewhat aware of veganism, pescetarianism is still a foreign concept for many.
So, what is it, and how is a pescetarian different from a vegan? Let’s discuss!
What Is Veganism?
Let’s refresh our memories by reiterating what most of us already know and perhaps fill some of you in with new—or correct—information.
Veganism is often—and wrongly—defined as a stricter version of vegetarianism. However, that’s not true.
Veganism is a philosophy that calls for abstaining from using animal products in all areas of life. Here’s the formal definition of veganism given by The Vegan Society:
“Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans, and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”
In terms of diet, vegans refrain from consuming all forms of meat, animal dairy, and eggs.
What Is Pescetarianism?
Pescetarianism, also spelled as pescatarianism, is an offshoot of veganism or vegetarianism that does not call for the complete elimination of meat, in all forms, from your diet.
It allows the consumption of seafood. ‘Pesce’ is the Italian word for fish, whereas ‘tarian’ comes from vegetarian.
Pescetarians are also sometimes referred to as Pesco-Vegans.
Vegan vs. Pescetarian – Which Is a Better Diet?
It isn’t easy to rate any of the two diets as better or healthier than the other. Each has its own set of pros and cons, advantages, and limitations that everyone needs to assess and evaluate independently in accordance with their dietary needs, preferences, and lifestyle to determine which one is more suitable or healthier for them.
To help you make an informed decision, I’m highlighting some of the major pros and cons of veganism and pescetarianism. Take a look to decide for yourself.
The Pros and Cons of Veganism
- Veganism is a lot more than a diet. It’s a philosophy with guidelines for all areas of life.
- Veganism promotes ethical and more mindful living, including mindful eating.
- It promotes kindness and seeks to reduce animal cruelty in all forms.
- It can help develop or improve self-control.
- A vegan diet is scientifically proven to offer several health benefits.
- Veganism helps the environment and the planet in several ways.
I recently did a detailed article highlighting the various reasons one has to commit to a vegan lifestyle. Read my article “Why Go Vegan?” for a detailed discussion on the many benefits of going vegan.
- Limited food choices
- Limited dine-out options
- It can be challenging to eat at social gatherings and events.
- Requires diligence—you have to evaluate everything before buying
- It can be difficult to find vegan-friendly products, particularly non-food items.
- Vegan products tend to be expensive.
- A strict vegan diet can potentially lead to some nutritional deficiencies, so you need to assess your nutrient requirements and carefully plan your meals accordingly.
- May not be suitable for people with certain health conditions
- Even though veganism is increasingly becoming popular, you may still be questioned or criticized for your choices by some people. So, you should be ready to take on and deal with all the negativity that comes your way.
Interested to learn more about the vegan diet? Check out the following video to develop a better understanding of how a vegan diet impacts your body…
The Pros and Cons of a Pescetarian Diet
- Provides more food options than a vegan diet
- Pescetarian diet serves as a middle-ground between an omnivorous and a vegan diet. It’s less strict and, hence, is easier to follow.
- Helps reduce the consumption of meat for whatever purposes you want or need
- Serves as a great tool for transitioning from an omnivorous diet to a plant-based diet
- It can help maintain healthy protein intake, which often becomes challenging on a vegan diet.
- A pescetarian diet is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which offer a range of health benefits.
- Has comparatively less environmental impact than an omnivorous diet
- For many people, particularly those who have a hard time excluding meat from their diet completely, a pescetarian diet is far more sustainable than a vegan diet.
- There are plenty of restaurants and fast food places that offer seafood (at least fish), so you have more options when dining out.
- You need to be careful about your mercury levels.
- Seafood can be expensive in some areas.
- Seafood may not always be readily available everywhere.
- You may be criticized from both sides – plant eaters and vegans.
Do Pescetarians Eat Eggs and Dairy?
This is one of the most common questions people ask about pescetarians. Fortunately—or unfortunately—there is no fixed answer to it. It’s more a matter of personal choice than rules.
In general, however, most pescetarians eat dairy and eggs, while some choose to avoid them.
Want to learn more about the pescetarian diet? Check out the following video to get all the essential information about this flexible version of a plant-based diet:
Pescetarian vs. Vegan – Which One Should You Adopt?
As mentioned earlier, the decision is personal. Both pescetarianism and veganism have benefits and some limitations. But, it all comes down to why you want to change your existing dietary pattern.
If you’re looking to change your diet for health purposes, consider the issues you’re facing and talk to your healthcare provider to determine which of these two diets would be a better choice for you.
However, if the reason for the change is more comprehensive, and you want to reduce your environmental impact or play your part in reducing animal cruelty, you should consider your lifestyle, existing dietary patterns, health, dietary needs, availability of different foods, and affordability to reach a decision that you can continue to follow in the long run.
When it comes to diet, it’s common for people to take a spur-of-the-moment decision. But, such decisions are not always sustainable. So, take your time to evaluate the pros and cons of both diets and their viability to make the right decision.
On the whole, remember that veganism requires far more commitment than pescetarianism.
Want to know what other versions of plant-based diets exist? Check out my article “What is a Pollo-Pescetarian Diet?” to learn about another more flexible offshoot of a plant-based diet.