Why is fish OK (to eat) if you are a vegetarian? My sister asked me this recently. The literal answer is that if you eat fish, you are a pescatarian, not a vegetarian.
“But that sounds like a religion.”
I use the word vegetarian because it is easy. It helps me focus on eating vegetables and keeps people from serving me a steak. We can put labels on our eating habits, but eventually we are faced with a menu.
At some point, a vegetarian may find the only menu option is something along the lines of macaroni and cheese or perhaps something deep fried. A simple green salad may not be filling, but it would be hard to argue that health-wise a salad with salmon isn’t at least healthier than deep-fried macaroni and cheese.
Is it ok to eat fish? Well, certainly not for the fish. Fish may be healthier food than beef and pork, but it probably contains mercury. We’re also overfishing and that’s creating a big problem.
At the risk of using a meaningless word, truth be told, I am a flexitarian. Sometimes fish is the best choice and sometimes things come with little bits of meat or meat flavoring (common in Chinese or German restaurants). I wish I had the time and willpower to be a vegan, but since we live in a space with limitations of time and choice, my goal is to eat a large percentage of vegetables and try to choose the best option when there isn’t one that fits into the vegetarian moniker.
To me, that’s better than making a bad choice because I feel the need to stick to a label.
Image: Wikimedia Commons Janine from Mililani, Hawaii, United States