4 Benefits of Pescetarianism
- Pescetarianism refers to a diet that includes fish and fish products, vegetables, legumes and sometimes dairy, while excluding meat and poultry
- Pescetarianism is a great diet for those trying to reduce or eliminate meat consumption, but who still want to benefit from animal protein
- Because it eliminates the need for farmland, a pescetarian diet can reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions
Some people think of pescetarianism as an omnivorous diet that excludes poultry and meat. Others, however, view it more as a vegetarian diet that makes allowances for fish and seafood. However you choose to look at it, pescetarianism is becoming an increasingly popular choice for people interested in adopting a diet that has a positive impact on both their health and the environment.
Fish is notably low in LDL cholesterol, which can create arterial plaque, so a diet that promotes the consumption of more fish can be a great option for those concerned about their cholesterol levels. Additionally, choosing to forgo meat can help address the rising concerns surrounding cattle farming and greenhouse gas emissions.
For anyone interested in getting more surf and less turf in their diet, it pays to understand what the benefits of pescetarianism really are.
Fish is a Great Source of Protein
One of the biggest challenges of a vegetarian diet can be finding adequate sources of protein to replace those prominent in meat and poultry. This is a huge perk of pescetarianism, as fish and seafood are excellent sources of high quality protein. Tilapia, for example, offers a whopping 22g of protein per 100g serving. This is nearly half the daily protein requirement for men and women—men need around 56g of protein per day and women need around 46g. This level of intake helps both rebuild muscle and tissue, and strengthen hair and nails.
Meat Eaters are More Susceptible to Certain Health Risks
A study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine concluded that eating more than 50g of processed meat a day could increase the risk of dying from heart disease by 24%. What’s more, the study found that eating more than 100g of unprocessed meat a day also increased the risk of colon cancer by 17%, as well as death from heart disease by 15%.
On the other hand, the Omega-3 fatty acid found prominently in fish offers incredible benefits for brain and heart health. This essential fatty acid—so called because the body cannot produce it on its own—is believed to protect against fatal heart disease and certain types of cancer. It is also known to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Seafood is Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
It’s not only omegas that give seafood their healthy punch. Sources say that shellfish like oysters and mussels have boatloads of zinc—which is crucial for year-round immunity—and many other seafoods also boast a surplus of potassium, selenium and iodine. Fish is also an amazing source of iron—a nutrient that can be a bit tricky for non-meat eaters to get in their diets—and oily fish have also proven to be a rich source of vitamins A and D.
Pescetarianism Can Save the Planet
Since livestock require land to graze, farming cattle is often linked to rainforest removal. Trees are some of our best safeguards against the greenhouse effect, since they absorb carbon dioxide (a potent greenhouse gas) and keep it out of the atmosphere. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, cattle represent as much as 65% of our greenhouse gas emissions, so eating fish is truly an earth-friendlier choice.
Pescetarianism can be a great choice for anyone looking to get healthier, increase their intake of certain nutrients or tread a little lighter on the earth. Even if it’s only once or twice a week, consider taking pescetarianism for a spin and enjoy Tilapia Pernod en Papillote or the Indonesian delicacy Aromatic Fish Soup—we promise you won’t be missing meat at all!
Looking for ways to introduce more seafood into your diet? Check out Ellie Kieger‘s top five reasons to up the seafood levels in your diet.
Photo Credits: Regal Springs