Can vegetarians eat fish?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can vegetarians eat fish?” and will discuss why some vegetarians eat fish.

Can vegetarians eat fish?

No, vegetarians cannot eat fish. Do not serve fish to your vegetarian relatives and acquaintances. Don’t offer the seafood special to a vegetarian diner, if you work in a restaurant. Fish are aquatic creatures. Any kind of fish or seafood, as well as other animal flesh, is not vegetarian. It’s impossible to be a vegetarian if you consume anything from the sea, lake, or river. This includes fish, shrimp, lobster, and crab.

The differences between vegetarian and pescatarian diets

Vegetarians abstain from consuming animal products such as meat. Consequently, fish and other seafood are not vegetarian if used in this way. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians consume animal products including eggs, milk, and cheese while being vegetarians. Even yet, fish are off-limits to them.

Even though they incorporate fish and shellfish in their meals, vegetarians who are pescatarians nonetheless refrain from eating animal meat. However, whether or not people are classified as pescatarians depends on how they define the term. Vegetarians are still considered by some to be persons who consume mostly plant-based meals, with just occasional eating of fish or shellfish.

Other plant-based eating plans, such as the flexitarian or Mediterranean, include fish and seafood for those who adhere to them.

There are many reasons why vegetarians could decide to consume fish?

Vegetarians who opt to include fish in their diet for a variety of reasons may be considered pescatarians. Eating fish or seafood may broaden a person’s culinary horizons by providing a wider range of protein alternatives at mealtimes.

Fish may also be consumed by certain individuals for the sake of their health. Aside from protein, fish and seafood are loaded with nutrients like zinc and vitamin B12, which are critical for a healthy immunological and brain system. The intake of certain vitamins and minerals may be insufficient if you follow a purely vegetarian diet alone.

 One oyster, for example, has 85 percent of the recommended daily intake of zinc and 78 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B12.

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are both found in abundance in fish, particularly in salmon, herring, and sardines (DHA). EPA and DHA are present in relatively few plant meals, on the other hand

These vital nutrients are critical for a healthy pregnancy and birth, as well as for long-term brain and heart development and functioning.

You can get omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) from some plant meals, but it’s not readily processed by your body into EPA and DHA (or other important facts). Consequently, certain vegetarian diets could be lacking in omega-3 fatty acids.

Incorporating fish and seafood into a mostly plant-based diet may be due to the wide range of essential elements it provides for pescatarians.

However, isn’t eating fish a kind of dishonesty?

A lot of vegetarians and vegans have strong feelings regarding individuals who don’t eat meat but do consume fish as an alternative to meat. As a result, some people believe adhering only to fish would not eliminate cruelty from your life.

However, there is a lot of gray area here. According to certain research, fish do not have the same level of pain perception as humans. Because fish are physiologically distinct from humans, inducing pain reactions in them, in the same manner, you would in a mammal (e.g., with rubbing injuries) often results in little to no response observable.

Other researchers, on the other hand, assert that fish are sensitive to pain. For example, biologist Victoria Braithwaite found that when fish were exposed to an abrasive chemical, they beat their gills more quickly, rub the irritated regions against tank walls, and ate less. They seemed to be in distress. 

The truth remains, however, that without comparable biological components, it is difficult to determine what constitutes pain comparable to that which humanity is capable of experiencing the most difficult component of deciding whether or not to consume fish ethically and philosophically is deciding whether or not to consider fish are enough different from humans to not experience conventional pain. We can’t ask them, but can we make any assumptions about their worldview based on what we know about how they perceive things? Anyone may decide for themselves how morally safe they want to play this game or not.

Concerns about current fisheries’ unsustainable practices and mercury contamination in fish are two further reasons to become a vegetarian in its entirety. However, sustainable fisheries and healthy seafood sources aren’t taken into account.

Fish-eating vegetarians can’t be complete conventional vegetarians, but there are valid reasons to be a pescatarian rather than a full vegetarian.


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can vegetarians eat fish?” and discussed why some vegetarians eat fish.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.