Do Vegetarians Eat Fish?

Question: What do you call a vegetarian who eats fish?

Answer: “Not a Vegetarian”.

That’s my answer but then I might stir up quite a controversy. This is actually a question that comes up pretty often and there seems to be some divided opinion on the matter. But do vegetarians eat fish? What really is the answer to this question?

Let us examine this together.

First of all, who is a Vegetarian?

A vegetarian is someone who does not eat any meat, poultry, game or fish, but instead subsists on a plant-based diet of grains, peas, beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits. They also abstain from the by-products of animal slaughter which includes foods such as sausage, burgers, hot dog,

Some stricter vegetarians not only abstain from flesh foods but totally rejects all animal products including honey, furs, leather etc. but that’s another story. Let’s not get sidetracked.

Types of Vegetarians

There are different types of vegetarians.

Vegans are the strictest of vegetarians and use no animal products whatsoever.

Some persons, although they do not eat meat, will use eggs and dairy products in their diet or meal preparation. These persons are called Lacto-Ovo vegetarians. Most vegetarians fall into this category.

Another type uses dairy alone but no eggs. They enjoy their milk and cheese and butter. They are lacto-vegetarians.

Still another set uses eggs but no dairy in their diet. These persons are called ovo-vegetarians.

Stretching the definition

Nowadays you can find all sorts of categories which interestingly are sometimes used to define vegetarians. Some persons would strongly disagree with these definitions. Actually they might not disagree with the definition itself. They just disagree with using them as a definition of vegetarianism.

Let’s look at some of them.


This is someone whose diet consist entirely of fruit. Some fruitarians may add seeds and nuts to their diet. Now this person would actually fit the definition of a vegetarian, wouldn’t you say? He/She doesn’t eat any meat, poultry, game or fish, and their diet is definitely plant based. Sounds like a vegetarian to me.

I believe we can agree that a fruitarian is a vegetarian. Of course the reverse is not necessarily true. A vegetarian does not have to be a fruitarian.


A pescatarian (also spelled pescetarian) is someone who does not eat meat but will eat fish and other seafood.


Look at the word. It is actually a combination of two words. Can you guess what they are? I think you can. It is a combination of the words flexible and vegetarian.

So a flexitarian diet (or you could say a flexible vegetarian diet) consists mainly of plant-based foods but occasionally includes meat and fish.


This is similar to the flexitarian except that there is generally a schedule for when the meat can be eaten.

Guess what? There are even subsets to the Semitarian/Flexitarian diet.

  • Pollotarian: someone who eats chicken or other poultry, but not meat from mammals.
  • Pescetarian: as mentioned before is someone who eats fish or other seafood, but not poultry or meat from mammals.
  • Pollo-pescetarian: someone who eats both poultry and fish/seafood, but not meat from mammals.

Why the confusion?

Vegetarians are still having to deal with the problem of not being properly catered for when they eat out. It has happened to me and I am sure to many of you. You are told that meals are provided for vegetarian and so you go and confidently ask for your vegetarian meal and get……fish.

I think one of the contributing factors to this problem is that some persons are not even sure how to define meat.

Those on pescetarian or pollotarian diets may define meat only as mammalian flesh and since that is not a part of their diet, they identify with vegetarianism.

We need to quickly clear that up before we move on. Here is the simple definition of meat.

Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food. That includes all animals of the land, sea and air.

But enough of all these  …….tarians

Let’s get back to the fish story.

What is fish?

Let us get to the bottom of this question.

Is it a grain?…. No.

Is it a fruit or vegetable?… No.

Is it a nut or seed?… No

Well what is it?

I can put my neck on the block and say it is not a plant……..and I have only one neck, so you know I am pretty confident when I say this.

Now if we say that a vegetarian is someone who has removed all flesh foods from their diet …and fish is flesh, would it then follow that someone who eats fish is not a vegetarian?

I think we can come to a logical conclusion here.

So here is the question again. Do vegetarians eat fish?

The simple answer….” No”

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