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1. What is a pescatarian? – A simple definition
2. What do pescatarians eat? – Sampling of the types of meals you can eat
3. Pescatarian diet food list – An overview of all fish, vegetables, fruits, grains available to you
4. Recommended dietary considerations – buying tips for fish and produce, which supplements to consider
7. Losing weight as a pescatarian? – tips for success
When we started our pescatarian diet journey at the end of 2014, we found tons of information on other more “popular” diets like the vegetarian, paleo, and vegan diets.
We even learned quite a bit from what we like to refer to as the pescatarian diets’ “sister” – the Mediterranean diet.
But, there was nothing specific to being a pescatarian.
Not knowing what we were doing back then meant:
- We wasted a ton of money (a lot of boxed fish… don’t ask)
- We were bored with our meals
- We were stressed about not making the healthiest choices
- We lost motivation to continue
Fortunately for you, this lack of readily available information resulted in us creating this resource for you.
Let’s get started!
Since the pescatarian diet is fairly unexplored on the internet, I’ve based this guide on our experience thus far and what’s worked/not worked for us. Although Tamryn (co-owner of Fishy Vegetarian) is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, this guide, and our other guides are for informative reasons and is not to be used to prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease or illness. Posts are not to be used as an alternative to a medical doctor. Please use only for informational purposes, and always do your own research. All articles are based on our three pillar holistic lifestyle approach: Body-Mind-Spirit.
Heads up: with over 4000 words in this guide, you may want to save yourself some time and *click here* to grab our “to-go” version instead.
What Is A Pescatarian?
According to Dictionary.com, a pescatarian (noun) is “a person whose diet is mostly vegetarian but includes fish and seafood.
Other terms you may have heard describe this diet are:
Or, some might even say, a pescatarian is simply a vegetarian that eats seafood:
Via Fit Couple Cooks on Youtube
What Do Pescatarians Eat?
To be considered a pescatarian, the only types of foods you can’t eat are red meat and poultry.
But here’s the deal…
If you’re choosing to follow a pescatarian diet, you’re also choosing to live a healthier life.
Because of this, unhealthy, processed foods should also be avoided at all costs.
Below you’ll find our complete Pescetarian Diet Food Index (click to get our full Pescetarian Starter Guide) which breaks down which foods you can eat, which foods you can’t eat, and which foods we recommend you shouldn’t eat.
Here’s what we eat on a typical day as pescatarians:
For breakfast, our current staples are a hearty bowl of oatmeal (Tamryn’s choice) and a cup of Bulletproof coffee (LJ’s choice).
When we’re feeling a bit fancy, we might make a low-carb breakfast quiche.
Our typical lunch usually involves a good amount of greens, beans, and fats…healthy fats of course (like avocado)!
Sweet potato usually makes a starring feature in our lunches as well.
We’ll either make a big satisfying salad like this…
Or, if we feel like biting into something we’ll whip up a satisfying and flavorful tuna salad with apples and celery on a bagel like this:
For dinners we like to keep it light since this is the last meal of the day.
Lately our go-to has been a quick veggie stir fry which we’ll add some fish to on our fishy days.
Other favorites of ours are stuffed vegetables which not only are a breeze to make, they’re also very flavorful and basically full-proof!
The evenings where we eat fish, a favorite of ours are these blackened fish “taco’s”
Here’s what’s working for a few other pescatarian all over the globe:
- What I Ate Today (Saturday) – Klara Elvira
- What I Eat In A Day – DadouChic
- What I Eat In A Day – Bbydoll0406
Pescatarian Diet Food List Primary Foods
Fish & Seafood 🐟
All fish and seafood can be eaten on a pescatarian diet, however it is important to remember that some fish are much higher in mercury than others.
The fish and seafood with the lowest mercury levels and, which can be eaten on a regular basis are as follows.
We’ve starred our favourites, which also happen to be some of the healthiest fish you can eat on a regular basis.
When buying fish and seafood, you should also be mindful and rather purchase wild caught instead of farmed.
- Croaker (Atlantic)
- Sole (Pacific)
- *Tuna (Skipjack)
Greens and High Iron Vegetables 🥦
Vegetables are a huge part of a pescatarian diet.
Any vegetables are allowed, but we place special emphasis on anything green due to its high chlorophyll content, which can protect you against heart disease and cancer.
Certain vegetables are also higher in iron, which is important to consume on a pescatarian eating plan. Iron obtained from plants is called non-heme or plant iron and is safer than iron obtained from meat (heme-iron). Iron from plant sources can be eaten in unlimited amounts as the body will simply excrete the excess.
- Collard Greens
- Iceberg Lettuce
- Romaine Lettuce
- Swiss Chard
- Mustard Greens
- Turnip Greens
- Dandelion Greens
- Red Leaf Lettuce
- Bok Choy
- Beet Greens (don’t toss your beet leaves!)
High Iron Vegetables
- Dark leafy greens
Low Sugar Fruits 🍓
Yes, the sugar in fruit is natural sugar, but if you are insulin resistant or overweight, it can still affect you negatively.
Once you reach your goal weight or if you don’t have insulin issues then you can eat high sugar fruits more often.
High Iron Nuts 🥜
Nuts are a wonderful addition to a primarily plant-based diet and provide you with a wide range of heart friendly, disease-fighting minerals and vitamins.
Nuts also provide you with healthy fatty acids, which are very important for your health and they are a great snack to curb your appetite before your next meal.
The following nuts are highest in iron and also the best for you in terms of nutritional benefits.
Be sure to buy nuts that are salt free and contain only one ingredient…NUTS!
- Pine nuts
- Brazil Nuts
Healthiest Oils 🥑
Oils are a great source of fat and while the word ‘fat’ may make you to want to run away, there are many fats that are very good for you.
We have been raised to believe that a low-fat diet is the way to go, but in fact it’s rather about knowing how to choose the right fats. Monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fats are fantastic for heart health and may in fact lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
The following are great oils for cooking since they are low in polyunsaturated fats and have a higher smoke point than many other oils. This means that these oils can reach very high temperatures before starting to smoke.
- Coconut oil
- Refined or light EVOO
- Avocado Oil
While the following oils listed should not be used for cooking, due to their low smoking point, and instead drizzled over your favourite salad:
- Unfiltered EVOO
- Toasted Nut and Seed Oils
Best Beans 🍛
Beans are one of our favourite parts of the pescatarian diet because there’s just so much you can do with them!
You can process them in your food processor and whip up some delicious burgers, you can use them to make a vegetarian chili, heck you can even make black bean brownies or chickpea blondies for a delicious guilt-free dessert!
Not to mention the fact that beans are jam-packed with minerals and fiber to help fill you up and provide your body with tons of nutrition.
Here are the top beans you should try to include in your diet as often as possible:
- Black beans
- Navy beans
- Pinto beans
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
Whole Grains 🌾
Whole grains are an important part of any meat-free diet, but be careful if you are gluten intolerant or have IBS.
There are many gluten-free grains that you can substitute should you have any issues.
- Brown rice
- Whole grain breads
Pescatarian Diet Foods List: Foods To Avoid
High Mercury Fish 🦈
Mercury is damaging to our bodies and the best way to avoid it is to avoid the fish that contain the highest traces.
A good rule of thumb is: the bigger the fish, the higher the mercury content.
The fish listed with a star next to them are also endangered and should be left alone to reproduce and do their thing in the ocean.
Avoid these guys wherever possible (in other words – always!)
- Tuna (Albacore, Yellowfin, *Ahi, *Bigeye)
- Chilean Sea Bass
- *Orange Roughy
Red Meats 🥩
As you know by now, all red meat is avoided on a pescatarian diet and fish is the only source of meat consumed. Red meats not consumed on a pescatarian diet are:
No turkey day or McChicken’s here! Poultry includes:
Refined Sugars 🍬
Refined sugar poses absolutely no benefits for our health as it has undergone a process that completely stripped it of all vitamins and minerals and is regarded as a toxic poison by the body, no joke!
We recommend you avoid the following sugars at all cost:
- White Sugar
- Powdered Sugar
- Sanding Sugar
Honey, agave and other so-called “healthy substitutes” should also be limited since our body still regards it as regular sugar.
High Sugar Fruits 🍉
Fruits are packed with antioxidants and can protect you from a whole array of diseases.
Some fruits, however, are very high in sugar and should be eaten in smaller quantities.
Too much sugar from fruits can still affect your insulin levels and if you are diabetic or overweight you should avoid or at least limit the fruits that are higher in sugar.
These fruits are all delicious so regard them as a treat or dessert, rather than a regular snack:
Processed Foods 🍟
Processed foods are packed with chemicals, preservatives and random ingredients we can’t even pronounce. Just remember, if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it! Ever!
Here are some of the worst:
- Instant Noodles
- Dried Fruit
- Frozen Dinners
- Microwave Popcorn
- Energy Bars
Basically, anything in a box with a crazy list of ingredients is a big NO-NO!
Soft Drinks/Pop 🥤
Soft drinks are loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, caffeine and possibly other ingredients you have never even heard of. The massive amounts of sugar can lead to tooth decay, diabetes and possibly even cancer.
For this reason we do not recommend soft drinks at all.
If you crave a sweet drink opt for 100% pure fruit juice instead, but make sure to limit it to one small glass a day due to sugar content.
- Coca Cola
- Mountain Dew
- Canada Dry
- Dr Pepper
Tip: Be careful of “health drinks” like Vitamin Water which are loaded with added sugars.
Pescatarian Diet Foods List: Optional Foods
Just like vegetarians, there are different kinds of pescatarians.
Some eat eggs and dairy and gluten, some don’t.
Some eat just eggs, some just dairy, you get the idea.
Some people have allergies to eggs, dairy, or gluten and have to cut them out. But even if you don’t, we recommend removing the processed (mostly grocery store bought) versions from your daily meal plan, and rather opting for free run and antibiotic free eggs, as well as rather opting for hormone free dairy.
Dairy can cause hormone disruptions 🐄
Hormones from cows milk can cause disruptions in our bodies which have been known to be the cause of conditions like acne, painful periods, and thyroid disorders amongst other health concerns.
If you grew up on dairy, it can be super hard to even think of giving it up!
Speaking from experience…cheese (mmm) was the hardest to part with, but, you know…after a while of eating whole foods, the cravings tend to subside naturally.
With the huge range of delicious dairy alternatives like almond milk, cashew milk and coconut milk though, going dairy free will be easier than you think!
And there are also a few awesome dairy free companies producing vegan cheeses like Daiya – this is our favourite. When it comes to butter, if you find you just can’t live without it, try giving Ghee a go instead!
Gluten is hard for our bodies to digest 🥖
Whether you have an obvious gluten allergy with symptoms such as gas, bloating and pain immediately after ingestion or not, gluten is something we recommend you consider cutting out of your diet, although it’s completely up to you. It’s always best to listen to your body and be weary of the manufacturing process your wheat goes through.
Try a gluten detox for a week and you won’t believe the nasty withdrawal symptoms, from severe fatigue to nausea.
This happens to most people, allergic or not, simply proving that gluten is in fact an addictive protein that causes withdrawal when it is expelled from our bodies.
Ever felt withdrawal when you haven’t eaten spinach for a few days? Probably not!
These days, gluten is very hard for us mere mortals to digest given that it’s become so highly processed. Overindulging can result in all sorts of problems.
If you don’t want to cut it out completely, that’s okay!
Just consider cutting back as much as possible, or, you can always make your own breads and wheat products and be confident in the ingredients you used.
Processed soy may contribute to increased risk of estrogen-dependent cancers 🍚
Soy is a popular dairy and protein substitute, but it’s one we tend to stay away from, especially since most soy products are heavily processed and non-fermented.
Here’s how to tell if you’re eating processed soy.
What many women don’t realize is that when soy is ingested, your body regards it as the estrogen hormone. The reason why is because soy is high in phytoestrogens, which may mimic this estrogen.
It’s important to notice the difference between fermented and non-fermented soy, since fermented soy like Miso and tamari are actually really good for your body and can actually help to fight off cancer cells.
Fermented Soy Products
- Natto (Nattokinase)
- Soy sauce (tamari)
- Fermented tofu
- Fermented soy milk
- Pickled tofu
Non-Fermented Soy Products
- Soy milk
- Fresh green soybeans
- Whole dried soybeans
- Soy nuts, chips, flour, sprouts, cheese, formula
In small amounts soy is okay, but in large amounts it can increase the risk for estrogen dependent cancers, including breast cancer.
Soy is still being studied for its possible link to female cancers, but we’d rather not take the risk. There are many soy substitutes, such as almond or coconut milk, or pea and hemp protein instead of soy protein in foods such as veggie burgers.
What are the additional dietary considerations for pescatarians?
To help you navigate your supermarket or grocery store, here are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Did you know those seemingly random numbers on your fruits and veggies tell quite the tale?
Next time you’re out grocery shopping, take a closer look.
- 5 digit codes starting with the number 8 means it was grown with GMOs.
- 4 digit codes starting with either 3 or 4 were grown conventionally.
- 5 digit codes starting with 9 were grown organically.
👩🏽🌾👨🏻🌾 We do our best to support organic and local farmers.
Which supplements should you consider taking as a pescatarian? 💊
Omega-3: As a pescatarian, you’ll already be getting in more Omega-3 than most people who don’t eat fish.
You can also up your intake with flaxseed which can be added to smoothies.
2 Tablespoons are a serving size and equals to 2000mg of Omega-3. Aim for anywhere between 1000mg and 4000mg of omega-3 a day.
Omega 3 fatty acids are great for improving heart health, as it lowers the amount of fat in your blood (triglycerides – which can contribute to heart disease).
Magnesium: Most people do not get enough Magnesium and this mineral is essential for cardiovascular and nervous system health.
Try taking at least 200mg a day, in the morning after breakfast. An additional 200mg can be taken before bed to help you fall asleep. Take an hour before you turn off the light.
B12: It is important for vegetarians and pescetarians to supplement with B12 as they are not getting this essential vitamin through poultry or meat.
This vitamin is important for many reasons, most importantly to help the formation of red blood cells that transport oxygen through the body. A lack of red blood cells can lead to iron deficiency.
To get the most out of your B12 supplement, go for a chewable version in the bioavailable “methylcobalamin” over the synthetically made “cyanocobalamin” form of B12. 1000mg – 2000mg of sea-veggie based is sufficient.
Multi-Vitamin: Start taking a good multi-vitamin to ensure you are receiving all necessary vitamins and minerals. Some sources are derived from animal sources, so if you want to avoid this, check the label.
Vitamin D3: Known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D is essential for everyone, not just pescatarians to take daily. Just 2000 – 4000 IU of D3 per day is enough to help keep your blood pressure and blood glucose levels under control.
A good Vitamin D also supports mental health.
What Are The Benefits Of A Pescatarian Diet?
The main focus of a healthy pescatarian diet is eliminating junk foods, sugar, and simple carbohydrates so you can start to feel more energized.
This means filling your plate with loads of plants and veggies, with fish as a healthy protein option.
By eating this way and filling your body with the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs, you can avoid many of the health problems people face in modern society today.
You’ll also start to notice the many benefits of a pescatarian diet and lifestyle:
- Feeling full longer with the addition of healthy fats and protein
- Naturally losing weight without drastic detoxing or hours in the gym
- Increased focus and mental health as a result of Omega 3’s in fish and healthy plant foods
- Better gut health, digestion and absorption through decreased intake of processed fats and sugar
- Decreased inflammation and risk of disease
- Healthy skin, hair, and bones
What are the common critiques about being pescatarian?
In all fairness, if we’re going to tell you how the pescatarian diet benefits you, it’s only right we open up the floor to the common critiques we’ve received.
There aren’t nearly as many disadvantages as advantages, but here they are!
1. Too much fish puts you at risk for mercury poisoning
All fish contain mercury, a natural substance that is converted into a harmful toxin called methylmercury when ingested and processed by fish.
In small amounts, mercury should pose no problem, but in high amounts, it can have serious effects on the nervous system.
Don’t let this put you off the pescatarian lifestyle though!
Certain fish, including wild-caught salmon, sardines, and herring can be eaten as often as you’d like without concern.
Fish high in mercury such as albacore tuna, king mackerel, halibut, and swordfish won’t pose any significant health risks as long as they are only eaten in small amounts and no more than 1-3 times a month.
2. Eating fish is depleting our oceans of sea life
Many critiques point out that eating fish and seafood is damaging to sea life.
We 100% agree that commercial fishing has gotten out of hand and the amount of bycatch is not acceptable and does not serve our environment in any positive way.
It’s also important to note that the biggest contributor to depleting sea life is actually human carbon pollution.
In fact, 40% of the carbon dioxide waste we produce from heating in our homes and driving our cars all contribute to damaging sea life.
This is why we only suggest buying and eating wild and sustainably caught fish, along with organic produce and grains.
As a pescatarian, your source of protein is not only limited to fish of course. There are many plant-based proteins available to you such as those from nuts, seeds, and eggs.
3. It’s expensive to eat organic food and wild-caught fish
One of the biggest disadvantages of being a pescatarian is that it can get quite expensive if you’re not familiar with buying fish.
However, considering that you should only be eating 12oz a week, your grocery bill shouldn’t run too high.
While a fillet of wild-caught salmon can go for $5 or more, there are a variety of other cheaper options too.
A can of sardines or tuna are only around $2.99 (the good cans!) and a can of salmon shouldn’t cost you more than about $5.
If using it to make patties, it can give you up to 4 portions!
That’s 4 filling, healthy fish meals for just $1.25 a plate, not too shabby!
Limit the pricier fish to once a week or once every 2 weeks, and fill up on other proteins in between, such as beans and eggs.
We usually make a Costco run for the best deals on fresh fish and find the best deals for canned fish on Amazon.
Visit our Amazon recommendations page to see which canned fish we typically order, along with other foods we usually stock up on.
4. There are other diets that are much healthier
At the end of the day, it’s all up for opinion.
There is no one diet that is perfect for 100% of the population on earth.
There are success stories from people following a paleo diet, vegetarian diet, and even more controversially – a fruitarian diet!
The pescatarian diet we follow is based simply on eating real, whole foods and avoiding processed, junk foods.
Nothing wrong with that right?
We’ve always been on the side of listening to your own body and fuelling it with satisfying, energy-boosting foods so you can live the healthiest life possible.
This can take practice, but eating lots of plants, filling healthy fats, and limiting carbs is a step in the right direction.
How does the Pescatarian Diet help you lose weight?
It’s no secret that people who follow a healthy diet, full of fresh fruits, vegetables and lean proteins from fish, will be able to better manage their weight.
Of course, there are other factors that come into play:
- Your level of physical activity
- Your metabolism fluctuations
- Your family history
- Your stress levels and mental attitude
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health, as well as to maintain a healthy weight.
Working out gets your blood flowing and increases your metabolism, helping your body to burn fat all day.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of low impact exercise a day, at least 2-3 times a week, such as a walk. Try and squeeze in at least 30 minutes of HIIT Interval training at least 2-3 times a week in addition to your low impact exercises.
Burst training is absolutely excellent if you are looking to burn fat fast.
Getting Started With The Pescatarian Diet: Here’s what’s really important
Here is what you can do right now for getting started on your new lifestyle:
Fully commit that you won’t eat poultry and red meat.
Start slow if you have to and go meatless during the week for the first week.
Follow our 10 Steps to eating less meat and becoming a pescatarian as a starting point.
Get an accountability buddy who will encourage you to stay the course, or even join you in becoming a pescetarian.
Can’t find one at home?
Join 100’s of people just like you in our Pescatarian Lifestyle Facebook Community.
We’ll be happy to be your accountability buddy!
Get back to basics by getting familiar with your kitchen!
Too many people these days have abandoned their kitchens in favour of quick, ready meals (and fast food).
Your kitchen is one of the best ways to exercise your creativity and experiment with new foods and recipes!
To get your juices flowing, you can find pescatarian recipes here to start with.
There you have it!
I’m excited for you to get started on your pescatarian journey.
By following these 7 guidelines I’ve laid out for you, you’ll be setting yourself up for success, for sure.
Remember, take it slow, listen to your body, and never do anything drastic or under stress when it comes to your health.
Have you experienced any breakthroughs or concerns you’d like to share?
Leave a comment below, I’ll check regularly.
Talk soon again, and good luck!
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