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So Your Friend Is a Pescatarian—Here’s What the Heck That Means
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

Lately, you’ve been thinking about dipping your toes into plant-based eating. But going full-on vegetarian feels a little extreme (you love sushi) and vegan is out of the question (because, cheese). Well, here’s an idea: Why not try the pescatarian diet? Here’s what you need to know. 

What is it? The pescatarian diet is basically a vegetarian diet that includes fish and other seafood. This means that all red meat and poultry is off the menu, but foods like salmon, tuna, shrimp and oysters are allowed.

But what about cheese? Most pescatarians (also spelled pescetarians) eat dairy and eggs, but there are some who don’t. Technically, the former are called lacto-ovo-pescatarians.

So, I can eat cheese? Yes, you can eat as much Cheddar as you like.

What are the potential benefits of the pescatarian diet? There are quite a few, actually. When you eat fish, you’re boosting your intake of inflammation-fighting and heart health-boosting omega-3s. Not only that, but a pescatarian diet is typically high in good-for-you plant foods, which has been shown to maintain a healthy heart and weight. And there may also be some environmental benefits since producing fish and seafood has a lower carbon footprint than producing meat.

Sounds great. Any downsides? If you’re consuming a lot of fish, you’ll want to make sure that you keep an eye on your mercury intake (find out more about fish and mercury levels here). And remember what we said about fish being better for the environment than meat? That may be true when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, but fishing has its own bag of environmental issues, too—namely over-fishing and potentially damaging water ecosystems. To minimize your impact on the environment, check out Seafood Watch

Any tips for becoming a pescatarian? So, here’s the thing: Just because fish and chips may be on your diet, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should have it for lunch every day. To really reap the rewards of this healthy eating plan, make sure you’re loading your plate with plenty of vegetables, whole grains and good-for-you fats, too. Here are some great ideas to get you started.

RELATED: 16 Easy Keto-Friendly Seafood Recipes to Try Tonight

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