Every now and then, we hear of someone new who considers themselves a pescatarian. But what is a pescatarian diet, really? To understand what a pescatarian diet consists of, try to think of it as a friends-with-benefits kind of relationship: you get the great physical benefits, but without the inevitable heartbreak you would in a full-on relationship. Heart disease heartbreak, that is.

The vegetarian diet is well known for its health and weight loss benefits, but if you’re not ready for that type of commitment, fear not. The pescatarian, or pescetarian, diet is rapidly on the diet popularity rise, due to recent spotlight on “healthy fats” and omega-3 consumption. Even celebrities like A$AP Rocky adhere to this diet. The term comes from the Italian word for fish, “pesce”, and is a vegetarian diet that allows you to eat fish as well.

What Is a Pescatarian? 

seafood, shellfish, fish, shrimp, crab, prawn, lobster
Jocelyn Hsu

While being a pescatarian doesn’t automatically qualify your eating habits as healthy, people who follow this lifestyle mostly have a healthful approach to food choices. Ideally, the diet focuses on vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruits, and includes seafood, but excludes land animals like beef and chicken.

The pescatarian diet seems to be a lot more flexible than a strict vegetarian one, and allows for more options at restaurants and fast food places. Fast food chains like McDonald's and Burger King have a crispy fish sandwich, and a convenient can of tuna makes at-home meal preparation a breeze. Just think of all the sushi and salmon-topped bagel possibilities!

Benefits of the Pescatarian Diet

sushi, avocado, seafood, rice, wasabi, fish, shrimp, salmon, tuna, cucumber, eel, nori, crab, roll, sushi roll, California roll
Caroline Ingalls

There's truly an ocean of health benefits associated with a pescatarian diet. Compared to meat and poultry, seafood has much lower levels of saturated fat and higher levels of polyunsaturated fats. Studies have found that a diet rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat, can lower cholesterol levels and significantly prevent risk of cardiovascular disease.  These fats can also be easily found in nuts and seeds.

Aside from keeping your heart happy, eating fish regularly can also help prevent chronic illness, can aid in regulating blood pressure, as well as lower risk of cancer and Alzheimer's. Marine animals are also rich in nutrients difficult to find in other foods, like vitamin D, iron, selenium, and zinc (found in oysters, a supposed aphrodisiac...wink, wink). Additionally, increasing your plant foods and fish intake is definitely a recipe for weight loss.

sushi, rice, fish, seafood, salmon, tuna
Spoon University

Pescatarians enjoy the benefits of the best of both worlds: plant-based eating and seafood. It allows flexibility and provides many options, enabling any college student to easily meet their protein needs and keep their budget in check. It can also be great for anyone considering adopting a vegetarian diet, but as mentioned earlier, is not ready for commitment. For satisfying pescatarian meals, try making these salmon sushirittos, some fish tacos, or some healthy shrimp zucchini linguine.