This approach to a meal plan is referred to in research studies as a "pesco-vegetarian" plan. You will also hear the term "pescarian" being used to refer to this type of plan, and you may also see the term being spelled as "pesca-vegetarian." All of these terms refer to the same thing: a diet approach that consists of plant foods plus seafood, but typically avoids eggs, dairy, meat, and poultry.
Below are some stand-out aspects of a seafood-enriched vegetarian meal plan.
- Assuring B12 intake: From a research standpoint, the most likely nutrient deficiency on a vegetarian meal plan is deficiency of vitamin B12. (At WHFoods, only one non-animal food is a ranked source of B12—crimini mushrooms—which belong to the fungus group of living things, which are sometimes capable of making B12. Only two other non-animal foods—tempeh and miso—show up as containing B12 on our website. The reason here is fermentation, which allows bacteria to make the B12.) In contrast with plant foods, most land animals, fish, crustaceans, and molluscs are able to store B12 in their bodies. Six out of seven of our top foods for B12 are seafoods: sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, scallops, and shrimp. All of these seafoods except shrimp provide you with our recommended daily amount of B12 (2.4 micrograms) in a single serving! (And a single serving of shrimp will still provide you with 78% of that recommended amount.) So you can see how effective a pesco-vegetarian meal plan can be in providing excellent B12 intake. In some research studies, pesco-vegetarians have been shown to average higher B12 intake than any other type of vegetarian (lacto-ovo vegetarians, vegans, or even semi-vegetarians who sometimes consume meat and poultry).
- The protein advantage: Incorporating fish into an all-plant diet can offer advantages for protein intake, since fish are concentrated in protein and as a general rule, plants are not. Fish are absolutely not required to achieve plenty of protein in a vegetarian diet! Without question, your diet can achieve plenty of protein from plant foods alone. However, if you tend to avoid legumes and green leafy vegetables in your meal plan and you consume no dairy or eggs, fish can be remarkably helpful in keeping your protein intake in a healthy range. At WHFoods, all six of our seafoods rank in the top 11 for protein, and only one plant food (soybeans) reaches this top 11 category. And in our next 15 high-protein foods, all are legumes or green leafy vegetables except for one (and that one is asparagus). Because our seafoods average 20-30 grams of protein per 4-ounce serving, you can get about half of our recommended minimal daily protein level (50 grams) from a single serving. In some research studies, pesco-vegetarians have been shown to average greater protein intake than any other type of vegetarian (lacto-ovo vegetarians, vegans, or even semi-vegetarians who sometimes consume meat and poultry).
From a nutritional standpoint, pesco-vegetarian eating is an approach that makes sense to us, even though it is by no means the only approach to eating that can provide you with excellent nourishment. If you do decide to adopt this approach, you'll find a wide variety of plant foods and seafood on our website that you can mix and match to develop an outstanding meal plan.
More Information on Vegetarian Diets
For more information on the subject of vegetarian diets, please see our overview article "A Practical Look at Vegetarian Diets" as well as the following Q+As.
To see the research articles we reviewed in the writing of these articles, see here.