Becoming a Pescatarian

It’s the new year. For most people, it is the time for new year’s resolution. Things you might want to change in your life, or somehow improve. For some, time to try something new. One of the common resolution (which unfortunately has a high rate of failure too) is to lose weight or at least try to be healthier. Diet will always fail because it is a temporary thing that you do. It is a phase you go through and then get over with along the way. There is a higher success rate if you will choose to commit and have a completely new lifestyle.

So you’ve heard about being Vegan and Vegetarian (yes, they are two completely different things) and you might have heard about Lacto- and Ovo- Vegetarianism. Is it too hard to stick to? Can’t you live with vegetables alone? Why not try Pescatarianism?

“Pesca… what?”

“Pescatarian. Is that even a word?”

These are two of the most common reactions I would get among my friends and random strangers when I tell them that I am skipping meat. Yes, there is such term called Pescatarian. It can also be spelled as “Pescetarian” whichever you fancy. As Meriam Webster would simply define it as “one whose diet includes fish but no other meat”. Plain and simple. You eat everything else (vegetables, fruits, nuts, you might include dairy and eggs) except meat (beef, chicken, lamb, pork etc.)

It might be a daunting thing for some as you will let go of steak and burgers but switching to this lifestyle isn’t as difficult as you would expect especially if you look at the bigger picture.

I’ve only been a pescatarian for a little over a year now. My decision to become one was rather unplanned. I didn’t intentionally switch to this lifestyle right from the start. I didn’t even know about pescatarianism at all. It started in late October of 2015 during one of my weekly trips to the supermarket and I found that salmon was on sale. I love salmon but unfortunately, it is one of the pricey fish (especially here in Qatar) so I can’t have it all the time, every time. So seeing them on sale and at a really cheap price urged me to hoard thinking I can freeze most of them in the fridge.

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(I got tired of sashimi the first day so I tried Salmon ceviche.)

I tried experimenting recipes so I can consume my hefty amount of salmon (I won’t tell how many kilos) I crazily bought and found myself eating fish and no meat at all for a couple of weeks. It went on until I realized I’ve been eating solely fish and vegetables for a month so I dared myself: “Why not continue it until I reach taste fatigue and go back eating meat?” But that didn’t happen. What started as a random personal challenge out of hoarding excessive kilos of fish developed into a switch of a completely new lifestyle.

Before I even read about the concept of pescatarianism, I noticed such difference when I started eating less meat. Digestion has been one of the biggest improvement. It felt a lot lighter. I never felt I was too heavy or stuffed. Back then, I was also following a workout routine and it helped me significantly trim down my weight.

Why is it worth considering?

There have been a number of articles written all over the Internet about this lifestyle. Resources are easily available but here are my three reasons why you should try (and hopefully continue) being a pescatarian:

1. Health gain

Did you know that 80% of most cancer cases can be prevented through a choice of healthy lifestyle involving fewer fats and oils and more fiber? Ding! Ding! Pescatarian model. This is what Yale College Vegetarian Society has found out on top of reducing risks of obesity, diabetes, heart attack among others.

Most meat products (especially the processed ones) contain pesticides and chemicals harmful to the human body in an excessive amount and long-term consumption will result in cancer.

Fish, on the other hand, is very low in saturated fat and provides a great amount of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. Sounds fancy? Well, these types of fats have been scientifically studied to have lowered the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes.

It also supplies your daily iron requirement as research shows that pescetarians have a lower risk of developing iron deficiency anemia which is a common condition among vegans and vegetarians.

2. You help prevent slow down Global Warming

This is one of the few surprises I saw upon reading on pescatarianism. Who would have thought that eating meat contributes to global warming? But yes, it does.

Did you know that your pound of meat (say, your sumptuous rib eye steak) takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce while a pound of soy (for your tofu substitute) only requires 250? That much of a difference! Still not convinced? Check the list over at The Vegetarian Resource Group reports. It is then safe to say that if you want to help save our water (drink wine/beer), cutting meat from your diet can be a great start!

It is not only water that you can start saving when you make this switch, but trees too!

Can you imagine how many acres of land is needed to raise this livestock (be it chicken, cow or pig) for consumption? These land areas can be used instead to preserve trees or plant grains and crops. In conjunction, the amount of grains and corn that are fed to this livestock is so huge, it can feed 60 million people. The same number of people who die from starvation across the globe. Now, this is a big deal.

In 2005, Earth Talk, “The Environmental Beef With Meat,” published that for every hamburger that came from an animal raised on rainforest land, approximately 55 square feet of the forest was destroyed. I guess you’ll never look at your Big Mac the same way ever again.

3. You are not a Carnivore.

Fast check (Answer by YES or NO):

Do you have claws?
Do you have pointed front teeth?
Do you sweat through your tongue?
Do you have shorter intestinal tract than your body length?
Most likely, your answers will all be NO. Because as human, we are not born naturally carnivores. We don’t have claws because we do not need to hunt for food. We don’t have pointed front teeth because we do not need to tear flesh. We sweat through our pores because we are searching for food during hot hours and not hunting at sunrise, sunset or under cover of darkness as carnivores do. We have longer intestinal tract (some 25 feet long) because mostly plant-based diet doesn’t include food that decays as quickly.

Compared to meat, fish can be digested much quicker and releases that all important Omega fatty acid. Truth is, it is our only source of DHA and EPA. So why would you opt to have that expensive gel capsule supplement when the real deal is available and at a far cheaper price? Think about it.

Go easy.

Like most things, everything that is consumed excessively would result in something bad. Those who are not convinced or simply cannot commit to a change of eating habit can easily throw the mercury hazard, the exposure to pollutants, price and even the fact that you will have limited choices. (Read here ).

While they are indeed true to some extent, it is upon your discretion on how you will manage to have a well-balanced diet. Everything (even the healthy food) taken more than the prescribed amount will yield no good. It is as if a garden salad will still make you fat if you will eat a truck load of it each meal.

It is a common practice that we should always eat in moderation and think ahead (making a wise decision on food choices) will not only help you lose the unwanted pound but will benefit you in the long run. Investing in your health is one of the wisest things you can ever think of. And you don’t need to wait as you have to start immediately.

Living in this part of the world (Qatar and the Middle East in general) where meat is a staple meal and choices of fish/seafood and greens are rather limited and or expensive, being a pescatarian (or even a vegan) is quite challenging. But there would always be a way or an alternative on how to source your food. A little research can go a long way.

What is your resolution for this year? Would you like to challenge yourself a little further? Would you be bold try being a pescatarian?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
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