Pescetarian (n.) /peskəˈte(ə)rēən/
— a person who does not eat meat but does eat fish.
When people ask me why, I think of what it’s worth. (If we’re talking Scrabble, 15 points.) There are many reasons as to why people choose to become vegetarian—a term I use fairly loosely as I write this, since we have lacto-ovo-vegetarians, lacto-vegetarians, ovo-vegetarians, vegans, pescetarians—but when someone asks me why I chose it for myself, I can’t really reply. I’m not doing it to save the animals, to protest the cruelty and callousness in our food industries, to be, as some people perceive, physically healthier. There are many noble people and noble reasons, but I am fine with saying that I am not that noble person, nor do I have that noble motivation behind my choice. When I search for a reason why, there are only two things I can really think of.
It makes me happy, and it makes me feel mentally healthier.
Perhaps that’s odd. I miss out on a lot of family barbecues now because my family really loves meat. I couldn’t eat this Vietnamese pastry one of my friends offered me since it was made with lard. The Potbelly worker told me they made their broccoli and cheddar soup with chicken broth, and I just awkwardly asked for something else. (You almost had me fooled, Mr. Soup Guy. Broccoli and cheddar seemed so harmless.) So why do I do it? I do it because it forces me to make healthy choices. Take the salad and tofu over the chips and cookies. Get up early to walk to Maple for breakfast, get up early to exercise, get up early to get work done. Go to sleep early so I can get up early. It’s a snowball effect—becoming more conscious of the choices that I have control over makes me want to choose the healthier option more and more each time, in more and more aspects of my life. This improves my physical health, for sure, but the deeper effect here is how it improves my mental health.
Up until I sat down and wrote this article, I never really had a clear answer to why I was doing this, not even for myself. Now, the next time someone asks me why I’m pescetarian, I’m happy to write that I’ll be able to finally tell them that I do it because it makes me happy. And I’d like to think that’s a good reason why.