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Pesco/pollo vegetarianism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


"Pesco/pollo vegetarianism", "pescetarianism" or "semi-vegetarianism" are neologisms coined in the media to describe certain lifestyles of restricted diet. Most commonly, these include the practice of not eating certain types of meat (most commonly red meat such as beef, pork, lamb) while allowing other meats, such as seafood. As with lacto-ovo vegetarianism, there are usually no restrictions on non-flesh animal products such as dairy and eggs.


Terms for these diets arose in response to growing numbers of people (particularly in the United States) who have restricted diets that do not fully meet the definition of more restrictive diets such as vegetarianism or veganism.

Semi-vegetarian is another, rarely used general term to describe the diets, but is also fairly ambiguous. In Britain during the early 1990s, some people used the term demi-vegetarian.


Pesco-vegetarians eat fish but or exclude other meats or animal products. Pesco is usually assumed to derive from the Latin for fish, piscis, but the vowel e suggests the influence of a Romance language such as Spanish or Italian.

Pescetarian is a variant of pesco-vegetarian that dates back in print to at least 1993 [1]. As of August 2004, "pescatarian", "pescotarian", and "piscatarian" could also be found on the Internet, but "pescetarian" was perhaps the most popular. (While Italian pesce is pronounce with a soft "ch", the English term is usually pronounced with a hard "c".) "Pescavore" is also quite common, formed by analogy with "carnivore" (though the more regular word piscivore already existed).

"Fishetarian" was also used in print as early as 1992, but is no longer very common. A little-used colloquial term on the increase is "vegequarian", also spelt "vegaquarian".


Pollo is derived from the Latin for chicken. This prefix is then prepended to the root word vegetarian. Since a vegetarian is one who eats plant-based foods but restricts or excludes animal flesh, a pollo-vegetarian allows chicken.

The word "pollotarian" can also be found in internet sources to describe this diet.

Note that these are ad hoc coinages using Latinate (not genuine Latin) stems to form new words. The Latin stem meaning "fish" is pisci- and the stem meaning "chicken" is pulli-.

"Pesce-pollotarianism" (or chickifishitarian) is a pejorative neologism that means one who includes chicken and fish as non-meats, but pescetarianism and pollo-vegetarianism are separate entities.


There are many rationales for maintaining a pesco or pollo-vegetarian diet. One is that of health; based on findings that red meat is detrimental to health in many cases due to non-lean red meats containing high amounts of saturated fats. [1] [2] Furthermore, eating certain kinds of fish raises HDL levels, [3] [4] and some fish are a convenient source of omega-3 fatty acids, [5] and have numerous health benefits in one food variety.[6]

It can be claimed conversely that fish also contain toxins such as mercury and PCP;[7] though a right selection of fish can ensure a toxin-free meat.[8][9] In fact most people's fish consumption causes no health concerns, since most do not get enough fish in their diet.[10]

While vegetarians and vegans more often claim animal welfare concerns as their motivation, pesco/pollo-vegetarians frequently have different reasoning. Both Pesco-vegetarian and vegetarian diets can be each environmentally unfriendly if precautions are not taken, due to the problems of overfishing, by-catch and in both diets, habitat destruction (through arable farming in vegetarianism). For this reason, some pescatarians focus on eating species that are most sustainably fished and avoid many farmed fish (e.g. salmon) also.

For some the rationale is ethics: believing that either the treatment, or simply the killing and eating, of mass market "meat" mammals is unethical. The rationalization for eating chicken or fish in this case is usually either "I have to eat some kind of meat" (see complete protein), "chicken and/or fish are less intelligent than other animals", or in the case of pescetarians "fish are not mistreated in the same way that factory farmed animals are" or "hooked/netted fish do not suffer as much as land animals that are shot in the wild". There is also the belief that the predator-prey relationship between man and animals is part of the "natural order of things" and that, therefore, hunting animals from their own habitat for food is acceptable (as opposed to farming them in an artificial one).

Another ethical consideration of many pescetarians has to do with the inefficiency of red meat as a food source. Most cattle, pork and chickens [11] that supply the United States meat market are not free range. Instead, they are fed grains that are grown for the sole purpose of animal feed. The amount of calories in the grain needed to feed a cow, pig, or chicken (to a lesser extent) greatly exceeds the nutritional value of the meat these animals provide. Were this grain to be used for human consumption instead, far more food could be provided. Considerations of overpopulation and the restricted amount of arable land usually play a role in this pescetarian rationale. This view is complicated by the fact that farming carnivorous fish species requires large inputs of wild fish for feed.

A 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that livestock are responsible for roughly 18 percent of the global warming effect[12], outstripping even the contribution of transportation. The main greenhouse gases produced by livestock are methane — the natural result of bovine digestion — and the nitrogen emitted by manure. Furthermore, the deforestation needed for grazing lands also contributes to global warming, by eliminating the CO2 sinks that forests provide. Thus some pescetarians choose their diet in an attempt to reduce "livestock's long shadow."

[13] Many pescetarians therefore eat predominantly wild caught fish, using guides such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood WATCH to determine which fisheries are sustainable and which ones are overused.

See also

  • Mediterranean diet


  1. ^ E Giovannucci, EB Rimm, MJ Stampfer, GA Colditz, A Ascherio and WC Willett, "Intake of fat, meat, and fiber in relation to risk of colon cancer in men"., Cancer Research 54, 2390-2397, (May 1, 1994)
  2. ^ Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD, JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPh and Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPh, "Types of Dietary Fat and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A Critical Review"., Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 20, No. 1, 5-19 (2001)
  3. ^ Paul J Nestel, "Fish oil and cardiovascular disease: lipids and arterial function"., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71, No. 1, 228S-231S, (January 2000)
  4. ^ Sacks FM, Hebert P, Appel LJ, Borhani NO, Applegate WB, Cohen JD, Cutler JA, Kirchner KA, Kuller LH, Roth KJ, et al., "Short report: the effect of fish oil on blood pressure and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels in phase I of the Trials of Hypertension Prevention"., Journal of Hypertension, 209-13, ( Feb 12, 1994)
  5. ^ Frank B. Hu, MD; Leslie Bronner, MD; Walter C. Willett, MD; Meir J. Stampfer, MD; Kathryn M. Rexrode, MD; Christine M. Albert, MD; David Hunter, MD; JoAnn E. Manson, MD, "Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women"., JAMA. 2002;287:1815-1821.
  6. ^ [,,79sxz0k6,00.html Get Hooked on Fish! by Sue Gilbert, MS, Nutritionis]
  7. ^ Committee on the Toxicological Effects of Methylmercury, Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, National Research Council, "Toxicological Effects of Methylmercury"., ISBN 0-309-07140-2 (2000)
  8. ^ Experts Say Consumers Can Eat Around Toxins In Fish - Science Daily
  9. ^ Mercury: Are Fish safe to eat? by Gloria Tsang R.D.
  10. ^ Fish FAQ: The merits and hazards of eating fish
  11. ^ United Egg Producers, "United Egg Producers Animal Husbandry Guidelines"., 2005
  12. ^ Food and Agriculture Organization, "Livestock's Long Shadow - Environmental Issues and Options"., 2006
  13. ^ Naylor, R.L., Goldburg, R.J., Primavera, J.H., Kautsky, N., Beveridge, M.C.M., Clay, J., Folke, C., Lubchenco, J., Mooney, H. & Troell, M., "Effect of aquaculture on world fish supplies"., Nature, 405, 1017-1024. (June 29, 2000)
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