My Experience Becoming Pescatarian

Maritsa Patrinos

Reasons to Go Pescatarian from by Maritsa Patrinos

My first conscious introduction to the idea of vegetarianism was when I was in the second grade. My teacher at the time, Ms. Brazile, was a pescatarian. One day, a conversation arose when she talked about being a pescatarian, and explained to me what it entailed; I was very attracted to the idea of avoiding meat. According to my mother, I have always felt empathetic to animals, so it wasn’t a surprise that I gravitated towards becoming a pescatarian.

I remember begging my mom to let me stop eating meat, but she was very concerned for my health and the lack of my understanding of what vegetarian truly means. She even went to see a nutritionist to help calm some of her worries about malnutrition and so on. Eventually, she came around, and on my eighth birthday, I became a pescatarian.

Around 2014, when I became a pescatarian, most people I talked to had no idea what it meant, but in recent years pescatarianism has become a more popular lifestyle. According to Oxford Languages, a pescatarian is “a person who does not eat meat, but does eat fish.” While Oxford Languages could easily define pescatarianism, little 8-year-old me struggled to come up with an appropriate definition, so I just told everyone “Yeah, I just don’t eat land meat.” Which in retrospect, was harder to understand.

The first few months, maybe even years, were rough. With a very carnivorous dad, meals always centered around meat, and it was hard to resist the urge to sneak a little piece, but I knew I would feel super guilty if I did. However, my mom had always kept my options open. She would always remind me that I could stop whenever I wanted, and I think that really helped me feel less restricted and maintain being pescatarian.

While rigidly sticking to pescatarianism is perfectly good, and I like to stick to it, I don’t fully believe that it fits everyone, even people who want to stop eating meat. When talking to people about my experiences with being pescatarian, people give me a lot of the same reactions. People around me have always said things along the lines of, “I can’t be vegetarian! I feel so bad but I love meat too much!” or “I hate the meat industry but my family’s meals are so centered around meat!” And after all these years, I’ve become more comfortable with the decisions I make towards what I choose to eat and not eat.

The conclusion I have recently made within the last year or two is that pescatarianism will look different on everyone. I chose not to eat a soup that could potentially have a meat base, but someone else might choose to take that risk. And I think both forms are valid!

Making decisions towards being more ethical can be hard, but ultimately it’s about what you think is right, and what fits you. If you are really struggling with sticking to being pescatarian, you could always make exceptions that fit your lifestyle. If you’re out traveling, or you have a birthday tradition to eat something with meat, why not enjoy it for one meal? Some steps you could take to become a little more animal friendly could be opting out of eating meat for one meal each week, or cook a dinner for your family one night so that you can control what is going into it. If it makes it easier to reduce your meat intake, then the end goal is the same. Things shouldn’t always be so rigid when it comes to someone’s diet.