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Dietary distinctions

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Dietary distinctions

Vegetarian diets generally ban meat but may include fish depending on the version of the diet.
For example vegans abstain from all animal products including meat fish poultry dairy eggs and honey.
Meanwhile lacto-ovo-vegetarians restrict meat fish and poultry but eat eggs and dairy.
The pescatarian diet is another type of vegetarianism. It eliminates meat and poultry but permits fish and other types of seafood.
Other types of vegetarian diets may also include fish such as the flexitarian diet which allows for occasional consumption of meat fish and poultry.
SummarySeveral types of vegetarian diets exist. Some such as the pescatarian diet may permit fish but not meat or poultry.

Definitions of meat vary

Whether fish is classified as meat varies based on how you define meat.
Your religious views dietary preferences and personal health needs can also factor into this judgment.
Basic definitions
Many people rely on the dictionary definition of meat which is “the flesh of animals as used for food” (1).
By this interpretation fish would be a type of meat.
However some people consider meat to only come from warm-blooded animals such as cattle chickens pigs sheep and birds.
Because fish are cold-blooded they would not be regarded as meat under this definition.
Others use the term “meat” to refer exclusively to the flesh of fur-covered mammals which excludes animals like chicken and fish.
Religion may play a role
Certain religions have specific definitions of meat and differ on whether fish counts.
For example in Judaism fish that have fins and scales are considered “pareve.” This term applies to food products that are prepared from kosher ingredients that are neither meat nor dairy (2).
Furthermore Catholics often abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent a religious observance that stretches for about six weeks from Ash Wednesday to Easter.
However only warm-blooded animals are considered meat and cold-blooded animals like fish are permitted during this period (3).
Finally many Hindus are lacto-ovo vegetarians meaning that they don’t eat meat fish or poultry but may consume some animal products such as eggs and dairy.
However those who do eat meat often distinguish between beef and pork on the one hand and other types of meat including fish on the other (4Trusted SourceTrusted Source).
SummaryThere are several different definitions of meat. Some religions have specific guidelines about which foods are classified as meat and whether fish is considered a type of meat.

The bottom line

Whether fish is meat depends on whom you ask. By some definitions fish is considered meat and by others it isn’t.
Fish is the flesh of an animal used for food and by that definition it’s meat. However many religions don’t consider it meat.
There are also several important distinctions between fish and other types of meat especially in terms of their nutritional profiles and potential health benefits.
Ultimately how you categorize fish depends on your religious views dietary preferences and personal beliefs.

red meat

The nutritional profile and potential health benefits of fish are quite different from those of other types of meat.
For example red meat is high in saturated fat vitamin B12 iron niacin and zinc (5Trusted Source 6Trusted Source).
Meanwhile fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids vitamin D thiamine selenium and iodine (7Trusted Source).
Eating fish has been linked to several health benefits. It may lower risk factors for heart disease by helping decrease belly fat and triglyceride levels as well as increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol (8Trusted Source).
One 26-year study in more than 84 000 women found that eating red meat was associated with a higher risk of heart disease whereas eating fish nuts and poultry was linked to a lower risk (9Trusted Source).
Other research suggests that eating fish instead of red meat may be linked to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome. This is a group of conditions that increase your risk of heart disease stroke and diabetes (10Trusted Source 11Trusted Source).
For this reason health organizations like the American Heart Association recommend limiting your red meat intake and eating at least two servings of fish per week as part of a healthy diet (12).
Some people need to restrict their intake of certain types of meat for other health reasons.
For example those with an alpha-gal allergy also known as a meat allergy can tolerate foods like fish and poultry but may experience an allergic reaction after eating beef pork or lamb (13Trusted Source).
SummaryFish offers a different set of nutrients than other types of meat and is associated with several health benefits. People with meat allergies may need to restrict beef pork and lamb but can generally tolerate fish.

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