A question(s) for vegetarians.

My step dad is a vegetarian. He has always been one. A complete straight-edge all around, and always has been. His argument for being a vegetarian is that “he doesn’t like to know animals were killed in order to feed him”.

Some questions I ponder: If he doesn’t want eat animals simply because he knows they were killed for it, why does he eat fish? Is this a commonality of all vegetarians? Should there become a shortage in fish, would he no longer eat them? Or are fish simply less important because they live in the ocean, and not on land?

So what’s the reasoning behind a vegetarian’s decision to eat oceanic creatures, but not land animals?

People are vegetarians for many different reasons; there is no one common motive. If you want to know why your stepdad does what he does, you should ask him personally. That having been said, many, perhaps most, self-labelled “vegetarians” don’t eat fish, and the term is often used in such a way as to exclude diets which include such. Technically, your stepdad is a “pescetarian” instead.

I’m not a vegetarian, but if people were catching seals with baited hooks and threw the catch into a container to slowly suffocate, I’d be outraged. I have much less trouble accepting the same treatment of fish. I suspect your step-father draws a similar line between mammals (animals) and fish (fish).

Of course, I can’t answer for your step dad, and this is bordering on IMHO territory (I’ll report the thread and we’ll see if a mod agrees).

Even so, and trying to make this not sound polemic, it’s virtually iimpossible for a vegetarian/vegan to avoid that no animal, of any kind, has died during all the stages of food production. Vegetarains/vegans try to lessen the impact on nature by not *eating *animals. Frankly, as a meat eater, I tend to agree with that notion. Getting a pound of beef on the table is an awful waste of energy and I think most people in Western society would benefit from more veggies/less meat, strictly from a health aspect.

It’s a shame meat tastes so freaking good. From cow, salmon, shrimp or duck, it doesn’t matter. And I don’t think I could ever give up bacon.

Some people who don’t eat meat but eat fish (technically they aren’t vegetarians, at least according to the definition used by most of the major vegetarian societies) take the rationale that fish lead a free life. They aren’t raised in captivity the way land animals used for food generally are. To those people, that makes a difference.

-Sure, give it a go

–I couldn’t agree more. You can’t have MEAT without the EAT.

But there are exceptions, on both sides. Game birds like pheasant aren’t farmed, for instance. And many salmon are. How do these vegetarians deal with that?

Only those who are truly hardcore do. These are also usually people who have researched every company they buy products from etc…

For the rest, it’s either a health issue, or a ethical issue usually shallowly thought out and only applying to “cute” animals.

As a sometimes vegetarian, I never understood why fish dont come under the category of meat…
Could it be because they dont bleed as obviously as the larger animals?

Interesting. All the vegetarians I know do not eat fish. I wouldn’t consider a person who eats fish a vegetarian.

Quite a few common definitions of “meat” exclude fish (and often birds and insects too). See

I do not consider people who eat fish to be vegetarians. I wouldn’t get in an argument about it, but it does bother me slightly because the conversations about why I don’t eat fish get tiresome. (In fact, I don’t like seafood, at all. I never ate fish even before I was a vegetarian. Telling people this usually ends the discussion anyway.)

Quoth Charlie Tan:

Yes and no… It does take more energy to produce a pound of beef than a pound of plant matter, but in many cases, that’s energy that would have gone to waste anyway. There are parts of the world where, due to climate and the like, you can’t grow anything but scrub grass. Humans can’t eat scrub grass directly, but cows and some other animals can, and the humans can then eat the cows. So by introducing meat into the equation, humans can get food from land they couldn’t otherwise get it from.

As for pescetarianism, one of the other grad students doesn’t eat meat, because he worked for a few years in a slaughterhouse and was thoroughly disgusted by it. Fish are processed in different circumstances, and even if those circumstances are just as bad (I don’t know whether they are or not), he hasn’t seen it firsthand, so he isn’t viscerally affected in the same way.

Part of it is I think that fish aren’t cute unless they’re in a cartoon.

Yes of course. Only, those who consume most meat per person don’t live in that part of the world. I love beef, but I also realize that by eating meat from a ruminating animal, I’m part of a foodchain that releases a lot of methane in the atmosphere. How big is my part? So small that it can’t be seen, should I stop eating beef.

But if all of us in EU, U.S. and Canada, Australia, Japan and all other rich countries cut our consumption of beef in half, I think we’d notice a difference.

Yes, I think this is better suited for IMHO than GQ.

General Questions Moderator

Another rationale is that fish provide a lot of nutrition that you can get from a completely vegetarian diet, but its difficult to get from a completely vegetarian diet. Not that it can’t be done, but fish is an easy way to balance out a vegetarian diet while remaining relatively low on the food chain.

I have no idea why people do it, but if you eat the flesh of an animal, you’re kind of missing the point of being a vegetarian.

Then again, I don’t understand why anyone in their right mind eats fish at all. Blech.

I’m a vegetarian and I eat fish.

I think the fishing industry is just as environmentally destructive as the meat industry.

So while I think eating fish is bad, I still eat it - because I’m morally inconsistent? Weak? Lazy? Something like that.


There are a million reasons for being vegetarian. It is usually a pretty personal thing.

As long as they are not being evangelical asses about it, they have a right to follow whatever consistent or inconsistent logic they like and violate their own standards whenever they feel like it. Just because someone says they are “vegetarian” doesn’t mean they have to produce some completely consistent explanation to justify themselves to others.