Do vegetarians eat seafood? Isn't seafood considered meat?

Help fight my complete ignorance of vegetarians. I just met one for the first time this year, and I know she eats seafood. I always thought of seafood as a type of meat. Animals are still killed to get it, so why is it o.k. for vegetarians to eat seafood? If I am completely off base, please explain why.


I’ve known people who often called themselves “vegetarians” but really just meant “no red meat.” For whatever reason. They would eat chicken and seafood, but no beef, pork, etc. I’ve also known “vegetarians” who wouldn’t eat anything that had ever even touched an animal. A strange lot, all of 'em, IMO :smiley:

Probably the wrong forum

I am a vegetarian and I do not eat sea-food. The kind you are referring to are called near-vegetarians. Sounds like a miniscule difference but a difference nonetheless.

I am an octo-lavo vegetarian. I eat eggs and drink milk. Not because I dont think its philisophically wrong, I do, but simply because the enviroment I am in does not support me staying healthy if I abstain from those products. is a good website to ask this Q. at.

I hate to correct mispellings, but this one could really be confusing - alterego was looking for the phrase “ovo-lacto” vegetarian.

The most commonly-accepted definition of “vegetarian” means no animal flesh of any kind (also no fats, broths, etc. made from animals), but dairy and/or eggs are probably acceptable. You will find the occasional vegetarian who says “nothing with a face” and so eats certain kinds of seafood.

In my personal experience, “vegetarians” who eat seafood tend to be eating that way because they feel bad for cute animals, and fish/shellfish aren’t seen as cute. Some also use the term because they’ve cut “red meat” and poultry out of their diet for health reasons, but occasionally partake in seafood for the suggested health benefits; it’s easier to say “I’m a vegetarian” so no one feeds you any meat that you don’t eat, and then choose some seafood if you want it.

(I personally am an ovo-lacto vegetarian, and have been eating that way for over a decade.)

You have to look at WHY people are vegetarians.

I know people who became vegetarians because of health reasons. They often fall into the no beef/pork/poulty group. For them, it seems easier to use the term vegetarian than to explain to everyone what foods they choose not to eat.

I also know people who choose vegetarianism (how many Scrabble points is that word?) because of ethical reasons. In my experience, they tend to include fish and seafood on the banned list.

And then, as previously mentioned, there are differing views on egg and milk products.

“Vegetarianism” is only worth 19 points, at face value of the tiles. :slight_smile:

I think maybe what the OP was thinking of was vegans— who are much more strict about their meat intake.

Vegans not only do not eat any animal flesh, but they also do not eat both eggs and dairy products, and often honey. Plus they’re more likely to avoid the use of any animal-based products (leather, wool, silk, etc.). So no, that’s not the case really - they’re more extreme than the traditional vegetarian, who wouldn’t eat seafood.

The real answer is as follows: there is no canonical definition of the terms “vegetarian” or “vegan,” so anyone can eat whatever the hell they want and then call themselves one of these things, and they won’t be “wrong” or anything.

Same story with “atheist,” “liberal,” “conservative,” whatever.

So it’s really kind of silly to say “Person calls herself an X but she does Y. If she does Y how can she be an X?” when X is something other than a precisely defined thing.

Man, and I thought *my friends were Scrabble nuts!

Does anyone else think the concept could result from the age old philosophy during Lent that you can’t eat meat, but Fish on Fridays is perfectly kosher?

My vegetarian friend says she won’t eat anything that has a mother.

Kosher Christians?
Whatever next?

A friend of mine was a “vegetarian”. She ate seafood and milk and eggs. She would just tell people that she didn’t eat anything with feet. Of course there were the smartasses (me included) that would ask about if a cow was deformed and had no feet. She then revised it to anything that’s suppose to have feet.

Wow, your first vegetarian. This town has made me forget that vegetarianism is not normal. The other day I saw a housing ad and it said “Cooking meat in kitchen is allowed”!

So let me give you a little rundown.

People are vegetarian (or shades of vegetarian) for a variety of reasons. Some are for health reasons. Some are for animal rights reasons. Some are for aethetic concerns (the thought of eating flesh oogs them out- I fall mostly under this catagory). Some for religious reasons (lots of Hindus, some Buddhists and pretty much all Seventh Day Adventists). Some because they don’t like the taste of meat. Some don’t like cooking meat (my boyfriend falls under this catagory). And some people are vegetarian for no good reason at all.

There are also different kinds of vegetarians. The most extreme is fruitarians (you are unlikely ever to run into one of these) who will only eat unprocessed plant food. Then comes vegans (pronounced vee-gan) who do not eat any animal products. Vegans are most likely to be motivated by animal rights and take on other restrictions like not wearing leather. Next is people who will eat dairy products but not eggs- I believe most Hindus do this. Then comes ovo-lacto vegetarians. Around here, this is the default and it means that no animal flesh is allowed, animal by-products (like gelatin) are iffy and dairy and eggs are okay.

After that comes a variety of semi-vegetarians or people working their way towards vegetarianism. Some will eat fish but no animal products. Often this is justified to them because fish live relatively free lives until they are killed. I’ve head them called “happy meat”. Other people believe that the health benefits of fish outweighs the bad. Finally, some are just using the historical precident (which is still upheld in other parts of the world) that fish is not “meat”. Other people will also eat chicken, or only eat turkey on Thanksgiving, or only hamburgers at McDonalds, or whatever. These people would have a hard time honestly being called vegetarians, but if they eat a largely vegetarian diet and want to make this clear to someone (say, someone who is inviting them to dinner) they might say vegetarian just to make things easier than explaining every peculiarity of their eating habits.

And sometimes, really honest vegetarians slip up and end up picking up some sushi. Anyone with beliefs is bound to have them tested and sometimes give in to temptation.

Vegetarians are usually happy to explain their reasons for being vegetarians, but don’t usually want to debate it. For most people it is a personal decision and they are willing to share but are not intersted in swaying others or being saved. No vegetarian appreciates smart remarks like “Why would God make animals out of meat?”.

And remember that vegetarians are not required to be particularly consistant. As long as they arn’t being evangelical about things, they are only obligated to live up to the standards they set for themselves, and sometimes those standards are contrdictory or hypocritical. For example, I never order soup at restraunts because I know it is probably made with meat-based broth, but there are some questions I won’t ask at restraunts (like do you fry your beans in lard) because I don’t want to know the answers. This isn’t consistant at all, but it is what I am comfortable with. It is almost impossible to avoid any animal products (you can never know what is in the “natural flavorings” you find in almost all packaged foods, and even the plastic food is wrapped in may contain trace animal elements) so you just have to set standards you are comfortable with an go from there.

even sven-- Thanks for the rundown. You have enlightened me!

Who knows what type of person I will meet next…

Slight hijack, but funny…

I am in no way shape or form a vegitarian.


I can’t stand turkey. On Thanksgiving at my sister-in-laws, I put potatos, green beans, stuffing and rolls on my plate and it was loaded. When I told her I didn’t eat turkey she said “Well then what are you going to eat?” I told her I was fine with what I had and she insisted on calling me a vegetarian.

It was easier for her to accept than someone who doesn’t like turkey.

I think TaxGuy has nailed it here. even sven too. The “who’s a real vegetarian and who’s not” debate doesn’t make much sense to me. I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian. (MAN, do I hate the terminology baggage that comes with giving up meat. I wish someone had warned me!) I switched from regular milk to soy milk a while ago and now prefer it. I don’t eat eggs alone, but they’re part of other things I eat. I’m a cheese fanatic. I eat non-animal butter-type substitutes when I can. No shellfish or seafood, I never liked them anyway.

If you think my ‘rules’ above are arbitrary, you’re right. All but the most fanatical vegetarians don’t act on ethical principle alone: convenience (or feasability) is also a factor. If I could find substitutes for all the meat-related things in my diet, like butter, I would do so - provided the cost wasn’t absolutely nuts. Vegan alternative things (and organic foods, also popular in that crowd) tend to be VERY pricey and I’m a college student. My meal plan is a major factor in my diet, and while they do provide some vegan and vegetarian stuff, it’s not as much as I could get at home, and I can’t afford to spend all my extra money on food. (Considering my parents pay for the meal plan, it would also be quite stupid of me to do so.) On top of which, I’m not willing at the moment to narrow my food selection down even further. So I do as much as I can, and I don’t feel guilty about it.

Does any of the above make me ‘more’ vegetarian than my girlfriend, who does eat some seafood? I’d say the answer is absolutely not.

The late Mr. Rogers always said he didn’t eat anything that had a face.! :cool:

Vegitarian is an old Indian word meaning ‘bad hunter’. :smiley:

Isn’t this why the word pescatarian was born?

My friend is vegetarian, but eats fish – particularly Wild caught salmon ( because it is enviromemtally sound). She will also eat venison because deer are overpopulated.

She will have a little turkey of ham on holidays because it is cultural tradition ( same thing eating a traditional dish when visiting a foreign country)