Is fish "meat"?

I was struck by something over in the GD thread on Japanese whaling http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=19206955#post19206955. (Very interesting thread, which actually made me re-think a subject and perhaps change my mind).

In that thread, the question came up of whether eating fish would be considered eating meat. Not many people answered that question, but the consensus was not the direction I thought. And I cannot let that stand without more data!

So in your pre-existing, immediate, Rorschach like response, is fish “meat”? Yes or No, no maybe so. Please feel free to add your reasoning.

Cow muscle = meat
Deer muscle = meat
Lamb muscle = meat
Chicken muscle = meat

It seems like “meat” is a term used for the delicious muscle of variou species. Yes, fish muscle is meat.

My Catholic upbringing says no. My rational mind says yes.

Yes fish is meat. I was surprised when I learned as a school kid that our cafeteria always served fish on Fridays because Catholics couldn’t eat meat. “You’re eating meat!” “No, fish isn’t meat!” I was familiar with the idea of fasting or partial fasting or having a vegetarian day from Hinduism and I figured they were writing the rules so that they.would be very easy to follow.

What little that remains of my Catholic upbringing also nudges me to the ‘No’ side.

Further, in the supermarket you have meat and seafood separately stocked. From what i recall of restaurants where you order from nicely printed menus, ‘Meat’ and ‘Fish/Seafood’ are listed separately.

Logically I understand meat is basically muscle, so fish flesh would be meat, but… this is cuisine not logic. Fish is not meat.

Fish is meat. Apologies to my Catholic peeps.

To further confuse people, it’s not unheard of for distinctions to be made between meat, fish, shellfish, and poultry.

I had a raised eyebrow reading that in the whaling thread as well. To me, Meat does not include any sort of fish or other seafood.

To my mind so many things in daily life seem to bear this out to me. As you said, the supermarket had seperate sections for meat and seafood, most restaurants have separate menu sections, butchers, who I must strongly associate with meat don’t sell seafood, recipe books usually have separate chapters.

Exactly! This is all from a cuisine perspective, not biology. From my Midwestern lad, what goes in my tummy perspective, chicken is barely meat…

I think your poll illustrates the problem.
Is fish meat? Yes
Is fish not considered meat? Yes

What else would it be?

It would be considered “fish” or “seafood”.

I just asked my Japanese in-laws if fish were meat, and they looked at me like I was crazy. Not entirely uncommon response, but in this case gratifying. As noted in the whale hunting thread, the Japanese word for meat = nikku, specifically and unequivocally does not include fish.

So just wait until the Japanese Catholic Doper contingent shows up to this poll…

Communion wafer; meat or not meat?

From the online Oxford English Dictionary (not that this clarifies anything at all):

It’s a problem of taxonomy. At the top level we all eat ‘food’. ‘Food’ can be broken into two categories, ‘animal-based’ and ‘plant-based’. Another term for ‘animal based’ is ‘meat’. So beef is meat, lamb is meat, fish is meat, and even insects are meat.

You didn’t give an option for “it depends on the context”. I sometimes use “meat” including fish, and sometimes excluding fish, depending on context.

And marine mammals are a special case, because they are also sometimes considered fish and sometimes considered not-fish, depending on the context.

Imagine my wife is bringing a co-worker over to our place, and asks me to make dinner for the three of us. “And no meat,” she says; “Leah doesn’t eat meat.”

Do I grill up some rainbow trout? Maybe pan-fry some flounder?

Not a chance.

Both my Catholic upbringing and my* Spanish language say nope; when it affects whether to give seafood to another person, I’ll go by that person’s definitions. Seafood is not meat, it gets a different word. Speaking about la carne del pescado would be a contradiction in terms, as absurd as talking about the generosity of a Scrooge.

  • y’all can use it too, I’m generous that way.

It would never occur to me to use “meat” to describe fish or seafood in any way, even in a broad sense. It’s not meat, it’s fish. Or seafood. Meat comes from animals.

But I’m not going to correct someone who uses meat to mean fish. Just might get confused talking to them at times. :stuck_out_tongue:

To further sully the discussion, the word “meat” descended from an Old English word that meant any kind of food, not just the flesh of animals. The term has a millennium-long trend of being applied to progressively restricted subsets of its original meaning.

Of course, my grade 9 history teacher also insisted that the word “animal” didn’t apply to birds or fish either, but I think that’s a rarer usage.