Vegetarian catholics that eat fish

If you’re the sort of vegetarian that eats fish, and you’re a catholic, can you eat beaver?

Vegetarians don’t eat fish. People who eat fish might CALL themselves vegetarian, but they are incorrect in doing so.

Beavers are mammals (assuming you’re talking about animals, and not referring to female genitalia), like pigs, cows, horses, goats, rabbits, etc. They are furbearing, they breathe air, and they suckle their young. They are not fish.

Dolphins and whales aren’t fish either.

I believe the OP is talking about the fact that beavers were once considered okay to eat on Catholic fast days when meat was otherwise not acceptable. The justification for this was that as aquatic animals, they were in the “fish” category rather than “flesh.” I don’t have a cite for which Catholics considered beaver acceptable on fast days, but a quick look online suggests that this was something that happened among the French fur traders in North America, but not ever a common practice.

Catholics never were vegetarians (at least by Church teaching; individual Catholics may have espoused vegetarianism for all I know). What you may be thinking of is “days of abstinence” (originally all Fridays and Lenten weekdays, now merely Fridays in Lent or just Good Friday and Ash Wednesday, depending on the region) good Catholics not engaged in heavy labor or medically excused were expected to abstain from meat, including poultry but not fish or shellfish. It was a bit of self-denial for personal spiritual growth, much like “giving up X for Lent”.

And as a bit of nitpick, days of abstinence are not fast days, on which they were limited to one full meal a day, plus a “light collation” in place of the other meal. One might eat the normal three meals a day on days of abstinence, but were expected to abstain as specified. Generally a fast day was also a day of abstinence, though not necessarily so, but the reverse was not true.

As to beaver, they may eat nun.

A priest, a rabbi and fur trader all walk into a bar…

…and the Bartender looks up and says, “What is this, some kind of joke?”

No, no, no.

We’re the Aristocrats!


The open question for Catholics: Can you partake of the sacrements and still be a vegetarian?

Wikipedia indicates that as far as the Vatican is concerned, beavers are fish.

I was aware of this distinction with capybaras in Brazil but not beavers. Neat-o.

Wow, I thought the OP had made an error and actually meant capybaras. I’m surprised too.

Edit: Otherwise, the OP meant “pescetarians”. Those who eat fish but exclude all other animals.

Receiving communion is valid under either species, bread/body or blood/wine, so I would think a vegetarian could drink blood just fine.

Now with veganism, there might be other issues.

The bartender says what will you gentlemen be having tonight? They reply, “Make it a Virgin Bloody Mary, a Shirley Temple, and a Club soda”

The fact the Catholic Church allowed the consumption of beaver tail instead of eating fish doesn’t mean the Catholic Church thought beavers were fish, but that for their religious requirements, it would be an acceptable alternative. This ruling was made for the benefit of the fur traders in New France which included the Mississippi drainage basin and the St. Lawrence river basin.

The main idea on Fridays and Lent was not to eat fish*, but to abstain from eating meat which is thought as being more flavorful and tastier. If fish was hard to come by, the Catholic Church ruled the the tails of beaver and the tails of other water mammals could be used as a substitute.

  • Or was it? [spoiler]
    “Why don’t Catholics eat meat on Fridays? I’ll tell you why: It’s because the Pope owns Long John Silver’s.”

Tracy Jordan - Season 4 of 30 Rock (Secret Santa)

I know that when St. Patrick’s day falls on a Friday, occasionally some Catholic authority will say that it’s acceptable to eat corned beef on that Friday (during Lent), as long as people choose another day to abstain from meat. This doesn’t mean that the corned beef is considered fish for that one day, it’s just a way of altering the rules for a particular segment of the churchgoers.

Well even priests need a little tail now and then.

So the intrepid explorers land on an uncharted Melanesian island and are greeted by the natives. They note the natives wear their hair in topknots with bones stuck through them, there is an enormous stewpot surrounded by firewood in the center of the village… in short, all the characteristics of the stereotypical cartoon cannibal.

“My God, you people are cannibals!”

“Oh no!” comes the response. “We were cannibals, but then the missionaries came, and now we’re Presbyterians.”


“Yes, we only eat old people!”


I was Catholic and was specifically told I had to be married before I could rightfully eat beaver.

There must be some Catholics here. Did any of you ever get any spiritual benefit from not eating meat… (where “meat” does not include fish… wait, why would they forbid meat and then add the fish loophole? Is eating fish BETTER for your soul than eating vegetables and grains and legumes?)?

Well, the question still stands. Did it ever have any effect? If not, why did they start it, continue it, and enforce it? (to the extent that we still have Friday Fish Frys all over the Midwest)

Well, not eating meat goes back to the idea that meat is a luxury food. Now that we’re all rich, eating meat every day seems normal. But in olden times, meat was luxurious, and only the rich would eat meat every day.

“Fish” would typically have meant dried salt cod, because there wasn’t any other way to preserve fish. And this was very cheap, but also tasted like crap.

So fish wasn’t considered a luxury food, but meat was. It’s as simple as that. The point wasn’t that beans or salt cod were more holy, it was that depriving yourself of luxuries was holy.