By Chelyse Prevost
Blog Content Contributor
First of all, yes. I also like buffalo wings, cheeseburgers and bacon at breakfast. I, along with about a billion other pescatarians around the world, just so happen to choose to live a lifestyle that better accommodates personal health and my best interest. As a fairly new pescatarian, my experience has not only made me more “diet” conscious, but much more aware of the misconceptions people have made about transitioning into pescetarianism, vegetarianism or any alternative diet. The health education we receive (at least in public schooling) is geared for the general majority of Americans but only touches the surface of healthful eating, as it’s ultimately curriculum based. Although I do heavily encourage my readers to do their own research and discovery, I want to shed a little light on my experience.
Making It a Thing
With no pun intended, I stopped eating meat cold turkey. If I told you how many times I read an article or watched a documentary on inhumane animal farming, and then ate a steak and cheese unbothered, you really wouldn’t believe me. Personally, I’d never thought I could take myself seriously enough to stop eating anything I genuinely wanted to eat, especially on a broke, college student’s budget. It was just one day last summer, someone or something possessed me to watch “What the Health”, a documentary by Kip Andersen on America’s health and food industry. If there’s one thing that I don’t take lightly, it’s government tied industry conspiracies (I highly suggest you do your research on Milton Mills, Garth Davis and their publications by the way). Nonetheless, I disturbed myself to the point of becoming much more food conscious. I went through the process of determining what I would be willing to give up, what I will eat in moderation and how I’ll compensate for what I lack nutritionally. Because meat didn’t consume too much of my diet and I could pretty much give up anything but eggs and dairy (I slowed down my consumption but cheese is for champions, sorry), I chose pesco-vegetarianism or what you would call pescetarianism.
You wouldn’t just choose to become vegetarian because you like broccoli the same way you wouldn’t choose to become pescatarian because you like crab legs. One frustration I’ve come to face is the criticism and lack of understanding by my friends and the people around me. My family is from the islands (both in Central America and the Virgin Islands), so seafood-based dishes were never uncommon to me. In fact, many of my family members have chosen to give up red meat or become pescatarian altogether, which makes it very easy to eat without having to think about it too much. However, being in college and living on my own, I have to be much more mindful of what’s in my food, how it’s cooked, etc. and it can definitely be a hassle. Also, constantly explaining pescatarianism and why I chose the lifestyle to an extent more than “because” gets to be redundant. Especially when the response is “Isn’t fish meat too?” preceding a lecture on why I’m not actually eating better this way. I’ve also had the luxury of being in a relationship where I was asked to eat outside my diet for the sake of them wanting to eat “normal” in front of their family and friends. More than the insensitivity, the hardest part for me was actually adjusting to cooking differently and the exclusivity of foods to eat basically as a vegetarian. Late night coming back from going out, I can’t just go to Whataburger and order a number 13 with an extra strip (crying on my keyboard) like I used to. Constantly repeating that you can’t eat the foods that your friends still offer you because they cannot adjust to change also sucks. Plus, bacon. I’ll always miss bacon.
Even after six months, I would still consider myself going through the transition process. Though it hasn’t been the absolute easiest at times, I wouldn’t necessarily call it “hard” either. I couldn’t actually see myself going back to eating the way I did, and not because I’m religiously devoted to pescatarianism or anything extreme, but because it’s done much more good than harm. Because I can’t eat out everywhere and if I did there would only be a handful of things I could eat, I usually just opt out on eating out altogether. Eating in makes it all the more simple when it comes to eating for nutrition rather than pleasure because I, as well as much research tells about people, tend to eat cleaner at home. Even with buying healthier foods I save money in exchange for the convenience of served restaurant food. Whether you would consider it the placebo-effect phenomenon or not, l feel physically lighter and healthier not consuming dishes with meat in it. Through random cravings and temptation, the sole thought of feeling better about my decision altogether is genuinely enough to hold me over. Ultimately, pescetarianism is a lifestyle change that I chose for myself and it’s influence on me is more than just what I eat. From becoming more proficient in the kitchen to making more insightful decisions as an individual, the process of becoming a pescatarian gave me the opportunity to sustain a stronger mind, body and spirit.
Featured image by Chelyse Prevost.