Dear fellow food bloggers,
If you post a recipe on your blog that has fish in it, please do not tag it at ‘vegetarian’. Because it’s not. It’s pescetarian.
The other day, I was browsing the Reader and someone had posted a recipe for grilled roughy and tagged it as both vegetarian and vegan. I had never heard of roughy, so curiously clicked on the post and low-and-behold, a great big slab of fish was strewn across a plate. Sigh. Now, it’s bad enough that this was marked as vegetarian but vegan? What?! And it’s not as though the fish was an optional ingredient; it was the star of the show!
Those fishy fiends aren’t always so glaringly obvious at first; sometimes I click on a recipe to find that some form of fish product has sneaked its way into the ingredients list. If your Thai curry uses fish sauce or your soup uses fish stock, at least I can leave out or replace those ingredients (however, chances are I will hurriedly close the tab with your blog on it out of protest). But if it’s a fish-based recipe, please tag it as ‘pescetarian’ or not at all.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t care if other people eat fish. (Or chicken. Or lamb…) But if you do, you are not a vegetarian. If you eat fish/seafood but no other meat, you are a pescetarian. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I just wish that this little P-word would make its way into more people’s vocabulary.
About 99.9% of the time (a well-researched statistic, I assure you…) when someone asks if I am vegetarian, they follow this up with, “Do you eat fish?” No. I do not eat fish. I am a vegetarian.
Why don’t I eat fish, you may ask? In a nutsehll, because I don’t believe it’s any different to eating mammals or birds. So a fish may not be as cute as a fluffy little lamb or a wobbly-legged calf but for many reasons – morally, ethically, environmentally and more – I choose not to eat any animals. Fish do feel pain like any other animal, and the seafood industry is not one I want to support any more than I do the ‘meat’ industry (The Vegetarian Society sums it up well). When I became a vegetarian, the thought of fish never even crossed my mind – I just gave up all animals non-discriminantly!
I was never really a fan of fish anyway. I ate the odd tinned salmon sandwich and was partial to fresh prawns (contrary to popular belief, Australians do not call them ‘shrimp’) or calamari rings as a child but now just the thought of those things make me feel squeamish. I can’t believe I used to eat something where I had to rip the head of myself! Gag.
Again, if that’s your kind of thing, I have no problem with it. For you. Just please don’t upload a seafood salad and label it ‘vegetarian’!
Working in the travel industry, I have to deal with dietary requirements on bookings on a daily basis. Every time I see the requirement “vegetarian – will eat fish”, I cringe. But I leave it there for the resort staff because I know that if I change it to ‘pescetarian’, the majority of people won’t know what I mean. Probably not even the pescetarian themselves. At least it’s not as bad as the person who wrote “Fish-eating vegetarian (do eat free range meat)”. THAT’S NOT VEGETARIAN! Good job on being a conscientious omnivore but trust me, you’re not going to be served free-range meat in the Alps.
Yesterday I legitimately had “vegan – eats fish”. Where do I even start?
So all I ask, trusty readers, is that you all spread the word ‘pescetarian’ far and wide so it becomes as well known as ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’. Then I won’t have to explain every time I’m out for a meal, or bring my lunch into work, or get given my ‘special meal’ on an aeroplane that no, I do NOT eat fish.