Pescetarianism a fast-growing trend to watch

A small but growing group of people in the U.S., the U.K., and many other countries are choosing to adopt a pescetarian diet, in which they eat a vegetarian diet while adding in fish and shellfish.

In fact, five percent of American consumers who eat fish and shellfish once a month or more do so because they follow a pescetarian/flexitarian diet (in which they primarily eat a plant-based diet but occasionally eat meat), according to global market and research firm Mintel.

In the U.K., “We are seeing a ‘meat free’ trend…and vegetarian, vegan and pescetarian diets appear to be on the increase,” said Heather Middleton, marketing manager for Seafish.

In fact, over the past year, meat and poultry sales dropped 4.1 percent (according to Nielsen data for the 52 weeks ending 26 March) in grocery stores, while seafood sales remained steady, growing 0.1 percent.

American seafood experts also see pescetarianism as a growing trend.

“We have seen that health-conscious people describe their diets as being mostly plant-based, with adding fish and shellfish a couple of times a week,” said Linda Cornish, executive director of Seafood Nutrition Partnership.

Middleton believes pescetarianism is on the rise because there are unique health benefits from seafood that consumers don’t get from other proteins.

“It’s one of the best sources of omega 3s and vitamin D, so there is no need to take additional supplements if you’re eating at least two portions of seafood a week,” she said.

“It’s also low in fat for those who are calorie counting – adding some prawns or mackerel to a salad will keep you fuller for longer than a salad with legumes or cheese and you’ll also have more energy. The variety you get with seafood is unrivalled too. In the U.K., there are more than 100 species that can be eaten, so there are plenty of options to keep the diet exciting,” Middleton added.

One of the primary drivers of pescetarianism is the fact that more Americans and Britons are eating light, healthy and local foods, according to Christine Couvelier, owner and president of Culinary Concierge, and an executive chef who develops products for food brands.

“The pescetarian trend is connected to the whole awareness of healthful and healthy eating. Vegetables have begun to take over the center of the plate, and then they have seafood accompanying them,” Couvelier said.

More people are going pescetarian because of the flavor, variety and healthy attributes of seafood, said Janis Jibrin, a registered dietitian and author of The Pescetarian Plan.

“People who like seafood tend to really like it,” Jibrin said. “They [also] know that seafood is healthy in its own right, and is a heck of lot healthier than red meat.”

In addition, Jibrin sees more people subscribing to pescetarianism because they are “vegan or vegetarian-weary.”

“They got tired of being vegan or vegetarian, and figured (rightly!) that adding fish would still offer a healthy way of eating,” she said.


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