Planning to give up meat, dairy, and eggs? Thinking of adopting a healthy and vegetarian diet lifestyle? Well, then, you got to do your research before following anything new. The nutritional world is evolving day by day. New diet trends and alternatives are popping up daily, making a lengthy list of healthy choices.
Currently, Plant-based diets are quite in the limelight. For vegetarian enthusiasts, the two most popular diet versions are Veganism and Pescatarian; both vegan and pescetarian diets have vegetarian dominancy in the food lifestyle. Vegan Diet has gained higher popularity and recognition amongst Genz and millennials.
Environmental concerns and eliminating harsh treatments on animals in the meat industry are provoking factors towards the surge in vegan followers. The Pescetarian concept is just a spin on the vegan diet. It is less renowned and explored by people. So, let’s find out what the difference is between vegan and pescatarian diets.
What Is a Vegan Diet?
A vegan diet comprises plant-based vegetarian meals wholly sourced and processed from natural crops. It excludes all forms of food produced or acquired by animals, including eggs, all dairy products, meat, fish, honey, etc. Vegan people restrain from consuming any animal products or by-products, either raw like milk and eggs or processed like cheese cubes, egg cakes, etc.
Instead, meat and dairy alternatives are used for fulfilling taste and nutritional needs. There are a variety of delicious vegan dishes which can easily replace any non-vegan appetizer.
A vegan Lifestyle is regarded as not only healthy but planet friendly. It is a simple and convenient solution to reduce animal cruelty, revive healthy livelihood and restore balance in the ecosystem.
Pros of a Vegan Diet
- 99.99% vegetarian: Vegan diet comprises vegetarian food which is completely plant-based without any animal product.
- Healthy: If the menu is chosen wisely, a vegan diet can be very wholesome. It has less fat and calorie content than dairy and meat.
- Reduces cholesterol levels: Since vegans avoid animal-based products, they are inherently reducing the risk of high cholesterol in them.
- Aids in weight loss: Now, this completely depends on your choice of food. Eating the right vegan food helps you shed excess fat from the body. Studies show that vegan people have lower BMI (body mass index)
- Social and Ecological Response: Vegan diet contributes majorly to combating environmental change, safeguarding habitat and animal species, saving water and energy resources, and preserving our natural rainforests.
Cons of a Vegan Diet
- Lack of nutrients: Being free from nutrient-rich products such as eggs, dairy, and meat, a vegan diet may cause a deficiency of essential vitamins in your body. The scarce nutrients in a vegan diet are vitamin B12, zinc, and omega-3 fat, which are responsible for healthy cell growth and the immune system.
- Promotes acne: You may experience acne breakouts during vegan diet because a vegan diet falls short of anti-acne food and nutrients.
- It may lead to weight gain: Junk foods like French fries, refined flour pasta, and bread, frozen snacks, etc., also count under the vegan category. Overconsumption of these as a substitute can lead to drastic weight gain.
What Is Pescatarian Diet?
Pescatarian Diet was born from a tweak in the vegan diet. Just a vegan, pescatarian diet is plant-based and restricts meat, dairy and eggs but includes seafood. So basically, pescatarian people consume fish, oysters, crabs, and prawns, along with everything an authentic vegan follows.
Pescatarian is an amalgamation of two words- “Pesce,” which means fish in Italian, and “tarian,” which stands for vegetarian. Together it means a vegetarian/vegan person eating only fish but no chicken, beef, red meat, etc.
It is an excellent diet option for maintaining a healthy and plant-based diet and simultaneously absorbing vital nutrients from fish and other seafood. The aquatic meals are rich in zinc, iron, omega -3, calcium, and many more, which usually lacks in a strict vegan diet.
Pros of the Pescatarian Diet
- Sufficient Nutrients: Seafood is loaded with all essential vitamins and fats needed for proper growth and development of the body. This makes the pescatarian diet wholesome and healthy.
- Variety of Food: With the addition of fish, your choice of meals expands. There are over 25 species of eatable seafood. You can enjoy more cuisines along with regular plant-based food.
- It promotes heart health: Fish consumption reduces the risk of heart strokes and high blood pressure.
- Anti-cancer properties: A study by California researches showed that adding fish to vegetarian diet reduces the chances of colon cancer by 43% because of the abundant amount of omega-3 fat present in seafood.
- It reduces the risk of diabetes: Plant-based diet regulates insulin production and utilization in the body. Thus, it decreases the occurrence of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
Cons of Pescatarian Diet
- Risk of Contamination: Heavy Pollution of water bodies has led to harmful chemicals seeping into the food chain of aquatic beings. Thus, the maximum seafood you eat today is not pure. This contamination can directly impact your digestive system.
- High Mercury content: Seafood, mainly fish, are very rich in mercury. Our body needs mercury only within permissible limits. Excess absorption of mercury can be toxic to your nervous system.
Difference Between Vegan and Pescatarian Diet
1. Diet And Eating Habits
Vegan and pescatarian lifestyles have almost similar diets and eating habits. The only difference is seafood. A vegan diet primarily includes the following
- Grains and cereals
- Soy Milk
- Coconut milk
- Nuts and seeds
- Pasta and noodles
- Lentils, legumes and beans(pulses, kidney beans, chickpea etc)
A pescatarian diet includes everything listed above and additionally includes fish species and other kinds of seafood like-
- Salmon, tuna, cod, Mahi Mahi, etc
- Oysters, crab, shrimp, prawn, lobster, clams, etc
Both vegan and pescatarian people completely cut off meat and dairy from their diet and even animal by-products such as eggs, honey, etc. Vegans consume strict plant-based meals for environmental concerns and take substitutes and supplements for daily nutrient intake. Pescatarians add seafood to their diet as the primary source of proteins and nutrients.
2. Effects On Weight Loss
Studies show that vegan and pescatarian diets are effective in reducing significant weight. A 2016 study from Harvard University showed that those who followed plant-based diet lost more pounds compared to those who followed non-vegetarian diet. Meat is a good source of protein but also contains a lot of fat and carbohydrates, more than the need of the body.
Following a vegan intermittent fasting diet is ideal for weight loss since it will not only reduce your fat but also give you additional advantages such as it will reduce the insulin resistance, increase your concentration and also reduce your stress.
In a pescatarian diet, fish is the lowest-calorie protein source, which makes it a great option for weight watchers. But a vegan diet aids in weight loss more than a pescatarian diet, as the latter involves seafood consumption.
But remember that weight loss is directly proportional to your food choices. Eating unhealthy vegan junk would only lead to bad cholesterol and weight gain in the body.
3. Other Health Benefits
Vegan and pescatarian diets offer many health benefits to the overall body system. A vegan diet lowers cholesterol, thus, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It also promotes weight loss and narrows diabetes risk by regulating insulin in the body.
Nevertheless, a vegan diet is deficient in vitamin b12, omega-3 fat, zinc, and calcium which hinder your health and that’s why many vegans depend upon vegan multivitamin supplements to fulfill their daily nutritional intake. Whereas, a Pescatarian diet includes the consumption of fish and seafood, which is very rich in all essential nutrients. It provides wider health benefits than a vegan diet.
Seafood makes up the primary source of protein and vitamins, replacing meat and dairy. It protects heart health and fights back cancer. So, the pescatarian diet is a notch higher in health aspects than the vegan diet.
Vegan Culture was introduced to eradicate animal cruelty and preserve natural wildlife. A veganism impacts the environment in various helpful ways-
- It reduces water consumption and wastage. Water is highly used in livestock maintenance.
- Veganism reduces carbon footprint, helps in controlling greenhouse gases emission and minimizes the growth of global warming.
- It replenishes the ecosystem by protecting animals from husbandry, genetic modification, and mass killing. It also safeguards natural habitats.
- It restores rainforest diversity and greenery. Deforestation has swiped off our original rainforest for raising cattle. Going vegan means less meat demand and, ultimately, less rainforest destruction.
The Pescatarian diet also extends these benefits but loses a point in preserving aquatic biodiversity. Demand and consumption of seafood around the world degrade the quality of underwater life and increase the risk of endangered and vulnerable fish species.
Vegan Vs Pescetarian | Which One Should You Choose?
Now you are aware of the difference between a vegan diet vs pescetarian diet. Here comes another dilemma- Which one to choose and why?
Now it depends on a lot of factors. In order to decide which one is best, firstly, you need to determine the end objective. If one’s goal is to shed some weight, research shows that you should go for a vegan diet, but that’s just one aspect. It is seen that a vegan diet can be hard to follow and nutritionally inadequate due to limited vitamin-rich food options.
Whereas the pescatarian diet enables the intake of important nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and B12 (mainly found in seafood) whilst restricting the intake of poultry and red meat. Your eating habits also play a major role in your desired diet choice.
If you have always been a strict vegetarian and wish to contribute more towards planet safety, switching to vegan diet as a beginner would be easy for you. But, if you live in a seafood-dominant cuisine city, a pescatarian diet will suit you better.
So, the bottom line is it all depends upon your expectations, food habits, aim, degree of environmental concern, and dietary requirements. Talk to your doctor or dietician to guide you according to your lifestyle history and tendency.
Just make sure to make macros( protein, carbohydrates, and fats) your best friend, and you will end up getting fitter and healthier than ever before.
In a nutshell, vegan and pescatarian diets are globally emerging food lifestyles to overcome the ill effects of animal husbandry, wildlife exploitation, and environmental degradation. A vegan diet follows a plant-based eating habit. The
Pescatarian diet is a middle route between strict vegans and omnivores. It additionally includes seafood for protein and vitamin needs, along with vegan food. Take time to choose the suitable diet option considering your previous diet patterns and specific nutritional needs.
Haste’s decisions are poorly sustainable. These diets only help your health in the long run. Therefore, recheck all factors prior to execution and make sure to maintain a balanced diet.