I'm wondering if health-wise and ecology-wise the change from omnivore to pescatarian is comparable to change from pescatarian to vegan?

  • I don't follow. The positive external benefit/utility? The self-concept of either being a hard change? I'm inclined to downvote because the title has an obvious typo and it appears no research has been done.
    – adamaero
    May 30, 2020 at 23:57
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    I had a go at clarifying what the question was asking. I think it can still be relevant to the site so not voting to close at the moment. Might be out of scope though, could use a discussion. I opened one at Meta: vegetarianism.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/349/… May 31, 2020 at 12:12
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    Thank you Alexander. I try to be vegan with most things I eat but children's left over fish fingers are irresistible sometimes. I shift from one category to another and am wondering how good/detrimental the changes are. I appreciate the help. Jun 1, 2020 at 19:42
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    Which fish will make a huge difference as many species are endangered.
    – badjohn
    Jun 4, 2020 at 12:44
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    I would add that it doesn't matter from an ecological perspective about eating the kids' leftover fish fingers as these are a 'sunk cost'. The goal is lowering demand for the fish industry. So don't worry about eating leftovers, but maybe consider the vegetable fingers option in future if this is your goal :) Jun 17, 2020 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


To address the 'ecology' side of your question, there are a few factors to consider:

  • How much meat/fish you are eating in both scenarios - probably an obvious one
  • How is the fish caught? Pole and line is the most sustainable method, as it minimises capturing endangered species, non-relevant species (dolphins, sharks) and damaging the ocean floor which methods like trawling will do. Farming may be better still from an environmental damage perspective, although I'd need to look into that further.
  • How do you source meat, fish and plants? Switching to veganism reduces a lot of the greenhouse gases produced by livestock but if you're then eating fruit and veg that has a load of air miles, it's not going to be as big of a carbon saving as buying locally (although probably never enough to make it worse than eating meat)
  • What plants do you switch to eating? For example, avocados are linked with large-scale rainforest destruction, and rice paddies produce methane. Similarly, sticking to oat milk uses less water than soy milk. Are you buying organic, or are these grown using pesticides? There are a few factors here although, again, probably not enough to be more damaging than eating meat
  • What fish do you switch to eating? While cod is a commonly eaten fish, its wild populations are under significant threat from the fishing industry. Sticking to species like Salmon (often farmed instead of caught from the wild) and Pollock (which have healthier natural stocks) will be better from an ecological perspective. Better still, animals like oysters and mussels are farmed (so no negative impact on marine wildlife) and actually have a positive environmental impact due to their water filtering habits
  • How is food packaged? Compare picking up stuff from a market to it being wrapped in cellophane from the supermarket. Plastic doesn't biodegrade and has significant ecological consequences. This also applies to restaurants and takeaways that you are buying from in both scenarios (I know anecdotally that vegan places are more conscientious when it comes to packaging)
  • How is food stored and cooked? Think about the energy required to freeze/chill and cook food in both scenarios. This will depend on your location - I'm in the UK so fruit and veg don't need to go in the fridge or freezer the way that meat and fish would need to

I imagine a lot of these questions will be relevant for understanding the health impact as well, but I'm not as well educated on that side of things.

Broadly speaking, a pescatarian diet has a much lower ecological impact than being an omnivore, and a vegan diet has a lower ecological impact still. Given that 'ecology' has so many parts to it (environmental damage, carbon production, pollution...) there is no easy answer. However, while there is no 'definitive' answer, hopefully these things will help you decide a lifestyle that's right for you and sits well with your values.

  • That was a lot more questions rather than an answer. I've always said the actual answer to any question is 'it depends...' . Thanks for the input. Jun 16, 2020 at 10:56

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