Can You Eat Fish On A Plant-Based Diet? 9 Pros & Cons


Thinking about going plant-based but can’t imagine giving up your favorite fish dishes? Many people assume that adopting a plant-based diet means saying goodbye to all animal products, including seafood.

So, Can You Eat Fish On A Plant-Based Diet? Yes, you can eat fish on a plant-based diet, but they shouldn’t be the main course. It’s like adding a sprinkle of salt to a dish; it enhances the flavor but isn’t the star ingredient.

Many tread this path, balancing the love for aquatic delights with a predominantly plant-focused plate. Learn how to incorporate fish into a plant-based diet by reading this article.

Let the exploration begin!

Can You Eat Fish On A Plant-Based Diet?

Yes, you can eat fish on a plant-based diet. Stepping into the world of dieting can feel like exploring a large garden at times. 

At the heart of a plant-based diet, you’ll find a lush array of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes. 

These nutrient-dense foods are the mainstay, much like the vibrant flowers and plants that dominate a garden. But just as a garden might have a pond with fish, a plant-based diet can also accommodate fish. 

It doesn’t mean the diet is all about fish, but they can be a part of it. Consider adding a few fish to a pond; they add to the beauty but aren’t the main attraction. 

Fatty fish like salmon, herring, and trout are especially beneficial because they’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids, similar to the dietary patterns found in a plant-based Mediterranean diet

However, it’s essential to remember that while some plant-based diets welcome fish, others, especially vegan diets, give them a miss. This exclusion often stems from reasons beyond just health, touching upon ethics, the environment, and personal beliefs. This brings up similar questions about eggs whether they are included in a plant-based diet.

So, if you’re considering a plant-based diet and wondering about fish, the answer is clear: they can swim into the menu, but how often and in what amounts is up to you.

Fish in Plant-Based Diets

While fish is typically excluded from vegan and vegetarian diets, there are variations of plant-based diets that might include certain types of fish. 

For instance:

  • Pescatarians: They incorporate fish and seafood into an otherwise vegetarian diet. Apart from fish, many pescatarians also consume dairy and eggs.
  • Ostroveganism: This is a unique plant-based diet that allows the consumption of bivalve mollusks like clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops. The rationale is that these species lack a central nervous system and supposedly don’t perceive pain like other animals.

Pros and Cons of Including Fish in a Plant-Based Diet


  • Nutritional Benefits: Fish, especially fatty varieties like salmon, trout, and herring, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which support heart health, reduce inflammation, and may improve brain function.
  • Vitamin and Mineral Boost: Fish is a good source of essential nutrients such as vitamin B12, iodine, selenium, and zinc, which might be less abundant in strictly plant-based diets.
  • Flexibility: Including fish can make the transition to a plant-based diet easier for some people, offering more variety and flexibility in meal choices.
  • Sustainability: Some fish, when sourced responsibly, can be a sustainable choice compared to other animal proteins, especially if one opts for locally caught or low-impact farmed fish.


  • Environmental Impact: Some fishing methods can damage marine ecosystems. Additionally, fish farming, especially non-sustainable practices, can lead to water pollution and other environmental issues.
  • Not Truly Plant-Based: Purists argue that including fish means the diet isn’t genuinely plant-based. This can lead to debates and confusion about terminology and definitions.
  • Taste and Preference: Some individuals transitioning to a plant-based diet might develop an aversion to the taste and texture of fish or might have ethical reasons for avoiding all animal products.


Plant-based diets and fish consumption intersect at the unique intersection of dietary choices.

While the core of a plant-based diet celebrates the bounty of the earth, the inclusion of fish offers a blend of nutritional benefits, from omega-3 fatty acids to high-quality protein. 

However, the decision isn’t solely about health; it’s intertwined with environmental, ethical, and personal beliefs. 

To put it simply, can you eat fish on a plant-based diet? Yes, you can, but it’s a choice that requires thoughtful consideration of all the facets we’ve explored. 

As with any dietary decision, it’s about striking a balance that resonates with one’s values, health goals, and palate.

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