Is Fish Meat? A Question I’m Often Asked

I am a Catholic who has a vegetarian brother and sister, so one question I am often asked is, “Is fish meat?” Whether people want to know because they are not sure if vegetarians can eat fish or whether or not Catholics can eat fish on Friday during Lent.

The answer to that question is pretty simple – it depends. Because a fish is a living creature, some would definitely consider it to be meat. In other words, if my brother or sister were asked whether fish is meat, the answer would be “yes,” because they do not eat fish as vegetarians.

There are also the kind of vegetarians called vegans that do not eat any type of meat byproduct, such as eggs, cheese or butter, because they think of all of those things as meat. Fish would definitely be off limits to a vegan.

If you asked my aunt the same question, however, the answer would be different. She lives on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, where crab feasts are a regular event. She considers herself a vegetarian, though she calls herself a Maryland vegetarian, and still eats seafood. She does not think of fish as being meat, and a lot of people agree with her.

When I get asked the question, “is fish meat,” I always say that I am not sure. I don’t consider it to be meat on Fridays during Lent, because I eat it every week. However, if I define being a vegetarian as not eating any kind of animal, which I do, I would consider fish to be meat.

Is fish meat? It depends. I saw a diet one time for a friend of the family who was supposed to get his cholesterol level down by “going vegetarian,” as the guy said. There was fish on the diet, because there is not a significant amount of fat in fish, and there is nowhere near as much saturated fat as there is in beef or pork.

I asked him if he had ever thought about whether or not fish should be considered meat, and he said that he had not. He said he leaned toward it being a kind of meat, because it is often served as a main course at restaurants, and virtually every main course he had ever seen at a restaurant involved meat. I thought that was an interesting point.

Is fish meat? I really don’t know if I can answer that question. Obviously, some people definitely think of it as being a form of meat, while other people think that it is acceptable to eat, even if they are a vegetarian. I guess it all depends on who you ask.