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timothykinney's avatar

How can people who eat fish and eggs call themselves vegetarians?

Asked by timothykinney (2728 points ) July 18th, 2008

I will try to consider the different reasons that people are vegetarians…Morally speaking, it’s still the death of a creature. Biologically speaking, it’s still animal-based protein. Is there something else I’m missing?

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48 Answers

iwamoto's avatar

well, it’s not like it’s a set of rules or something (if i wanted that i’d join a religion), i call myself vegetarian, and i eat fish once a month, let me put it this way nice and quick, do i have to answer to someone on my choices ? no, it’s just my way of doing things in life…

tinyfaery's avatar

They can’t. Fish is meat; no one who eats seafood is a vegetarian. Eggs and milk are included in ovo-lacto vegetarianism; they are not flesh, but are an animal bi-products. Vegans don’t eat any animal based food/product, including honey, milk, gelatin, etc.

Also, you don’t have to kill an animal to get eggs or milk. I guess you could consider eggs killing (that’s like saying a first-trimester abortion kills a living creature). But there are non-fertilized eggs, and these would never have become chickens.

nikipedia's avatar

What “creature” dies when you eat an egg, exactly?

People who eat fish (and no other meat) are technically called “pescatarians”, but maybe they call themselves “vegetarians” because they get tired of explaining it, or maybe their definition of “vegetarian” is a little more flexible than yours and mine. Who knows. Why trouble yourself?

iwamoto's avatar

i guess i do it because people know what a vegetarian is, like niki says, sometimes i wonder why people are so bent on “exposing” people like me, not a “true” vegetarian, not a true believer, a fraud, i should be hanged from the highest tree…why ? because i just do it because i don’t feel like eating meat..

tinyfaery's avatar

@nik I don’t consider eating an egg killing per se, but if one does eat a fertilized egg, one is depriving the egg of becoming a chicken. (That’s why I used the abortion analogy.)

theguru's avatar

People who eat fish aren’t vegetarians. Vegetarians are those who don’t eat animals or meat products and fish falls into that category.

But people who eat eggs, can consider themselves vegetarians because eggs aren’t an animal or a meat product. It is vegans who don’t eat eggs.

AstroChuck's avatar

I’m an ovo-lacto vegetarian. No fish. The eggs I buy are from veg-fed, free range chickens.
@tinyfaery- Hardly a first trimester abortion as they aren’t fertilized.

monsoon's avatar

“It’s okay to eat fish ‘cause they don’t have any feelings.” – Kurt Cobain.

Can’t argue with the gods.

tinyfaery's avatar

@ac That’s why I specified fertilized and non-fertilized.

monsoon's avatar

Who eats fertilized eggs? Ick.

tinyfaery's avatar

Don’t know, but they have em.

monsoon's avatar

where have you ever seen eggs being sold to eat that were fertilized? You hear freak stories of that happening, but people don’t eat fertilized eggs.

tinyfaery's avatar

See here And I’m sure there is more out there.

nikipedia's avatar

And let’s not forget balut, the ultimate in fertilized egg. Not for the weak of stomach.

tinyfaery's avatar

@nik I didn’t really need to see that. Ewww!

richardhenry's avatar

At the end of the day, if you’re a vegetarian and you don’t feel bad or uncomfortable about eating fish or egg, then that’s fine and it’s up to you. You can decide exactly how strictly a vegetarian you want to be. It’s about you, and the rules start and end at you, just as they should.

Wine3213's avatar

@nikipedia: I was in Thailand, and saw people eat balut. I was offered some, but refused.

btko's avatar

meat |miːt|
noun
– the flesh of an animal

animal |ˈanɪm(ə)l|
noun
a living organism that feeds on organic matter, typically having specialized sense organs and nervous system and able to respond rapidly to stimuli

Vegetarians claim not to eat meat. All animals have meat. Fish are animals. A person eating a fish isn’t a vegetarian. I agree that people can do what they want and eat what they want… but English is much easier when we call an apple an apple, and a orange an orange.

Eggs are not animals and they aren’t meat. So I would say they fall under vegetarian.

On Eggs: I’ve worked in breakfast restaurants and there would sometimes be the odd egg someone would crack open and there would be a half-developed chicken. So there must be a few fertilized ones that get through.

Mrs_Dr_Frank_N_Furter's avatar

my friend doesn’t eat mamals. But she does eat fish and poultry…because they aren’t mamals

Trance24's avatar

Vegetarians that still drink milk and eat eggs are called lacto-ovo vegetarians. Vegetarians who eat fish technically are not vegetarians. I still eat a small amount of fish from time to time. But I still call myself a vegetarian because it is just easier that way when it comes to eating at other peoples houses and things like that. A lot of people believe it or not don’t even know anything about being vegetarian. Like: “Oh you don’t eat meat? Ok I’ll make chicken.” Thats when it gets me. As for eggs and milk I buy only organic and cage free.

ezraglenn's avatar

I don’t believe in labels.

iwamoto's avatar

there should be a term for people who don’t believe in labels…

delirium's avatar

Pescatariaism is just obnoxious to explain over and over and over and over and over.

My vegetarianism is based mostly on the fact that I won’t eat what I couldn’t bring myself to kill. I could deal with killing a fish, but I would never be able to kill a chicken.
People who hunt their own food are people that I respect to an absurd level. If you farm your own food, or hunt your own food… that’s amazing, and commendable. But in most cases people are just taking advantage of habit and availability even though mass consumption of meat (primarily big mammal meat) is incredibly destructive. It takes a ton more energy to make a healthy cow than you ever get from eating it.

There’s also very strict rules that I abide by when choosing fishies that are okay to eat. I only consume farm-raised or locally captured fish. None of that overfishing-sea-destroying stuff for me, thankyouverymuch.

ezraglenn's avatar

I too have my own reasons, and agree with almost everything delirium said. For me it is more about my disgust with the meat industry and my interest in avoiding the hormones pumped into most meat these days. I find the fish industry far less objectionable (although it’s far from perfect) and thus consume the products of that industry more readily than those of the various meat industries. However, I, unlike delirium, avoid farm raised fish because after a few visits to fish farms I cannot bring myself to actively support places where fish are treated in such a fashion (more fish than water, severely restrained, can’t swim, more hormones than in wild fish). [Although, like delirium, I do actively seek out locally caught fish].

So that’s why I don’t believe in labels and just call myself a vegetarian out of convenience.

Trance24's avatar

@Delirium – Well said. Thats exactly how I feel about the whole thing.

Bri_L's avatar

my wife won’t drink milk because the affordable milk has vitomens that have fish oil in them.

I don’t think you are a vegitarian if you eat fish.

richardhenry's avatar

@btko: I get your point, but I still think you should be able to call yourself a vegetarian, mostly because it makes eating out easier. Besides, it’s not like the rules to some sort of club, is it? Who cares if you don’t perfectly fit the definition?

Just don’t get offended if someone asks if you’re a ‘partial vegetarian’ or ‘not entirely a vegetarian’.

richardhenry's avatar

@delirium: Your answer should be in a book. Well said.

btko's avatar

@ richardhenry, fair enough. I do see that point about making your life a bit easier when eating out. But I think calling oneself a vegetarian can actually make things harder, because there are so many definitions and special cases. When I go out I say “no meat, no dairy, no eggs”. It doesn’t turn into a question of what group I fit in. I find that to be the easiest way.

In the past I used to say I’m vegetarian, but then people would say “so you eat chicken and fish right?”. You’re right it’s not some special club with rules… I’m not concerned with that. I’m more talking about clarity of thought and meaning.

btko's avatar

@delirium: I have much of the same feelings, I will eat what I am willing to kill or take responsibility for. Just an honest question though, what are your differences in killing a fish or killing a chicken… or even a spider? Just opening that up for anyone.

mcbealer's avatar

lacto-vegetarian here… it’s fluctuated over the years though. I have been a vegan before and have also eaten eggs while a vegetarian. They started to gross me out. I will eat them in baked goods, but not by themselves. I’ve never liked seafood, so that’s a nonissue for me.

delirium's avatar

I kill plenty of spiders. The rule that the spiders are expected to abide by is: As long as they stay in their corner and eat flies and stuff and don’t come crawling in to my bed, or near my feet… they can live in my house.

I can rationalize a fish. I can deal with that. I think fish are significantly more simplistic animals than chickens. I can’t take responsibility for what I consider to be a truly sentient being. If I were starving to death, I probably could kill a bird or a squirrel or the like. I could never, however, bring myself to kill a deer. Its the mammals in particular that get to me.

If I were given an option about eating fish, I probably wouldn’t. It isn’t an optional thing with me. Its complicated. I’m not well and probably shouldn’t be a vegetarian anyways. I just… can’t eat meat. I can’t bring myself to do it. I HAD to rationalize the fish thing a while ago and do my best to be mindful of it. I appreciate every fishie that I munch and do see them wriggling there in my head. Its a difficult situation.

Plus, dead things remind me of dead people, which I work with.

AstroChuck's avatar

I could never be a vegan. Although I’m vegetarian I have to eat eggs because I’m pro-choice.

DandyDear711's avatar

I have been a pescatarian for 8 months. It is such a pain to explain – I don’t eat meat or poultry. I get a lot of comments that I should still eat poultry. I explain that I don’t eat poultry and meat because of their environmental impact. I still get dumb looks and then get asked if I want a ham sandwich or chicken noodle soup for lunch…

I feel like wearing a sign – I am a pescatarian – Let it be!

iwamoto's avatar

don’t worry, it’ll always be like that “hey, let’s put meat in his lunch” “hey you want some? oh no wait, you aren’t allow to, hahaha” so yeah….get used to it :p

ezraglenn's avatar

yeah that’s the worst. my friends once threw baloney at me.

jpark's avatar

Might you like to think about people wanting to stop eating certain things for environmental and/or health reasons? Maybe some people consider feed lots to be disgusting. And we can’t forget the hormones and anti-bacterial agents that animals are pumped full of these days. For instance, I don’t eat land animals. I also don’t eat fish that are at the top of the oceanic food chain and/or prone to bioremediate neurotoxins (like mercury). What the heck do you call me? a bottom of the food chain fish-eating ovo lacto prescatarian? Also, if you want to get nit-picky, how in the world can you call yourself a true vegan if you are eating vegetables that came from a fertilized field. The phosphorous in fertilizer is decimating aquatic environments along with the fish living in them. Heck! Let’s go even further. Water treatment processes involving chlorine also help to kill aquatic species, and the next person who gets their water from a public water system and claims to be a purist is full of it. Everybody who throws batteries away is also contributing pollutants to the fish whose lives you claim to cherish. What about the cyanide derived from plastic and steel/metal factories? I could continue, but I would be preaching a little bit.

DandyDear711's avatar

@iwamoto – That is sooo gross! I haven’t eaten one of those in 9 months!

iwamoto's avatar

i’m glad i haven’t in, idk, almost 3 years i guess

Bri_L's avatar

I found that tasty looking. My wife is a vegetarian and I have been jonesing for a burger.

Bri_L's avatar

@ mcbealer – I can completely understand your viewpoint on this one. I looked at the pic again. But I remember what a big mac tastes like.

I know I have problems

mcbealer's avatar

@ Bri ~ nah, but are you a fellow veggie?

Bri_L's avatar

No. At home I am about 98% of the time. Outside of the house not at all.

The two percent is because her father is a meat and potatoes guy so when he comes over there has to be an option. But even he is seeing there doesn’t have to be meat.

lickwidchik88's avatar

I understand that veggies like to put people into the respective catagories… but how can you judge a pecetarian who eats organic veggies and will only eat cage free eggs/fish when a lot of “veggies” go and eat cheese/milk from a cow who went through hell for it or a chicken who had their beak chopped off?? How can THOSE veggies judge?? It just seems to me like they want to come off as perfect for “not eating any sort of meat” and point fingers at the people who call themselves veggies and will still eat fish. I say if you wanna make catergories, there should be ethical veggies, non ethical veggies, and so on… Does anyone get my case?

GrumpyGram's avatar

Simple: it’s cheating and denial. If you eat fish you’re not vegetarian. Of course, you’re free to call yourself anything you like. Therefore, I am the Queen of Siberia.

NaturallyMe's avatar

They shouldn’t be calling themselves vegetarians, simple. :)

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