I've Been Vegan, Vegetarian, And Pescatarian: Here Are All The Pros & Cons Of Each

Photo: Noah Buscher via Unsplash 
Pros And Cons Of A Vegan, Vegetarian, And Pescatarian Diet
Self

No diet is perfect.

For the past 11 years, I’ve been experimenting with my diet. It all started in high school when I realized that milk was texturally and conceptually unappealing. I switched to plant milk and never looked back.

When I went away to college, PETA visited my school. They showed us the film Earthlings and even though I left halfway through the movie, sobbing like a schoolgirl with a broken heart, I decided to become a vegetarian. I proudly displayed my “Friends Not Food,” stickers on my laptop and had ‘intelligent’ anti-meat discussions in my dorm room with a roommate who was surprisingly willing to listen to me.


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After two years of no meat or fish, I fell off the wagon and went back to my meat-eating ways. It wasn’t until I moved to China for a year that I switched back. The difference between being vegan and vegetarian?This time, going full-on vegan meant no animal products AT ALL.

In China, it’s pretty commonplace to kill animals for food out in the open. I saw chickens meet their match (adorable-looking grandmothers in pink frilly aprons) every day on my walk to work. And, after stumbling across a dog restaurant (and the awful visuals that came with it) on a trip to South Korea, I threw in my meat-eater towel.

My veganism lasted for two years until it fizzled out and I transitioned to a pescatarian diet (eating sea creatures only.) I’ve stuck to this diet for three years now, and am quite happy.

After years of experimenting with these diets, I figured out their pros and cons of each. Here’s what I discovered:

Pros and Cons of a Vegetarian Diet

Pros:

  • I morally felt better about my meals.
  • I was able to find vegetarian options in most situations.
  • I ate more vegetables.
  • I learned more about the food of different cultures (Mediterranean and Indian for example because they are very vegetarian-friendly.)
  • I always felt full and satisfied after meals.
  • I expanded my food knowledge and learned about tofu, seitan, seaweed, and other interesting options.
  • I felt like I was making a difference.

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Cons:

  • I gained weight because I was eating more pasta, cheese pizza, and potato chips than I was salads and veggie stir-fry.
  • It was something that I had to explain to my parents and friends countless times because they couldn’t understand why I would be a vegetarian.
  • I worried about getting the proper nutrients because I felt that I wasn’t as educated on my diet as I should have been.
  • I had limited options when eating out.
  • I really missed and craved seafood.

Pros and Cons of a Vegan Diet

via GIPHY

Pros:

  • I felt a complete and total sense of having good morals when it came to my diet.
  • I felt like I was part of the solution, not the problem.
  • I could confidently say that I was an animal lover.
  • I educated myself by reading books, scientific studies, and documentaries, which expanded my education all around.
  • I gained more self-confidence because I was living in a way that aligned with my beliefs. And, I proved to myself that I could do something really difficult.
  • I enjoyed so many interesting new foods and cuisines.
  • I felt like I was part of the vegan community and enjoyed meeting other people like me.
  • I felt like I got healthier because I was eating tons of fruits and vegetables.
  • I lost weight during parts of my vegan experiment.
  • I didn’t get any food-related sickness while traveling. Many of my friends suffered from food poisoning and stomach issues after eating street food and in small restaurants while traveling. I ate at all the same places as them but didn’t have any animals products (which often are the problem when it comes to food-borne illnesses, although not always.)
  • My meals were often cheaper in restaurants.
  • Grocery shopping was usually cheaper because cheese, meat, and seafood can be expensive.

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Cons:

  • It was very difficult to find vegan meals while traveling because of language barriers and different concepts of the word ‘vegan.’
  • Choices in restaurants can be extremely limiting.
  • It caused some tension between my boyfriend and I because I couldn’t eat in most places (he was a full-on meat eater.) And I refused to kiss him after he ate meat. Also, I would get really hangry when I couldn’t find vegan food and I would usually take it out on him.
  • It was a lot of work to find places I could eat, come up with new recipes, and remember to pack vegan snacks for pretty much every occasion.
  • I REALLY missed eating seafood.
  • I couldn’t try traditional dishes in the places I traveled to. I missed out on sushi while in Japan, Pho while in Vietnam, and more.
  • I started to get stressed out over what was vegan and what wasn’t (certain beer, wine, candies.)
  • I gained some weight when I discovered how delicious vegan desserts are.
  • It made family functions really difficult for both me and my family because everyone had to make sure they served something I could eat.
  • I became super militant and angry and started to hate anyone who wasn’t vegan.

RELATED: How To Go Vegan In One Week: A 7-Day Detox Plan


Pros and Cons of a Pescatarian Diet

Pros:

  • I didn’t crave seafood anymore.
  • It was easier to lose weight because fish can be filling so I ate fewer carbs.
  • It was easier to find options in restaurants and in the grocery store.
  • Dining with friends, family, and my boyfriend was more simple because I could always find something to eat.
  • I still felt mostly good and moral about my dietary choices.
  • I didn’t have to explain my diet all of the time.
  • I didn’t have to think about my diet as much, which relieved a lot of stress.
  • Traveling was easier.

Cons:

  • I often feel like a hypocrite for eating fish but not other meat.
  • People often ask me to explain why I eat fish but not other meat.
  • I don’t feel 100% happy with my morals and myself.
  • I still feel like I am partially part of the problem.
  • Cooking raw fish is something I find disgusting.
  • I don’t feel like I am being good to my body because I know that animal products can do devastating damage.

As of now, I’ve been a pescatarian for three years. After trying all of these diets, the most ideal, for me, would be a strictly vegan diet. When looking back on the cons, it seems that most of them were obstacles that had to do with convenience. Life can be hard enough as it is, and when you can’t do something as simple as walk into a restaurant and order a meal, it’s hard to stay with it.

However, being vegan had the most pros for me. I felt better about myself, my impact on the world, the example I set for others, and my health. I’m hoping to get back to this point sometime soon.

For now, I eat a mostly vegan diet, but when asked, say that I’m a pescatarian (it’s just easier that way). This way, I can avoid animal products, but enjoy the conveniences of eating fish or eggs when it’s necessary.

I do hope that one day (hopefully soon,) veganism becomes mainstream, making it just as easy to pull off as a traditional diet.

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