Can vegetarians eat shrimp? This is a question that many people with dietary restrictions wonder about, and it can be hard to answer (at least not after reading this explainer). In this article, we’ll try to make explain the technicalities around this subject matter.
Can Vegetarians Eat Shrimp?
The key to understanding the true nature of vegetarianism is the answer to deciding if a vegetarian can eat shrimp.
Types of Vegetarians
There are three types of vegetarians: Lacto -vegetarians, ovo-vegetarian, and Lacto-ovo vegetarians and Vegans.
Lactovegetarians avoid consuming red meat, seafood, poultry, and eggs but still eat dairy products. On the other hand, ovo-vegetarians avoid meats, chicken, fish and milk products.
Lacto-ovo vegetarians are a combination of the lacto- and ovo-vegetarians, meaning they will neither consume dairy products (allowed by lacto-vegetarians) nor eggs (tolerated by ovo-vegetarians).
There are other uncommon ways of practicing vegetarianism. These are flexitarians (semi-vegetarians) and pescatarians (also pesco-vegetarians).
Flexitarians will still consume meat (as the name suggests), but they only do so for only three days a week and no more. Conversely, pescatarians consume eggs, fish (seafood) and daily but avoid the flesh of terrestrial animals, i.e., red meat, poultry, bacon, etc.
If you’re a lacto-, ovo-, or lacto-ovo vegetarian, then there’s no chance of you consuming shrimps. The three types of vegetarianism clearly forbid that.
It is only flexitarian and pescatarian forms of vegetarianism that allow seafood, of which shrimps are part.
Vegetarianism, in general, has been on the rise for many years now, with more and more people wanting to know how to become one or maintain their status as one. If you are still wondering whether or not you can consume shrimps as a vegetarian, then the answer is a resounding “yes.” This is, however, when you are either semi-vegetarian or a pesco-vegetarian.
Is Shrimp Vegan Food?
Again we need to define veganism in order for us to decide whether a vegan can have it.
A vegan is an individual who has overcome the urge to, and avoided consuming any food made from animals. This means that they will avoid eating meats of all kinds, dairy products, and eggs.
Just as with vegetarians, there are several classes of vegans. The four main of these are:
These are vegans who have opted for a lifestyle without animal products and by-products for ethical reasons. These people believe that animals should not be killed for food because why protect the pet dogs, but encourage pig farmers for the sake of bacon?
Since shrimps are animals, ethical vegans won’t have them either.
These are vegans who opt for this because of the environmental benefits that come with it, i.e., no carbon footprint or any other form of pollution caused by raising livestock in mass quantities. This is not to mention how crops used to feed these animals can be better used by humans.
Farm-raised shrimps have their part of the carbon footprint, which means environmental vegans won’t eat.
This type of vegan is quite common because they believe that a meat-free diet can be healthier than one with meats in it. They also avoid dairy products and eggs for the same reasons as vegetarians, i.e., health benefits associated with not using these animal products in the diet.
You already know that shrimps may contain a considerable amount of mercury. Since this element is harmful to people, it’s unlikely that a healthy vegan will eat them.
This is a vegan who opts for the lifestyle because of their religious beliefs and reasons. It’s pretty common to see vegans where religions require them not to eat certain kinds of foodstuff, like pork in Islam or beef in Jainism. Shrimps are also prohibited by Judaism, so if you’re kosher, then this means that you’ll pass on them too.
So if one is a vegan, then they will avoid shrimps because of the reasons above.
Therefore, shrimps are not vegan food.
Do Vegetarians Eat Shrimp?
One can be either a lacto-, ovo- or lacto-ovo vegetarian, none of which will consume shrimps because they’re considered animal food.
However, if the person follows either flexitarianism or pescetarianism, then there’s no reason why they shouldn’t eat shrimp as long as it is not the only food they eat.
Flexitarianism entails a person who follows a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat and seafood, especially shrimp. Pescatarianism, on the other hand, involves eating fish as well as eggs and dairy products, but no flesh of any animal. Since shrimps are classified similarly to fish in culinary terms, pescatarians can eat shrimp.
Complete Guide on Can Vegetarians Eat Shrimp or Not?
The answer to this question is yes, but only certain types of vegetarianism.
If you’re a vegan, then no, because shrimps are animal products, and vegans avoid them for ethical reasons mainly. However, if your diet falls under either flexitarianism or pescetarianism, then you can eat shrimps. Just make sure that your shrimp intake doesn’t become the only food on your diet plan. As you could accumulate the mercury in the really fast.
Some vegetarians may add fish to their diet (which automatically makes them pescatarian) for a range of reasons. These include:
- Fish adds a variety of proteins to the diet.
- Fish has numerous health benefits that may be too hard to ignore, even for a vegetarian. These benefits include minerals, vitamins, omega-three fatty acids, etc. Notably, omega-3 is found in just a couple of plant-based foods, so seafood can be the best way to supplement a vegetarian’s diet.
- It may be cheaper or more accessible than other meat alternatives.
Is Pescatarian Healthier Than Vegetarian?
As we’ve seen above, plant diets are generally deficient in certain nutrients. These nutrients are:
Vitamin B-12 and zinc
Seafood is rich in zinc and vitamin B-12. Whereas these nutrients can also be found in plants, a strict vegetarian may find it challenging to get enough of them.
Omega-three fatty acids
This type of fat isn’t found in plants, and fish is one of the best sources. Fish has a range of health benefits (see above). For example, DHA and EPA fatty acids are found in just a couple of plants. Although ALA (more available than DHA and EPA in plants) may be converted into EPA and DHA, the process is highly inefficient. Strict vegetarians are thus more likely to suffer nutritional deficiencies.
So if you’re looking for an alternative that’s healthier than meat, then pescetarianism may be a good choice for you.
Pescetarian diets have a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer compared to other types of meat intake.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Do vegetarians eat seafood?
No, they do not because it’s an animal product and vegans avoid them for ethical reasons. However, if you’re a pescatarian, your diet includes seafood (fish and shrimps).
Is prawn considered vegan food?
No, it is not. Prawns are animals, and vegans avoid them for ethical and other reasons. Basically, every food that is not derived from plants is not considered vegan food.
Do vegetarians eat shrimp?
It depends on the type of vegetarian you are talking about, but for most pescatarians, yes, do eat some types of seafood, including shrimp. But if you’re a strict vegetarian or vegan then no, you don’t eat them because it contains animal products.
Do vegetarians eat shellfish?
Not usually, but some types of vegetarians do eat them. Shellfish such as mussels and crabs contain meat, so they’re not considered vegan food by most vegans or strict vegetarians.
What sea creatures are vegetarian?
Some types of sea creatures are considered vegetarian because they eat plants. Some fish species will only feed on plants and are thus considered vegetarian. These varieties include tilapia, cod, and salmon.
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You now have the answer if you have been identifying as one but wondered if vegetarians can eat shrimp. Strict vegetarians should be watchful of their diet as they can easily miss vital nutrients that are primarily found in animal products. If you’re a pescatarian, then there’s no problem- There’s so much good in (healthwise) being a pescatarian than just eating plants and their products.
Did you also know that plants are high in fiber, so you experience more flatulence on such a diet? Sure, a vegetarian diet can make you fart a lot 🙂