JJ Townsend


Anniversary of Becoming a Pescatarian

I began my pescatarian journey spring 2013 and I have never felt better. I decided to become a pescatarian to minimize the risk of future diseases (my parent's families have a long history of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity). Another problem, common among African Americans, is the deaths of my ancestors are unknown so it is nearly impossible to understand the true risks of certain diseases.  Transitioning to plant-seafood based diet was one of the most important and life-changing decisions that I've ever made. The switch to a pescetarianism diet was not hard for me at all, because the ability to continue to eat fish and Mississippi Gulf seafood eliminated my desire for meat. Over time your body's unnatural craving for mammal and poultry meat disappears, and a healthy body will get sick from beef, pork or chicken if eaten again after a period of a pescatarian diet. This is because land animal flesh is filled with toxins, uric acid and fecal bacteria.

The only reason the human race started to eat land animals was back when cavemen had to survive in the wild, and berries and vegetables were scarce and killing mammals was their only way to survive. I would say we have definitely advanced since then -- everyone could survive on a vegan diet if they chose. That's all it is. It is making a decision to not only improve your health and extend your life, but contribute to saving our planet and natural resources -- and our animals -- who deserve to live a free and happy life as much as we do.

You may be wondering, "What is a pescetarian?" Pescetarianism, or pesco-vegetarianism, means being vegetarian while still including seafood in your diet. One still cuts out red meat, pork, poultry, etc. from his or her diet like a vegetarian, but does not cut out fish and other seafood. According to The New York Times, meat consumption in the United States has doubled in the last 50 years. And since then, haven't other problems increased? Cancer, heart disease, stroke, obesity: these have all increased drastically over the past 50 years. Any connection? These trends may go hand in hand.

Here's a list of the top five reasons why I believe you should go pescetarian.

1) Pescetarianism may drastically improve your health.

A pescetarian diet may not only reduce your risk for heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases, but stroke, osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure and some types of cancer. Experts say that up to 80 percent of cancer cases are preventable through healthy diets that contain low amounts of fats and oils, and high amounts of fiber -- the model pescetarian diet.

Meat is often covered in pesticides and chemicals that are harmful to our bodies. David Steinman's "Living Healthy in a Toxic World" is a great book to read about how the primary source of nuclear radiation contamination in humans is from beef products.

Fish is very low in saturated fat and contains very large quantities of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s have also been shown to have potential risk-reducing effects when it comes to cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Another huge benefit of including fish in a vegetarian diet is the healthy amount of iron in fish and seafood. Pescetarians have a lower risk of developing iron deficiency anemia -- a common condition among vegans, vegetarians and many of my fellow distance running friends.

2) Becoming a pescetarian benefits our planet.

One pound of beef requires 2,500 gallons of water, whereas one pound of soy requires only 250 gallons of water and a pound of wheat requires only 25 gallons. If you want to help save our water, cutting meat from your diet one way that you get active.

Additionally, the deforestation caused by the need to create space to house livestock is huge. A Smithsonian Institution study shows that the demand for more grazing land means that every day = seven football fields. And it's not just the rainforest being destroyed. In the United States, more than 260 million acres of forest have been clear-cut for animal agriculture as of 2005.

The livestock in the Unites States also creates an unimaginable amount of waste and toxic emission -- as do the fertilizers used.

3) I believe you aren't against animal cruelty unless you are some type of vegetarian.

Most people know somewhat of what is going on in slaughterhouses and cow, pig, chicken and turkey farms. They know that animals are bred for murder in these places so they can be killed and eaten for the pleasure of humans. Animals are subjected to some pretty terrible living conditions, full of feces and flies, packed into crates so crowded that they can hardly move. Their natural habits are taken from them.

"If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian." - Paul McCartney

4) We aren't natural carnivores.

Natural carnivores have claws, pointed front teeth to tear raw flesh and no pores on the skin so they perspire through the tongue. Plant and fish eaters perspire through pores on the skin since they are searching for food during hot hours -- not hunting at sunrise, sunset or under cover of darkness as carnivores do. Carnivores also have a shorter intestinal tract than plant and fish eaters do so rapidly decaying carcasses in the stomach can pass out of the body quickly. Herbivores and omnivores have an intestinal tract that is several times their body length since a mostly plant-based diet doesn't include food that decays as quickly. The human intestinal tract is about 25 feet long. Doesn't that tell you something?

I do acknowledge that it has been shown that fish farms can be inhumane -- even though fish are much less sentient and self-aware than land animals. However I still recommend you avoid fish that come from fish farms, and try to consume only wild fish that has been caught fresh. This way you get omega-3 acids in their purest and healthiest form, and also reduce your risk of consuming sick fish that may be packed with chemicals from fish farms. It's also similar to choosing to eat only free-range eggs -- like the hens who lay the eggs that get to run around free of a cage, these fish come from the sea or rivers in their natural habitats.

5) Many successful individuals choose vegetarian or pescetarian diets.

These people eat fish but no other type of meat, for fish is needed in the diet, and they understand this. Many people however who are pescetarian still refer to their diet as vegetarianism. This is very common and is not wrong to say -- pescetarian, also called pesco-vegetarian, is just a branch of vegetarianism. There are many types of vegetarians, and every one of them is making an effort to improve their health, contribute less to animal cruelty and help save our planet. Some types of vegetarians will accuse other types as being hypocrites, and attack their diet choices. For example, many vegans and vegetarians attack pescetarians, while they know that they themselves need to take fish oil capsules every day containing omega-3 acids to stay healthy, which they know only comes from fish. They ask, "How can you justify eating fish?" I ask, "How can you believe that it is not natural to eat something we as humans need to be healthy?"

I believe that whatever type of lifestyle one leads to benefit the planet, save the animals, or better one's health, they deserve only praise.