does fish meat? All you need to know

Many people wonder if fish is considered meat.

While some claim that fish is technically a type of meat, others point out that there are many ways to classify meat.

Factors such as religious guidelines, dietary restrictions, and nutritional differences can be used to categorize fish.

This article takes an in-depth look at whether fish is meat.

The classification of fish as meat depends on how you define meat.

Your religious views, dietary preferences, and personal health needs may also be factored into this judgment.

Basic definitions

Many people rely on the dictionary definition of meat, which is “the flesh of animals used for food” (1).

By this interpretation, fish would be a type of meat.

However, some people consider the meat to come only from warm-blooded animals, such as cattle, chickens, pigs, sheep, and birds.

Because fish are cold blooded, they would not be considered meat under this definition.

Others use the term “meat” to refer exclusively to the flesh of mammals covered with fur, which excludes animals like chickens and fish.

Religion can play a role

Some religions have specific definitions of meat and differ as to whether fish matters.

For example, in Judaism, fish that have fins and scales are considered “pareve”. This term applies to food products prepared from kosher ingredients that are neither meat nor dairy (2).

Additionally, Catholics often refrain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent, a religious observance that spans about six weeks from Ash Wednesday to Easter.

However, only warm blooded animals are considered meat, and cold blooded animals like fish are allowed during this time (3).

Finally, many Hindus are lacto-ovo vegetarians, which means that they do not eat meat, fish, or poultry but can consume animal products, such as eggs and dairy products.

However, those who eat meat often distinguish between beef and pork on the one hand and other types of meat, including fish, on the other (4).


There are several different definitions of meat. Some religions have specific guidelines on what foods are classified as meat and whether fish is considered a type of meat.

The nutritional profile and potential health benefits of fish are very different from those of other types of meat.

For example, red meat is high in saturated fat, vitamin B12, iron, niacin and zinc (5, 6).

Meanwhile, fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, thiamine, selenium, and iodine (7).

Eating fish has been linked to several health benefits. It may reduce risk factors for heart disease by helping to lower levels of belly fat and triglycerides, as well as increasing levels of (good) HDL cholesterol (8).

A 26-year study of over 84,000 women found that eating red meat was associated with a higher risk of heart disease, while eating fish, nuts and poultry was associated with a lower risk. (9).

Other research suggests that eating fish instead of red meat may be linked to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome. These are a group of conditions that increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes (ten, 11).

For this reason, health organizations like the American Heart Association recommend limiting your intake of red meat and eating at least two servings of fish per week as part of a healthy diet (12).

Some people need to restrict their consumption of certain types of meat for other health reasons.

For example, people with an allergy to alpha-gal, also called a meat allergy, can tolerate foods like fish and poultry, but may experience an allergic reaction after eating beef, pork, or lamb. (13).


Fish offers a different set of nutrients than other types of meat and is associated with several health benefits. People with allergies to meat may need to restrict beef, pork, and lamb, but can generally tolerate fish.

Vegetarian diets generally prohibit meat but may include fish, depending on the version of the diet.

For example, vegans refrain from all animal products, including meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, eggs, and honey.

Meanwhile, lacto-ovo-vegetarians restrict meat, fish, and poultry, but eat eggs and dairy products.

The pescatarian diet is another type of vegetarianism. It eliminates meat and poultry but allows fish and other types of seafood.

Other types of vegetarian diets can also include fish, such as the flexitarian diet, which allows for occasional consumption of meat, fish, and poultry.


Several types of vegetarian diets exist. Some, like the pescatarian diet, may allow fish but not meat or poultry.

Whether fish is meat depends on who you ask. By some definitions, fish is considered meat, and by others it is not.

Fish is the flesh of an animal used for food, and by this definition, it is meat. However, many religions do not consider it to be meat.

There are also several important distinctions between fish and other types of meat, especially in terms of nutritional profiles and potential health benefits.

Ultimately, how you categorize fish depends on your religious views, food preferences, and personal beliefs.

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