Like ketchup on hotdogs and pineapples on pizza, the classification of fish as meat has long been a hot debate in the culinary space.
Meat essentially refers to animal flesh eaten as food, and the word “meat” is used as an umbrella term that includes other edible flesh such as fish and chicken.
However, some argue that fish and chicken shouldn’t be considered meat.
So, why is fish not considered meat?
Some of the main reasons for classifying fish and meat in the culinary world are mainly based on personal and religious beliefs. In that case, fish is not considered meat since its flesh comes from an animal that is not covered with fur and is not a warm-blooded mammal.
So, let’s dig a little deeper into this and see where this classification came from.
Is Fish Meat or Not?
Fish is an animal flesh used for food, and by that definition, it’s meat. However, some religions, such as Christianity and Judaism, don’t certainly treat fish as meat.
There are also several key differences between fish and other meat types, particularly based on their nutritional values and health benefits.
Generally, what you consider fish depends on your dietary preferences, personal view, and religious beliefs.
The Difference Between Fish and Meat
In general terms, meat is used for all animals’ flesh, whereas fish is considered part of seafood.
What is Fish
The term ‘fish’ generally refers to both the animal and food prepared from it. This category also consists of shellfishes such as echinoderms, molluscs, and crustaceans.
While it’s part of seafood, fish is widely eaten as part of a meal or a whole meal.
What is Meat
Meat is defined as the flesh of the animals used for food. It’s a general term used for all animals’ flesh.
Meat consists of fresh from cows, chickens, and pigs. It generally includes the skeleton muscles, associated fats, and other animal tissues.
Why is Fish not Considered Red Meat?
Fish is considered white meat but not red meat due to its appearance. Like poultry, fish remain white before and after cooking, apart from tuna and salmon.
Fish species such as the Atlantic cod, the whiting, and the hake do not have a white appearance before and after cooking.
However, this doesn’t mean they are considered red. They are still white meat.
Is Fish Considered Meat to a Vegetarian?
Vegetarians don’t eat animals’ flesh, so fish is not vegetarian by definition.
Although some vegetarians, known as lacto-ovo-vegetarians, eat specific animals products, such as milk, cheese, and eggs, they don’t eat fish.
When a vegetarian includes fish in their diet but still avoids other animals fresh, they are considered pescatarians.
Why is Fish not Considered Meat During Lent?
According to Catholic Christian teaching, lent is meant to honor Jesus, who died on Friday. However, unlike popular modern-day fasts, fasting didn’t mean you should eat absolutely nothing.
It simply meant keeping away from eating the flesh of warm-blooded animals since Christians believe Jesus was a warm-blooded animal.
However, a cold-blooded fish is considered okay to eat on the month of lent.
Why is Fish not Considered Meat in Judaism?
Judaism’s kashrut prohibits eating fish and meat together. The Jewish emphasize that fish must have both fins and scales.
This rule separates fish from meat and also distinguishes against shellfish. Jews don’t eat shellfish such as lobster and shrimp.
Is it Dangerous to Eat Fish and Meat Together?
Talmud ultimately prohibits eating fish and meat in the same course since they believe the combination can lead to health issues or bad breath.
If you eat them at the same meal, you should consume another food between the fish and meat and drink something. You should also wash your hands between the dishes.
However, combining fish and meat is not dangerous if you don’t have certain religious limitations.
Is Fish Healthier than Meat?
Fish has often been considered a better alternative to meat, particularly red meat when it comes to health benefits.
Red meat, such as pork, beef, and lamb, have more saturated fat than fish. Saturate fats raise blood cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease.
On the other hand, fish meat tends to be rich in healthy unsaturated fats. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna carry Omega-3 fatty acids that can help prevent heart issues and other diseases.
However, both fish and meat are excellent sources of vitamins and proteins.
Health Benefits of Fish
Fish is one of the healthiest foods. They offer low-fat, healthy omega-3 fatty acids and high-quality proteins.
It’s also a great source of minerals (iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and iodine) and vitamins (Vitamin D and B2).
Since your body cannot make enough of these essential nutrients, fish can be a crucial part of your diet.
The American Heart Association and FDA recommend eating fish meat at least twice a week as part of a healthy diet.
Here are five main health benefits of eating fish.
Improve your heart and brain health
Fish provides a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential for your heart and brain health.
The two main omega-3 fatty acids in fish are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosatetraenoic acid).
Since your body doesn’t produce omega-3 fatty acids, you must get them through the food you consume.
The omega-3 fatty acids can be found in any fish, particularly in high fatty fish such as canned light tuna, salmon, canned mackerel, oysters, trout, or sardines.
It’s a great source of vitamin D
Fish are rich in vitamin D and are considered one of the best sources of these essential nutrients.
According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin D helps in calcium absorption for bone health and growth.
Lowers risk of heart disease
Fish consumption is linked with lowering the risk of life-threatening and total coronary heart disease, the most common cause of premature death globally.
Fish rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation, stave off chronic disease, and help protect your heart.
It helps boost vision and eye health
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish helps in boosting vision and eye health.
The eye and brain are highly enriched with omega-3 fatty acids and require these essential nutrients to maintain their functions and health. Fish is one of the best sources of healthy fats.
Improves sleep quality
If you have difficulties falling or staying asleep, eating more fish can solve the problem. For most people, increased fish consumption can improve the quality of sleep.
Researchers believe that this is due to the heavy concentration of vitamin D in fish, which aids in sleep.