Is Fish Meat?

Medically Reviewed on 7/19/2022
Is Fish Meat?
Is fish considered meat? Learn about different definitions of meat and diets that include fish

Whether or not fish is considered meat depends on varying definitions of the word meat.

According to the conventional definition, meat is any flesh of a warm-blooded animal, such as beef, pork, lamb, and veal. Under this definition, fish is not considered meat because it is cold-blooded. 

However, other people define meat as the flesh of any animal, which would include fish.

Which diets allow fish?

Vegetarian diets typically exclude meat, meat products, fish, poultry, and eggs. However, a flexitarian diet is a type of vegetarian diet that allows the occasional intake of meat, fish, and poultry.

The pescatarian diet is essentially a vegetarian diet that excludes meat but includes all vegetables, fruits, fish, and other seafood.

How does religion influence meat choices?

Some religions consider fish to be meat and avoid it in their diet, whereas some do not and continue to consume fish while eliminating other varieties of meat.


Muslims consider some meat to be forbidden, such as pork. Some fish, such as those without scales, are also considered unsuitable for consumption. Only live fish with scales, exoskeleton, and fins, caught in freshwater or saltwater, are permissible.


In Judaism, fish is considered kosher if they have fins and scales. No kosher requirements are violated if the fish is completely cleaned before eating.


Many Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. However, they do not consider fish to be meat, and eating fried fish on such Fridays has become a tradition.


Most Hindus consume all types of meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy, but some groups of people avoid all types of meat as well as fish. However, some Brahmins in eastern and southwest India consider fish to be vegetables from the sea, so they consume fish while avoiding other types of meat.

What are the health benefits of of eating fish?

Fish is a rich source of protein, vitamin D, and selenium. Fish is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have several health benefits:

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment recommends eating fish high in omega-3s at least once a week.

Are there any risks associated with eating fish?

Although eating fish offers nutritional benefits, there are potential risks associated with fish that may have been contaminated with pollutants such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB).

High mercury and PCB levels can affect the brain and neurological system. Developing fetuses, babies, and children are especially vulnerable to mercury. PCBs have also been linked to cancer and other negative health effects.

In general, however, you can maximize the benefits of eating fish while minimizing the risks by taking precautions in purchasing, handling, preparing, and cooking fish properly.


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 7/19/2022
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