The Transition: To Meat or Not To Meat

Hi everybody.

My name is Janet Lam and I am a pescatarian.
Don’t worry, its not a disease or a drug addiction, its actually a kind of diet. It similar to being a vegetarian but I do eat seafood like fish and shellfish as well as eggs.

I usually opt out and tell people that I am a vegetarian rather than a pescatarian because it avoids me explaining what it means and seeing the confusion on their face. The response I get is either “You’re such a strong person for doing that” or “You are crazy for giving up meat!” and because of the excessive amount of times that I have heard these phrases, I do not tell people about my diet until necessary. I try not to fit the vegan stereotype and let everyone know right off the bat.

“Hi, I’m Janet. What a sweet dog. Oh did I mention I’m pescatarian?”

Shortly after, I will be asked why I made the switch. It’s awkward because I feel pressured to say something profound but the answer is “because I wanted to”. I never ate much meat before the transition because it made me feel heavy, especially pork. Then I get asked why I’m not a full vegetarian, where I respond with “because I wanted to”. Completely dropping seafood from my diet was not an option. My Asian culture is so closely tied to food and I did not want to lose that part of me. The experience of a large family dinner would be alter as I would not be able to part take in every dish in the 10 course meal (I know, its a lot). How could I only snack on snow peas while my cousin beside me is munching on a delicious lobster claw?

Cooked lobster, traditional Chinese style. Fried, with ginger, garlic and green onions.
Traditional Chinese style lobster, usually served at high profile dinner parties and the most highly anticipated dish out of the 10 course meal. Try not to drool.

It will be a year of being a pescatarian in April and there are some challenges I have faced. The main one is finding food outside to eat. I work 3 jobs and go to school full time so I find it hard to find time to prepare food. Buying food is the biggest challenge because the go to option from a fast food place are french fries, always. Places like Wendy’s and Mcdonalds do not have many pescatarian options so I settle for fries. It is not the most satisfying option nor is it best for my gut and skin complexion. But it has made me go outside of my comfort zone and try new recipes. Some dishes have not come out successful but others were big hits with myself and others. I have always been a fan of cooking shows and it was the chance to try out all the recipes from my favourite chef, Curtis Stone.

I admit, I do miss meat from time to time. I can be walking through the food court of a mall and get a big whiff of bacon that puts my will power to its test. But I wouldn’t go back – not just yet. It is nice to hear encouraging compliments from other people about my diet, as well from my Buddhist mother who went full vegetarian after seeing me going through my pescatarian transition. I have also heard horror stories about the transition back to meat giving people terrible stomach aches and trips to the hospital, it’s enough to keep me going.

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