Once Again: Vegetarians Do NOT Eat Fish

Why is this concept so difficult to grasp? Vegetarians do NOT eat fish. 

On Saturday, the Washington Post published a correction that left me sputtering:

“A Nightlife article in the Jan. 6 Weekend section, about the restaurant Acre 121 in Columbia Heights, identified two seafood entrees as being suitable for vegetarians. Most strict vegetarian diets do not include fish or seafood.”

No, WaPo, ALL vegetarian diets do not include fish or seafood.

Vegetarians might consume dairy and eggs (ovo-lacto vegetarians) but they do not eat anything that ever had a momma. A person who does not eat white or red meat but does eat seafood, is called a “pescatarian,” and as someone who is immersed in the vegetarian and vegan world, I can tell you that I do not consider someone who is a pescatarian any form of vegetarian. I consider a pescatarian a person opting to eat a healthier diet.

Interestingly, I didn’t read the WaPo article before the correction, but online it now reads, “Pescatarians can take refuge…” I guess WaPo learned that there is a term for one who eats fish but not meat, and that term is not “vegetarian.”

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I drank hot buttered cider. I was horrified that my favorite restaurant, Big Bowl, served me a drink with butter in it. I was maybe a little more horrified to read on their website’s FAQs that they provide many seafood options for their vegetarian clientele. “Have they been serving me “vegetarian” dishes with fish sauces in them?” I feared.

As I mentioned, the president of the Big Bowl chain, Dan McGowen, called me to apologize the day after I wrote my concerns to the restaurant, and he said he’d look into the vegetarian information on his FAQ page. I figured he’d stick to his old definition of vegetarianism which included seafood, but he did not. When I checked the page last night I was pleasantly surprised:

“There are a number of definitions for ‘Vegetarian,’ and we respect them all. The items marked with a ‘V’ on our menu follow the following definition of “Vegan” from merriam-webster.com: a strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products. In addition to the ‘V’ items, there are a number of dishes that can be modified to fit the bill. Just ask—we will make it happen! There is also an extensive stir fry bar just chock full of vegetables, and tofu is a staple protein that can be substituted for a beef or chicken.”

Communication is the answer. I will feel very comfortable knowing exactly what this restaurant is serving me when I select an entree posted “V” — no meat, no dairy, not eggs, no fish. Just the way I like it. But do I have to contact every restaurant individually to make sure they know what vegetarian and vegan mean?

Once more with feeling! “Vegetarians do NOT eat fish!”

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