Is Fish Considered Meat?

Updated on June 8, 2018


There is a debate being waged by many that challenges whether fish fillets are meat or not. This may sounds silly to some, but it is being debated. Some vegetarians eat fish, citing that they are allowed to because fish is either not meat, or not an animal. I believe the more accurate term for this sect is Pescatarian. Fish are clearly an animal and the tasty fillets that they carry on their sides are made of protein, aka meat. I will discuss this a little bit further below.

Definition Of Meat:

The whole debate rests squarely on the shoulders of the definition of meat. You can use a general definition from a dictionary, the criteria used for the food pyramid, a religious definition, or a scientific assessment. The reason a debate even exists is because people use different definitions. For the purposes of this article we will use a scientific assessment. All meats share similarities such as being a part of an animal and being made of protein.


Fish meat is obviously from fish, a living animal. In fact, the meat is the majority of the fish, so you are almost completely consuming the entire animal. This fits the description of being a piece of an animal. Fish swim, fish eat, fish digest, fish see, fish breathe, fish bleed, and fish live.


Fish meat is high in protein, it is almost completely protein.  This is because the meat is the muscle that the fish uses for movement.  All muscles are made of protein.  This fits the above description of meat as well.


Fish is considered a meat. Some might say that this conclusion is too simplistic, but it is really not. The only thing complicated about this matter is trying to classify a meat as something other than meat. It is a protein, and it comes from an animal. That is it, plain and simple. The only reason there is any debate is because people want to avoid thinking that they are eating meat. If you are eating fish, then you are eating meat.

Some people within the Catholic religion follow a latin definition that specifically excludes fish, seafood, and insects from the definition. This is why they eat fish on lent, but as stated before: definitions serve different purposes.

I've also found a blog that linked to this article that has a lot of great information.  It presents the many different aspects behind the question "Is Fish Meat?"

Questions & Answers


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      • debris profile image

        debris 6 days ago from Florida

        @jim Ellison

        Plants aren't animals, so no.

        Insects: their striated muscles, probably. I know some people use sentience as a measure in their definition so that might affect how you interpret it. For me, I don't consider insects meat simply because the muscle isn't really the bulk of what you'd be eating. Very similar to how when I'm eating a steak with marbling I don't say I'm eating fat because it's a minor amount in comparison to the whole. Does the steak contain fat? Indeed? Does an insect contain meat? Indeed, just a miniscule amount. I'd highly suggest their cousins, crustaceans, instead such as lobsters. Both are anthropods.

      • profile image

        Jim Ellison 4 months ago

        So plants and insects are meat ? Protein.

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        Billy Graham 5 months ago

        Fish is a meat. When I go to the market I get fish because I want meat.

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        Michelle/ Mari-Mari 7 months ago

        I Remember how I went Fishing while living in The High Desert... NEVER LIKED IT...Fishing... How Barbaric! The poor fish, have to Suffocate after having a Gaint Hook ripe their Mouth...VERY SAD.

      • profile image

        Mr meaty 10 months ago

        If fish is not meat, then why

        Is fish in meat sections in stores? Or at butcher shops, butchers deal with meat ( fish that eat other fish are classified as carnivores, since fish is meat)

      • profile image

        MrDan 14 months ago

        My favorite arguement from a "vegetarian" was that fish are not meat because they can't make a sad face

        In which my reply was "Are you serious!! They look terrified all the time!!THEY DONT BLINK, EVERYTHING WANTS TO EAT THEM, EVEN THEM!!

      • profile image

        fishy questions 3 years ago

        I get that fish is meat, but why is it layered instead of in a bundle? kind of off the fish is meat topic, just a question that's been bothering me:)

      • profile image

        AC 3 years ago

        Eggs are eggs, fish are fish,

        and beef is beef!

      • profile image

        Fish is meat 4 years ago

        Anything that you consume which comes from an animal including milk and eggs should be considered meat.

        A true vegetarian can only eat plant matter.

      • profile image

        Silla 5 years ago

        I just had a debate with my boyfriend and his mother about Fish being meat. I simply said that because the fish can breathe, eat and live out daily functions and that it is in fact an animal that can be eaten then it is a meat. Also I mentioned that it is a protein and that to be a meat it must also be a protein. My boyfriend's mother came back stating that it is not a meat and when I asked her if it is not a meat then what is it? Her reply was "Fish". Now as I see things if it is in a certain section of the food group pyramid then that is what the food is classified as. So because fish is indeed in the meat section then it is a MEAT! Nothing more nothing less. I feel that in order for it to be classified in the meat it must meet these few qualities I have listed above.

      • profile image

        Katherine 5 years ago

        Isn't hair protein and comes from an animal? Lame "definition"

      • debris profile image

        debris 5 years ago from Florida

        @nakayla - Yes, assuming they grow on an animal.

      • profile image

        nakayla 5 years ago

        beans are in the protein group so are beans meat?

      • profile image

        Smart 5 years ago

        I am not a vegetarian, but I don't eat fish because they are smart, fully conscious, have feeling and personalities. They can track relation ships. They can also declare war, use tools, and do mathematics. They even have better memories than humans. Opposite to popular belief, a fish won't eat it self to death. I saw the pictures where they said that that goldfish were fat, however, the was normal, when they just arrived they were skinny. Also, the water was extremely dirty and the goldfish had fin and tail rot. They also started ick. Stop doing experiments that doesn't even mind the health of fish!

      • profile image

        none 5 years ago

        If it has eyes it's meat.

      • profile image

        Cooperm4n 5 years ago

        Muscle is generally considered as meat or the flesh of an animal...which may include some fat and subcutaneous tissue. Muscle is made of two proteins...actin and myosin. Fish muscle is made up of actin and myosin. Therefore it follows that fish muscle is meat. You cannot be non-meat eating vegetarian if you eat the muscle of a fish.

      • profile image

        steven 6 years ago

        If you don't eat red meat or poultry and the only meat you consume is fish, you are a pescetarian. It annoys me when people claim they are vegetarians that eat fish. That doesn't work. Vegetarians only eat plants and dairy products and DO NOT CONSUME ANY FLESH OF AN ANIMAL AKA MEAT. How hard can this debate be?

      • profile image

        nick 6 years ago

        Im not vegetarian or vegan i guess. I dont eat any meat exept fish because beef and pork ect. Shares the same ph balance as us. Our bodies literally use nore energy to digest it than what is gets in return. Plus when u cook anything u lose most of the nutritional value it had in the first place. I eat only real whole food. No preservatives. And only real whole wheat. Most of the whole wheat they sell at the supermarket is riddled with artificial fillers and chemicals. Scientifically i lean towards fish not being considered meat, due to the ph balance. But that's just my opinion of course

      • profile image

        EDG 6 years ago

        Fish is an animal not a vegie a d not a mineral.

        Therefore its meat

      • profile image

        kaasinees 6 years ago

        World English Dictionary

        "meat (mi?t)

        — n

        1. the flesh of mammals used as food, as distinguished from that of birds and fish"

        In scientific terms this is correct, meat has a different substance than poultry and fish. And no, proteines do not define meat, beans and nuts are not meat. Stick to the corect terms please.

      • profile image

        Jaey 6 years ago

        There are different definitions of "meat."

        A) The strictest is that muscles of an animal. This includes insects, beef, pork, cats, dogs, alligators, fish, whatever.

        B) Another is the muscles of a warm-blooded animal (excluding fish, shellfish, insects, eggs, milk, etc).

        C) A third is the material found inside nuts or certain fruits (i.e. coconut meat, the meat of an avocado).

        D) The fourth is Catholic, as was mentioned. For Catholics, fish is NOT meat. It is it's own category (fish).

        E) The fifth is soy-based "meats" which taste and look like pork or bacon or chicken but are not from an animal.

        F), G), H), etc. There are other definitions for various traditions, including Jews, Seventh Day Adventists, and people involved in the culinary arts (where the distinction goes: meat, poultry, fish).

        So, depending upon context, fish either are or are not meat. There is no single answer for all contexts: there is no single answer for all people. You have to live with ambiguity. Sorry!

      • profile image

        Max 6 years ago

        Protein is not meat (above) clearly posted the most sensible comment here. fish, like eggs is parve. Also think about why most people call you a vegetarian once you do not eat meat: Even if you do eat fish, you may still be considered a vegetarian (see the comment of the young girl above, whose mother makes her eat fish). Fish is fish and meat is meat. However, you can call fish meat: After all you call certain drinks made from soy soy-milk, or milk made from coconut coconut-milk. You can call certain cleaning fluids cleaning milk, and still, by definition milk usually means "an opaque white fluid rich in fat and protein, secreted by female mammals for the nourishment of their young". In Jamaican Patois an avocado is called a pear: It shares certain features with what standard english knows as apear (most significantly its shape). An avocado can be a pear if you call it that.So if you want to call fish meat, go ahead. Your just being pretty inaccurate then, and in denial of certain culture, law and belief.

      • brennawelker profile image

        brennawelker 6 years ago

        Thanks for making it clear.

      • profile image

        Sandy 6 years ago

        Fish are in the new category of the food pyramid called, Disgusting.

      • profile image

        jenna 6 years ago


      • profile image

        jack 6 years ago

        fish is not meat

      • profile image

        Im Me! :) 6 years ago

        Wow ! This Is Good! I Always Thought Fish Wasn't Meat!

      • profile image

        7 years ago

        Well then.. if fish is not a meat might I politely ask what one would consider it to be?

      • debris profile image

        debris 7 years ago from Florida

        @Protein is not meat: Peanuts don't swim around, eat food, breath, or have a nervous system. Fish Lay eggs too, Comparing a Fish to an Egg is comparing Apples to Asteroids. A proper comparison would be a Fish to a Chicken, whoops, they're both meat.

      • debris profile image

        debris 7 years ago from Florida

        @FishIsNotAMeat: Cite Wikipedia in a doctoral Dissertation and see what kind of reaction you get ;). It's a controversial topic for a reason.

      • profile image

        fishisnotameat 7 years ago

        dude on wikipedia it says the flesh of mammalian species (pigs, cattle, lambs, etc.) raised and prepared for human consumption, to the exclusion of fish, poultry, and game. when discussing the defenition of meat. meat by fact comes only from mammals, fish the last i checked is a fish not a mammal.

      • profile image

        BAGMAN 7 years ago


      • profile image

        sajcbgd 7 years ago


        I'm sorry but, are you stupid?

      • profile image

        Jessica 7 years ago

        @MikeG - I know you commented seven days ago, but I just have to say that if you eat beef, lamb and chicken, you're not a vegetarian. You can't just say "I don't believe that these types of very delicious meat are meat." so that you can keep eating them.

      • profile image

        Dyhna 7 years ago

        For an animal to be meat it does not have to be cold or warm blooded. I know you can get cold blooded horses for example. Last time I checked they were still meat. Also if fish isn't a meat does that mean it's a cabbage?

      • profile image

        MikeG 7 years ago

        I am a vegetarian, but I do not believe that Beef, lamb and Chicken are meats, so I allow myself these as a source of protein.

      • profile image

        Organism Eater 7 years ago

        If it came from an egg it is meat.

      • profile image

        Hope 7 years ago

        "Chickens lay eggs; eggs are from a living animal but they are not meat. Eggs are eggs, fish are fish, both parve."

        Unfertilised eggs are not meat seeing they are a product of an animal. A fish IS an animal.

        When you talk about it being parve, I assume you say so in a religious context. If that is so, then that is perfectly fine if you choose to do eat fish for that reason.

        But I would be extremely careful with labelling fish in a vegetarian diet. It isn't about saying that a persons food choices are any less valid, but it is a good way to communicate what you consume and what you don't. A vegetarian does NOT eat any animals. It has nothing to do with being parve as it isn't based upon religion, but the definition of what an animal is on a secular basis.

        Fish breath, fish have circulation and they are also sentient. If they are not an animal, what are they? They aren't a vegetable, and they are not a peanut. You can't just call them "fish". Look in any dictionary and it will tell you what it is.

        All animals have a central nervous system, even a fly.

      • profile image

        Shane 7 years ago

        I also was in a debate about this. I personally believe fish is meat but with this info. I might win the argument! Thanks. :D

      • profile image

        riley noble 7 years ago

        i think fish is meat beacause meat comes from living animals and a ish is a living animal (some times u have to kill the animal) but any wat fish is meat ok

      • profile image

        Protein is not meat 7 years ago

        "Fish are clearly an animal and the tasty fillets that they carry on their sides are made of protein, aka meat."

        Because something has protein does not necessarily mean it's meat. Peanuts are made of protein, but they are not meat.

        "Fish meat is obviously from fish, a living animal."

        Chickens lay eggs; eggs are from a living animal but they are not meat. Eggs are eggs, fish are fish, both parve.

      • profile image

        edgie 7 years ago

        Thanks for the information that fish is a meat.For me it's hard to identify...


      • profile image

        Mary  7 years ago

        I'm a vegetarian but fish? hummm kinda an odd debate u know.... oh well...

      • profile image

        JM 7 years ago

        i new it. some of my friends think it is meat and others dont. i think it is and finaly they said to look it up. so i did and its considered meat. so me and my friend were right. nice

      • profile image

        torri 7 years ago

        WHAT?! i was so convinced well actualy it is kinda convincing because if it is not meat then what is it type of question that makes sence, so yeah,so i get it now.


      • SteveoMc profile image

        SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

        Haha....the great meat debate. Perhaps the question should be "Animal, vegetable, or mineral?" Much easier that way. And clearly the first question that should be asked in 20 questions.

      • profile image

        Gurl 7 years ago

        I am a vegeterian, but since I am only 13 my mother forces me to eat fish she says I need protien AND that it is not meat. I do kind of consider fish as meat, but idk i mean I am only 13

      • debris profile image

        debris 8 years ago from Florida

        Hello A Random Guest,

        Warm blooded and cold blooded makes no difference. Those terms just refer to how the animal regulates its body temperature. I've never heard this argument, but it is interesting to hear. But body temperature regulation has nothing to do with whether it is meat or not. Ask your friend what they would consider alligator --meat? I don't know what else to call the flesh of an alligator, it is meat, and they are cold-blooded.



      • profile image

        A Random Guest 8 years ago

        I got into a fight weather if fish was a meat and reasoned many things to that person, but then was confront by this statement that left me puzzled: I think it isn't a meat because its COLD BLOODED. I could break through that type of argument unfortunately since all other meat comes from warm blooded creatures. The only question I have now is: Does it matter if fish is warm blooded to be considered a meat? If you have an answer, e-mail me:

      • profile image

        Steve M 8 years ago

        Many thanks for this article.. I always thought that fish is a type of meat! The above explanation makes really sense and it's really as simple as described.. (I'm soooo pleased I'm winning an argument I was into!!)

        Well done!!

      • profile image

        chelsea 8 years ago

        @meatlova :) Fish has tons of mercury. In excess it is incredibly bad for your body. I happen to be a vegetarian but I chose to be one since I don't actually like the taste of meat. That includes fish.

        Thank you for posting this. I just got into a heated debate with my dad trying to explain how fish are meat. He saw some guy on TV say vegetarians eat fish and we don't. To me, eating a fish holds the same respect to eating a dolphin, cow, chicken etc. Its just gross :/ but hopefully this article will make him realize its just simply meat.

      • profile image

        Meatlova :) 8 years ago

        Call me crazy but I don't totally understand why one would want to completely cut meat out of their diet. Now as far as vegetarians who don't eat meat it really that big of deal that they eat fish?? It's their decision to eat what they want even if it is fish. I don't understand it bit then again I don't make the rules. This is definitely a subject that should have any let's all break bread cut steak (or fish) together :)

      • profile image

        Richard 8 years ago

        Just the other day I was talking to my girlfriend about this subject. Her family is catholic, and while my girlfriend believes fish to be meat. Her stepmom says that since a fish lives in water it is not meat. I personally believe fish to be a meat, because it comes from a formerly living, eating, breathing, functioning animal.

      • profile image

        Rain 8 years ago

        I am Vegan and I often do see people claim vegetarianism but they still eat fish time to time or I see people claim vegetarianism and they eat all types of meat on occasion. Plants are plants and animals are animals. I think there is a lot of confusion with what is what because people don't really follow what they say they follow. I can't tell you how many times people have asked me oh but you eat fish right! I am like no way fish is meat it is a sentient being.

        Great post

      • debris profile image

        debris 8 years ago from Florida

        @Chris: We agree. :)

      • profile image

        Chris 8 years ago

        Just because they don't believe it to be meat doesn't mean it's not. Its the flesh of a living animal. How is that not meat?

      • debris profile image

        debris 8 years ago from Florida

        @Kapaxiana: What about Chicken? That's a white meat and the Catholics I know can't eat that on Friday. I thank you for your explanation, but it doesn't hold water for everyone I've talked to. If you read some of the above comments, some of the Catholic people did not consider it to be a meat. In your region of the world your explanation may be the correct one, but in the U.S. it is because they don't believe it to be meat.

      • profile image

        Kapaxiana  8 years ago

        I'm from BraZil and back home and distinguish red from white meat. White meat being fish and chicken. I'm also a catholic and on Good Friday we don't eat red meat as a symbolism to the flesh&blood of God hence why fish is considered okay to eat. It is not correct to say Catholics exclude fish from being meat, we just consider it White meat.

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        Geoff 8 years ago

        Thanks i allways concidered fish as meat but as you say the catholics of which my wife and stepdaughter are from malta dissagree.

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        NS 8 years ago

        I always thought that fish was not meat, that it's just fish. I even got into an argument about it earlier today. I guess i was looking at it from the religious (Catholic) side. I was doing some research on this subject and found this page. Your simple way of explaining this actually convinced me that fish is meat. Thanks! :)

      • debris profile image

        debris 8 years ago from Florida

        @Anonymous: Thanks for the great information. Not being from either sect I tended to lump them into the same category. Sorry if it is offensive in any way. I did some further research and noticed that there tends to be a large divide between vegetarians and pescatarians. I clearly believe this to be a good thing in that there is obviously a fundamental difference in society.

        You are most likely correct on me not meeting "real" vegetarians. I think vegetarianism has a somewhat invogue persona and I'm sure that many of the people I know are simply vegetarians because their friends or their significant other is. In any event, I have lots of respect for people that can exhibit such discipline. I thank you for the knowledge that you provided me and do hope that you'll come back again. Maybe with a screen name so I'll be able to better identify you :).

        I've removed that line from my article as to not further offend any readers.

      • profile image

        anonymous 8 years ago

        just to be clear, vegetarians do consider fish as meat, you mean pescetarians, and they never say fish is not meat. Obviously the vegetarians you have met were not really vegetarians.

      • debris profile image

        debris 8 years ago from Florida

        @Mrvoodoo: Thanks! The debate in the forum gave me the idea to further elaborate on my views about this subject. I'm glad that you liked it :)


      • Mrvoodoo profile image

        Mrvoodoo 8 years ago from ?

        Couldn't believe it when I came across this through Google, lol.

        Nicely done, definitely a meat! :D

      • debris profile image

        debris 8 years ago from Florida

        @Rochelle:  LOL, that literally made me laugh out loud.  Thank you for your observation :).


      • Rochelle Frank profile image

        Rochelle Frank 8 years ago from California Gold Country

        It would be hard to define it as a vegetable, fruit or grain. Must be meat.


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