Veganism is a practice that involves abstaining from the use and consumption of animal products.

People typically adopt a vegan or other plant-based diet due to health, environmental, ethical, or personal reasons.

However, determining what foods are permitted is not always simple.

In particular, there are differing opinions about whether fish and shellfish can be included as part of a plant-based diet.

This article discusses whether some vegans or followers of other plant-based diets eat fish.

Vegans don’t eat fish

As one of the main types of vegetarian diets, a vegan diet involves abstaining from eating any meat or animal products.

This includes meat and poultry, as well as fish and shellfish.

Vegans also avoid other foods derived from animals, including honey, dairy products, and gelatin.

This is because the production of these ingredients is considered unethical, exploitative, or harmful to the health of animals.

Summary

Vegans abstain from eating meat, poultry, fish, and animal-derived products like honey, dairy, and gelatin.

Some plant-based diets may include fish

Though fish is eliminated as part of vegan and vegetarian diets, some plant-based diets may include certain types of fish.

For example, pescatarians — those who add fish and seafood to an otherwise vegetarian diet — usually abstain from meat but may include fish in their diets.

Aside from their consumption of fish, most pescatarians are also lacto-ovo vegetarians, meaning they also consume dairy and eggs (1).

Meanwhile, ostroveganism is a type of plant-based diet that includes bivalve mollusks, such as clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops, in an otherwise vegan diet.

This is because these species lack a central nervous system, meaning that they’re unable to perceive pain in the same way as other types of animals (2).

However, this concept remains highly controversial, as some research indicates that bivalves may possess more complex nervous systems and could experience pain-like sensations (3).

Summary

Some plant-based diets may include fish. The “ostrovegan” diet may include certain types of shellfish in an otherwise vegan diet.

The bottom line

Fish is highly nutritious and an excellent source of important nutrients, including protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, iodine, and selenium (4).

Still, it is excluded as part of a vegan and other vegetarian diets for health, environmental, ethical, or personal reasons.

Yet, some types of plant-based diets may permit certain types of fish, such as bivalves like mussels, oysters, clams, and scallops.

Ultimately, deciding whether you should include fish as part of a plant-based diet depends on your personal preferences and beliefs.