Since I first started changing my eating habit from carnivorous to pescetarian more than three years ago, I’ve been constantly explaining what a pescatarian is.
Based on what I can google, basically a pescatarian is a person who does not eat meat but does eat fish. Similar explanation also written down nicely by Jolinda Hackett from The Spruce—which you should definitely check it out if you’re interested in finding out more about pescetarian—and which I’m quoting a little below:
“Pescatarian (sometimes spelled “pescetarian” with an e) is a word sometimes used to describe those who abstain from eating all meat and animal flesh with the exception of fish. That is, a pescatarian or someone who flows a pescatarian way of eating maintains a vegetarian diet with the addition of fish and other sea foods such as shrimp, clams, crabs, and lobster.”
Honestly, according to the explanation above, it isn’t that hard to understand what a pescetarian is, right? But the thing is, I seem to have a difficulty of explaining my choice of diet/lifestyle/eating habit to almost everyone here in Jakarta who have asked. If I say, “I don’t eat meat.”, people would simply assume I’m probably a vegetarian. Or, if I say that I’m a pescetarian, they would return it with a question: “what?”
It’s especially a trial explaining things out, about being a pescetarian, coming from a Chinese-Indonesian family where everybody eats carnivorously, with a specific love for pork. I used to really love pork growing up. Especially the pork-belly crisps that they sell in most today’s Chinese restaurant. But now, I cannot even bear to smell it. How my life has changed! And that’s not a bad thing! It’s just…I actually have to explain things over and over again whenever we meet, because (I’m assuming) most of my family seem to think that my choice of lifestyle is probably just a phase; that I would one day return back to being able to eat meat again.
Well, not a chance. I’ve even considered becoming vegetarian in the near future! So, no.
Understandably, being a pescatarian is such a rare percentage in the Chinese-Indonesian population here in Jakarta. I’m sure there are others like me, who choose to be pescatarian or vegetarian or even vegan, but I’m assuming again here, it’s probably just a handful of people. So, I really have to be patient enough in explaining my being a pescatarian to anyone who asks.
Although, there is one suggestion coming from my cousin. Instead of calling it pescatarian, he would turn my I-don’t-eat-meat-anymore-but-I-still-eat-fish explanation as being a seafoodtarian. In a way, it seems easier to explain things to people if I say seafoodtarian rather than pescatarian. Perhaps because the latter word seems a bit more peculiar than the former? Hmmm…
Another thing is that the people who knows me and my eating preference seems to have difficulties in deciding where to eat whenever we meet. Most assume that there won’t be much places for me to eat due to my ‘eating-limitation’. But the truth is, I can always find something to eat. In most places anyway. They almost always have salad or fries! So, there’s nothing to worry actually. Well, except for when you’re doing table-sharing meals. That’s the hardest part. When the majority of the diners are carnivores, I really have no choice but to follow through, even if I could only drink or eat the desserts. But, fortunately, I seem to have the most considerate people around me who will always ask what I can eat and what I cannot. I’m so grateful for them!
So, just to be safe, if a friend asks me out to have a meal together the safest place would be at any Japanese restaurant or any sushi place. Or a vegetarian place. :))
All in all, being a pescatarian in Jakarta is all about principles. It’s definitely a challenge, especially in explaining things out to people—because, believe me, it’s sooooo much easier to tell people you’re vegetarian than a pescatarian. Maybe next time someone asks, you should just tell them that you’re a seafoodtarian. I bet that would make a great conversation. 😉