Teen Pescatarian Worries About Protein
15 year old pescetarian worries about protein, animal welfare, being short
Hi, i am a 15 year old pescatarian. I originally wanted to become a vegetarian after doing an animal cruelty project in my school. But when I told my parents, they were against it.
After a long argument, they only allowed me to be a pescetarian, because i was a “growing boy”.
My friends have mocked me for “discriminating” against fishes, and this has made me feel guilty. Furthermore, I volunteer at a local animal shelter, and I have to fix the dogs a meaty meal every time I go there. This duty is very uncomfortable for me.
So I ask, is my pescetarian diet actually right for me? Because I have already gone too far to back out of it now, and so I do not know what to do.
The consequences of my decisions are that I am now a great deal shorter than many of the other boys in my class. Is there any advice you can offer me when it comes to getting protein in a pescetarian diet?
Thank you so much for taking your time to read this letter! L. Wolfe
Savvy Vegetarian Advice
As far as protein, and nutrition in general is concerned,, you should eat a wide variety of veggies, fresh fruit, whole grains, beans & lentils, tofu, nuts & seeds, and being a growing boy, eat lots of all that so you get the vitamins and minerals you need.
That’s in addition to fish, which has plenty of protein. I don’t know if you eat eggs and dairy, but if you do, continue for now.
Before you consider further dietary changes, read up on veg nutrition. I recommend the books, Becoming Vegan, or Becoming Vegetarian by Vesanto and Davis, long time veg dietitians. They have good info on teen veg nutrition. Vegan for Life, by Davis and Messina is another good one that was recently published.
Personally I feel that guilt doesn’t serve you well. It just makes you worry and obsess about your food, and that’s not good for anyone.
As far as I can see, you need to eat this way right now to keep your parents from worrying about nutritional deficiencies, and you are doing everything positive that you can with your diet in the circumstances.
As you grow older, you’ll have more choices. Right now is the time to prepare so when you are able to be 100% responsible for feeding yourself, you’ll know how to do it right.
Don’t pay any attention to your friends, who are just yanking your chain. And I’m sure the dogs are just happy to be eating regularly, and don’t care what. There’s not much you can do there so don’t take it on needlessly. If it makes you uncomfortable, you could leave, but that wouldn’t help the dogs, would it? And isn’t that the point of volunteering?
As far as being shorter than many other boys in your class, that may or may not have anything to do with your diet. It could just be that you have not yet hit your growth spurt. That’s a very individual thing. Some guys are full grown at 14 and some are still growing in college. And vegetarians can grow just as tall as anyone else – if they are well nourished.
Get blood tests to see if you have nutritional deficiencies like iron or Vitamin B12. and make improvements to your general nutrition, exchanging empty snack calories (e.g. pop, chips, candy) for nutrient dense calories (e.g. fruit, nuts, whole grains etc). and eating 3 squares a day. Don’t skip breakfast! The protein will take care of itself if your diet is healthy and you’re getting enough calories.
That’s about all the advice I can think of. And I’m sure it’s more than you bargained for! :-)
All the best, Judith Kingsbury