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Pescetarianism: The Choices, Experiences, and Trajectories of Seafood-Inclusive Dietary Lifestyles

  • Author(s): Lai, Eric
  • Advisor(s): Pinderhughes, Howard
  • et al.
Abstract

Pescetarianism -- generally defined as any dietary lifestyle that includes fish and shellfish but excludes beef, chicken, pork, and other land-based meat products -- has grown increasingly common among American consumers, due in part to heightened societal interests in healthy eating and in mitigating the ethical and environmental ramifications of industrial livestock. Through 36 qualitative interviews with self-defined pescetarians regionally distributed throughout the United States, this dissertation generates a sociological framework for pescetarianism as a dietary choice and practice, disentangling the heterogeneous dietary constructions that elicit the pescetarian label; identifying the motives, rationales, and beliefs underlying decisions to adopt or maintain a pescetarian diet; and assessing how practitioners of pescetarianism navigate their social worlds. Through these analytic dimensions, the study addresses how pescetarian dietary choices can be defined and incentivized by cultural and regional influences, sociopolitical considerations, biomedical interpretations of health and nutrition, and other factors. This work draws from and identifies gaps in existing sociological scholarship on diets like vegetarianism and veganism; by constructing a new framework that addresses pescetarianism, the project ultimately elaborates upon and extends current understandings of how social influences shape emergent dietary practices -- potentially informing not only future directions in the sociology of food, but also prospective efforts to reconcile the national palate with public health.

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