Interview With "The Chicago Pescetarian" Food Blogger
By: Sofia Veraldi
This week I sat down with Pooja Naik, who writes the food blog, “The Chicago Pescetarian”. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a Pescetarian is a person who does not eat beef, poultry, pork, or any other meat, but does eat fish and seafood. The Chicago Pescetarian is Chicago’s number one seafood blog and I highly suggest subscribing. After finding Pooja’s blog, I interviewed her on a series of questions about pescetariansim, Her thoughts about sustainability and its future, and other questions pertaining to her work with food. Her responses were thought provoking, insightful, and something I suggest everyone reads.
What was Pooja’s main motivation for becoming a pescetarian?
For Pooja it all started with a couple of documentaries, such as Food Inc. She has been a meat-eater, but once she saw these films portraying the meat industries reality, she made the switch. While Pooja never ate a lot of meat, she knew it was time to stop completely after learningabout environmental damage and animal cruelty in the meat industry. Originally she tried to transition to completely vegetarian, but found it difficult because of her background. Growing up loving seafood and eating it a lot, made it difficult to give up, so she found the solution: Pescetarianism.
What are the main benefits to going pescetarian?:
Pooja talked about many benefits ranging from health to the environment. Environmentally, going pescetarian is better because of the large impact the meat industry has on climate and the ecosystem at large. The meat industry emits large amounts of greenhouses gases and uses and pollutes water resources. Pooja says that if you are buying sustainably sourced fish, you are helping the environment by reducing these greenhouse gas emission and save water. The health benefits of pescetarianism are astounding. Pooja listed many benefits such as lowering cholesterol, good source of folic acid, less carcinogenic than meats, low in saturated fats, and full of key nutrients.
What health benefits has Pooja personally felt after venturing away form meats:
Pooja says she feels all around healthier. She mentions the benefits for her skin, saying she has a new glow. Also she feels lighter and doesn't feel like she needs to eat as much to be full. Pooja says that its different for everyone, as with any diet, but pescetarianism has worked for her. She stresses that she never pushes for a pescetarian diet if it is not quality or healthy fish, stating that if it’s not good fish then just go vegetarian.
What Pooja has to say about the Sustainability of her diet:
Pooja says the key is to ask! When you are buying fish at the grocery or a restaurant make sure to ask about the fish. You should know where the fish is coming from, how often shipments come in, how long did it take to get there, was it flash frozen, and so on before you consume it. Pooja stresses the importance of only eating good quality, sustainably sourced seafood. She personally always asks when ordering these questions to make sure she is getting the best quality seafood. Pooja uses her blog as a platform to talk about seafood and spread information and awareness about how to approach the diet and fish in general properly. She tries to be the messenger for sustainable seafood eating. She has even worked with the Shedd aquarium on sustainable seafood, like what and where to buy. Ultimately Pooja is committed to the Ocean to Table philosophy. Hoping people will be consuming seafood that comes straight form the ocean.
What Pooja hopes to see the future of sustainable foods be:
Pooja hopes to see restaurants that are doing the right thing by serving high quality, organic, sustainably sourced foods being promoted. She hopes to see more community dinners that inspire talks about how to make our food system more sustainable and healthy for consumers. Pooja talked of a future that can foster sustainable food and the ideology of food that is beneficial for our bodies and communities.
What are Pooja’s favorite local restaurants:
- Cold Storage at Fulton Market
- Kinmont Restaurant
- Luke’s Lobster in The Loop
- Fish Bar
- New England Seafood Company Restaurant & Fish Market
What are Pooja’s favorite green products:
Any Vega Green products!
What is Pooja’s advise for people on transitioning to pescetarianism?:
Pooja suggests starting with baby steps. She says to start small, maybe not going straight to raw fish, but try white flaky fishes that absorb flavors easily. She also stresses being dedicated to quality, saying “yes it is harder and more expensive, but you owe it to yourself to make sure you are eating healthy and sustainable seafood.” She suggests trying out restaurants she lists on her blog and see what they are serving.
If you have any questions you can email Pooja at email@example.com.
Make sure you check out Pooja’s food blog: The Chicago Pescetarian at https://www.thechicagopescetarian.com to keep updated on her journey!
Also follow her on Instagram @chipescetarian