Are Fish Eggs Vegetarian? – Health Tips 2024

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Fish eggs, also known as fish roe, are basically fully ripe and unfertilized eggs of a female fish. Fish roe can be sourced internally from the ovaries or an external egg mass. 

But are fish eggs vegetarian? Fish eggs aren’t considered vegetarian. Although fish eggs are technically an animal by-product, they shouldn’t be included in a vegetarian diet. Most forms of fish eggs can only be extracted if a female fish is killed. This makes fish eggs too inhumane for true vegetarians to consume in their diets. 

Keep reading to learn more about fish eggs. This article will also tell you what types of vegetarian diets allow the consumption of fish roe and list the best vegan substitutes for fish eggs. 

Does Fish Count as a Vegetarian?

There are many misconceptions about what vegetarians eat. Although there are many differences in what individual vegetarians eat, eating the meat of any animal is never considered vegetarian. 

To be absolutely clear, fish isn’t vegetarian. Fish, seafood of any kind, or any other animals living in the water aren’t considered vegetarian. 

Fish, shrimp, lobster, or crab aren’t vegetarian, and eating any type of animal that lives in the river, lake, pond, or sea isn’t vegetarian. 

If you are a vegetarian who wants to eat fish, consider becoming a pescatarian. A pescatarian maintains a vegetarian diet with the addition of fish and other types of seafood. 

Pescatarians eat fish and seafood but don’t eat red meat, poultry, or any other kind of animal protein. In addition to fish, fish eggs, and seafood, pescatarians can also eat chicken eggs, dairy products, vegetables, grains, fruits, and legumes.

Although fish eggs aren’t vegetarian, there are several types of vegetarian diets. Some vegetarian diets, including the pescatarian diet, allow animal products and fish eggs to be consumed. 

Different types of vegetarian diets are:

Vegan Diet

A vegan diet is based on plants such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and food made from plants. Vegans don’t eat any type of food that comes from animals, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. 

A vegan diet can be personalized. For example, many vegans also refrain from using animal-tested makeup for animal welfare concerns. Some vegans, for health reasons, choose a raw vegan diet and eat primarily uncooked or unprocessed foods. 

Ovo Vegetarian Diet

An ovo vegetarian diet excludes all animal-based foods except for chicken eggs. Ovo vegetarians aren’t allowed to eat dairy products, meat, fish, or poultry, but they eat eggs and egg-derived ingredients. 

Lacto Vegetarian Diet

The Lacto-vegetarian diet is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes red meat, fish, poultry, and eggs. Unlike other vegetarian diets, the Lacto-vegetarian diet allows the consumption of dairy products like milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, cream, and kefir. 

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Diet

Lacto-ovo vegetarians don’t eat any type of meat, including fish, but consume animal products such as eggs and dairy. A lacto-ovo vegetarian diet is based on fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, eggs, and dairy products. 

Pollotarian Diet 

The pollotarian diet, also known as the pollo-vegetarian diet, is a type of semi-vegetarian diet that includes chicken but excludes red meat, fish, and pork. Those who have fish and seafood in their diets are considered pesce-pollotarians. 

Some pollotarians may also include eggs and dairy products in their diet. 

Flexitarian Diet

The flexitarian diet allows all kinds of food, increasing the intake of plant-based foods without completely eliminating meat. Flexitarians prioritize certain foods and mainly eat fresh, unprocessed, plant-based foods like grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits. 

The essence of flexitarianism is to increase the consumption of fresh, whole foods and reduce meat consumption. 

Are Fish Eggs Considered Meat?

No, fish eggs aren’t meat. Meat is mainly made of an animal’s muscle tissues, and fish eggs don’t start out containing any muscle.

Fish eggs are a by-product and aren’t actually formed into a fish, and are as such classified as a by-product. Like milk is a by-product of a cow, fish eggs are a by-product of the fish that lay them.

A fertilized fish egg will eventually become a baby fish, classified as meat. On the other hand, an infertile fish egg will never become a living being and can’t be classified as meat.

Do Fish Eggs Have Fish in Them?

Fish eggs don’t have fish in them. Fish eggs or fish roe are all unfertilized eggs collected from a fish. 

Unfertilized fish eggs are usually clear or off-white, depending on the species of fish that lay them. On the other hand, fertilized fish eggs are typically light brown and uniformly colored and have two black spots.

Unfertilized fish eggs become discolored and misshapen and are easily distinguished from fertilized fish eggs. 

Fish Eggs Substitute

Although fish eggs aren’t vegetarian, the good news is that there are many vegetarian fish egg substitutes. Compared to fish eggs and caviar, vegetarian fish egg substitutes don’t contain any animal ingredients or animal derived-ingredients. 

Seaweed and kelp are the most popular vegetarian fish egg substitutes because they have that fishy flavor. 

Seaweed contains essential vitamins and minerals and is an excellent source of omega 3-fatty acids and vitamin B12. Kelp also has an impressive nutritional profile and is an excellent source of calcium, folate, magnesium, and vitamin K. 

Seaweed and kelp contain glutamates, which are amino acids that create the distinctive fishy flavor associated with fish eggs. 


Fish eggs aren’t vegetarian, but there are many kinds of vegetarian fish egg substitutes available. Several types of vegetarian diets, including pescatarian, pesce-pollotarian, and flexitarian diets, allow the consumption of fish and fish by-products. 

If your diet doesn’t allow fish eggs or caviar, many vegan alternatives exist. Seaweeds and kelp are superior to traditional fish eggs in many ways. Unlike real fish eggs, kelp-based fish eggs can last for three months after being opened and don’t need refrigeration. 

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