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Shrimp is one of, if not the most popular types of seafood in America. This wide popularity indeed is due in part thanks to the highly lauded Oregon shrimp meat, pink shrimp meat, or bay shrimp as it is also known. Shrimp are also considered to be some of the most versatile seafood available with it being enjoyed boiled, baked, or in a cocktail with some Newman’s Cocktail Sauce. However, the question, “is seafood considered meat?” is a contentious one, complicated even more so by the existence of shellfish such as shrimp. So with that in mind, is shrimp meat?
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What Are Shrimp?
Shrimp are a type of crustacean or shellfish that when alive have a hard exterior shell, slender but long and muscular abdomens, and somewhat resemble small lobsters. Additionally, when in the ocean they will have ten limbs used to swim, along with a set of “arms” just below their head.
Prawns are often seen as larger shrimp. However, whilst the two types of creatures do look similar they are actually distinct species. Most obviously, this can be seen in their coloration as live shrimp appear in a translucent grey. Meanwhile, prawns are more of an orange/pink color. This issue can be confused further though as whilst raw shrimp meat is the same grey color, cooked shrimp fish is an opaque white pink and red meat.
Due to the shrimp being a crustacean, like crab meat, it isn’t technically considered fish, although it does still belong to the seafood food group due to not being land animals.
Is Shrimp Considered Meat?
With the above in mind, like with other types of shellfish, whether meat is considered a meat product or not is up for debate. This is because whilst some don’t make the distinction between food from land animals and sea life, many do for legal, cultural or religious, or dietary reasons.
Biologically Would Shrimp Be Considered Meat?
In a biological context, meat is defined as the flesh of an animal, with this statement also being considered the original meaning by the Oxford English Dictionary. As a result then, if going by this definition it would be considered that the definition of meat includes seafood and therefore shrimp.
However, even in the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of meat, it is acknowledged that in the modern context the definition used by many people is often more narrowly defined to mean butcher’s meat such as beef and pork.
As such, if going by this definition, then scientifically speaking fish and shrimp are meat. Meanwhile in everyday use, the distinction between meat and seafood is often made.
Is Shrimp Meat According To Religions?
Within the context of religions, seafood is often considered to be completely distinct from meat originating from land animals.
The Jewish religion for example considers fish that have fins and scales to be “pareve”. Simply put this term is used to describe foodstuffs that are considered to be kosher that don’t come from either meat or dairy. However, since shrimp lack scales, they like other shellfish, along with ocean-dwelling mammals can’t be eaten according to Jewish beliefs.
The distinction between meat and fish is often also made amongst Catholics, especially so during lent when the consumption of meat is forbidden on Lenten Fridays. However, in this context, meat only applies to warm-blooded animals and birds as well as land animals. As such sea life and cold-blooded creatures are counted as meat, so, therefore, Christians wouldn’t consider shrimp to be fish.
Many Hindus also make the distinction between meat and seafood. Sects that eat meat will likely differ between the two. Meanwhile, vegetarian Hindus are less likely to make such a distinction.
The Vegetarian And Vegan Standpoint On Shrimp
Naturally, a vegan is less likely to make the distinction between them though as they would abstain from eating either meat or fish.
Within vegetarian circles though, some people may draw a distinction between meat from birds and other mammals/animals. Whether someone is vegetarian for medical, ethical, or even religious reasons can make a huge impact on whether the distinction would be made.
Additionally, the type of vegetarian that someone is can also make a difference to their viewpoint on this matter. Some of the most prevalent forms of vegetarianism are as follows:
- Ovo Vegetarian: These types of vegetarians as expected do not eat the meat of any kind including poultry. Additionally, they will not eat seafood or dairy products. However, they will still eat eggs.
- Lacto Vegetarian: LIke ovo vegetarians, these types of vegetarians do not eat the meat of any kind including poultry or seafood. However, they will consume dairy products but will not eat eggs.
- Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian: Again, like the prior two types, these vegetarians will not eat meat products, including poultry or seafood. However, they will eat both eggs and dairy products.
- Pescatarian: Pescatarians are somewhat unique amongst vegetarians as they still will not eat meat or poultry. However, they will eat seafood. Additionally, they may abstain from both eggs or dairy products, one or the other, or in some cases neither.
Naturally, there are variations to this depending on why people follow a vegetarian diet, with some even having meat on rare occasions. However, in most cases, only a pescatarian would make the distinction between fish and meat and therefore would be the only type likely to eat shrimp and other forms of shellfish.
Do Cooks Consider Shrimp Meat?
In many restaurants and indeed the culinary world, the distinction between meat and fish will be made for a variety of reasons. Whilst often the distinction is associated with religious beliefs, from a practical sense it is often beneficial and convenient to make the distinction between the two.
In cooking, this may be done in order to cater to the religious or dietary requirements of customers. However, avoiding cross-contamination is also an important factor to consider since someone may be allergic to seafood, or shellfish specifically. Therefore, to avoid any risks, meats and fish will often be cooked separately.
As shown above, there are many different and somewhat complex, and contradictory answers to whether shrimp is meat. As such, you may be wondering how shrimp should be eaten. After all, many forms of seafood are often eaten raw, meanwhile, most meat from land animals needs to be cooked.
Can You Eat Raw Shrimp?
In some parts of the world, the consumption of raw or even live shrimp is considered something of a delicacy. Additionally, so long as the shrimp is completely disease-free, it can in theory be seen as being safe to eat.
However, guaranteeing that the raw shrimp will be free of disease is next to impossible. As such it is best to always play things safe and cook your shrimp well on high heat in order to avoid food poisoning from any bacteria or viruses present.
How Should Shrimp Be Cooked?
Shrimp is very simple and quick to cook. However, you have to keep a constant eye on it in order to avoid overcooking or burning it.
Typically, when fried in a pan of hot butter on high heat for two/three minutes on each side should be sufficient to cook your shrimp properly.
When fully cooked, the tails of the shrimp should be completely curled inwards. Additionally, the shrimp meat itself should have turned to an opaque white with orangey-pink/light red shading.
If, however, it doesn’t change color then this is likely an indication that the shrimp in question had gone off. In such a scenario, the shrimp should not be consumed as it will likely make you very ill.
So Is Shrimp Meat?
The answer to the question of whether shrimp is meat will change depending on who you are asking, along with the context. Both biologically and according to the dictionary definition, seafood and therefore shrimp would be considered meat.
However, many religious groups, along with pescatarians and parts of the culinary world would likely make the distinction between meat and fish and therefore say that shrimp isn’t meat.
Naturally, this can be quite confusing. As such, I believe the best way to think about it is in terms of whether or not the distinction is relevant to you. If it isn’t, then you label shrimp and indeed all seafood as fish. However, if it is relevant to you in any way then the distinction between them should be made.
FAQs – Is Shrimp Meat?
Is seafood considered a meat?
Biologically speaking, shrimp and nearly enough all other seafood is considered meat. However, for dietary, cultural, and culinary purposes, the distinction between meat and seafood such as shrimp are often made.
Is there meat in shrimp?
Like all living animals, there is meat in shrimp. However, for dietary, cultural, and culinary purposes seafood is often classified differently than meat from land animals and birds.
Is shrimp a meat or protein?
Shrimp is a type of shellfish incredibly high in protein. Often, a distinction between meat and seafood is made for dietary, cultural, and culinary purposes. However, biologically speaking seafood and therefore shellfish is meat.
What is a shrimp considered?
Shrimp is a type of shellfish similar to crab or lobster and therefore considered seafood. Technically all seafood is meat, however, for dietary, cultural, and culinary purposes the distinction is often made between them.