Hey, Big Tuna

Anyone that watches “The Office” will understand my title πŸ˜‰

How is everyone today??? So glad you all liked my Raw Vegan Almond Butter Dough Balls yesterday! Please let me know if you try them! They are super easy to make! Also, thank you for such sweet comments in general. You all are so amazing. Since I have gotten pregnant, you have had such kind, supportive words to say throughout this journey. To hear that I am even a little bit of an inspiration to a few people out there is the reason that I blog πŸ™‚

Today I want to talk about tuna. Mercury. And pregnancy. Briefly…maybe…because I have lots of chores to do today πŸ˜‰

As I type..I am enjoying a delicious tuna fish wrap. TUNA….while PREGNANT, you may ask??!! Yes, I am eating tuna.

First off, I want to say. My decision to go vegetarian, AGAIN, last year had me learn a lot about my body. I even tried going vegan for a few months. It just wasn’t for me. I was not fully satisfied. I DO eat MOSTLY a plant-based diet. I don’t think I could EVER go back to eating chicken, steak or turkey ever again (I have not eaten pork since I was 12). However, adding a little fish back into my diet infrequently made me feel much better, and it made things easier with my marriage because going out to eat on the weekend is something VERY important to Michael. Before we met, I could care less about going out to eat. I actually hated it because I never trusted restaurants. I knew how I made things.I knew they were healthier. But, it’s a sacrifice I made…and I enjoy it more now. My relationship with food has changed and that anxiety of going out to eat is no longer there.Β  The other issue is though, do I start loading up on vegetarian meals at restaurants all the time, which are not always made very healthy? Or do I choose to eat grilled fish and steamed veggies? I live outside of Philadelphia. There are not many “healthy” restaurants around here, unlike California. So I do not have many options.

Not to get too much off track…my point is, that it was easier for me to still incorporate fish into my diet. Also, once I got pregnant. Everything changed. My needs changed. Even though my relationship with food up to that point was a thousand times better than it was in my past. It became even more prevalent to me HOW important it is to nourish your body. To give it the nutrients it needs. You are growing another life inside of you. The other point I want to make is….if you can care so much for another life, then why can’t you care for yourself just as well? I feel that I have been caring for my body before…but I think I took it to another level once that stick had 2 lines on it.

Back to tuna. It’s weird. I gave up eating tuna fish all together a few years ago when I started to get really freaked out about mercury in fish. The rule of thumb is: the bigger the fish, the higher the mercury. Tuna is a very large fish. When we got married two years ago, I was NOT ready to have a baby. However, I knew it would be happening in the next few years, so I made a decision to really watch my diet as far as fish goes. I believe EVERYONE should be aware of the mercury content of fish, and make sure they either avoid the ones with the highest content, or eat them in moderation. But, I believe women of child bearing ages should ESPECIALLY be aware. So, the extremist that I was (can be), I decided..NO tuna, NO swordfish, NO Chilean Sea Bass, NO Grouper and so on. I cut it all out.

When Michael and I went to my first doctors appointment, my doctor started going over things with me about the pregnancy in general. He pretty much said there were no food restrictions, except….and I just about cut him off to name all the fish I knew had high mercury content. He actually said to me to just avoid shark, king makeral, and a few others I named above. However, tuna was OK. To just not eat a whole “room full of” tuna. To eat it in moderation. Good thing, because for some reason, I was REALLY craving a tuna sandwich. Weird. I always knew that the chunk light tuna was MUCH lower in mercury than the albacore tuna. I was also not running to eat any sushi grade tuna. That is a no-no in my book, even if someone told me it was OK. Raw fish was restricted because of the potential of pathogens. Anyway, even though my doctor assured me I could eat as much fish as I want…as long as it wasn’t 3 times a day, every day. I wanted to look into it.


Here is what I got from American

Highest Mercury

AVOID Eating



Orange roughy




Mackerel (king)

High Mercury

Eat no more than three 6-oz servings per month

Bass saltwater



Tuna (canned, white albacore) See tuna chart below

Tuna (fresh bluefin, ahi)

Sea trout


Lobster (American/Maine)


Eat no more than six 6-oz servings per month


Mahi Mahi

Crab (dungeness)


Crab (blue)


Crab (snow)


Perch (freshwater)



Tuna (canned, chunk light)

Tuna (fresh Pacific albacore)


Enjoy two 6-oz servings per week



Calamari (squid)

Caviar (farmed)

Crab (king)




Perch (ocean)






Lobster (spiny/rock)










Sturgeon (farmed)

Trout (freshwater)

Chart obtained from the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC); data obtained by the FDA and the EPA.

**Tuna mercury levels can be different based on the type of tuna and where it was caught. The NRDC created the chartΒ  as a guideline to how much tuna can be eaten by children, pregnant women or women wanting to conceive, based on their weight. See it here.


According to them I could have chunk lightΒ  tuna 6 times a month, if I wanted to. I guess I feel there are still a lot of nutrients in some of fish for ME to avoid them. There are MANY women out there on a vegan diet, that have perfectly healthy babies. And perfect pregnancies! I admire those women very much. I just found it does not work for me. I try to eat mostly a plant based diet….with the addition of fish and some organic eggs. This is what works for me πŸ™‚

When I still lived at home I remember making KILLER tuna salad. I used to eat a lot of tuna….before I gave it up. This was back during my “high protein” phase. Tuna was one of my staples. I decided this week I was going to re-create that. Since I was really in the mood for it. Maybe it had something to do with Alisa posting this delicious recipe on her blog last week (that I still need to try). Or something else. Anyway, I needed to make a “low mercury” tuna salad for myself to enjoy πŸ™‚

Pregnancy- friendly

Tuna Fish Salad

1 can chunk light tuna

Veganaise (I eyeball it, I don’t like too much…almost dry)

1 T lemon juice

1 stalk diced celery

1 T fresh parsley, chopped

1 handful diced red pepper

1 handful shredded carrots

sea salt & black pepper, to taste

pinch of turmeric

Mix it all together and enjoy!

I added mine to a brown rice wrap with some organic mixed greens:

and I enjoyed it with about 1/3 bottle of this:

…and a couple of these:

Munchkin surprisingly does not go crazy for tuna. He would much rather have Michael’s grilled chicken. He was mad at me for forgetting his daily pic…so here it is for today πŸ˜‰

Enjoy the rest of your day!!!!


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  • Reply Morgan

    I had no idea that Halibut was on the “high mercury” list! interesting!

    January 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm
  • Reply Stefanie @TheNewHealthy

    I love this so much: “if you can care so much for another life, then why can’t you care for yourself just as well?” That is SO true! Now you have that much more of a reason to take care of yourself–not only to set a great example for your daughter, but also so that you can ensure you’ll be around for along time. πŸ™‚

    Also, doing your research just shows how much you truly care!

    P.S. Thanks for the kombucha tip! Most of the time I drink the whole bottle! Oops–I will portion it out now. That makes the price must easier to swallow! πŸ™‚

    Have a great day! xoxo

    January 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm
  • Reply Charlie

    I think that anything can be eaten in moderation. But I do agree that women of child bearing age have to be cautious; last session, in infancy class, we learned that when you eat a lot of mercury, it is stored in your bones and it gets out while pregnant!

    January 25, 2011 at 3:34 pm
    • Reply laury

      Yup. That’s EXACTLY why I decided to boycott it all a few years back! That totally freaked me out!

      January 25, 2011 at 4:08 pm
  • Reply Lauren @ Hungry Dancer

    Love the title!! I am not vegetarian but I have tried, and mostly I find the best balance is eating mostly plant based foods, while also eating fish and eggs makes me feel the best. I think it’s different for everyone! Thanks for the sweet comment on my dance!! It meant a lot to me!!

    January 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm
  • Reply Carly

    I’m not pregnant and won’t be anytime soon, but still find this post really helpful. I was talking to my friend who was pregnant last week and she was saying that she couldn’t eat sushi. I had to call her out a little bit on that one, there are many varieties of sushi that do not contain fish with high amounts of mercury. Your post helps back up my point.

    I understand eating healthy and choosing the right meals when you’re pregnant, but sometimes it seems like people err too far on the safe side.

    January 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm
    • Reply laury

      She definitely needs to avoid RAW sushi all together. There are a whole other set of health risks associated with that. However, I still enjoyed things like California rolls, or other cooked rolls with low mercury πŸ™‚

      January 25, 2011 at 4:08 pm
  • Reply Jess@atasteofconfidence

    good that you are doing what is right for you! thanks for the mercury tips- it is honestly something i tend to forget about.

    January 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm
  • Reply Sophia @ Raven Waves

    I’ve actually never tried tuna. My mom never used to make anything with it, and as I’ve gotten older, I never felt the need to try it. But everyone I know seems to love it. I didn’t realize there were so many off-limit fish when you are pregnant. Really interesting! Have a great day!

    January 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm
  • Reply susan

    Wow that’s really interesting, I eat a lot of tuna, I didn’t know about the mercury, I just buy the tins, I’m going to cut down on it and eat more salmon (love salmon but it’s a bit pricey).

    January 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm
    • Reply laury

      Yes, make sure it’s “chunk light” not “albacore” on the can. I don’t know if you like it, but some people like canned salmon? It’s probably much cheaper than fresh if you are looking to add it to a salad or something πŸ™‚

      January 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm
  • Reply Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat

    I’m SO happy to see tuna on the lower-mercury list because I absolutely adore the stuff (as I’m sure you’ve observed from my blog and salad monsters!) It seems like some of the most tasty foods are always the smelly ones.. tuna, egg salad, etc. I used to avoid taking them to school in lunches because of that but now I bring them to work all the time! Hope you’re having a great afternoon Laury!

    January 25, 2011 at 4:28 pm
    • Reply laury

      Yup! Chunk light though!!! The Ahi and Bluefin tuna are still high in mercury! All in moderation is good. But women definitely need to watch!

      January 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm
  • Reply Kat

    I actually hate fish so this isnt a big deal for me. I will eat shrimp (as long as it isnt breaded and doesnt still have feet!!) and will have an occasional tuna sandwhich. Other than that, no fish for me. I cant take the smell or taste. But its good to know I can enjoy a tuna sandwhich still when I get pregnant! (that is if the baby wants it of course πŸ˜‰ )

    January 25, 2011 at 4:33 pm
  • Reply thehealthyapron

    Thanks for addressing this Laury and the list you provided! I actually have a list that my husband printed out on my fridge for quick reference!
    I also appreciate you speaking of how you listened to your body’s needs and decided being vegan was not for you. I feel similarly. I try my best but it’s just not practical or satisfying for MY body. Everyone is different and what works for one might not work for the other. Glad you found what works for you!

    January 25, 2011 at 5:09 pm
  • Reply Angie

    Thanks for the tips on the mercury! I love fish a lot so I needed to be more knowledgeable on what it was I was eating and which fish are best! πŸ™‚ great post like always mamasita!

    January 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm
  • Reply Julie (A Case of the Runs)

    Interesting. Glad you’re enjoying your tuna!

    A few months ago, I picked up fish again after 5-ish years. Before that, I was in college and enjoyed tuna daily for a small period until I learned that it could be bad for reproduction.

    But I didn’t care for reproduction back then (no man, not sure I was ever gonna find one, etc.). Fast forward to now, as I start eating occasional fish again… avoiding canned tuna. I usually reserve my fish-eating for eating out just like you and only when it’d be too difficult for me to order a suitable vegetarian option. But now, I’ve had a steady boyfriend for 3 years and understand that kids could be in my future. So I’ve been making fake tuna (lots of versions online with chickpeas) to satisfy my craving for tuna salad.

    Knowing that it’s somewhat safe to eat tuna sometimes, I may be a little more lax.

    January 25, 2011 at 7:00 pm
    • Reply laury

      I never had vegan tuna with chick peas. I will need to look into it! Yes, knowing that it’s not completely off limits, depending on the type of tuna was a relief!

      January 25, 2011 at 8:07 pm
  • Reply Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life

    Glad to know you can enjoy tuna while pregnant. I would have thought it was on the do not eat list! Great imformative post! And, what a cute cat!

    January 25, 2011 at 7:08 pm
  • Reply Mary @ Bites and Bliss

    I LOVE tuna!! Seriously, there’s hardly a day I’ll go without it. I do stick with the canned chunk light, though. It’s just so cheap, convenient, and *loaded* with protein..sort of perfect. πŸ˜›

    January 25, 2011 at 7:17 pm
  • Reply Hayley

    Being fully vegan and vegetarian does not work for me either. With my food intolerances, it makes me too limited in what I can eat…in my personal circumstance, eating a full on vegan diet makes me sicker because I get so depleted and weak. Also, I love seafood….and seafood seems to love me back…so why should I cut it out?
    Oh yeah, the whole mercury thing. Here is something that most people do not know about fish: they contain substances called alkylglycerols that remove mercury from their bloodstream so that they can live. When we eat fish, these same substances apparently remove the mercury from our bodies as well. So apparently we can eat fish in moderation without worrying (then again, I’m only 2.5 weeks into nutrition school, so people should take what I say with a grain of salt! but I thought you would be interested to know that).
    And yes, it’s surprising that Munchkin doesn’t love tuna. My cat Beau goes nuts for it πŸ™‚

    January 25, 2011 at 8:01 pm
    • Reply laury

      That’s very interesting about the mercury! I learned in school a while ago how it gets stored in our bones if we eat too much. This is what freaked me out. I never heard of alkylglycerols though! Moderation IS key though! Thanks for the info. Good to know πŸ™‚

      January 25, 2011 at 8:04 pm
  • Reply (what runs) Lori

    I love tuna- a bit too much. And yes, it does contain more Mercury… blah. It’s just so versatile and full of protein.
    I love this recipe above! So much great stuff included. It sounds wonderful! Next time I bust open a can of tuna, I’m making this!

    January 25, 2011 at 8:31 pm
    • Reply laury

      As my list says above….chunk light is low! so enjoy it!!!

      January 25, 2011 at 8:33 pm
  • Reply Nicole@makinggoodchoices

    THanks for all of that info Laury. I do try and eat more salmon than any other fish. I have fish usually once or twice a month, usually salmon or tuna.

    January 25, 2011 at 9:53 pm
  • Reply Tweets that mention Hey, Big Tuna --

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Laury Raiken, Laury Raiken. Laury Raiken said: Is Tuna Fish SAFE while Pregnant?? New Post! […]

    January 25, 2011 at 10:15 pm
  • Reply Leila @ Spinach and Skittles

    So I recently discovered your blog via twitter…love πŸ™‚
    a) I’ve never added turmeric to tuna, I’ll have to give it a try. My favorite add in is wasabi (or horseradish if I don’t have wasabi on hand).
    b) love the line β€œif you can care so much for another life, then why can’t you care for yourself just as well?” I’ve been prepping my body for pregnancy and am kind of irritated with myself that I haven’t ALWAYS treated my body with the respect it deserves. Sigh. Baby steps, baby steps πŸ™‚

    January 26, 2011 at 12:00 am
    • Reply laury

      Thanks so much for coming by πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
      Yeah, I try to add just a pinch of turmeric here and there for the health benefits!

      The important thing is that you are doing what you should now! Way to go!

      January 26, 2011 at 9:47 am
  • Reply Annie

    Oh I love Haddock and Tilapia and they’re the ones low in mercury yay! I have a very similar outlook out fish in my diet I am mostly a vegetarian yet If I do feel run down then I find that fish can help give me a little extra boost.

    January 26, 2011 at 7:15 am
    • Reply laury

      I was excited about those being low as well πŸ™‚

      January 26, 2011 at 9:47 am
  • Reply Alisa Fleming

    I’m so glad you posted this list as I’m always looking for seafood / mercury guides!

    My husband and I went vegan together for four months. It was very cleansing, but like you, we were craving a tuna fish sandwich!

    January 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm
  • Reply Courtney F

    I ate tuna about once a week while I was pregnant. Now I eat it quite a bit more than that. =)

    January 26, 2011 at 5:51 pm
  • Reply Melissa

    Thanks for the mercury update…I knew certain fish were worse than others but this is a great list!!

    I think it’s great that you know that eating in moderation is okay…that’s a great attitude to have!!

    Growing up my mom’s tuna salad rocked! The secret ingredient…pickles!! And add a few splashes of pickle juice to the mix too. Oh man so good!!

    January 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm
  • Reply Tiffany @ Simply Shaka

    Interesting, I never knew that about “the bigger the fish, the higher the mercury”, yay for knowledge! I’ve been craving tuna salad like whoa lately and may just need to whip up a batch soon since it seems like I have 10 cans sitting in the cupboard.

    Did you give up pork for health reasons alone? I haven’t had it in almost a month. This is MAJOR for me.

    January 26, 2011 at 8:46 pm
    • Reply laury

      It was originally health/ diet related (when I was 12)…then more moral/ ethical! Also, Reading The Food Revolution only confirmed why i gave it up 17 years ago!

      January 26, 2011 at 9:49 pm
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    February 2, 2011 at 4:09 am
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