Oddly enough, I had a conversation about this with my wife this weekend, on the way to a wedding reception, where we were debating what we 'ordered' on the RSVP cards.
She said something along the lines of: "I think I put you down for meat, and I think I put myself down for fish." Naturally, I responded "Isn't fish meat?". The answer: "No. Well, yes, it's a type of meat, but it's not meat, it's fish."
So there is definitely some set of people that think that meat == beef, pork, or chicken, and vegetarian == non-meat. To some of these people, non-meat includes fish, which makes no sense to me, but oodles of sense to my wife. Possibly because she hails from the east coast of the US, where seafood is plentiful, and needs to be classified differently from normal midwestern fare such as beef, chicken, and pork. Which are all meats. But not seafood. Thus the strange non-meat distinction.
I asked her very kindly to refer to non-seafood 'meat' as either beef, pork or chicken - but no, those are meat, while seafood is fish. And not meat. Which I do not understand, but understandably have to accept.
Suffice it to say that some vegetarians (perhaps our own ysth included) consider fish a non-meat meat, and thus don't include it on meat v. non-meat polls.
Update:Oh, and due to the above, I have no idea how my wife would answer the poll for Christmas, where her family observes the (italian|catholic|east-coast) tradition of the "Feast of (nearly) 7 fishes", where they feast on several (up to, but never more than, 7) types of fish, none of which I particularly care for ;-)
One time I was traveling and getting a little bit tired of eating steak. I asked if they had something besides meat, and they replied yes, they had chicken.
This was in southern Germany, and it wasn't a translation error since the person who asked for me speaks fluent German. (I've actually had some of the best vegetarian food at the German Perl Workshop, but I don't think that's the norm.)
Oh, and people who eat fish and seafood (but not other meats) should just call themselves pescetarian. Otherwise they're deluding themselves.
# I eat most red meat and fowl, but not fish or pork. The term for this diet is 'picky'.
I've had the same or similar discussion with my wife recently over the whole red meat vs white meat discussion. In her opinion "all fowl is white meat", and "all animals are red meat." This of course means that neither fish nor fowl are animals?!?! But when I raised this I was apparently being difficult......
I decided not to even go down the road of escargot, or ostrich (which is a fowl as you know, but is red meat).
Roger Waters (from the album Radio K.A.O.S.): Californian Weirdo: "I don't like fish." Jim: "You are listening to KAOS here in Los Angeles." Californian Weirdo: "I don't like fish." Jim: "Yes, we've established that. Ah! Do you have a request?" Californian Weirdo: "Shell fish, Guppy, Salmon, Shrimp, and crab, and lobster, Flounder, I hate fish
But I think most of all I hate fresh fish, like trout. I hate fresh trout. My least-hated, favorite fish would be sole. That way you don't have to see the eyes. Sole has no eyes." Jim: "Oh no!"
I tend to be a bit pedantic, so I would refer to lobster, oyster, shrimp, clam, squid (and I'm sure much more, including fish) as 'seafood', and things like tuna, salmon, whitefish, cod, and others as fish (but also seafood). And of course, to me, those are all 'meat'.
But honestly, I don't have to worry about it quite so much, since I tend to avoid such foodstuffs as I find dead cow parts much preferable. Especially when aged or served on skewers, or possibly both :-)
You are using a faulty definition of vegetarian. What constitutes meat has nothing to do with what constitutes vegetarian. Think vegetarian == non-animals (or animal kingdom) or better still think vegetarian == vegetable (vegetable kingdom). I'm a long term vegetarian (>14 years now) and I hate it when you go into an eating place and ask about vegetarian dishes and they list the fish and chicken dishes because some-one who doesn't eat whatever (usually "red" down here) meat (for whatever valid reason) and calls themselves vegetarian.
For the record I've never had a tofu cheesecake but I'm not against trying some if some-one is offering :-)
-- Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought. -Basho
I've had similar conversations with some of my Eastern Indian coworkers and friends.
Turns out, there are many different ways across that sub-continent; and many have their own interpretation of diet. Nisha is from Caerla in the south and she will eat anything, no dietary restrictions. Sampath is her neighbor to the east, and he won't eat any animal products, even dairy products, but he will eat fish. Rama is his compatriot and will eat chicken, and dairy.
On the other hand, my wife was raised in a Spanish Catholic home; and they interpreted the "meatless" Fridays rule to be "you must eat fish." Whereas in my experience (Irish Catholic/ Episcopalian) Mac and Cheese was as valid as fish because the idea for us was just "no meat".
I suspect that this is less an Eastern US coastal thing, per se than a very old Christian heritage thing. There was, once upon a time, a religious proscription against eating meat on fast days. Some versions of Christianity still maintain this, with varying numbers of fast days (I know that Roman Catholicism still does; it's just that the fast days have dwindled to Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent). On these fast days, "meat", as in "the flesh and offal of terrestrial animals" is forbidden. "Non-meat" flesh, as in the meat and offal of aquatic animals ("aquatic animals" was occasionally defined to include or exclude animals such as muskrats or waterfowl) was allowed. Some more rigorous dietary limitations of the past (this is specifically for Roman Catholics; I don't know whether these ever applied to Orthodox, Coptic, Syriac, etc, Christians) went so far as to include dairy and eggs in the foods forbidden upon fast days.
At that time  the chief engineer was almost always the chief test pilot as well. That had the fortunate result of eliminating poor engineering early in aviation.
—Igor Sikorsky, reported in AOPA Pilot magazine February 2003.