A semi-vegetarian or flexitarian diet is one that is plant-based with the occasional inclusion of meat products. In 2003, the American Dialect Society voted flexitarian as the year's most useful word and defined it as "a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat". In 2012, the term was listed for the first time in the mainstream Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.
Difference between similar terms
Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat. Common reasons for adopting a flexitarian diet may be health, environment (see environmental vegetarianism) or reduction of resource consumption (see economic vegetarianism), which are also arguments in favor of adopting a fully vegetarian diet. While flexitarians may view the flexitarian diet as occasional indulgences, orthodox vegetarians may strongly resent the term and view it as cheating or as a moral lapse.
A ranking by U.S. News & World Report, involving a panel of experts, evaluated 32 popular diets based on overarching factors including health, weight loss, and ease of following; on the 2014 list, the flexitarian diet came in sixth place, ahead of both the vegan and vegetarian diets. Specific flexitarian diets include:
- Pollotarian: someone who eats chicken or other poultry, but not meat from mammals, often for environmental, health or food justice reasons
- Pescetarian: someone who eats fish and/or other seafood, but not poultry or meat from mammals. The macrobiotic diet is plant-based, and may or may not include the occasional addition of fish or other seafood.
- Pollo-pescetarian: someone who eats poultry, seafood, and no other meat. In other words, someone who eats white meat only. This word is a combination of "pollotarian" and "pescetarian", it is also written as "pesce-pollotarian".
- Langley-Evans, Simon (2009). Nutrition: A Lifespan Approach. Wiley. p. 172. "There are many forms of vegetarian diet from the semi-vegetarian (consumes meat infrequently)..."
- Nemours Foundation/TeensHealth  Excerpt: "Some people consider themselves semi-vegetarians and eat fish and maybe a small amount of poultry as part of a diet."
- "Semi-Vegetarian - Vegetarianism". Medicine Online. "semi-vegetarian: mostly follows a vegetarian diet but eats meat, poultry and fish occasionally"
- Havala Hobbs, Suzanne. Living Vegetarian for Dummies. For Dummies. p. 14. "A semi-vegetarian is someone who's cutting back on his intake of meat in general"
- Koletzko, Berthold (2008). Pediatric Nutrition in Practice. Karger. p. 130. "The wide spectrum of vegetarian diets ranges from avoidance of red meat only ('semi-vegetarianism')..."
- "2003 Words of the Year". American Dialect Society. 2007-01-13. Retrieved 2007-12-03.
- Italie, Leanne. "F-bomb makes it into mainstream dictionary". The Washington Times. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- "Are you a 'flexitarian?'". nbcnews.
- "Flexitarianism: isn't it just vegetarianism with cheating?". Guardian (London). 21 January 2013.
- "Best Diets Overall". U.S.News & World Report. 2012.
- Preedy, Victor R.; Burrow, Gerard N.; Watson, Ronald (2009-02-09). Comprehensive Handbook of Iodine: Nutritional, Biochemical, Pathological and Therapeutic Aspects. Academic Press. p. 523. ISBN 978-0-12-374135-6. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- Hayes, Dayle; Laudan, Rachel (September 2008). Food and Nutrition / Editorial Advisers, Dayle Hayes, Rachel Laudan. Marshall Cavendish. p. 1058. ISBN 978-0-7614-7827-0. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- Kushi, Michio; Blauer, Stephen (2004-03-08). The macrobiotic way: the complete macrobiotic lifestyle book. Penguin. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-58333-180-4. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, LDN (2009). The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life. McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 978-0-07-154957-8
- Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism by Margaret Puskar-Pasewicz.ABC-CLIO(2010). ISBN 978-0-313-37556-9
- Why flexitarian?
- Can You Be a Vegetarian and Still Eat Meat?
- Staples of the British Diet, are on the Wane as 'Flexitarians' forgo Meat by Susie Mesure, The Independent, July 12, 2009
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