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".
Difference between similar terms and diets
Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat. In addition to the term flexitarian, which was listed in the mainstream Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary in 2012, a neologism for semi-vegetarianism is reducetarianism. Reducetarianism is simply the practice of eating less meat - red meat, poultry, and seafood. While semi-vegetarians and flexitarians primarily eat plants with the occasional inclusion of meat, reducetarians gradually reduce meat consumption with respect to their own diet.
Common reasons for adopting a flexitarian diet may be ethical issues relating to animal welfare (including health) or animal rights, the 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 meat or animal products as occasional indulgences, staunch vegetarians may resent the term or view it as cheating or as a moral lapse. On the other hand, many proponents of veganism embrace flexitarianism/reducetarianism as a way to get a broader section of the general public to act on arguments for veganism, with the consequence that more animal suffering and environmental devastation will be prevented than if the public viewed meat-reduction as all-or-nothing.
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. This word is a combination of "pollotarian" and "pescetarian", it is also written as "pesce-pollotarian".
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There are many forms of vegetarian diet from the semi-vegetarian (consumes meat infrequently)...
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semi-vegetarian: mostly follows a vegetarian diet but eats meat, poultry and fish occasionally
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The wide spectrum of vegetarian diets ranges from avoidance of red meat only ('semi-vegetarianism')...
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- 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?
- Sausage, bacon and roast dinners, 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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