A semi-vegetarian or flexitarian[1][2] diet is one that is plant-based with the occasional inclusion of meat.[3][4][5][6] In 2003, the American Dialect Society voted flexitarian as the year's most useful word.[7]

Difference between similar terms and diets

Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from consuming meat. Along with the term flexitarian, which was listed in the mainstream Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary in 2012,[8] other neologisms for semi-vegetarianism are reducetarianism[9][10][11] and lessetarianism.[12][13][14]

Common reasons for adopting a semi-vegetarian diet may be ethical issues relating to animal welfare (including health) or animal rights, the environment (see environmental vegetarianism) or reducing resource use (see economic vegetarianism), which are also arguments in favor of adopting a fully vegetarian diet. While semi-vegetarians may view the meat or animal products as occasional indulgences,[15] staunch vegetarians may resent the term or view it as cheating or as a moral lapse.[16] In contrast, many proponents of veganism embrace semi-vegetarianism 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 views meat-reduction as all-or-nothing.[17]

A ranking by U.S. News & World Report, involving a panel of experts, evaluated 32 popular diets based on several variables including health, weight loss, and ease of following. In the 2014 list, the semi-vegetarian diet came in sixth place, ahead of both the vegan and vegetarian diets.[18] Specific semi-vegetarian diets include:

  • Pollotarian: someone who eats chicken or other poultry, but not meat from mammals, often for environmental, health or food justice reasons.[19][20]
  • Pescetarian: someone who eats fish or other seafood, but not poultry or meat from mammals.
  • Pollo-pescetarian: someone who eats both poultry and fish/seafood, though no meat from mammals.
  • Macrobiotic diet: plant-based, and may include occasional fish or other seafood.[21]

Another term not as commonly used is a meat minimalist, where one keeps their meat consumption to a minimum.

Comparison of vegan, vegetarian, and semi-vegetarian diets

Name Livestock Poultry Seafood Dairy Eggs Honey Root vegetables Fruits, nuts, seeds
Fruitarianism No No No No No Sometimes No Yes
Jain vegetarianism No No No Yes No No No Yes
Vegan diet No No No No No No Yes Yes
Veggan diet No No No No Yes No Yes Yes
Lacto vegetarianism No No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Ovo vegetarianism No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ovo-lacto vegetarianism No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Pescetarianism No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Pollo-vegetarianism No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Pollo-pescetarianism No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

See also


  1. ^ "Types of Vegetarians - Definitions". Vegetarian.about.com. Retrieved 2015-05-02. 
  2. ^ "What is a Flexitarian?". Vegetariannook.com. 2014-04-05. Retrieved 2015-05-02. 
  3. ^ Langley-Evans, Simon (2009). Nutrition: A Lifespan Approach. Wiley. p. 172. ISBN 978-1-4443-1640-7. There are many forms of vegetarian diet from the semi-vegetarian (consumes meat infrequently)... 
  4. ^ "Becoming a Vegetarian". Kidshealth.org. Retrieved 2015-05-02. 
  5. ^ "Semi-Vegetarian - Vegetarianism". Medicine Online. semi-vegetarian: mostly follows a vegetarian diet but eats meat, poultry and fish occasionally 
  6. ^ Koletzko, Berthold (2008). Pediatric Nutrition in Practice. Karger. p. 130. ISBN 978-3-8055-8477-7. 
  7. ^ "2003 Words of the Year". American Dialect Society. 2007-01-13. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  8. ^ Italie, Leanne. "F-bomb makes it into mainstream dictionary". The Washington Times. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  9. ^ Mary MacVean (8 January 2015). "Getting through the lobster feast as a vegan". Los Angeles Times. 
  10. ^ Samantha Olson (6 January 2015). "Meat-Eaters And Vegetarians Meet In The Middle: The Birth Of 'Reducetarianism'". Medical Daily. 
  11. ^ Martha Rosenberg (2 January 2015). "Not Going Vegetarian, But Cutting Down on Meat? There's a Name for That". Alternet. 
  12. ^ "Be a Lessetarian: It's Easy!" KenEckert.com
  13. ^ "Why I am a Lessetarian" (June 8, 2010) by Cindy Young, One Part Sunshine: Your Guide to Growing Green Kids (blog)
  14. ^ "Different Types of Vegetarians," All4NaturalHealth.com
  15. ^ "Are you a 'flexitarian?'". Nbcnews.com. Retrieved 2015-05-02. 
  16. ^ "Flexitarianism: isn't it just vegetarianism with cheating?". Guardian. London. 21 January 2013. 
  17. ^ Graham Hill (1 Feb 2010). "Why I'm a Weekday Vegetarian". TED. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  18. ^ "Best Diets Overall". U.S.News & World Report. 2012. 
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ 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. 
  21. ^ 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. 

Further reading

  • Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism by Margaret Puskar-Pasewicz.ABC-CLIO(2010). ISBN 978-0-313-37556-9