A semi-vegetarian diet (SVD), also called a flexitarian diet, is one that is centered on plant foods with the occasional inclusion of meat. ''Flexitarian'' is a portmanteau of the words ''flexible'' and ''vegetarian'', signifying its followers' less strict diet pattern when compared to (other) vegetarian pattern diets.


Vegetarianism is the strict practice of abstaining from consuming meat. ''Flexitarianism'' is a neoteric term that gained a considerable increase in usage in both science and public sectors in the 2010s. ''Flexitarian'' was listed in the mainstream ''Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary'' in 2012. In 2003, the American Dialect Society voted ''flexitarian'' as the year's most useful word. Other neologisms used as synonyms for semi-vegetarianism are ''demi-vegetarianism'' and ''reducetarianism''.


Common reasons for adopting a semi-vegetarian diet include religious restrictions, weight management, health consciousness, issues relating to animal welfare or animal rights (see ethical omnivorism), the environment (see environmental vegetarianism), or reducing resource use (see economic vegetarianism). Flexitarians may have attitudes and endorsement behavior concerning health issues, humanitarianism, and animal welfare.


The main fundamental of some specific semi-vegetarian diets is about the inflexible adherence to a diet that omits multiple classes and types of animals from the diet in entirety, rather than a sole focus on reduction in consumption frequency. Some examples include: *Macrobiotic diet: a plant-based diet and it may include occasional fish or other seafood. Cereals, especially brown rice, are the staples of the macrobiotic diet, supplemented by small amounts of vegetables and occasionally fish. Some advocates of the macrobiotic diet promote a vegetarian (or nearly vegan) approach as the ideal. *Pescetarian diet: someone who follows this diet eats fish and/or shellfish and may or may not consume dairy and eggs. The consumption of meat, such as poultry, mammal meat and the flesh of any other animal is abstained from. In the past, some vegetarian societies used to consider it to simply be a less-strict type of vegetarianism."International Health Exhibition", ''The Medical Times and Gazette'', 24 May 1884
"There are two kinds of vegetarians—one an extreme form, the members of which eat no animal food whatever; and a less extreme sect, who do not object to eggs, milk, or fish. The Vegetarian Society ... belongs to the latter more moderate division."
This is no longer the case now that modern day vegetarian societies object to the consumption of all fish and shellfish. *Pollotarian diet: someone who follows this diet eats chicken and/or other poultry and usually eggs as well. A pollotarian would not consume seafood, the meat from mammals, or other animals often for environmental, health or food justice reasons. *Kangatarian diet: is a recent practice of following a diet that cuts out meat except kangaroo on environmental and ethical grounds. Several Australian newspapers wrote about the neologism "kangatarianism" in February 2010, describing eating a vegetarian diet with the addition of kangaroo meat as a choice with environmental benefits because indigenous wild kangaroos require no extra land or water for farming and produce little methane (a greenhouse gas), unlike cattle or other farm animals. *Planetary Health diet: dietary paradigms that have the following aims: to feed a growing world's population, to greatly reduce the worldwide number of deaths caused by poor diet, and to be environmentally sustainable as to prevent the collapse of the natural world.

Dietary pattern

All semi-vegetarians could accurately be described as people who eat a plant-based diet, but there is no firm consensus how infrequently someone would have to eat meat and fish for their diet to be considered a semi-vegetarian diet rather than a regular plant-based diet. The average American consumed an estimated of meat in 2018, so comparatively a semi-vegetarian would have to eat much less. Recurring conditions of a semi-vegetarian include consuming red meat or poultry only once a week. One study defined semi-vegetarians as consuming meat or fish three days a week. Occasionally researchers define semi-vegetarianism as eschewing red meat and flexitarianism as eating very little meat. Semi-vegetarianism/flexitarianism may be the default diet for much of the world, where meals based on plant materials provide the bulk of people's regular energy intake. In many countries this is often due to financial barriers as higher incomes are associated with diets rich in animal and diary proteins rather than carbohydrate based staples. One estimate is that 14% of the global population is flexitarian.

Society and culture

In the United Kingdom, there was increased demand for vegan products in 2018. A 2018 study estimated that the amount of UK consumers following a “meat-free diet” had increased to 12%, including 6% vegetarians, 4% pescetarians and 2% vegans. A 2018 poll indicated that 10% of adult Canadians considered themselves as vegetarians or vegans, among whom 42% were young adults. A high estimate for meat consumption per person in 2007 was (for Luxembourg), including consumption of beef, pork, turkey, and chicken. In 2019, an international group stated that the adoption of the flexitarian diet would "save lives, feed 10 billion people and all without causing catastrophic damage to the planet," when compared to the current western diet. The term ''flexitarian'' has been criticized by some vegetarians and vegans as an oxymoron because people following the diet are not vegetarians but omnivores as they still consume the flesh of animals.Iacobbo, Karen; Iacobbo, Michael. (2006). ''Vegetarians and Vegans in America Today''. Praeger. pp. 164-168.

See also

*Dawn Jackson Blatner (author of ''The Flexitarian Diet'') *Omnivore *Demitarianism *Entomophagy, consuming insects, which is another environmental approach for obtaining food *Ethical eating *Ethical omnivorism *Ethics of eating meat *Food and drink prohibitions *Meatless Monday *Meat tax *Reducetarian Foundation *Sustainable diet


Further reading

* ''Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism'' by ''Margaret Puskar-Pasewicz''.ABC-CLIO(2010).
Flexitarian Diet and Weight Control: Healthy or Risky Eating Behavior?

Should you give up meat for good? - British Heart Foundation Blog Article
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