A flexitarian diet, also called a semi-vegetarian diet, is one that is centered on plant foods with limited or occasional inclusion of meat. For example, a flexitarian might eat meat only some days each week. Flexitarian is a portmanteau of the words flexible and vegetarian, signifying its followers' less strict diet pattern when compared to vegetarian pattern diets.
Different definitions of flexitarianism are used. According to the Dutch environmental organisation Natuur & Milieu, a flexitarian eats no meat, fish or lunch meat for at least one day a week. The Dutch research agency I&O Research calls people flexitarian when they do not eat meat one or more days a week. The Dutch Food Health authority Voedingscentrum states that flexitarians do not eat meat (but do eat fish) three or more days a week in between or with a hot meal.
Vegetarianism is the strict practice of abstaining from consuming meat or any other animal tissue. 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, reducetarianism, and semi-veganism.
In 2015, according to the Voedingscentrum, 55% of Dutch people were flexitarians. According to Natuur & Milieu, in 2016, 67% of the Dutch were flexitarian. According to research by Wageningen University & Research, the number of Dutch people who call themselves flexitarians increased from 14% in 2011 to 43% in 2019. However, the number of days that self-proclaimed flexitarians ate meat increased over that period from 2.9 days a week to 3.7 days. The researchers suspected that this was mainly due to the inflation of this term among the Dutch.
According to a study by LEI Wageningen UR, the proportion of Dutch people who eat meat daily decreased from 26.7% to 18.4% between 2010 and 2012. According to a study by Dutch research agency Motivaction at the beginning of June 2012, reducing meat consumption is a conscious choice for 35% of the Dutch. 14.8% of the population ate meat no more than one or two days a week. In Flanders, 1 in 6 people in 2013 do not eat meat one or more days a week. A quarter opts for a meat-free day at least once a month.
In 2003, the American Dialect Society chose the word flexitarian as the most useful word of the year.
Common reasons for adopting a flexitarian 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 flexitarian 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:
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 flexitarian diet rather than a regular plant-based diet. Recurring conditions of a flexitarian 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 in entirety and flexitarianism as the distinct practice of 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 dairy proteins rather than carbohydrate based staples. One estimate is that 14% of the global population is flexitarian.
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.
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 many vegetarians and vegans as an oxymoron because people following the diet consume the flesh of animals.
There are many forms of vegetarian diet from the semi-vegetarian (consumes meat infrequently)...
semi-vegetarian: mostly follows a vegetarian diet but eats meat, poultry and fish occasionally
((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)