A semi-vegetarian diet (SVD), also called a flexitarian, 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, reducetarianism and semi-veganism.
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:
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 222 pounds (101 kg) 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.
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 301 pounds (137 kg) (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.
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