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What is a Semi-Vegetarian?

Tricia Christensen
Updated: Feb 21, 2024

A semi-vegetarian, who can also be named a flexitarian, is not actually a vegetarian, but is a person who may consume a lot of vegetarian meals while still indulging in eating meat. Sometimes type of meat is even defined and those who might eat poultry or fish some of the time are semi-vegetarians, while those eating red meat are not, though this definition varies. More often the term refers to people who have diets where a limited amount of meat, of any kind, is consumed. People may structure their diets this way out of consciousness about meat consumption, culturally some people simply eat this way, or alternately, for health reasons, people are advised to consume very little meat.

The term semi-vegetarian is often differentiated from vegetarians that eat meat byproducts. People who consume dairy and eggs are ovo-lacto vegetarians. What makes them different from the flexitarian class of eaters is that they still don’t consume flesh of animals. It can theoretically be argued that the former are not killing animals by eating, though this is arguable because factory farming practices that produce eggs and milk may be considered cruel or possibly dangerous to animals.

This might be the opinion of the vegan, another vegetarian that is contrasted to the semi-vegetarian. Vegans do not consume animal flesh or animal byproducts, though some vegans do eat honey, which is a bee product. Sometimes there are bad feelings between true vegetarians and vegans and semi-vegetarians. Yet even some of the staunchest animal right supporters see a flexitarian lifestyle as improvement since it creates a reduction in demand of animal products and of killing animals for food.

The diet of the semi-vegetarian could be intensely varied. Though not healthful, people could theoretically claim this title by eating cheese pizza for dinner five nights a week. More often, interest in flexitarian lifestyle actually expands the many things that people can eat, encouraging folks to start looking at the flavor and variety of vegetarian dishes that can be incorporated into the diet.

To get necessary protein, the semi-vegetarian has to consider alternate protein sources. Certainly, things like eggs and dairy make it easy to go meatless. Other excellent proteins include those derived from beans and whole grains. Veggie meals can also substitute in vegetable alternatives for meats in traditional recipes. Grilled vegetables, corn and black beans, or lentils could be filling for a taco, for instance. Eggplant parmesan can be just as tasty as chicken parmesan, and many more examples exist.

When people choose to eat a diet that is semi-vegetarian, they’ll have much variety to choose from. Well-selected diets can feature a range of dishes from numerous cultures or provide healthy substitutes for traditional foods. With these substitutes, people may get ample protein, plenty of dietary fiber, and lots of vitamins, and these things can all increase dietary health.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
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Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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