What Is A Semi-Vegetarian?
A vegetarian is someone who does not eat any type of animal protein, including meat, fish, seafood or poultry. A vegan also avoids any animal product including milk, cheese and other dairy and eggs. A semi-vegetarian, also sometimes called “flexitarian,” is someone whose diet is primarily vegetarian but also includes some meat, poultry or seafood occasionally. A vegetarian or semi-vegetarian diet is adopted for many reasons including health, environmental, religious or animal-rights concerns.
What Is A Semi-Vegetarian?
It is the practice of eating vegetarian meals less frequently than a strict vegetarian or vegan. Many people adopt a semi-vegetarian or flexitarian diet as a way of living life while eating healthy. Semi-vegetarians can eat whatever they please in moderation, without breaking the rules and without all of the limitations of being a strict vegetarian or vegan. Semi-vegetarians and flexitarians can enjoy almost any type of meat, seafood or poultry.
There are many different and sometimes conflicting definitions of the word “semi-vegetarian.” Here is one commonly used definition from the Good Food Institute: “A “semi-vegetarian” is one who eats meat or fish every few days in moderation and considers himself or herself a vegetarian in total.” For one thing, it’s tough to eat meat less than 3 days in a row, and once you get beyond that, it starts to become a little dicey.
Here are some alternatives to define “semi-vegetarian” that seem to fit the definition a little better: Someone who eats meat once a week, eats meat less than 3 days in a row, and is still considered a vegetarian. Someone who eats meat, poultry or seafood 2-3 times a week but is still not considered a vegetarian.
Semi-vegetarian refers to people who are “committed” vegetarians but eat meat or seafood occasionally. There are various approaches to this choice. Some people decide to have at least one meat meal per week, although this may not be possible for some people. Some eat meat only a couple of times per week, and others consume meat just once a week or less.
A doctor or registered dietitian may help someone identify the best way to make the transition to a vegetarian or semi-vegetarian diet. The best way to know what meat, poultry, or seafood a person is eating is to be very mindful of any marketing by a brand or company that does not test on animals and not to rely solely on the package labels.
A “Semi-Vegetarian” is someone who does not consume meat or poultry but does eat fish, seafood, eggs and dairy products. Semi-vegetarians often have a vegetarian diet for most or all of the year while occasionally allowing themselves to eat fish, seafood, eggs or dairy products.
Semi-vegetarian is a much more relaxed diet than vegetarian. A vegan or semi-vegetarian can still eat dairy or eggs in some situations. The emphasis in the term “flexitarian” is on only eating meat occasionally (e.g., once or twice a week). The flexibility allows vegetarians to enjoy some meat as part of their diet, while still following their ethics.
Semi-vegetarianism is a lifestyle that is popular among individuals who are not completely vegetarian. A semi-vegetarian diet includes occasional consumption of foods such as chicken, fish, shrimp, crab and shellfish.
How Does The Semi-Vegetarian Diet Work?
People can eat meat, fish, or poultry, along with many other plant-based foods. The major exceptions are eggs, milk and honey. People who follow this diet can include cheese and milk products as part of the diet. They also can eat dairy products as long as they are non-dairy items and not cheese or milk products. Some recipes can be very creative and the process is simple. The key to having this delicious, healthful diet is to prepare the recipes ahead of time. You can prep the recipes, get them ready and then you can start cooking.
To adopt the semi-vegetarian diet, you need to aim to cut back to about 30 percent or less of your typical day's meat consumption. Research has shown that eating less meat can lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and other conditions. Meat consumption is often much higher in America than in other parts of the world.
The guidelines on semi-vegetarianism have been updated recently, and you can see more in the details of how to adopt a semi-vegetarian diet from the Office of Dietary Supplements. (http://www.od.nih.gov/odc/pubs/ediseries/2018-148.pdf)
This is basically a balanced diet consisting of a variety of fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and meat, with minimal consumption of animal products. Most people who are considered semi-vegetarians can be described as “moderate” or “unconventional” vegetarians.
Moderate vegetarians often choose a diet that allows them to include up to 3 ounces of low-fat, low-calorie meat (or seafood) per day. Most of the time, they do not consume animal products. Some of the most common alternatives to meat include tofu, tempeh and soymilk. Some vegans choose to eat honey or sugar-free foods. This diet is often very convenient for a busy person because it allows you to eat balanced meals without having to prepare a separate meal for each meal.
A semi-vegetarian meal or breakfast includes a range of plant-based foods with a balance of vegetables, whole grains and proteins. These foods are relatively high in vitamins and minerals. The vegetarian version of breakfast is typically egg-based and includes vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes, spinach, asparagus and kale.
The portions are usually similar to that of a traditional breakfast but the carbohydrates are from fruit, nuts or legumes rather than grains or potatoes. A typical lunch or dinner might include a salad with greens or veggies, grilled or baked meat, meat substitutes like soy or almond or seitan (a protein made from wheat gluten) and some type of fruit or vegetable.
Benefits Of A Semi-Vegetarian Diet
The benefits of being a vegetarian or semi-vegetarian include:
- It is lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol.
- It increases the heart’s production of HDL (good) cholesterol.
- It can aid in lowering the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
- It can improve overall digestive health.
- It improves the overall functioning of the thyroid and adrenal glands.
- It can reduce the risk of cancer.
As a semi-vegetarian, you can consume a wide variety of protein sources. Your choice of protein sources may also be more healthful than if you had to exclude meat from your diet. There are some health benefits that can be had from adopting a semi-vegetarian or vegetarian diet. If done regularly, it can also help to relieve some of the symptoms of a food allergy, such as eczema or asthma.
Being a vegetarian or semi-vegetarian is also good for the environment and the animal rights community. To be a vegetarian or semi-vegetarian, you cannot eat any type of animal meat or dairy product, including eggs, dairy products or fish. You also can not eat any type of meat that has been smoked, fried, or otherwise cooked in any way. If you must consume any meat, you can eat poultry such as chicken, turkey, pork or beef.
A semi-vegetarian diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low in fats and carbohydrates. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, a semi-vegetarian diet is an optimal diet for reducing the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Foods of this type are naturally low in fat and high in fiber and antioxidants. Meat provides a source of protein, which helps sustain growth and tissue repair and is needed for growth during childhood.
Many people who choose to be vegetarians or semi-vegetarians also follow a vegan diet. However, there is no such thing as a completely vegan diet. It is one thing to be vegetarian, and it is quite another thing to be vegan. Veganism means eating only plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, seeds and legumes.
Some vegetarians also use vegan products including soaps, shampoos, cosmetics and other products. Several studies have shown that vegetarian diets offer a variety of health benefits. These include reducing the risk of:
- heart disease,
- type 2 diabetes,
- certain cancers,
- certain autoimmune diseases,
- obesity and
- certain diseases of the digestive tract.
Adopting a semi-vegetarian diet does not require making any major changes to your life. A semi-vegetarian diet provides a great way to get in more fruits and vegetables and a wider variety of foods. It’s also more efficient and economical in that it doesn’t require special food preparation or transportation to grocery stores and restaurants.
Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is one of the most important lifestyle habits for good health. Choosing a variety of nutritious foods can help you reduce your risk of obesity and the many other illnesses that result from a poor diet. Meat consumption is an important part of the health-related reasons people switch to a vegetarian diet, but meat does not need to be completely eliminated from your diet.
For most people, vegetarian meals consist of fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Oftentimes, people add some form of fat to their meals. For example, people may choose to incorporate olive oil or a small number of nuts or seeds into their diets. Other people choose to eat vegetarian cheese or nuts and seeds instead of cheese and may use butter in their cooking.
Since a semi-vegetarian diet is not only low in meat but also low in saturated fat, it is a good option for anyone who has concerns about cholesterol or heart disease. Popular vegetarian foods are beans, lentils, and tofu. Many salads, soups, and chilli contain beans as the main ingredient. Lentils are also a great addition to any meal. Many people have issues with eating meat due to health issues, emotional or spiritual reasons or religious or cultural reasons.
A semi-vegetarian might or might not be vegan, although they are generally leaner and more healthful than vegans who refrain from consuming any kind of animal products. Quinoa is a popular plant-based protein source. The versatile grain can be sautéed or roasted, prepared in a whole wheat form and has been infused with other vegetables or herbs.
Whole grains can be substituted for some or all of the animal protein in a meal. Examples include:
- wheat berries,
- buckwheat and
- brown rice.
Many vegetables are easy to prepare as semi-vegetarian fare. Choices include:
- brussels sprouts,
- cucumbers, etc.
By being a semi-vegetarian, you can still enjoy some of the classic favourites of a meat-and-potatoes meal, as long as you include some plant-based protein. As long as a vegetarian is making a conscious choice to be vegetarian or semi-vegetarian, the entire menu is fair game for delicious vegetarian options. Below is a list of vegetarian staples. Some examples include:
- black beans,
- split peas.
All varieties of grains and legumes such as peas, chickpeas and lentils can be cooked as well. Tofu, soy sauce and certain brands of seafood, too, are a great way to add flavour to a vegetarian diet. Quinoa is often used in vegetarian dishes, as are certain nuts. Consider including plant-based proteins such as edamame, soy nuts, tofu, nuts, legumes, seeds and baked goods. As a meat alternative, tofu and soy products are popular choices. Tofu is prepared in many forms and is a common protein in Asia.
Foods That Are Prohibited In The Semi-Vegetarian Diet
The meat of sheep is prohibited in the Semi-Vegetarian diet. Pork also is prohibited in the Semi-Vegetarian diet. Eggs are also prohibited in the Semi-Vegetarian diet. Seeds are prohibited in the Semi-Vegetarian diet. Wholewheat bread is not permitted in the Semi-Vegetarian diet as it is made with wheat, the plant of which is considered animal protein.
Brown rice is the only grain to be prohibited in the Semi-Vegetarian diet. Brown rice contains both the bran and germ and therefore contains part of the substance that animals are composed of. The following are also forbidden:
- alcohol (if you're an alcoholic, be sure to consult your physician and/or social workers about drinking to avoid compromising your health).
- imitation meat (including, but not limited to, salami, bacon, imitation crab and imitation shrimp).
- dairy (milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, yogurt drinks, etc.).
- fish (including sole, catfish, trout, flounder, salmon and tuna).
- eggs (from certain brands).
- meat substitutes, such as tempeh, veggie hot dogs and veggie hamburgers, as well as faux fish sticks and chicken nuggets.
Although not technically restricted on this diet, meat does have a place in the diet, particularly in certain sauces, marinades and more.
How Do You Transition To A Semi-Vegetarian Diet?
The first thing to remember is that when you choose to become vegetarian or semi-vegetarian, it is important to start small. By starting out with “flexitarian” options (vegetarian options which also include some meat or fish) and then, over time, working your way up to semi-vegetarian, you will feel the benefits from a meat-free diet even if you haven’t completely given up meat.
Also, find some semi-vegetarian options that work for you and have some family and friends with you as you work your way to a 100% vegetarian diet. Keep in mind that a 100% semi-vegetarian diet is not necessary for a healthy and long life but can be a good idea for many people with health problems that require more nutrients or a different type of food. Start slowly. Half the challenge is to commit to certain staples. Half the challenge is to commit to certain staples.
First, assess how you are feeling and what you want. Here are some common complaints: I am irritable and just want to eat whatever I want, without feeling bad about it. I don't feel as if I am getting enough nutrients. My body doesn't respond well to a plant-based diet. My weight gain is not slowing down, despite doing all the right things.
When you start your semi-vegetarian diet, try adding protein sources, like chicken, beef or turkey to your diet. For example, if you haven't eaten meat in a while, start with chicken or turkey. Then, add fish, nuts, seeds and eggs, to your diet slowly. Everyone has their own reasons for choosing a vegetarian or semi-vegetarian diet. For most, it starts with health concerns and continues due to concerns about the use of animals for food and other products.
For others, they are tired of animal food controversies or they simply cannot stomach eating any animal products. One of the benefits of adopting a vegetarian or semi-vegetarian diet is the freedom to eat whatever you want from a whole range of healthy, low-fat, plant-based foods.
Challenges Of A Semi-Vegetarian Diet
Despite being healthy and a great way to ensure a balanced diet, a semi-vegetarian diet is quite challenging for many people. It is a lot of food to manage and be satisfied with, especially if one can’t eat all of the things that he or she wants. There are challenges with trying to get enough calories, too. Additionally, there are other challenges for a semi-vegetarian diet, including making sure that the cooking style is simple and not complicated.
By having to think about a meat, egg, or dairy-free menu, there are other stresses that can come into play. Of course, it’s not easy to be a vegetarian or semi-vegetarian. I know many people who find that their diets don’t always work for them as they’re always trying to satisfy all of their lifestyle requirements. While some meat-eaters find that the meatless lifestyle is too restrictive, others find that it can be quite difficult to maintain.
They may be lacking in calcium, iron or vitamins B12 and D, as well as missing out on certain essential fatty acids. While many people view the vegetarian diet as a satisfying way to eat without having to give up any animal products, others find that sometimes life just isn't feasible without some meat in the diet.
Those who are parents or caregivers of young children also have a hard time eating strictly plant-based meals for every meal of the day, while eating at a buffet-style restaurant where meats and vegetables are plentiful. In addition, those who enjoy cooking and like to cook will often want to enjoy foods with special sauces, meat flavours and seasonings that can be hard to find on a meat-only diet.
How To Start A Semi-Vegetarian Diet?
To start a vegetarian diet, a person can either eliminate meat products or switch to vegetarian products such as beans, tofu, beans, and pulses. Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are some of the best foods to help a person stick with a vegetarian diet for the long term. People with a large appetite and higher calorie intake will often find themselves still feeling hungry after switching to a vegetarian or semi-vegetarian diet.
People with a small appetite or who typically do not eat a lot of meat can easily start with vegetarian or semi-vegetarian meals as long as they include non-meat foods. These foods include nuts, seeds, yogurt, soy products, and dairy. These will be easier than trying to replace large amounts of animal products with plant products.
Is A Semi-Vegetarian Diet Healthy?
The healthy aspect of a vegetarian diet lies in its overall balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber. With this formula, there’s a great amount of room for variety within your daily diet without exceeding recommended calorie and macronutrient guidelines. Additionally, when vegetables are the primary star, they can add additional flavour without the need for any added fat or sodium.
The final important piece of this healthy equation is that it's wise to cut back on refined carbohydrates and refined sugars, which tend to elevate levels of blood sugar and may be hard to control if you eat a low sugar, lower carbohydrate diet. A nutritionist or dietitian can help you determine if a vegetarian diet is appropriate for you and you can ask your doctor or registered dietitian if they have concerns about it.
Of course, a vegetarian diet can be healthy if you eat enough variety to keep your body from having an excessive reliance on protein. A good portion of your vegetarian food should be vegetables and grains, while your fat should be healthy and not saturated. Foods with omega 3 fatty acids like flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds and canola oil help contribute to a healthy heart and brain functioning. As long as you stay within a healthy calorie range, you can be a semi-vegetarian and still eat healthily.
This diet, while not ideal, is a healthier option than a typical omnivorous or carnivorous diet. While people who follow this diet may experience some digestive problems, it can still be a healthier option than the typical American diet. Don’t believe me? Ask Dean Ornish. His book, Eat to Live, details the principles of a semi-vegetarian diet that is touted to be a healthy choice for weight loss, optimal brain function, and reduced symptoms of diseases like cancer and arthritis.
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