Semi-Vegetarian, Flextarian, Reductarian Diets - Less Meat, More Vegetables

In modern society, the middle ground is so politically incorrect. How can you be a part-time vegetarian? On the other hand, why not, as there are so many vegetarian variants - lacto-vegetarians (only eat dairy products), lacto-ovo-vegetarians (eat eggs and dairy products), pescatarian (only fish), vegans (no meat whatsoever). The 'Meat-less Mondays' concept was a step in the same direction, towards eating less meat. Semi-vegetarian diets and flexible vegetarian diets (Flextarian) offer many advantages - the best of both worlds really. Another term for these diets is 'Reducetarian', meaning someone who is cutting down on meat, progressively on a pathway to vegetarian, but not necessarily aiming to completely eliminating meat from their diets. This article explores these concepts and discusses their merits and objectives.

Types of Vegetarians - showing which meats, dairy and egg products are permitted.
Types of Vegetarians - showing which meats, dairy and egg products are permitted. | Source
vegetarian dishes are delicious but trying to go Vegan 'cold turkey' can be very hard to do. There are many flexible ways to make the transition.
vegetarian dishes are delicious but trying to go Vegan 'cold turkey' can be very hard to do. There are many flexible ways to make the transition. | Source
To become and semi-vegetarian you need to develop a love for vegetarian foods and recipes
To become and semi-vegetarian you need to develop a love for vegetarian foods and recipes | Source
Eating less meat and more vegetables can be done without completely eliminating all meat, eggs and dairy products.
Eating less meat and more vegetables can be done without completely eliminating all meat, eggs and dairy products. | Source
Flextarians adopt a flexible approach which involves a shift to more vegetarian food while still consuming some meat some of the time.
Flextarians adopt a flexible approach which involves a shift to more vegetarian food while still consuming some meat some of the time. | Source

What are These Diets? What Do the Terms Mean?

Semi-Vegetarians

People who have cut down on the meat they consume, but only by a half or three-quarters. Perhaps they only eat meat for one meal a day. There are many other ways the reduction can be accomplished. The term generally suggest a more or less permanent decision on the amount of meat and meat products eaten.

Flextarians

These people have a flexible approach without being committed to a strict reduction regime. they aim to eat less meat, but are flexible in their diets.

Reductarians

These people are generally trying to reduce the amount of meat they eat, but are doing it in stages on a gradual path to becoming a vegetarian. It is very hard to make the transition to a vegan diet. Reductarians do it gradually.

Advantages of Diets that Permit Some Meat Rather than Vegan Diets

  • It is hard to get enough protein and especially the full quota of amino acids on a strictly vegetarian diet. Tiny amounts of meat can provide these essential nutrient very easily. Besides you can choose what animal to eat.
  • A vegetarian diet rich in a wide range of vegetables and whole food plants offers many health advantages.
  • These diets offer a progression or a pathway to a full and strict vegetarian diet without the stress of going 'cold turkey'. People can try eating less meat progressively and gradually change their eating habits. Learning to love vegetarian dishes takes time and experience to discover what works for you.
  • Flexibility is more socially acceptable. If you go to a dinner party you don't have to insult or upset your hosts by refusing to eat the lovely meat dishes they have prepared for you, even if you only eat small quantities.

Major Advantages of Flextarian, Semi-Vegetarian and Reductarian Diets

There is clear evidence that vegetarian diets are healthier and probably less prone to leading to obesity and excess weight. A recent study of more than 77,000 Seventh Day Adventists, found that they had a 20 % lower risk of colorectal cancer. Interestingly the same study suggested that eating a small amount of fish, plenty of vegetables, but no meat lower the risk even further. The famous Mediterranean diet places more emphasis on eating fish and vegetables and less meat, than in a traditional western diets. Another recent study of more than 400,000 Europeans found that groups of people who ate mostly vegetables, (about 70% of their diet) - had a 20 % lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease than the traditional meat eaters.

There is growing evidence that high-protein diets are not healthy in the long run, especially for those who eat large amounts of processed meats such as ham, bacon and salamis. These processed meats contain carcinogens and are high in saturated fats and are not heavy if eaten in large amounts.

Diets rich in vegetables especially whole vegetables and fruit are known to help with weight loss programs due to the high fiber content. Fiber and complex carbohydrates provide bulk and take longer to digest, which delays the onset of hunger pangs for longer and helps prevent over eating on snack between meals, which is a major cause of over eating problems.

These diets are a long way from becoming a strict vegan, but the important thing is that a reducetarian or a flextarian has made a conscious decision to eat less meat and animal products and more vegetables.

Simple Ways to Reduce the Amount of Meat in Your Diet

Flextarians and the other types can learn a lot from vegetarians about meat alternatives and ways to eat more vegetables. Here are some examples:

  • Use mushrooms instead of bacon, meat and dairy products in curries, pasta dishes, pizzas, salads and many other dishes. Mushrooms are very healthy and resemble meat in color and texture. Mushrooms provide a good meat substitute and there are many wonderful varieties to choose from and try in your meals.
  • Learn to use lentils, nuts and chick peas in creative and interesting ways. These foods are very nutritious and are an untapped recipe resource that many people have not tried or enjoyed. There are many fabulous bean, pea and lentil recipes to choose from.
  • Don't be tempted to try many of the artificial and fake meat products which are very disappointing and insipid. There is no point in doing this. Enjoy whole food vegetables and eat small amounts of meat when you want to. Fakes meats are unnecessary. The aim is to eat less meat, not fake meat.
  • Make vegetables the main attraction when you cook meals. They can be so attractive, look good and offer a great variety of tastes. Avoid the temptation of having a tiny minuscule portion of steak and filling the rest of the plate up with conventional vegetables. You probably won't want to eat large servings of these vegetables (mountains of mashed potatoes, pumpkins and carrots). You need to cook new varieties using interesting and very tasty recipes.
  • Switch to very expensive high quality cuts of meat such as eye fillet. The high cost will be a disincentive to eat large amounts. Also, these cuts are very tender, easy to cook and have sensational tastes and appearance. Really savour and enjoy a lovely tender cut of meat.
  • Choose plant-based fats over animal fats such as butter, bacon grease, lard and many dairy based sauces rich in fat. Instead, use more olive oil and other vegetable oils and cut down on cheese and dairy products high in fat.
  • Switch from meat to vegetables as you major source of protein. Reducing the amount of meat means less protein in the diet. You have to replace meat with other sources of protein. The best way to do this is to focus on the richest sources of animal proteins which are the pulses: beans, peas and lentils. Pulses are also rich in fiber and are very nutritious in other ways. There are many delicious ways to enjoy pulses more often in soups, vegetarian curries, tacos, pizzas, hummus and many many meal dishes. It is easy to find great recipes for pulses.
  • Learn to love vegetables - Avoid the sense that you are denying yourself the meat that you Love. It takes time to switch, but your body will thank you for it.
  • Wean yourself off dairy foods and milk products if this is the way you want to go.
  • Discover alternatives for eggs for breakfast and how to bake without using eggs. Once again if you decide to forgo eggs or eat less of them.

© 2015 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 3 comments

Rachel L Alba profile image

Rachel L Alba 20 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

I tell my husband the older we get the less red meat we should eat. Semi vegetarian is a good idea. You are right also about mushrooms, they can be very meaty tasting, especially if you cook them right. Thanks for sharing.


NonCopyBook profile image

NonCopyBook 20 months ago from NSW Australia

Great article (as I'm mostly vegan/vegetarian- was disappointed to see the reference to protein being difficult to get- it is very easy to get and also the levels are only set so high in Western countries because the meat and dairy lobbies campaigned to get them so high.. The documentary "Forks Over Knives" is great in showing how high protein animal diets are killing people early in the West (and how the long-term China Study showed that people are much more likely to live longer living on plant foods).. Vitamin B12 and zinc are harder to get on a vegan diet but the protein and iron side of things is mostly a myth; likewise most meat eaters don't get enough B12 either or vitamin C & folate etc. Thanks for writing about the subject, it's becoming more and more mainstream, slowly but surely.. ;) Cheers, Nick


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 20 months ago from New Delhi, India

Great hub, really useful and informative!

You are right that we must eat more vegetables than meat. I am basically a vegetarian and we take non vegetarian food once or twice a week, that too more of fish and chicken. Dairy products consumption also must be limited.

Thanks for these health related tips. Voted up!

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