The Flexitarian Diet
The Flexitarian Diet: How It Works
As the name suggests, this diet is all about flexibility. Readers can make
their own choices from flexible meal plans, flexible fitness options, and
recipes that can be vegetarian or not. Follow the five-week menu plan, or adopt
the Flexitarian Diet model as your new diet plan for life. Or do neither
and simply focus on trying to eat more plant foods and less meat - it’s up to
On the Flexitarian Diet, you can choose to follow one of three flexitarian
levels: beginner, advanced, or expert. Beginners are encouraged to start
out by having two meatless days and a limit of 26 ounces of meat or poultry per
week. Advanced flexitarians have three or four meatless days and limit
meat or poultry to 18 ounces per week. And the expert flexitarian eats meatless
five days of the week and gets only 9 ounces of meat or poultry weekly.
Regardless of your chosen level, meat becomes more like a condiment or side
dish instead of the focal point of your meal.
More important than how much meat you eat is the amount of plant foods, like
beans, nuts, whole grains, and produce, that you add to your diet.
"Try tacos with half meat and half black beans, or spaghetti sauce with half
meat and half white beans," says Blatner. "No matter where you start, you will
begin to stretch your food dollar, improve the nutrition of your meals, and be
surprised to discover a new family favorite even the kids will love."
As you start eating foods with less refined sugar, additives, and
preservatives, your cravings for processed junk foods will be tamed, says
To round out this healthy lifestyle plan, The Flexitarian Diet includes five
"flex fitness factors" to help readers find ways to work more activity into
“Fitness has to be part of a healthy lifestyle, so whether you run marathons
or walk in the mall, I have provided recommendations, equipment, motivation to
overcome barriers and tips to encourage everyone to find fun forms of fitness
they enjoy,” says Blatner.
The Flexitarian Diet: What the Experts Say
"The Flexitarian Diet is a fresh approach to eating that’s balanced, smart
and completely doable," says Ellie Krieger, RD, host of the Food Network’s
Healthy Appetite. "It drives home the idea that you don’t have to
go to extremes and give up any foods to eat well because healthy eating is so
Experts agree that most foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle, especially
if the mainstays of your diet are phytochemical-rich plant foods that are
naturally low in calories and help you feel full. You can rack up
additional calorie savings by eating less fatty meat like hamburgers and by
limiting your meat selections to 4 ounces of lean cuts.
"This is an excellent way to help most cooks break free of their usual meals
and encourage them to experiment with different grains, beans, soy and more to
broaden their culinary horizons," says Krieger, author of The Foods
You Crave cookbook.