Processed meat: bacon, sausage, and bologna. Proponents of flexitarianism advocate for unprocessed meat like grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken, fresh fish, etc. More on this next section.
Refined carbs: white bread, bagels, pasta, etc. These foods have much of their fiber destroyed during the refinement process, making them more like sugar during digestion.
Added sugar: soda, donuts, cookies, etc. Also known as “junk food.” Delicious, of course. But these foods are high in calories and low on nutrients, so they belong in the “rare treat” category.
The above list likely isn’t too shocking. Most health sites (and us in our healthy eating guide) recommend these foods be eaten sparingly.
Now, it’s time to talk meat!
How Often Do Flexitarians Eat Meat? (The “Flex” in “Flexitarian”)
The answer to “How much meat can you eat on a flexitarian diet?” depends on who you ask.
There are lots of variations of semi-vegetarianism, meaning there are a lot of different answers to this question.
Dawn Blatner discusses different levels of meat restriction in her book The Flexitarian Diet, which we’ll review below.
Here’s the progression plan for The Flexitarian Diet:
Two meat-free days a week
No more than 26 ounces of meat the remainder of the week
Three to four meat-free days a week
No more than 18 ounces of meat the remainder of the week
Meat-free five days a week
9 ounces of meat allowed the remaining two days
For reference, a three-ounce piece of chicken breast is about the size of your palm:
Another popular form of flexitarianism comes from VB6 (Vegan Before 6:00) which is exactly what it sounds like: follow a vegan meal plan until dinnertime.
Naturally, there’s a book about this one too, this time from Mark Bittman.
Like Blatner, Bittman encourages the consumption of whole plants and discourages the consumption of junk food.
That’s not too surprising, because every diet encourages the consumption of whole plants and discourages junk food (well, not the Carnivore Diet or the Military Diet).
Other than following a 100% plant-based diet until 6pm, Bittman offers no specific rules for VB6.
You do you.
This is going to lead us to a larger point: “flexitarian” is up to interpretation.
Since there are multiple plans for semi-vegetarianism, how much meat you eat will really depend on your goals and motives.
Does Cutting out Meat Help You Lose Weight? (The Flexitarian Diet and Weight Loss)
Many proponents of flexitarianism will claim it can help with weight loss:
Mark Bittman created VB6 (Vegan before 6) after his doctor told him to lose some weight.
Dawn Jackson claims her Flexitarian Diet can help those struggling with obesity.