What Is the Flexitarian Diet? (Exploring “Semi-Vegetarians”)
The Flexitarian Diet is a plant-based or vegetarian style of eating that allows for some animal products in moderation.
“Flex” comes from “flexible” and “tarian” comes from “vegetarian,” so a flexitarian is more or less a “flexible vegetarian.”
In 2012, the term “flexitarian” actually entered the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “one whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish.”
Another way to think of flexitarians would be as “semi-vegetarians.”
This version of semi-vegetarianism was first formulated by dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, in her book The Flexitarian Diet.
In Blanter’s word:
“You can think of this diet as a ‘vegetarian-ish’ way of eating since this plan touts the basic principles and benefits of a plant-based diet, along with the inclusion of some animal proteins to a lesser extent.”
The goal of the Flexitarian Diet would be to minimize or reduce the frequency of eating meat, without removing it completely.
This is what separates flexitarians from normal omnivores: the former are actively trying to limit meat consumption.
Flexitarians just don’t want to eliminate meat 100% (for health or personal reasons), so they allow some into their diet.
What Do Flexitarians Eat? (The Flexitarian Diet Plan)
Since the Flexitarian Diet actively tries to reduce the consumption of meat, the meal plan will be predominantly plant-based.
Your plant-based food choices on the Flexitarian Diet plan will include:
Whole grains. Rice, oats, barley, and buckwheat would all be examples of whole grains. Most plant-based diets include a sizable amount of whole grains as their base.
Vegetables. Of course, even semi-vegetarian diets are going to include lots of vegetables! And they should because vegetables are great for you! They’re packed full of nutrients, fiber, and generally low in calories. Most people could stand to eat more veggies. If you find yourself not being able to stomach greens, I got you. Check out this post for tips on how to turn around any vegetable hater.
Legumes. Beans, lentils, and soy make up the legume family. When cutting out meat, legumes would be a great way to get protein (more on this to follow).
Fruit. Bananas, apples, and oranges all come from plants, so all are vegetarian-friendly. While high in fructose (sugar), they are also nutrient-dense. Our general stance on fruit around these parts is to eat “stick to whole fruit, avoid fruit juices.”
Nuts and seeds. Again, they come from plants, so almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds are good to go on any vegetarian plan you pick. So is quinoa, which although is often thought of as a grain, is actually a seed. Mind=blown.
Nuts and seeds, although high in fat and calories, are another great way to get protein on a semi-vegetarian diet.
Have as much of the above as you like (assuming it meets your calorie goals).
I know you’re curious about meat consumption and the Flexitarian Diet