Know All abou Flexitarian Diet 101: Overview & Health Benefits
A flexitarian diet is a mostly vegetarian diet with some animal products. Science suggests this diet can help with weight loss and boost your overall health! Here, find out answers to common questions like: What does a flexitarian eat?
What Is a Flexitarian Diet | Overview
The word flexitarian is simply the combination of the two words flexible and vegetarian, while a diet is simply a way of life. The theory behind the Flexitarian Diet is a more flexible approach to vegetarianism , so that you can still reap the benefits of loading up on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, without ditching animal products like steak and burgers entirely.
In the 2019 Best Diet
Rankings by U.S. News & World Report, the Flexitarian Diet was ranked No. 3 in the Best Diets Overall category, in terms of long-term health and disease prevention, and No. 2 in Best Diets for Diabetes. It was also ranked No. 2 in the Best Plant-Based Diets (second to the Mediterranean diet ). And unsurprisingly, the diet also took home second in the Easiest Diets to Follow categories in 2019, suggesting that its less-than-rigid nature makes it easy to follow and maintain. ( Here, learn about how the flexitarian diet works and find out whether the eating approach is right for your individual health and wellness goals.
Because of the recent health crisis, people have realized that there’s a middle ground of eating. Accessibility, cost (no expensive specialty products for “approved” versions of breads, snacks, etc), and in some cases, a general realignment of some internal values have led people to adjust their diets.
What Is the Flexitarian Diet?
The Flexitarian Diet was created by dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner to help people reap the benefits of vegetarian eating while still enjoying animal products in moderation.
That’s why the name of this diet is a combination of the words flexible and vegetarian.
Vegetarians eliminate meat and sometimes other animal foods, while vegans completely restrict meat, fish, eggs, dairy and all animal-derived food products.
Since flexitarians eat animal products, they’re not considered vegetarians or vegans The Flexitarian Diet has no clear-cut rules or recommended numbers of calories and macronutrients. In fact, it’s more a lifestyle than a diet.
It’s based on the following principles:
- Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
- Be flexible and incorporate meat and animal products from time to time.
- Eat the least processed, most natural form of foods.
- Limit added sugar and sweets.
Due to its flexible nature and focus on what to include rather than restrict, the Flexitarian Diet is a popular choice for people looking to eat healthier.
The creator of the Flexitarian Diet, Dawn Jackson Blatner spells out how to start eating flexitarian by incorporating certain amounts of meat per week in her book.
However, following her specific recommendations is not required to start eating in a flexitarian way. Some people on the diet may eat more animal products than others.
Overall, the goal is to eat more nutritious plant foods and less meat.
The Flexitarian Diet is a semi-vegetarian style of eating that encourages less meat and more plant-based foods. There are no specific rules or suggestions, making it an appealing option for people who are looking to cut back on animal products.
Possible Health Benefits
Eating flexitarian may provide several health benefits ( However, since there is no clear definition of this diet, it’s difficult to assess if and how researched benefits of other plant-based diets apply to the Flexitarian Diet.
Nevertheless, research on vegan and vegetarian diets is still helpful in highlighting how semi-vegetarian diets may promote health.
It appears to be important to eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and other minimally processed whole foods in order to reap the health benefits of plant-based eating.
Decreasing meat consumption while continuing to eat refined foods with lots of added sugar and salt will not lead to the same benefits.
Benefits of following a flexitarian lifestyle:
Reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancers. While technically there’s no published research on the benefits of flexitarian eating, there is extensive research supporting the health benefits of eating vegetarian. The foundation of the flexitarian lifestyle is to consume more plants and fewer animal products. Ultimately, increasing nutrient density and phytochemical intake will lead to a healthy heart, balanced blood sugar, and lowers the risk of cancer.
Promotes a healthy weight because flexitarians’ foods are naturally nutrient-dense, which means they provide a lot of nutrition for not a lot of calories.
Supports a healthy digestive system from the high fiber content of plant-based foods.
Preserves the environment. By eating more plant-based foods and fewer animal products you’re helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preserve Mother Earth.
Flexibility, meaning there are no hardcore rules or restrictions giving you the freedom to choose how you will implement.
Foods Flexitarian’s Eat
Flexitarian’s generally like minimally processed plant-based foods and try to have a diet and try to limit animal products.
Protein sources include:
- Legumes, grains, chickpeas, poultry, red meat, fish, tofu, eggs Vegetables:
- Leafy greens, peppers, zucchini, carrots, sweet potato, peas, butternut squash Fruits:
- Oranges, apples, bananas, berries, grapefruit, grapes, avocado Nuts and seeds:
- Cashews, almonds, macadamia, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, nut butters Dairy.