Flexitarian Diet: Benefits, Meal Plan, & How Does it Work

Medically reviewed by Olesya Wilson, Certified Nutritionist
Written by Payal Karnik, Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach
Edited by Ravi Teja Tadimalla, Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health
Fact-checked by Himanshi Mahajan, Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach  • 

A flexitarian diet strikes the ideal balance between sustainability and health. This flexible way of eating is all about incorporating more plants into your meals while still allowing for the occasional inclusion of meat, fish, and dairy products. This dietary approach not only improves your health but also reduces the adverse environmental effects of eating meat. With the flexitarian diet, you can simply enjoy your favorite foods in a more sustainable and balanced way, rather than having to give them up entirely. Due to the smooth shift to vegetarianism, veganism, or ethical eating it offers without the stress of strict dietary adherence, this diet may also be therapeutic for some people. Join the flexitarian movement now to explore a world of delicious, environmentally friendly, and nutritious eating. Keep reading to learn more!

protip_icon At A Glance: Flexitarian Diet
  • Principle: A transitional plant-based diet with occasional consumption of meat and fish.
  • Purpose: To develop sustainable yet healthy eating habits.
  • Who Is It For: People who want to eat ethically without completely converting to vegetarianism or veganism.
  • Duration: Long-term
  • Who Should Avoid: People with diabetes, celiac disease, or nutrient deficiencies, pregnant or lactating individuals, and people who are underweight.
  • Cons: Limited options for those making a transition, may lack essential nutrients, and may result in overconsumption of meat due to deprivation.

What Is A Flexitarian Diet?

Flexitarianism is the new buzzword in the world of plant-based diets. The term “flexitarian” is a combination of the words ‘flexible’ and ‘vegetarian,’ which means it is a more moderate and balanced approach to eating.

It is a plant-based diet that allows for the occasional consumption of meat, fish, and dairy products for a healthy lifestyle. Basically, it emphasizes eating mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. This type of diet is considered a more balanced approach to eating as it promotes the health benefits of a plant-based diet while also allowing for the inclusion of animal products for those who choose to consume them (1).

In recent years, the popularity of vegetarian diets has been on the rise. There are several reasons for this trend, including increasing awareness of the health benefits of plant-based diets, concerns about the environmental impact of meat production, and ethical concerns about the treatment of animals.

The diet also allows for a more gradual shift toward a plant-based and meatless diet for those who may not be ready to commit to an entirely vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. So, if you are an Omnivore, Carnitarian, or Pescatarian looking for a fish or meat reduction plan, this balanced diet might be suitable for you.

Overall, the flexitarian diet is a healthy and sustainable way of eating that can support overall health and well-being. The following section will explain how this diet works and how it can help you stay healthier.

How Does A Flexitarian Diet Work?

A flexitarian diet is a more pragmatic approach to vegetarianism or veganism. It allows you to adjust the frequency of meat consumption according to your dietary needs and preferences. For instance, some people may eat meat 2-3 times a week, while others may consume meat only once a week.

It is crucial to understand that the flexitarian diet does not necessarily involve eating minimal meat, but rather it emphasizes plant-based foods while still allowing for the odd consumption of animal products. Due to this, it helps in reducing meat consumption and may help you move towards a meat-free lifestyle. Here are some tips to follow the diet effectively:

  • Start by incorporating more plant-based and meat-alternative foods into your meals. Try to make these items the star of your meals, and use animal products as more of a side dish or a condiment.
  • Make an effort to eat at least one vegetarian or vegan meal daily. This can be for lunch, dinner, or both. This is a fantastic method to increase your intake of plant-based foods without feeling too restricted.
  • Pay attention to portion sizes. If you do decide to consume animal products, strive to limit your intake and make sure your diet is well-balanced with plant-based meals.
  • Plan ahead. Making healthy decisions when traveling can be facilitated by planning your meals and snacks. This can be accomplished by carrying your own lunch, keeping nutritious snacks on hand, or cooking meals in advance.
  • Be adaptive and open-minded. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up or end up eating out something that is not 100% plant-based. After all, the flexitarian diet is all about flexibility.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Surround yourself with friends, family, or a support group who will encourage and support you in your diet goals when you start out on the flexitarian diet.

Find a balance that suits you and enables you to take advantage of various delicious and healthy foods while being conscientious of the environment and your general health. The following section has more information on these benefits.

Flexitarian Diet: Pros And Cons

As always, there are several pros and cons of the flexitarian diet:

Following a flexitarian diet helps in weight managementPros
  1. May Increase Nutrient Intake

The flexitarian diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, which are all nutrient-dense foods that provide essential vitamins and minerals. Studies have shown that vegetarians and vegans consume more folate, vitamin E, and magnesium compared to meat eaters. Vegans also consume more vitamins B1, B6, and C (2).

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