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You’ve heard of vegan, vegetarian, or even fruitarian – but flexitarian?

Meet the flexitarian, the person whom dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner wants you to be. In her book The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life, Blatner introduces the concept of a vegetarian diet that lets you eat meat on the side.

Perhaps you’ve heard of vegetarians who do not surrender their love for meat entirely. But the word itself is relatively new. “Flexitarian” is a portmanteau of “vegetarian” and “flexible,” hence a diet characterized by lots of plants, but accommodating some meat.

Vegetarianism is one of the most widely accepted ways of eating. The reason for this is that its benefits are heavily backed by science. Research shows the average vegetarian outlives non-vegetarians by 3.6 years. Overweight and obese people may also be interested to know the average vegetarian weighs 15 percent less than a non-vegetarian.

Yet Blatner insists you can adulterate your vegetarian diet by including some meat. She says you could lose as much as 30 pounds if you follow this eating style for six to 12 months.

Short of ignoring it completely, consuming meat to a minimum does great good for your wallet as it would the environment. It is no secret that meats are often the priciest items in the supermarket. Producing them is a surefire way to send more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

If you’re planning to switch to a vegetarian diet, the Flexitarian Diet is a good way to start. Consider it a transitional phase between forsaking flesh and devoting yourself wholly to leaves and stalks.

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How the Flexitarian Diet works

Flexibility is king in this diet, as its name implies. The menu is very flexible, as are the physical activity options.

There are three levels to this diet, to wit: expert, advanced, and beginner. As a beginner, you are urged to eat no meat for two days per week. You can only indulge in as much as 26 ounces of meat or poultry per week. In the advanced level, raise your no-meat days to three or four but decrease meat/poultry allowance to 18 ounces per week. As an expert flexitarian, further increase the meatless days to five while letting your meat allowance slide to 9 ounces a week.

Whichever level you are in, you should always remember to eat less meat. Relegate it to something akin to a side dish. In effect, you are to fill most of your platter with plant foods, e.g. beans, nuts, and whole grains.

On top of her food recommendations, Blatner encourages contorting physical activity into your busy schedule. Her book lists five “flex fitness factors” towards this end.

Constantly refer to Blatner’s motivational tips, which are scattered throughout the tome. Called “flex troubleshooters,” these tips would help you surmount the biggest impediments to reducing your meat intake.

What you can eat on the Flexitarian Diet

This diet can be described as mainly fresh or seasonal produce. However Blatner is not above recommending anything from the refrigerator or pantry. Some of the foods she recommends are not even found in the grocery, e.g. sunflower seed butter, kefir, and tofu mousse. You may have to go to health food vendors for these products.

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Even though meat is relatively restricted, you are not unheard of to eat 50 g protein every day. In all, your daily calorie allowance on the diet is 1,500, which you must apportion into three meals and two in-betweens. Breakfast may be 300 calories; lunch 400; and dinner 500. Each in-between or snack may amount no more than 150.

By choosing not to take snacks, you can reduce daily calories to 1,200. Conversely, you can increase to 1,800 by multiplying the portion size for breakfast twice.

Blatner is not only a dietitian but also an adroit cook. As a result, she has written more than a hundred easy-to-make recipes in the book. For each, she gives you a choice of a “flex swap” for including animal meat.

Living up to its billing, the meal plans recommended by Blatner can be personalized as you please. Blatner suggests five weeks’ worth of meal plans in the book, which you can mix and match.

Here is a sample daily meal plan:

  • Breakfast: apple and almond butter toast
  • Lunch: marinated garden lentil pita
  • Dinner: curried quinoa salad, fried brown rice with almonds and asparagus
  • Snacks: chocolate mousse with raspberries

If you are eating out, the book gives away tips to make informed decisions when ordering.

Experts weigh in the Flexitarian Diet

According to critics, the Flexitarian Diet sets a prime example that you do not have to surrender much food to eat healthy. Healthy eating is not supposed to be rigid.

Experts agree with Blatner; most foods can suit you. Ideally, plants rich in phytochemicals should form the fulcrum of your diet. This kind of food never fails to be low-calorie yet filling.

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Meanwhile, experts suggest avoiding fatty meat and limiting your intake to 4 ounces of lean cuts to amass calorie savings.


Blatner’s Flexitarian Diet is neither helplessly vegetarian nor is it anti-meat all the way. You may call it semi-vegetarianism – but what’s in a word?

You may not know it but you are already on a flexitarian diet. Grilled cheese sandwiches, veggie pizza, eggplant Parmesan, bean burritos – these are all vegetarian fare. The Flexitarian Diet takes the stakes higher and includes more meat.

Combined with a 100% vegetarian fat binding supplement like Proactol, this diet is a marvelous way to save yourself from disease, save money, and save the earth.

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