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Trends in Nutrition: The Flexitarian diet

Listen to “Trends in Nutrition: The Flexitarian diet”.


If you’re looking to add more plant foods to your diet but don’t want to cut out meat completely, going flexitarian may be for you.

The Flexitarian Diet consists primarily of plant-based foods, but also allows meat and other animal products in moderation. It’s designed to be more flexible than fully vegetarian or vegan diets.

The Flexitarian Diet was created by dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner to help people reap the rewards of vegetarian eating, while still enjoying the occasional animal products. 

Whether becoming a vegetarian is a moral choice relating to the environment, a contentious decision over animal rights, or a pure desire to eat more healthily, it is not always easy to make the transition to an entirely plant-based diet after a lifetime of consuming animal products. 

The health benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets are well known, but some people find the meals too restrictive, especially when they first start out. Now, many people choose to start their transition with a flexitarian diet in a bid to gradually move toward vegetarianism. Others, however, are simply opting to be flexitarian. 

Many people are looking for a way to enjoy eating a healthier diet, one that also allows them to feel good about themselves and their food choices while still feeling satisfied with their meals.

The Flexitarian Diet has no clear-cut rules or recommendations when it comes to the numbers of calories and macronutrients. In fact, it’s more of a lifestyle than a diet which is based on the following principles:

  • Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
  • Focus on getting your protein from plants instead of animals.
  • Be flexible and incorporate meat and animal products from time to time.
  • Eat the least processed, most natural forms of food.
  • Limit added sugar and sweets.

The sudden increase in popularity of the flexitarian diet comes as a result of people taking a more environmentally sustainable approach to what they eat, by trying to reduce their meat consumption in exchange for alternative protein sources. 

The Flexitarian Diet encourages not only limiting the consumption of meat and animal products, but also highly processed foods, refined grains and added sugars.

Foods to minimize include:

  • Processed meats: Bacon, sausage, bologna.
  • Refined carbs: White bread, white rice, bagels, croissants.
  • Added sugar and sweets: Soda, doughnuts, cakes, cookies, candy.
  • Fast food: Fries, burgers, chicken nuggets, milkshakes.

There has been a growing awareness about our diets and how our eating habits affect not only our health but also our planet. The flexitarian diet provides a solution which is easy to follow and maintain. Add to that the increased animal welfare and environmental benefits, and it looks like this food trend is here to stay.

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