What Is The Flexitarian Diet?
“Flexitarian is semi-vegetarian, with a focus on eating mostly vegetarian meals, using meat in moderation or for flavoring,” says Lori Pollan, co-author with her sisters Dana and Tracy and mom, Corky, of Mostly Plants (HarperCollins, 2019).
“It’s all-inclusive and nonrestrictive,” Dana adds. “When people hear the word ‘diet,’ they immediately think ‘taking things away.’ But the beauty of flexitarian is that you eat everything. If you love meat, instead of eating it five nights a week, you cut down to two or three.”
Why Eat Flexitarian?
DANA: We get so many nutrients— vitamins, minerals and antioxidants—from plants that we won’t get from meat. It’s also a very sustainable way of eating; by cutting down meat consumption, we reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and save water.
LORI: Eating flexitarian helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes. It improves mental health and supports weight loss. It’s also a budget-friendly way to eat; legumes, beans and whole grains are cheaper than meat.
How to Eat Flexitarian
DANA: We are big proponents of Meatless Mondays, not eating meat one night a week.
LORI: Use meat as a flavoring instead of a main ingredient. For example, in a stir-fry, cut back meat by one-third and add more vegetables. You’re still getting the meat flavor.
DANA: Buy grass-fed beef, local and organic (if available), with no antibiotics. Budgetwise, grass-fed might be more expensive, but if you are eating meat less, then you can splurge on buying better quality.
DANA: Maintain a wellstocked pantry and freezer. Keep beans, boxes of pasta, legumes and grains. Buy root vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots—they last a long time. Store bags or containers of vegetables like spinach in the freezer; then pull out as needed.
LORI: In many dishes, you can swap in protein-laden lentils, chickpeas or beans for meat. There are also a number of whole grains, like quinoa, with protein.