The origins

The flexitarian diet came about with the marriage of two words: Flexible and Vegetarian. As the name indicates, the flexitarian diet plan incorporates more plant-based foods and occasionally meat. According to a recent study, flexitarianism is an integral solution for climate change, water supply, and pollution. It was coined in 2009 by registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner in her book “The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life.” 

What foods do flexitarians eat?

A flexitarian diet is more than 90 percent vegetarian and plant-based and ten percent or less of meat and meat-based products. To be precise, Blatner, in her book, indicates up to 28 ounces of lean meat per week as the maximum intake. 

The main idea behind the flexitarian diet is to incorporate healthy eating habits. Hence it does not focus on omitting any food products but rather reducing their everyday consumption. Thus, the diet tries to be all-inclusive but restricts the amount of animal protein, processed foods, and beverages one consumes.

Flexitarian food list

If you are contemplating whether to get on the flexitarian diet, here is a go-to list of foods that are part of flexitarian recipes. It will help you get a glimpse of what everyday flexitarian meals would look like.

Flexitarian diets mostly consist of:

  • Fruits.
  • Vegetables.
  • Plant proteins (beans such as black, kidney or navy, edamame, chickpeas, lentils, tofu).
  • Whole grains (brown rice, oats, barley, quinoa).
  • Plant-based milk (although dairy milk is OK in moderation).
  • Eggs.
  • Dairy (cheese, yogurt, or dairy alternatives).
  • Nuts, nut butter, seeds, and healthy fats.
  • Oils, herbs, and spices.

A flexitarian diet has very less:

  • Meat and poultry (lean cuts of beef, chicken breast, turkey breast).
  • Fish (salmon, tilapia, cod, shrimp).
  • Food with added sugar or refined carbohydrates.

Flexitarian diet pros and cons

The diet has multiple health benefits like weight loss, lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and living 3.6 years longer, according to Blatner. It also has some side effects, like nutrition deficiencies. Here is a list of the pros and cons of the flexitarian diet plan.


  • Since the flexitarian diet has no strict rules and suggestions, one can shape their flexitarian diet plan to leave room for cravings. 
  • It is an appealing option for people trying to cut down on their meat consumption but still can enjoy a steak now and then.
  • It helps contribute to reducing the carbon footprint created by the meat and dairy industry.


One should also be aware that reducing meat consumption may lead to nutrient deficiencies depending upon their daily food choices. Some of the possible nutrition deficiencies found in people consuming a flexitarian diet are:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

Therefore ensuring these nutrients are well supplemented in your food choices is key to following a wholesome flexitarian diet.


Opting to be a flexitarian is one of the best ways to reduce meat consumption. The flexitarian diet plan helps reduce the health risks associated with everyday meat consumption. However, if you are considering changing your everyday diet, kindly consult your health care provider or nutritionist to find your best diet.