What is a Flexitarian Diet?

Have you ever been tempted to go vegetarian but are scared those cravings for a juicy burger or grilled steak will derail you before even getting started? Enter the flexitarian diet. Finally a diet that gives you the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle without the guilt associated with the occasional steak or cheeseburger. Indeed, “the most important part of flexitarianism,” says registered dietician and author Dawn Jackson Blatner, “is not how many meatless days or meals, but how many more vegetarian meals” you eat. The flexitarian diet is about building a mindset that promotes healthy eating habits for the rest of your life.

The flexitarian diet (sometimes known as a semi-vegetarian diet) is for people who want the benefits of a vegetarian diet but don’t want to give up meat all together. With a flexitarian diet, your lean proteins aren’t restricted to plant-based options, giving you a wider variety of recipes to choose from. That’s important because meal stagnation (simply getting bored with what you’re eating) is one of the most common causes for dieting failure in America.

Why a Flexitarian Diet May Be the Best Option for You

By subbing veggies and nutrient rich foods for other, higher-calorie meal options you reduce your intake of:

  • Saturated fat
  • Excess calories
  • Cholesterol

Plus you boost your intake of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients essential for proper body chemistry. Vegetarian diets are generally high in:

  • Vitamins B, C, and E
  • Folic Acid
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Antioxidants
  • Iron

And many more!

But what does that dietary change really translate to?

The Physical Benefits of a Flexitarian Diet

What good are these body chemistry changes if they don’t benefit your overall health? Well, they do!

A review of literature surrounding Flexitarian diets found that flexitarian diets are:

  • Scientifically proven to lower LDL or “Bad” cholesterol
  • Linked to decreased blood pressure and improved heart rate
  • Suspected of reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Additionally, several studies have focused on the benefits of flexitarian diets for the treatment of digestive disorders such as Crohn’s Disease and IBS.

Weight Loss on a Flexitarian Diet

Eating your veggies is a great way to get the nutrients your body needs. But there’s more to a flexitarian diet than just feeling better. You may be able to lose weight too.

How it works (in short form):  When you replace meat meals with vegetarian recipes you automatically set yourself up for weight loss success.

While it’s important to consume lean protein, the typical “meat eater” consumes far more calories per meal than a typical vegetarian. Those extra calories (if not burned off through exercise) are converted into fat and stored in “Trouble Areas” like the hips, the stomach, and the behind. By eliminating a significant portion of those excess calories, Flexitarians can allow their bodies to use stored fat for fuel—resulting in the shedding of unwanted pounds.

But the basis of a flexitarian diet isn’t about completely eliminating meat. Instead, by choosing to more frequently consume low (or lower) calorie and nutrient-rich foods you retrain your body to work the way it was intended to.

Use these 3 quick and easy flexitarian guidelines to get started:

  1. Load up on greens and other vegetables
  2. Sub out meat for nutrient-packed beans, quinoa or lentils
  3. Opt for meat substitutes like tofu, tempeh or other soy-based products

Another quick and easy way to sub-out a meat meal for a veggie-filled option is to use Hollywood Cookie Diet® products as meal replacements. These great-tasting little treats have all the nutrients you need and a taste you’ll love. Plus they contain natural plant-based nutrition from enriched wheat flour, raisins, rolled oats, soy bean oil and more.

(Quick disclaimer—these products are not 100% vegetarian. They do contain whey protein and egg whites—which makes them the perfect meal replacement options for people following a flexitarian diet!)

If a flexitarian diet sounds tempting to you but you’re still unsure if you can give up meat most of the time, try these great veggie-based recipes below!

More Flexitarian Recipes from The Hollywood Diet®

Curb meat cravings with these excellent flexitarian vegetable-based recipes.

In the mood for something savory and a little spicy? Try our Southwest Black Bean Salad to satisfy that Tex-Mex hunger.

Want something fried and crunchy? This Turmeric Chick Pea Cakes will keep you away from the chicken.

How about a hearty meal for those cold rainy days? This Vegetarian Lentil and Pumpkin Stew is so thick you won’t even notice there’s no beef in it.