What does Flexitarian mean?
Flexitarian is the combination of two words, Flexible + Vegetarian. It is a new way to eat that minimizes meat without excluding it all together. You get the health benefits of a vegetarian diet without having to follow the strict rules.
Where did you come up with this concept?
I’ve been a vegetarian for over 15 years but ate meat on rare occasions. Every time I ate meat I felt like I was being a bad and lazy vegetarian. So I developed this style of eating for people who know that vegetarianism is one of the healthiest and smartest ways to eat but just don’t want to sit at a BBQ in the corner with an empty bun.
The word flexitarian has been around since at least 2003 when it was selected by the American Dialect Society as the most useful word of the year. This is the first and only guidebook available to teach people how to be a healthy flexitarian.
What is a typical day on The Flexitarian Diet?
A typical day has 3 meals and 2 snacks. Each day follows the 3, 4, 5 meal plan system: each breakfast contains 300 calories, each lunch 400 calories and each dinner is 500 calories. I recommend 2 snacks per day for 150 calories each. The diet is 1500 total calories per day – the perfect amount for most people to lose weight without sacrificing satisfaction. Depending on your activity level, gender, height and weight you may need slightly more or less calories. If you prefer a 1200 calorie plan you can omit the snacks and for an 1800 calorie plan you can double the portion at breakfast.
The book contains a flexible 5-week meal plan so you can mix-and-match any of the recipes to create a day that is perfect for your preferences and lifestyle. Here is a sample flexitarian day:
Does being a flexitarian mean I will have to eat tofu and salads all day?
Absolutely not! There are delicious tofu and salad recipes in the book but The Flexitarian Diet shows readers how to eat a wide variety of vegetarian foods that are hearty and filling. There are over 100 recipes that are quick, healthy and tasty to vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
How does a dieter get enough protein on the plan?
The diet focuses on plant-based proteins such as beans, nuts, and seeds. You need to eat about 50 grams of protein or more each day, which you will easily get from eating the daily 3 meals and 2 snacks in The Flexitarian Diet.
Do you have to cook a lot or be a good cook to eat this way?
All recipes in the book have only five main-ingredients and can be prepared by people with limited cooking skills on even the busiest days of the week.
Do you need any special ingredients to cook this way?
You will mostly find common ingredients, however this book will expose you to some new foods such as flaxseed oil, agave nectar, quinoa, leafy greens, and sunflower seed butter. In the book I explain why these ingredients are good for you, how to purchase them and how to use them in delicious recipes.
Is it easy to dine-out and follow this kind of diet?
Yes, most restaurants offer vegetarian entrees and other healthy options. The Flexitarian Diet includes specific strategies to help you make healthy choices when dining out.
Is it expensive to eat this way, especially with a lot of fruits and vegetables?
No, meat is one of the most expensive items on a grocery bill so swapping meat for veggie proteins such as beans and tofu can save you big money.
Will I be able to follow the plan if I don’t have access to a healthfood store?
Most of the ingredients can be found at traditional grocery stores. If you have difficulty finding any of the ingredients you can ask your grocery store manager to order it for you or start carrying it in the store. You can also visit on-line food vendors such as amazon.com.
What is your favorite part of the book?
I have two favorites, Flex Troubleshooters and Flex Recipes:
Flex Troubleshooters: These are tips to help overcome the hurdles of healthy changes and weight loss. They are diet survival strategies for the challenges life can throw at us. There are five types of trouble shooters (Fact Stack, Time Crunch, Craving Control, Out & About, Feeling Good) and there are over 50 of them sprinkled throughout the book.
Flex Recipes: About 60% of the book is recipes because I think it is important to give healthy, quick and tasty ways to actually incorporate vegetarian foods into your diet. The recipes can be mixed-and-matched to meet your individual preferences and lifestyle. All of the recipes have 5 main-ingredients, nutrition information, and a feature called “flex swaps” which are suggestions for recipe alterations and ingredient exchanges such as how to add chicken, turkey, fish or red meat to a vegetarian recipe.
What is your favorite recipe in the book?
I am a cooking instructor so all the recipes have been taste-tested by me, my family and my cooking class participants. My favorites are:
Dinner: Curried Quinoa Salad or Fried Brown Rice with Asparagus & Almonds (Golden Whisk award winning recipe)
What are some of the interesting vegetarian foods I can expect to read about in your book?
I outline many specific vegetarian foods and explain why they are good for you, how to purchase them and finally how to actually use them. Here is a small list of interesting vegetarian foods you may not have heard of or may not eat often that are discussed:
How is it different than all the other diet books?
The Flexitarian Diet is the first and only book written to teach readers how to be flexibly vegetarian. The plan outlines how to prepare and enjoy more vegetarian meals without drastically changing what you already eat and without denying your carnivorous cravings. The vegetarian diet has long been revered as the healthiest way to eat for weight loss and optimal health. Now for the first time you can get these vegetarian benefits without completely giving up meat.
What results can I expect on this diet?
Flexitarians weigh 15% less, have a lower rate of heart disease, diabetes and cancer and live 3.6 years longer than their carnivorous counterparts. The diet will help tame your cravings for processed junk food as you start eating and craving more whole and natural foods with less refined sugar, additives and preservatives. Finally this diet is ecologically-friendly. A vegetarian diet produces less carbon emissions than the typical meat-heavy American diet.
Are there any last comments you have about this diet that we haven’t discussed or is there anything that would surprise us in the book?
All of us are flexitarians to some degree already! If you have ever enjoyed a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, a slice of cheese pizza, a vegetable egg roll, a bowl of pasta with marinara, or a bean burrito you are on your way to flexitarianism! The Flexitarian Diet can enhance the flexitarian you already are.
Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, LDN
American Dietetic Association Media Spokesperson
Author of The Flexitarian Diet (McGraw-Hill, 2009)
Fitness Magazine Advisory Board Member
NBC Chicago Nutrition Expert
Chopping Block Cooking School Instructor
USA Today Food & Nutrition Blogger