Dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of the The Flexitarian Diet which promotes a plant based diet without being anti-meat says ‘you don’t have to eliminate meat completely to reap the health benefits associated with vegetarianism’ which she claims are lower weight, lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and living a longer life.
To be ‘flexitarian’ means to be a flexible vegetarian having a small amount of animal based protein from time to time. It is a way of life rather than being a weight loss diet per se although there is evidence that vegetarians on average weigh about 15% less than meat eaters.
Those starting out on the Flexitarian Diet are encouraged to eliminate meat on two days per week. People at the advanced level will go meatless three to four days per week and those at the expert level go without meat five days per week. In any event, meat is not the focus of the meal but, at only 50g per day, it is more like a side dish.
In order to get adequate protein Blatner recommends plant based sources of protein not commonly eaten by meat eaters. She calls it “new meat” – tofu, beans, lentils, peas, nuts and seeds, as well as eggs. The diet also contains large quantities of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nut spreads and dairy.
The diet comprises 1500 calories in the ration of 3:4:5 – 300 calorie breakfast, 400 calorie lunch and 500 calorie dinner with two 150 calorie snacks.
It can be tweaked to suit your appetite to 6:4:5 by increasing breakfast to 600 calories; or reduced to 1200 by eliminating the snacks.
The Flexitarian Diet is an extremely healthy regime that has the added benefits of high fiber, plenty of antioxidants and phytochemicals, reduced saturated fat, sugar, salt, additives, preservatives and junk food. It is balanced and easily doable. If weight loss is your goal though, you will likely get there but it will be the slow way. Keeping the weight off will depend on whether you transform your eating habits permanently.