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I've been following The Flexitarian Diet (my book is actually falling apart!) and have lost 28.5 pounds!
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 altogether. You get the health benefits of a vegetarian diet without having to follow the strict rules.
How did you come up with this concept?
I’d been a vegetarian for over 10 years but ate meat on rare occasions. Every time I ate meat I felt like I was being a bad, 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 don’t want to sit in the corner at a BBQ 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 to date only guidebook available to teach people how to be a healthy flexitarian.
How much meat can you eat on a Flexitarian Diet?
I have developed three flexitarian levels: Beginner, Advanced, and Expert. Depending on how much meat you eat, you will fall into one of those categories. The MOST IMPORTANT part of flexitarianism is not how many meatless days you have, but how many more vegetarian meals you prepare, and eating more vegetarian foods such as beans, nuts, whole grains, and produce.
Beginner: 2 meatless days per week (26 ounces of meat or poultry per week)
Advanced: 3-4 meatless days per week (18 ounces of meat or poultry per week)
Expert: 5 meatless days per week (9 ounces of meat or poultry per week)
If I become a flexitarian will I ever get to eat steaks again?
Steaks, and other meats and poultry, are all part of the flexitarian diet! However, you may not eat quite as big a steak or eat steak quite as often, because you will be too busy enjoying flavorful and satisfying meatless meals. The flexitarian diet is an inclusive plan, meaning it does not take foods away but instead adds new foods to those you already eat.
What is a typical day in a Flexitarian Diet?
The book contains a flexible 5-week meal plan. A typical day would have 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 500 calories. I recommend 2 snacks per day at 150 calories each. The total diet is 1500 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 fewer 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.
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 1500-calorie flexitarian day:
Breakfast: Green Apple & Sun Butter Toast
Lunch: Southwest Guacamole Burger
Dinner: Cilantro Peanut Stir Fry
Snacks: 1) Cracked Pepper & Salt Pita Chips and 2) Peach & Raspberry Crepe
Does being a flexitarian mean I will have to eat tofu and salads all day?
Absolutely not! There are a few 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 – no boring rabbit food here! The over 100 recipes are quick and healthy, but most importantly are tasty to vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
Will I be able to follow the flexitarian diet if I don’t have access to a health food 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 and/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 troubleshooters (Fact Stack, Time Crunch, Craving Control, Out & About, and Feeling Good) and there are over 50 of them sprinkled through 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. There over 100 recipes that can all be mixed-and-matched to meet your individual preferences and lifestyle. All of the recipes have about five ingredients, contain nutrition information, and have 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 tested by me, my family and/or my cooking class participants.
My favorites are:
Breakfast: Apple & Almond Butter Toast or Sunflower Raisin Oatmeal
Lunch: Avocado & Black Bean Wraps or Marinated Garden Lentil Pita
Dinner: Curried Quinoa Salad or Fried Beans & Garlic Greens
Snacks: Pizza Popcorn or Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries
How is this book different than all the other diet books?
The Flexitarian Diet is the first and only book written to teach readers how to be flexible and casual vegetarians. The Flexitarian Diet outlines how to prepare and enjoy more vegetarian foods and meals without drastically changing what we already eat and without denying our carnivorous cravings. The vegetarian diet has long been revered as the healthiest way to eat for weight loss and optimal health and now we can get these vegetarian benefits without following the strict rules.
What are some of the interesting vegetarian foods we 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 prepare them. Here is just a small list of interesting vegetarian foods readers may not have heard of or may not eat often that are discussed:
Sunflower seed butter
What are the results one can 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. Readers can also expect the diet to help tame their cravings for processed and junk foods as they start eating more whole and natural foods with less refined sugar, additives, and preservatives. Finally this diet is ecologically friendly, since a vegetarian diet produces fewer carbon emissions than the typical meat-heavy American diet.
Are there any final comments you have about this diet that we haven’t discussed? 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 already on your way to flexitarianism! The Flexitarian Diet can enhance the flexitarian you already are.