Flexitarian Meal Plan Guide For 2023: Benefits, Food List & Meal Plan

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Perhaps you’re considering going vegetarian or vegan but don’t feel you can cut out animal products completely. If that’s the case, you may want to consider following a flexitarian meal plan.

A flexitarian diet focuses on plant-based foods, with occasional animal products and meat consumption. This lifestyle is similar to a flexible vegetarian diet, hence the name.

Continue reading to learn more about this semi-vegetarian diet, including what to eat, tips, and convenient meal delivery services that work with a flexitarian lifestyle.

How Does The Flexitarian Diet Work Exactly?

Dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner created the flexitarian diet as a way for people to benefit from consuming more plant foods without having to give up meat and dairy entirely. A flexitarian diet primarily consists of whole grains, produce, and legumes. So you don’t have to completely cut out food groups with a flexitarian diet, though the goal is to limit animal products and processed foods.

There are no exact rules, though some people follow a five-day on, two-day off method. In this case, you would eat plant-based foods for five days out of the week. On the two days you eat meat, ensure you consume fewer than nine ounces per day. Otherwise, you can spread your meat and animal product consumption throughout the week.

What To Eat And Drink On The Flexitarian Diet?

The primary focus for a flexitarian diet should be on consuming plant proteins and vegetarian/vegan replacements that are as unprocessed as possible. Below is a list of food to focus on while pursuing this lifestyle:

  • Proteins: legumes, lentils, tofu, tempeh
  • Vegetables (starchy + non-starchy): squash, green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, etc.
  • Fruits: oranges, berries, apples, grapes
  • Healthy fats: olive oil, avocado, seeds, nuts, peanut butter
  • Whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat
  • Milk alternatives (unsweetened): almond, coconut, hemp milk

When you add dairy and meat into your diet, focus on organic, pasture-raised, antibiotic-free, grass-fed, free-range, wild-caught fatty fish options.

Is It Hard To Follow A Flexitarian Diet?

Many people choose a flexitarian diet because it’s easier to follow than a strict vegetarian or vegan diet. The meals are straightforward and healthy, offering a convenient approach to a healthy lifestyle.

However, it may be more challenging for some people as it includes more plant-based meals than they may be used to. When switching to a flexitarian lifestyle, the most important factor is ensuring you have a proper meal plan in place to avoid any nutrient deficiencies.

Who Is This Diet A Good Fit For?

This diet is ideal for those who are interested in a healthy lifestyle. Many select this diet as it comes with potential health benefits and the possibility to lose weight. 

As the focus is on a mainly plant-based diet, you’ll consume many foods high in nutrients. These nutrient-packed foods combined with the avoidance of processed foods can help provide health benefits, such as a potentially lower risk of cancer.

Possible Health Benefits Of A Flexitarian Diet

As mentioned, many potential health benefits can occur when following this lifestyle. For example, you may find your blood pressure is lower when consuming a flexitarian meal plan. Additional potential benefits include weight loss and more manageable type 2 diabetes.

It’s important to note that these potential benefits go hand in hand with consuming a nutrient-rich, primarily plant-based diet. If you consume plant foods that are overly processed or focus on meals that do not have items from each food group, you likely won’t see these health benefits.

Best Meal Delivery Services For Flexitarian Diet Meal Plan

Green Chef

Green Chef is an excellent option if you want a meal delivery company with many healthy meals that fit a flexitarian diet plan.

The Green Chef meal plan is made with all organic ingredients (Green Chef is a USDA-approved meal kit company), the ideal carbs, protein, and veg to help you stay full and feel your best. You can also choose whether you want the meals to include meat or fish or go all vegan and vegetarian.

Green Chef Flexitarian diet Meals To Try

  • Southwest Tomato & Black Bean Soup Coconut Milk And Cholula
  • Plant-Based Kale & Bean Stuffed Peppers Over Garlic Cilantro rice
  • Maple Carrot Power Bowl With Turmeric-Spiced Whole Grains Pearl Couscous & Tahini
  • Southwest Zucchini Boats Stuffed With Rice & Black Beans
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Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon

This meal delivery company has an impressive 100+ meal options weekly. Each meal is crafted by Martha Stewart, ensuring flavorful choices are available.

The ingredients are locally sourced, with many from artisanal suppliers. You can select between vegetarian and vegan menu items and meals containing antibiotic-free and grass-fed meat.

Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon Flexitarian Diet Meals To Try

  • Martha’s Classic One-Skillet Tomato & Pesto Pasta
  • Plant-Based Ground “Beef” Chili & Jasmine Rice
  • Tex-Mex Tofu Tinga Tacos with Avocado Crema
  • Hummus & Curried Veggie Wrap with Za’atar Mixed Green Salad
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Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh, maybe the most popular meal kit company in the US, is another amazing service that provides options for vegetarian dishes, plant-based and meat-based recipes.

With 100+ menu options weekly, you’re sure to find meals that fit your taste preferences and a healthy flexitarian diet lifestyle.

The Hello Fresh service is known for its use of only high-quality ingredients. If you select meals with meat, you can be assured that it’s high-quality meat sourced from organic or cruelty-free farms.

Hello Fresh Flexitarian Diet Meals To Try

  • Zucchini & Snap Pea Bibimbap Bowls with Sweet Sesame Sauce
  • Mediterranean Diet Turkish-Spiced Chickpea Wraps with Zucchini, Zesty Rice & Lemony Hummus
  • Cheesy BBQ Tofu Subs with Pickled Veggies, Roasted Broccoli & Garlic Lime Mayo
  • Honey Miso Broccoli & Baked Sweet Potato Donburi with Scallion Rice & Sriracha Mayo
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Dinnerly

If you’re interested in a more budget-friendly option, Dinnerly is a great choice – With the meal’s price starting at around $5 per serving! This meal kit service provides simple recipes that are easy to craft at home.

Multiple vegetarian and vegan dishes are available each week, plus recipes that include antibiotic-free poultry. Dairy-free choices are also listed weekly.

Dinnerly Flexitarian Diet Meals To Try

  • Broccoli Parm Hero with Italian Green Salad
  • Vegetarian Chili Cheese Fries with Black Beans & Sweet Potatoes
  • Spinach & Cheddar Skillet Rice with Smoky Chickpeas
  • Ready Made Cheese Enchiladas with Corn & Black Beans
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Factor

Factor provides premade meals directly to your door that can easily be heated in the microwave or oven.

Factor has recently expanded its meal plan options to include vegan and vegetarian dishes that forgo meat and can support flexitarian, vegetarian, and vegan diets.

Additionally, their meals which include animal products, use pasture-raised or grass-fed meat, which is ideal for the flexitarian meal plan.

Factor Flexitarian Diet Meals To Try

  • Blackened Tofu with Cajun Broccoli, Peppers & Vegan Remoulade
  • Vegetable Ratatouille with Mascarpone Polenta
  • Carrot-Orange-Ginger Cold-Pressed Juice
  • Chickpea Curry with Forbidden Rice Blend & Ginger Green Beans
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How Much Does It Cost?

Ultimately, the price for a meal delivery service depends on which option you select. Some delivery companies are more budget-friendly, such as Dinnerly. While others, like Factor, offer discounts for higher quantities of meals.

Before signing up for a meal delivery service, research the cost to ensure it fits within your budget.

Am I Supposed To Exercise On A Flexitarian Diet?

While not necessary, it is encouraged to include exercise while on a flexitarian diet. The exercise goal for this diet is 30 minutes per day at a moderate intensity. Or, you can work out at a high intensity for 20 minutes three times a week.

Potential Benefits Of Going Flexitarian

Boosts Heart Health

This diet is full of healthy fats and fiber, making it ideal for heart health. Multiple studies have found that vegetarians and pescatarians typically have lower rates of heart disease. While the flexitarian diet does contain meat products, it’s primarily plant-based. So, you will likely see heart health benefits.

Can Lower The Risk Of Insulin Resistance And Type 2 Diabetes

As there is a connection between type 2 diabetes and weight, eating flexitarian may help lower the risk or make it more manageable. Stored fat in muscles can lead to insulin resistance. Since this lifestyle may help you lose weight, it can potentially aid in decreasing the fat which causes this resistance. Additionally, this diet includes healthy, low-sugar, plant-based foods. Multiple studies have shown a potential link between plant-based eating and a beneficial impact on type 2 diabetes.

May Aid With Weight Loss

Since one of the guidelines of the flexitarian diet is limiting processed foods, you may see weight loss. Processed foods are typically low in nutrients and high in calories, which can make you feel hungrier even when eating more. By consuming foods rich in fiber, protein, and nutrients, you’ll likely feel full for longer.

Improves Skin Health

Consuming more plants can help your skin glow. For example, eating produces rich in vitamins A, C, and E can decrease inflammation, protect against UV damage, and help rid your skin of free radicals.

Plant-Based Foods Are Better For The Planet

The meat industry has been shown to contribute an alarming amount of greenhouse gas emissions. By limiting how much meat you’re eating, you can cut down on your carbon footprint significantly.

May Help You Save Time & Money

Unlike some diets which require specific pricey supplements or ingredients, the flexitarian plan is straightforward. You can choose which ingredients to incorporate into your diet, allowing you to stay within your budget better. Additionally, you can save time on grocery shopping, meal prep, and cleanup by using meal plans making this diet convenient and easy to follow.

7-Day Sample Menu – Foods To Eat On The Flexitarian Diet Meal Plan

Use the below ideas to help you get started with a flexitarian lifestyle and eat less meat.

Monday

  • Breakfast: smoothie bowl with granola and fresh fruit on top
  • Lunch: PB & j on whole grain bread using locally made jam
  • Dinner: baked chicken with farro and steamed broccoli

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: avocado toast with tomatoes, whole grains, and an egg
  • Lunch: lettuce wraps with hummus, tomatoes, and cucumbers
  • Dinner: grilled salmon, sweet potato fries, and vegetables

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: old fashioned or steel-cut oats with chia seeds, fresh fruit, and nut butter
  • Lunch: chili with vegetables and legumes
  • Dinner: kale salad with chickpeas and vegetable soup

Thursday

  • Breakfast: non-dairy yogurt with granola and fresh fruit
  • Lunch: savory oats with beets, kale, and pumpkin seeds
  • Dinner: zucchini noodles with marinara sauce and tofu

Friday

  • Breakfast: tofu scramble with onions, bell peppers, and spinach
  • Lunch: quinoa salad with fresh spinach, strawberries, and a vinegar drizzle
  • Dinner: lentil noodles, sliced tomatoes, olive oil

Saturday

  • Breakfast: pan-fried eggs with squash and fresh fruit on the side
  • Lunch: brown rice, black beans, salsa, avocado, grilled vegetables
  • Dinner: lentil soup, whole grain bread, fresh tomato slices, fresh mozzarella cheese

Sunday

  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt with homemade granola, bananas, and strawberries
  • Lunch: fresh chopped salad with vinaigrette, pumpkin seeds, and roasted squash
  • Dinner: quinoa burgers wrapped in lettuce, served with sweet potato fries

Final Notes On The Flexitarian Meal Plan

Whether you’re focusing on a more-eco friendly diet, pursuing a healthier lifestyle, or simply want to eat fewer animal products, the flexitarian meal plan is a great option. Since no food groups are cut out completely, this diet is more sustainable than other options, such as keto.

You can make following a flexitarian diet more convenient by ordering from one of the above meal delivery companies. Most offer balanced meals to help you avoid nutrient deficiencies.

If you’re unsure what to include in your meal plan, work with a dietician or nutritionist to ensure your weekly recipes allow you to hit nutrient goals.

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Related FAQ’s

As mentioned, there is not a strict meal schedule for flexitarians. However, some flexitarians will eat meat once or twice per week on their chosen days.

Yes, flexitarians eat dairy. However, dairy is also limited when consuming a flexitarian diet. Most meals will instead have a non-dairy replacement.

While the main idea of eating plant-based foods is the same, there is a difference between these two diets. As the name ‘Flexitarian’ indicates, this diet is a more flexible vegetarian. The flexitarian diet is defined more by what you choose to focus on than what you choose to exclude. Most flexitarian diet followers consider themselves mostly plant-based eaters while occasionally consuming animal products.

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