Going flexitarian? Here’s our guide.

These four steps hit the key elements of a flexitarian diet.

Step 1. Start with plants. Vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, soy foods, and whole grains are your base.

Step 2. Add optional dairy. You can add one serving—1 cup of milk, 1 oz. of cheese, or 5 oz. of yogurt—per day.

Step 3. Add optional seafood, poultry, or eggs. You can add one small serving—3½ oz. raw (about 3 oz. cooked) or 1 egg—per day.

Step 4. Trade seafood, poultry, or eggs for red meat. You can swap a serving of seafood, poultry, or eggs for the same size serving of red meat, but only once a week.

What to eat? Here are some sample dishes. The Options suggest how to follow Step 2 (add optional dairy) and Step 3 (add optional seafood, poultry, or eggs).

Breakfast

Oatmeal with fruit & nuts

Option: Add dairy milk or yogurt.

Lunch

Lentil soup and salad with fruit & nuts

Dinner

Veggie bowl with chickpeas & avocado

Option: Add a small serving of fish or poultry.

More tips for following a flexitarian diet

Still hungry? Fill up with fruits or veggies, nuts, or whole-grain crackers as snacks.

Missing meat? Try one of our favorite easy meat swaps.

For two flexitarian meals in a bowl to get you started, try these simple recipes from our Healthy Cook, Kate Sherwood.


How to create healthy, sustainable menus

In 2013, the Culinary Institute of America and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health created Menus of Change, a partnership that encourages restaurants to create dishes that celebrate, but aren’t limited to, plant-based foods.

The Plant-Forward Global 50—including José Andrés, Alice Waters, Yotam Ottolenghi, and other top chefs—support these goals. Use the principles as a guide to your own menus.

Click here to see a larger version of the Menus of Change principles.

Photos: Vladislav Nosik/stock.adobe.com (breakfast), O.B./stock.adobe.com (soup), fahrwasser/stock.adobe.com (salad), anna_shepulova/stock.adobe.com (dinner).
Menus of Change graphic: Designed by J Wright Design.

The information in this post first appeared in the March 2019 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.

Find this article interesting and useful?
Nutrition Action Healthletter subscribers regularly get sound, timely information about staying healthy with diet and exercise, delicious recipes, and detailed analyses of the healthy and unhealthy foods in supermarkets and restaurants. If you don’t already subscribe to the world’s most popular nutrition newsletter, click here to join hundreds of thousands of fellow health-minded consumers.

Have a comment, question, or idea?
Send us an email at comments@nutritionaction.com. While we can’t respond to every email, we’ll be sure to read your message.