“Flexitarianism” is the term that refers to a healthy dieting regimen that minimizes meat without excluding it altogether. Proponents says this is an inclusive eating plan, which means it does not take away foods but rather adds new foods to those you already eat.
The Flexitarian Diet gradually guides you to eat more veggies while still enjoying your favorite meats. Statistics show that flexitarians weigh 15% less, have a lower rate of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and live 3.6 years longer than their more carnivorous counterparts.
As the name implies, it’s all about flexibility, giving readers a range of options: flexible meal plans, meat-substitute recipes, and realistic weight loss tips. Plus, it’s a great way to introduce the benefits of vegetarianism into every family’s lifestyle.
Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, CSSD, LDN is a registered dietitian and certified specialist in sports dietetics – and the woman who has made The Flexitarian Diet a household name and trusted way of eating.
Dawn attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and graduated with highest honors with a degree in Human Nutrition and Food Science. Upon graduation, she moved to Albuquerque to complete a dietetic internship with the University of New Mexico.
Dawn is an in-demand food and nutrition expert who appears regularly in national media outlets such as The Dr. Oz Show, USA Today, Dateline, Newsweek, Cooking Light and WebMD. She is the nutrition consultant for the Chicago Cubs, a food and nutrition blogger with USA Today and Huffington Post and a nutrition expert on the advisory board of Fitness magazine. She has a private practice based in Chicago, Ill. providing personalized nutrition counseling and educational workshops.
Dawn recently sat down with eDiets chief editor John McGran for this exclusive interview.
Your book remains popular so many years after you wrote it – what do you credit for that popularity?
It's a solid concept that can stand the test of time. People want to eat more vegetarian meals for health benefits without having to give up meat completely. The flexitarian approach is PRO-PLANTS, not anti-meat. It's a small change people can realistically make and feel good about!
What's the easy to understand premise of the Flexitarian Diet?
Bottom line: Aim to enjoy more vegetarian meals and snacks. Background: Flexitarian is the combination of 2 words – flexible + vegetarian. So flexitarians are people who wake up aiming to eat vegetarian meals and snacks through the day, but have the flexibility not to follow a vegetarian diet strictly.
Why will a “mostly vegetarian” diet help me lose weight, be healthier, prevent disease and add years to my life?
Plants protect people. Plants contain "phytochemicals" which are special compounds found only in plants. These healthy compounds work to fight diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Additionally, plant-based eaters eat fewer calories resulting in us weighing 15% less than meat-centric eaters. Example, an average 165 pound woman would weigh 25 pounds less eating a more plant-based diet! WOW!
What drove you to develop this way of eating?
I used to think I was a lazy vegetarian. I mostly ate vegetarian but would occasionally "slip" and include animal proteins at fun times like baseball games, backyard BBQ's, my grandma's house and Thanksgiving. Now instead of feeling badly about meat moments in my life, the flexitarian approach allows me to enjoy all of my eating experiences! I have eaten this way for decades and teach my clients to eat this way. I wanted to have a guide book for the public that would help spread this idea of aiming to be vegetarian with kind, light-hearted flexibility.
People who try eating this way lose weight and find it easier and tastier than they thought possible. I believe weight loss and changing your diet should be fun and enjoyable – my book has allowed people to see that is possible!
Why not urge people to give up meat altogether?
The healthiest people aren't that way because they restrict meat, they are healthy because they eat a lot of plants. You don't have to give up meat to get the benefits of plants. Plus there are lots of meaningful meat moments in life – diet restrictions shouldn't negatively impact social connection or fun cultural food experiences.
The word “flex” appears many times in your book – why is it important that an eating plan has flex appeal?
Flexibility in all aspects of life – work, relationships, diet – makes you more successful because it's more realistic and fun!
eDiets Chief Editor John McGran has an extensive background in online dieting and tabloid news. He covers the celebrity beat for eDiets.