Everything You Need to Know About the Flexitarian Diet

There are a variety of diets that people take on for different reasons – weight management, health concerns, lifestyle choices, etc. Knowing which diet works for you can be a difficult and confusing decision. I have been a flexitarian for the past 6 years and it’s been a great way for me to get a healthy balance of veggies and protein into my diet. Since I started the flexitarian diet, I’ve lost weight and have more energy for physical exercise. I've also seen improvement in my cholesterol and thyroid levels both of which I struggled to manage previously. I love to share with others the benefits I’ve experienced with the flexitarian diet, but I also want to share input on the flexitarian diet from a licensed professional.

I reached out to Dr. Munish Chawla who runs Embee Lifestyle Docs in the Bellaire area of Houston with his wife Dr. Bandana Chawla. Their practice emphasizes holistic health and wellness. In addition to running their practice, they have a non-profit called Peaceful Planet Foundation. Through their non-profit, they educate and emphasize the importance of holistic lifestyles to marginalized communities throughout the Houston area.

What is a flexitarian diet?  

Just as the name suggests, it’s a flexible eating pattern that emphasizes principles or guidelines rather than strict rules. The general principle is to focus on eating lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds in their most natural forms. Including meat, fish, or poultry on occasion and limit added sugar and sweets. Omnivore diet includes both plant-based foods and animal foods but is not concerned about the amounts of each one and typically the individual is not concerned about the quality of the diet. 

What are the benefits of practicing the flexitarian diet?  

Peer-reviewed medical literature suggests eating a flexitarian diet reduces the risk and incidence of heart disease and diabetes and improves metabolic health. Since this type of eating pattern emphasizes whole plant foods, foods that are rich in micronutrients and fiber, it allows the individual to lose weight most healthfully.  

Given the current state of health in the US with the increasing incidence of obesity and other chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, lupus, etc. this pattern of eating would be recommended for nearly all. Of course, there are individuals who may have rare metabolic diseases or have gone through extensive bowel surgery, that need a very specialized diet. And before choosing any eating pattern it is important to consult a health professional such as a physician or a registered dietitian. 

What online resources would you recommend to anyone interested in the flexitarian diet?  

Flexitarian Diet: Meal Plans, Reviews, and What to Know, opens a new window

What is a Flexitarian Diet? A Complete Beginner's Guide , opens a new window

Flexitarian Recipes from Peas and Hoppiness , opens a new window

Please note: These websites are provided for informational purposes only. Harris County Public Library does not endorse any products or services offered therein.

In addition to the online resources Dr. Chawla provided, here are some books available through Harris County Public Library's collection that provide recipes for the flexitarian diet: 

Modern Flexitarian


Mostly Plants

Also, Harris County Public Library offers food and cooking programs at branch libraries. Here are some programs HCPL will be offering if you’re interested in learning more about healthy food choices and trying new recipes: 

Spice Club, opens a new window - Pick up a new spice and a brochure that includes history and recipes spotlighting this month’s featured spice

Walk N Talk: Fruit & Vegetables, opens a new window – Enjoy walking with friends while learning how to confidently add more fruits and vegetables into your diet

Cook by the Book Cookbook Club, opens a new window - Discover a world of flavor with the Cook the Book club. Participants will select a recipe from the book of the month, prepare it, and bring it to share with fellow attendees. Come celebrate the art of cooking with us!