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How Many Times a Week Do Flexitarians Eat Meat?

Steve Russell - March 23, 2024

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It seems like a new diet appears every day, and one of the most nebulous is flexitarianism. The restrictions, or lack thereof, can be confusing to some. However, the beauty of this diet is its flexibility — hence the name. Is it vegan or vegetarian? Does it include animal products? Figure out how many times a week flexitarians eat meat if you want to start trying it out.

What Is a Flexitarian Diet?

If you’re looking for a hard and fast definition of flexitarian, you probably won’t find one. Generally speaking, most people refer to the diet as a meat-reduced plan, and around half of Americans identify with this. It is not inherently meat-free. The goal of flexitarian diets is to raise awareness of meat and fish consumption to diversify protein sources with plant-based alternatives. 

It is also sometimes called a semi-vegetarian diet, as its name combines the words “flexible” and “vegetarian.” You may not even realize that you already consume this diet style significantly, as climate change awareness has grown in the last decade.

falafel cross section

What is flexitarian not? Dieticians do not categorize it as a weight-loss diet or a blanket recommendation, depending on the person’s health. Though it could be one of the most environmentally impactful diets as people transition to more plant-based eating, you should always discuss dietary changes with a professional to ensure balanced food intake.

Flexitarians can also be considered under the umbrella of climatarian diets, which are ways of eating that prioritize reducing carbon footprints. It also includes choosing local and eating what is in season for improved and healthful agriculture. 

So, How Many Times a Week Do Flexitarians Eat Meat?

The fluid definition means the diet will look different for everyone. For example, you might consider yourself a flexitarian if you went from eating meat five days a week to four. You could also reduce to one day per week or measure your progress in ounces eliminated. You can also reduce other animal products, such as dairy, though the consensus around flexitarian diets focuses on meat, fish, or eggs. 

There is no correct answer for how many times a week flexitarians eat meat because it is so personalized. Anything less than your personal average would fall under the diet rules — if you can even call them that.

Some flexitarians reduce meat intake less than others due to health reasons. Consumption of red meat, in particular, causes a higher risk of specific health ailments, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. This could be an essential factor for some when determining how much meat they eat per week.

What Is the Point of Being Flexitarian?

veggie burgers

Why limit meat consumption? People who choose this lifestyle typically do so to have a better impact on the planet. The meat industry is one of the most polluting on the earth, and voting with your dollar has never been more common. Consumers may prefer not to support a toxic meat empire that abuses animals, exploits agriculture, and mistreats workforces.

Here are some sobering statistics on the sector:

  • 57% of GHG emissions in food production are from breeding and caring for livestock for consumption.
  • 87% of the atmosphere’s nitrous oxide and methane emissions are from cattle.
  • Beef is the heaviest carbon emitter.
  • Carbon neutrality by 2050 would require every human to cut two tons of carbon dioxide from their diet.
  • 78% of agricultural land is taken up by animal farming.

In short, the point of being flexitarian is to eat in a way that helps the planet combat the adverse impacts of climate change instead of exacerbating them.

The term itself can be pretty contentious in online communities, as many wonder if it has a purpose when the label “omnivore” would suffice. The reason flexitarian came into cultural relevance isn’t so much because of what the diet contains — it’s more about the intention, which the word “omnivore” doesn’t capture. 

There are more ways to reduce carbon footprints. However, many actions rely on corporations. Most of the carbon emissions in the atmosphere are emitted by top-performing companies — not individual consumers. Dietary changes are one of the most accessible and influential ways to minimize personal responsibility.

What Do Flexitarians Eat When They Don’t Eat Meat?

Many wonder if you’ll get nutrient deficiencies on a flexitarian diet, and if so, how do you supplement the meat meaningfully? You’ll want to research foods containing appropriate vitamins, minerals, macro-, and micronutrients that you would have otherwise obtained from meat. Zinc, protein, and iron are a few notable ones. Here are a few suggestions for protein replacements and other nutrient-rich foods to incorporate into a flexitarian diet:

  • Seitan
  • Tempeh
  • Oats
  • Chia 
  • Tofu and other soybean products
  • Lentils
  • Green peas
  • Quinoa
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Chickpea, edamame, and other beans
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Hemp seeds

You can also explore the ever-expanding world of meat alternatives and fakes. For example, veggie protein maker MorningStar makes fake chicken tenders and sausage patties. JUST Egg makes a liquid egg replacer. Impossible and Beyond meats are two of the biggest names in fake beef to make nearly identical-tasting burgers.

Easy Tips to Get Started

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of a dietary shift, try these simple methods for easing into it:

  • Only eat meat in certain environments, such as when dining out, and do not eat meat anywhere else.
  • Try the Meatless Monday trend.
  • Order groceries online to resist the temptation of buying meat.
  • Make one meal a day plant-based — breakfast being the most accessible place to start.
  • Meal plan and meal prep to ensure success.
  • Practice self-compassion as you get used to eating differently.

How Many Times a Week Do Flexitarians Eat Meat?

Flexitarians don’t eat the same amount of meat every week or year. The only objective is to be conscious of how much you consume. Perhaps the exercise will make you realize how your body reacts to different foods and distributions of nutrients. Maybe your body was missing something from plants it craved all along. It is a diet worth experimenting with, which is the primary draw. 

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About the author

Steve Russell

Steve is the Managing Editor of and regularly contributes articles related to wildlife, biodiversity, and recycling. His passions include wildlife photography and bird watching.