We know what a keto diet and paleo diet is, but this new term got us scratching our heads in puzzlement.
Initially, we thought it had something to do with eating vegetables while doing a split. Or something like that.
Thank goodness there’s nothing in the Flexitarian diet that includes any splits…
So what is it?
The term “flexitarian” was actually invented more than a decade ago, and is now making a comeback.
A marriage between “flexible” and “vegetarian”, this diet consists of eating mainly plant-based foods but also allows meat, hence the name.
A flexitarian diet calls for inclusive eating: it does not cut out meat completely, but instead focuses on adding more greens to your diet.
Depending on the individual, some flexitarians may consume meat once a week while others will do so only on special occasions.
It’s not as strict as veganism or vegetarianism. Thus, it serves as a way for many to ease into a plant-based lifestyle.
We can see why it’s popular. On this diet, there’s no need to sacrifice indulging in the occasional big mac!
In a sense, Flexitarianism is more practical and sustainable in the long run as well. No need to spend time and effort hunting for products marked “vegan-friendly”, which can be costly too.
Flexitarians follow the same principles as vegans and vegetarians – to lower their environmental footprint and reduce animal cruelty. You can still play your part in helping the planet with the Flexitarian diet, and eat healthier at the same time!
Why would I want to go Flexitarian?
“Isn’t it just for those with commitment issues?” you find yourself wondering. Similar to how it was like before the keto diet became popular, there’s bound to be hubbub surrounding the emergence of any new diet.
So, don’t be so quick to brush it off as another fad. Here are some ways you can benefit from going Flexitarian!
Generally, vegetarian diets offer a greater amount of nutrient-dense foods than other diets. This is due to the high amount of vegetables consumed.
Furthermore, if you’re on the Flexitarian diet, chances are that you’ll be cutting down on processed meat as well. By prioritizing fresh produce over processed foods, it drastically reduces your salt intake.
Unless you’re living in the desert, there’s a high chance that meat products are more costly than fresh produce.
Although how much people spend on their groceries vary, flexitarian meals don’t require exotic ingredients. If meat is the current star of your meals, then reducing the amount of meat you consume will definitely reduce your grocery bills too.
A healthy body and a healthy wallet!
3. Helps with weight loss
Plant-based foods are naturally low in calories. This means that you can eat a large volume of these foods for a smaller amount of calories.
If you’re eating sensible portions and loading your plate with wise choices, weight loss should not be a problem.
After all, you’ve never heard someone gaining weight from eating too much celery, right?
4. Reduces risk of heart disease
Research has it that those following a plant-based diet had close to 1/3 lower chances of heart disease, and were found to have lower blood pressure.
Another study showed that people who followed at least a 70% plant-based diet reduced their risk of dying from heart disease by 20%.
However, note that this was not published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Nonetheless, we would still take the chance live longer just by tweaking our diets.
How to start?
- Slowly does it. Start off with going meat-free for one day a week
- Consume meat in smaller portions
- Change up your grocery list: more vegetables and less meat should be on your list
- Choose fish that are sustainably caught
- Choose sustainable fish (looking at local species, seasonality and fishing methods)
- Expand your culinary horizons: Flip through cookbooks to widen your repertoire of meatless recipes
- Understand that a meal can be delicious and satisfying even without meat
Here’s a sample meal plan if you don’t know where to begin.
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with peanut butter, chia seeds and cinnamon
- Lunch: Chickpea salad with greens and grilled chicken
- Dinner: Hearty vegetable stew with a side of whole-grain bread
While this diet is fluid, there are guidelines that you should bear in mind:
1. If possible, go for free range or grass fed meat sources.
2. Limit refined sugars and simple carbs
3. Choose whole-grain food sources to feel fuller for longer
According to the U.S News and World Report, the Flexitarian diet has been rated as one of the top plant-based diets. This means that the number of Flexitarians is growing, and is no longer a niche community.
Who knows, maybe Flexitarianism is here to stay.