The flexitarian diet has significant health and environmental benefits. Dietitian, Dawn Jackson Blatner, created the Flexitarian Diet to help people reap vegetarian eating benefits while still enjoying animal products in moderation. There are no rigid restrictions or clear rules to flexitarian eating. Listen to your body, nourish yourself and enjoy some delicious healthy meals!
Before you launch into your new flexi lifestyle, you need to understand the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian. While vegetarians don’t eat meat, vegans eliminate animal-derived products—for example, meat, fish, eggs and dairy.
Reducing the amount of meat in your diet reduces your chance of getting cancer, diabetes, and can promote weight loss. Vegetarians have a 32% lower risk of catching heart disease, than non-veggies. Plant-based foods are rich in fibre, antioxidants and are brilliant for reducing your blood pressure.
Plant-based products are also good for the environment. Plant-based proteins alone use 11% less energy than animal proteins. They preserve natural resources, diminish our use of greenhouse gasses and lessen the demand for land used for livestock.
Flexitarian eating is commonly referred to as ‘casual vegetarianism.’ You can have an occasional meaty treat while also reducing your carbon footprint and opting for a more sustainable food approach.
Follow these simple steps to become a flexitarian.
Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains
A flexi should eat a minimum of five different fruit and vegetables a day. Opt for dark leafy green vegetables, like spinach and broccoli, to improve your iron intake.
Pair your delicious veggies with whole grains, like quinoa, teff, buckwheat and farro.
Focus on plant-based protein
If you are new to the flexi lifestyle, meat has probably been your primary protein source in the past. Change meat recipes to plant-based proteins like soybeans, tempeh, legumes and lentils. There are hundreds of meat-alternatives on the market, and most of them are easy to use in your usual recipes.
For example, for a traditional sausage casserole – throw a load of veggies, chopped tomatoes and plant-based sausages into a saucepan and cook! Enjoy your delicious winter casserole and reap the benefits of a nutrient-packed meal.
Be flexible and eat meat occasionally
Meat is a standard part of our diets, and it can be challenging to eliminate. Indulge in a steak or burger from time to time or save it for special occasions. However, try to switch out your processed meat, like bacon and sausage, for a leaner choice, like chicken or turkey.
Eat less processed food
Flexi eating isn’t just about restricting your meat intake. A healthy flexi lifestyle is also about limiting high calorie processed foods, refined carbs, added sugars and saturated fats.