We’ve never been the type to “diet” or follow a specific eating pattern – in fact we’ve always shunned diets because most of them are RUBBISH and do more harm than good! However, when we first came across The Flexitarian Diet a couple of years ago, we had a different response.
We took a liking to it straight away. This idea of being a ‘flexible vegetarian’ really resonated with us. We are well aware of the health, environmental and animal related benefits of eating more plants, yet love fish, chicken and red meat and wouldn’t want to cut it out completely.
We assumed that we were probably already following a flexitarian style diet without knowing it – i.e. consuming small quantities of meat (red meat, chicken and fish). However, we decided to track our meat intake for a few weeks to find out… and the results shocked us!
What our diets actually looked like…
The results showed that while healthy, most of our lunches and dinners (except for a few) were actually meat-based (i.e. included either fish, chicken or red meat).
We were probably eating legumes (chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, lentils) only once or twice a week, and didn’t cook with tofu or other plant-based proteins on a regular basis.
It turns out that although we were eating a variety of healthy, wholesome foods, we were eating much more meat than we had thought!
Our intentions were 100% there. We’ve always been passionate about the environment and LOVE animals – and being dietitians, we’ve always been aware of the health benefits of plant foods. However, living a busy lifestyle meant that time got away and the quickest (and easiest) option for us when planning meals ended up being around meat. I.e. when it came to planning dinner we would always structure the meal around a meat – chicken, rice and veggies or salmon with potatoes and salad. We pretty much grew up on diets of meat and 3 veg, so this was what was familiar. It was easy and it was a habit.
The Flexitarian Diet
The principle is simple: eat more plants and less meat. Being flexible, there are no strict guidelines to follow – it’s all about what works for you (big tick!). This is one of the things we love most about The Flexitarian Diet, in fact it makes it less of a diet and more of a lifestyle!
However, our habits of automatically planning meals around fish, chicken or red meat we’re pretty engrained, so in order to change them, we needed to create some sort of structure that would encourage us to include more plant-based proteins into our diet.
Our take on Flexitarian Eating
For us, our Flexitarian way of eating involves the following:
- Eating 2 x vegetarian meals a day, and
- Eating 1 x meat meal.
This goal provides the structure we need to eat more plants but still allows for flexibility. We don’t feel restricted and we don’t feel like we have to miss out! We still enjoy pulled pork Mexican tacos out with our friends or a tasty burger on weekends.
What this Flexitarian approach has meant is that if we decide to eat a Tuna Salad for lunch (one of our regular go-to lunches), then dinner must be vegetarian.
We’ve now been following this way of eating for over 12 months and it’s just second nature. We have a tonne of delicious vegetarian recipes that we absolutely LOVE and that we genuinely enjoy just as much as our meat-based meals.
In saying that we still love fish, chicken and red meat – we just eat it less regularly.
We feel good to both our health and the health of our planet for making this choice.
Is The Flexitarian Diet for you?
The answer depends on the balance of your diet as it stands, your environmental concerns and your personal taste. As the saying goes, we all have to choose our battles, and there are various steps we can take to care for the future of our planet and help lessen the effects of global warming.
If you are interested in learning more about the a Flexitarian Diet, check out these short Youtube Videos:
- What is the Flexitarian Diet?
- What are the benefits of the Flexitarian Diet?
- How to transition to a Flexitarian Diet