What is a flexitarian diet?
A flexitarian (essentially a flexible vegetarian) is somebody who aims to eat a predominantly vegetarian diet while enjoying meat occasionally. The flexitarian diet is ranked as one of the best diets by the U.S. News & World Report, based on input from a panel of health experts.
This diet is rich in plant foods and all about being ‘pro plants’ as opposed to ‘anti meat’.
What are the benefits of a flexitarian diet?
As for other plant-based diets, each flexitarian’s reason for adopting their diet is unique, be it an environmental, ethical or health decision. Take your pick of the many benefits of a flexitarian diet:
- Sustainability: Eating less meat can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Australian Conservation Foundation, if all Australians were to reduce their meat intake by even just 150g per week, we would cut over 6 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year, equivalent to taking an eighth of Australia’s cars off the road.
- Nutritious: Eating more plants will provide you with plenty of essential nutrients, including fibre, vitamins and minerals. Add to that small amounts of meat and you’re providing your body with a complete array of nutrients.
- Weight loss: Flexitarian diets are not only typically low in total kilojoules, they’re also high in fibre, which means you’ll feel more satisfied on fewer kilojoules. The flexitarian diet doesn’t eliminate any food groups, so you’re also more likely to stick with it than a highly restrictive weight loss diet.
- Gut health: Upping your fibre intake provides your good gut bacteria with the food they need to thrive, ultimately impacting digestion, metabolism, and immunity.
- Chronic disease prevention: The flexitarian diet, being high in fibre, low in saturated fats, and high in antioxidants, can reduce your risk of lifestyle-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
- Animal welfare: If the demand for meat decreases there will be less pressure on the meat industry to produce as much meat, hopefully encouraging meat producers to commit to ethical practices.
- Get creative in the kitchen: By swapping out meat for plant foods you can experiment with legumes, tofu, seeds, nuts, and spices you may have never used before to create new and exciting dishes!
Tips for adopting a flexitarian diet
The flexitarian diet is more of a lifestyle than a diet and there are no clear-cut rules you must follow. The best way to get started is to make gradual changes which don’t involve cutting out your favourite foods. There are many ways to practice a flexitarian style of eating and it’s up to the individual which one works best for them.
To get started you can:
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy products
- Choose high-quality cuts of lean meat
- Incorporate meat occasionally and in smaller quantities
- Include a wide variety of plant-based proteins such as legumes, tofu, nuts, and seeds. Experiment with these and discover how you like to cook each ingredient as most are very versatile.
- Choose less processed, mostly whole foods
We aim to consume 2 vegetarian meals and 1 meat meal per day, however, we’re flexible with this.
Here’s an example of what a typical day would like like! You can check out our Instagram page where we share more examples!
The flexitarian diet is great for our health and the planet and is super flexible, so why not give it a go?
For more information and loads of delicious flexitarian recipes, check out our cookbook!