If you're toeing the line between going vegetarian and eating healthy meats, a flexitarian diet may be a good choice for you. A flexitarian lifestyle encourages elements of a plant-based diet with unprocessed foods while allowing lean meats and animal products in moderation. As the name implies, being a flexitarian is all about staying flexible. There are several health benefits to making the switch, and it is usually more accessible for people to follow than diets like veganism.
History of the Flexitarian Diet
Flexitarian combines the words "flexible" and "vegetarian" to describe a diet that is mostly plant-based with occasional meat. Registered dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner first coined the term in 2009. Blatner's focus was to help people reap the benefits of reducing meat without going completely vegetarian. The lifestyle is a good option if you're interested in going vegetarian but would like to occasionally indulge in a burger. Ideally, your meat options would mostly consist of healthy fish and lean meat.
Is There a Difference Between a Plant-Based Diet and Flexitarian?
There isn't much of a difference between going plant-based or flexitarian. However, plant-based eaters may include a small amount of meat into their diet on a daily basis. Flexitarians tend to eat meat and animal byproducts sporadically and focus their diet around vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
What to Eat on a Flexitarian Diet?
Flexitarian diets are generally easy to follow but require a strategy to get in enough iron and protein that meat often supplies. Focus on consuming more soybeans, tofu, tempeh, and legumes for protein. Including a supplement like whey protein is also helpful to maintain your protein and fuel the energy you need.
Non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and milk alternatives like almond or coconut milk are good cornerstones of a flexitarian diet. When you do consume animal byproducts, focus on free-range or pasture-raised meat and wild-caught fish. The goal is to focus on the healthiest animal product alternatives possible and unprocessed food.
Possible Benefits of a Flexitarian Diet
Everyone's body responds to lifestyle changes and healthy diets differently. However, you're likely to experience a decrease in heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and colorectal cancers when you dramatically reduce meat and animal byproducts. A bonus for many flexitarians is the reported weight loss due to eating less high-calorie, processed foods and meat.
There are also some non-nutrition benefits to going flexitarian. Plant-based options are usually less expensive than meat, especially steak and beef. The lifestyle also shown to preserve greenhouse gas emissions and help reduce land and water use.
Possible Downsides of a Flexitarian Diet?
Despite all the major wins of a flexitarian diet, there are a few downsides to consider. For starters, you're less likely to feel satiated when you drastically reduce your meat intake. The feeling could lead to eating too many refined carbs and other unhealthy options. Make sure to focus on filling foods like apples, legumes, nuts, and healthy fish are good options to keep you feeling satisfied.
Adapting a flexitarian lifestyle also requires a close eye on your essential vitamin intake. Suddenly reducing meat without incorporating suitable vegetables and alternatives could lead to B12 and iron deficiency. Give your health a boost with our WAYT Essential Multi packs in the vitamins and minerals, contains a joint health compound, and help boost your immunity.
Rebalancing your diet to focus on fruits, vegetables, legumes, and some meat and animal byproducts benefits your nutrition and health. It can also help you save money, lose weight, and explore new and healthy ways to eat. Remember that supplements are a wise way to fill in any nutrition gaps and keep your body in good health. Ready to retake control of your health and empower your body? Browse our selection of supplements here.