Do you like the idea of eating a healthier diet and using fewer of the planet’s resources but don’t feel going full-on vegetarian is an achievable goal? Thankfully, it’s not an all-or-nothing deal. Plenty of consumers today have embraced a concept known as the flexitarian diet.
What Is a Flexitarian?
A flexitarian is someone who eats a diet centered primarily around plant food. That doesn’t mean he or she can’t eat meat at all, though. Most flexitarians occasionally eat fish, poultry, and even red meat. They just try not to do it for every meal.
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Some flexitarians also restrict what types of meat they eat. Consumers might switch to flexitarianism as a form of ethical omnivorism after learning about animal rights violations, reduce overall meat consumption without changing what types of meat they eat or just cut back on red meat as a form of weight management. It’s always a personal decision.
Benefits of Becoming a Flexitarian
There are as many benefits of becoming a flexitarian as there are reasons to endorse this lifestyle choice. For one, plant-based diets are healthier than heavily meat-based diets.
Consumers don’t have to eliminate meat from their diets entirely to start taking advantage of lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Flexitarian diets provide similar results.
Eating less meat isn’t just good for individual consumers’ health. It’s actually good for the health of the planet, as well. Maintaining a primarily plant-based diet requires far fewer natural resources, including water, land, and even oil. Some experts estimate that switching to a flexitarian diet reduces greenhouse gas emissions by around seven percent.
How to Be a Flexitarian
The most important thing to keep in mind when making the switch to a flexitarian diet is to focus on plant proteins, not meat. Plant-based meals containing soybeans, tofu, tempeh, and beans all pack a punch when it comes to protein, which can help to reduce cravings for hamburgers and other unhealthy, ecologically destructive processed meats.
Don’t cut meat out of the diet entirely, though. Unfortunately, when people make the switch to full vegetarianism, their bodies often stop producing the enzymes and gut bacteria required to break down meat-based proteins, which means there’s no going back. Aim to incorporate meat into the diet a few times a week and focus on organic, pasture-raised poultry and beef.
Those who have always loved meat can ease into being flexitarians. Instead of eating it at every meal, just save it for dinner. When that starts to feel normal, cut back to eating meat-based dishes just once every other day instead of every day. Eventually, it will feel normal to eat primarily plant-based whole foods instead of meat and processed junk.
The Bottom Line
Becoming a flexitarian can improve consumers’ health, reduce their carbon footprints, and create a positive environmental impact. Plus, it’s not anywhere near as hard as going full-on vegetarian. There’s no need to cut fish, poultry, or even beef from the diet entirely. Instead, consumers can simply switch to relying more on plant-based foods, but still eat meat on special occasions, when they go out to a restaurant, or when they entertain guests who prefer meat-based foods. It’s the best of both worlds.