For most meat eaters, the thought of giving up meat completely to follow a vegetarian diet or vegan diet seems too extreme. Whether it’s a meat eater’s love for a juicy steak or the health benefits from certain types of meat, giving up meat entirely may be out of the question.
Thanks to the flexitarian diet, however, meat eaters can still enjoy the occasional burger or grilled chicken while reaping the benefits of a vegetarian diet.
What Is the Flexitarian Diet?
The flexitarian diet is a type of diet that encourages eating more plant-based foods on a daily basis and moderating meat consumption. The diet was created by the dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner in an effort to teach others how to lead a healthier lifestyle.
The flexitarian diet tends not to be as strict as a vegetarian or vegan diet in that it still allows for meat consumption, but simply advocates moderate consumption of meat instead. Many have suggested that because of this flexibility, the flexitarian diet is very similar to the Mediterranean diet.
Flexitarian Diet Plan
The flexitarian diet doesn’t have any hard and fast rules about how much or how little meat to consume, but rather suggests limiting meat consumption to an occasional basis in favor of eating more plant-based foods.
The flexitarian diet plan suggests:
- Eating mostly vegetables and fruits
- Eating legumes and whole grains rather than simple carbohydrates
- Limiting sugar intake
- Consuming more plant-based protein, such as lentils or pea milk, but also be flexible and eat meat from time-to-time as a protein source
Because the flexitarian diet doesn’t suggest total elimination of meat like a vegetarian or vegan diet does, the flexitarian diet is much easier to incorporate and create a healthier lifestyle.
Flexitarian Diet Benefits
Since the flexitarian diet is very flexible, it’s difficult to say exactly how beneficial the diet can be for someone. It would be more appropriate to share some of the benefits of plant-based diets as a whole, which includes:
- Lowered risk of heart disease
- Possible weight loss
- Lowered risk of diabetes
- Lowered risk of cancer
Not only do plant-based diets like the flexitarian diet benefit the individual human body, but they can benefit the environment too as they reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that result from raising animals on agricultural land.
Flexitarian Diet Risks
Whenever reducing the consumption of certain animal products, such as meat, nutritional deficiencies can occur. Red meat, for instance, is a good source of vitamin B12 and zinc, which vegetarians and vegans often struggle with getting enough of.
To reap the health benefits of the flexitarian diet without potentially becoming deficient in certain essential nutrients, it’s important to work with a healthcare professional and nutritionist to create a diet plan that incorporates nutrient-rich plant foods and adequate meat consumption.
Flexitarian Diet Meal Plan
Adopting the flexitarian diet should be a gradual process for the best results. The flexitarian diet is regarded as a lifestyle change more than a specific diet plan with fixed rules.
Instead, one should first observe what their current meat intake is during the week, then try to gradually reduce that intake to an amount that his or her physician and nutritionist deem appropriate and safe to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
A sample menu of what someone on the flexitarian diet would possibly eat can be found below:
Breakfast: Old-fashioned rolled oats with milk and fresh berries
Lunch: A sandwich on whole grain bread with egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato, alfalfa sprouts and beetroot
Dinner: Roasted vegetables with tofu and couscous
Snacks: Yogurt with fruit and nuts
When creating any changes in the diet, even for potentially healthier choices, it’s important to first consult a physician before making these changes. While the flexitarian diet doesn’t advocate eating any harmful foods, there is the risk of nutritional deficiencies or dietary allergies when making any new changes in one’s diet. Working with a doctor and nutritionist can help one create a healthy diet plan that’s specifically tailored to his or her body and health concerns.
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Studies Show Link Between Red Meat and Climate Change. (2016, April 20). Retrieved from http://www.climatecentral.org/news/studies-link-red-meat-and-climate-change-20264
Flexitarian Diet: Your Starter’s Guide and Sample Diet Plan. (2018, May 08). Retrieved from https://www.dietvsdisease.org/flexitarian-diet-plan/
The Flexitarian Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/flexitarian-diet-guide#bottom-line