How to Eat a Flexitarian Diet
Do you want to enjoy the benefits of a vegetarian diet but with a bit more flexibility? Then you have to try a flexitarian diet, a type of diet that comes from the United States after the publication of the book by dietitian Jackson Blatner in 2009. The term "flexitarian" comes from a combination of the words flexible and vegetarian and means applying the basic practices of the vegetarian diet but also giving you license to eat some meat or fish. In this oneHOWTO article we'll tell you how to have a flexitarian diet so you can discover this new fad diet.
The flexitarian diet
The basic premise of a flexitarian or semi-vegetarian diet is that you get to enjoy a healthy life and reap the benefits of a vegetarian diet but without suffering the deficiencies that can come from this type of diet (lack of protein, decrease in vitamin B12, etc.)
Enjoying a diet based on fruits and vegetables (i.e. being a vegetarian) ensures that your body is well nourished and also maintains a controlled weight as animal fats do not exist in this diet. However, there are some health risks if you do not know how to follow this diet correctly.
To solve this problem the flexitarian diet has appeared, which essentially consists of following a vegetarian diet but with the possibility of introducing a weekly piece of meat or fish. You can choose to introduce lean meats (like chicken or rabbit, for example) with vegetables but, if you prefer, you can opt for vegetable proteins like tofu and seitan. This diet gives you some flexibility, hence its name.
Flexitarian diet rules
The basic concept of this diet is to not remove any product from your diet but to lower your consumption of food that comes from animals. Unlike the vegan diet, in this one you are allowed to consume food from an animal, such as dairy or eggs, although if you prefer, you can opt for vegetarian dairy products, such as soy or nut milk. In this OneHowTo article you'll discover the difference between a vegan and vegetarian diet.
Every day, you should include these 5 food groups in your diet to enjoy a healthy life:
- "New meat": this is the term for all those protein-rich foods that are not derived from animals (such as tofu, lentils, eggs, etc.)
- Fruits and vegetables: they are the mainstay of this diet so they should be part of your diet every day, included in as many meals as you can.
- Dairy: regardless of whether it comes from animals or vegetables, it must be included in your diet so you can benefit from its vitamins.
- Whole grain carbohydrates: In order to have a healthy diet, you need to eliminate refined products and choose to consume products that are made with whole wheat flour to increase the amount of fiber in your body.
- Natural sugars: these cannot be left out of your diet. Include foods such as honey, stevia or agave nectar, as they contain sugars that are good for your body, as well as nutrients.
Meat or fish can be consumed one day a week in order to follow a flexitarian diet. This meat must also be of good quality. It should also be of organic origin in order to contribute to respecting animals, as well as getting the benefit of consuming products with greater nutritional value.
You should not leave out essential nutrients for proper functioning of the body: iron, omega 3 and vitamin B12. This last one can be consumed as a supplement, since it is naturally found in many ingredients that come from animals.
Tips to start a flexitarian diet
Making a change in your eating habits can be somewhat complicated and difficult to follow. From oneHOWTO, the first thing we suggest is that if you want to start a flexitarian diet, start to gradually reduce meat in your diet. You shouldn't make a drastic change, as your health may be damaged.
It is best to begin by stopping eating meat for 3 or 4 days in a row and see how you feel; gradually integrating more plant foods and you'll see how you manage to reduce your consumption of animal protein without even realizing it.
It is also important to start thinking about different vegetarian recipes that you like and are varied. In this way, you won't get bored and you'll be able to carry on enjoying the pleasure of food. There are a lot of dishes that you can make, for example, pasta salad, vegetable lasagna, spinach burgers, etc. Search for these types of recipes and design a varied and delicious menu.
If you like snacks or sandwiches, you can continue enjoying them but in a different way. Vegetarians can eat dairy and eggs, so cheese sandwiches or omelettes can be a perfect choice. To add more flavour to them you can add different vegetables (rocket, cucumber, lettuce, onion, etc.), nuts and seasonal fruits.
Benefits of a flexitarian diet
Eating according to the previous suggestions has a number of benefits for your health and for the planet, as listed below:
- It prevents diseases: a diet that is rich in vegetables and fruit puts your body into top condition and means you'll avoid conditions like high cholesterol. It also helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases and regulate blood pressure.
- A balanced diet: when you introduce a weekly piece of food from an animal into your diet, you'll get the right amount of calcium, iron and protein. Moreover, with your abundant consumption of vegetables, you'll have high levels of antioxidants, fiber and healthy fats.
- Weight loss: this is one of the biggest benefits of a nutritious diet that is low in fat where the main ingredients are vegetables.
- Respect for the environment: Raising animals requires the use of more environmental resources than needed for cultivating plants and vegetables. Therefore, eating more vegetables helps to prevent overcrowding.
A typical flexitarian diet
Next, we'll propose an example of a diet that you can follow to enjoy a semi-vegetarian diet and make the most of the benefits we just explained.
- Option 1: Whole grain cereals with fresh fruit tea
- Option 2: Whole grain toast with jam and milk coffee
- Option 1: Fruit salad
- Option 2: Fresh cheese sandwich with tomato and lettuce
- Option 1: Green salad lentils with vegetables
- Option 2: Vegetable puree vegetarian burger with baked potato
- Option 1: Low-fat yoghurt with oats
- Option 2: Fresh fruit
- Option 1: Boiled spinach cheese omelette
- Option 2: Guacamole with soy meatballs and vegetables
Do not forget to incorporate a product from an animal once a week (meat or fish) that is of high quality. In this way, you'll reap the benefits of a flexitarian diet.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Eat a Flexitarian Diet, we recommend you visit our Healthy living category.