Being a flexitarian means you eat primarily plant-based, and very occasionally you will also eat meat.
It is a flexible approach that allows people to reduce their meat intake (mainly for environmental or health reasons) without cutting it out entirely. Flexis will eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds but every now and then they will indulge in a beef burger or a chicken stir-fry.
What are the benefits of a Flexi diet?
Of course this isn’t the case for everyone, but more often than not flexitarians will eat a larger variety of foods. This means a diet higher in nutrients (due to all the plant-based foods) and of course fibre. This kind of diet can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Plant based foods use less land, water and other resources. The most recent IPCC report states that ‘shifting to sustainable healthy diets’ is an important part of mitigating ecosystem damage and growing emissions while also allowing for reforestation and ecosystem restoration.
The IPCC defines ‘Sustainable healthy diets’ as diets that promote all dimensions of individuals’ health and well-being; have low environmental pressure and impact; are accessible, affordable, safe and equitable; and are culturally acceptable (as described in FAO and WHO).
The related concept of ‘balanced diets’ refers to diets that feature plant-based foods, such as those based on coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and animal-sourced food produced in resilient, sustainable and low-GHG emission systems.
Being a flexitarian allows for some flexibility in your diet, which could make it easier to stick to in the long run. It also allows you to enjoy occasional meals that include animal products without feeling guilty.
How to go Flexi
Start with the plants:
Make sure the majority of your meals are plant-based. Aim to fill at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal.
Gradually reduce how much meat, fish and dairy you eat. Start by having one or two meat free meals a week and slowly increase from there.
Choose lots of whole foods:
Try to include as much whole, nutrient-dense food as possible - such as whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. These foods are rich in fibre and other nutrients that are important for overall health.
Play around with meat alternatives:
Try meat alternatives like tofu, tempeh, and seitan or brands like Fry’s that make plant-based sausages, burgers, mince, nuggets and other favourites. These can be used in place of meat in many recipes and are a great way to add variety and convenience to your diet.
Flexitarianism is fast becoming mainstream because it allows people to explore cutting down on meat, without it feeling overwhelming and intimidating. The more people reduce their meat intake the better, every meat-free meal helps when it comes to reducing the impact on the planet and our bodies.