The Flexitarian Diet is a way of eating that focuses on mostly plant-based diets while still accepting the consumption of animal and meat products, in moderation.
This is more adaptable than totally vegan or vegetarian diets.
If you’re trying to incorporate more plant-based food items to your diet, but do not want to completely eliminate meat, then becoming a flexitarian could be the right choice ideal for you.
This article gives a brief outline about the Flexitarian Diet, its benefits as well as the foods you can eat, along with the one-week food plan. With gwgmag find out about the Flexitarian Diet.
What Is the Flexitarian Diet?
The Flexitarian Diet was created by dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner to help people benefit from vegetarian diets while having a taste of animal products, but in moderation.
The reason for the name is that this diet is a mix between the terms flexible and vegetarian.
The vegetarian diet is void of meat, and occasionally other animal products as well, while vegans are completely strict about the consumption of fish, meat, eggs dairy, and all products made from animals.
Since flexitarians consume animal products, they aren’t classified as vegans or vegetarians..
It is a flexible diet. Flexitarian Diet has no clear-cut rules or guidelines for macronutrients and calories. In reality, it’s more the result of a lifestyle rather than a strict diet.
It’s based on these basic principles:
- Take a majority of your meals from vegetables, fruits, legumes , and whole grains.
- Concentrate on proteins coming from plants rather than animals.
- Be flexible and add animal and meat products periodically.
- Choose the least processed and more natural food source.
- Limit sugar added or sweets.
Because of its flexibility and the focus on what should be included instead of restricting The Flexitarian Diet is a popular option for people who want to eat better.
The author of the Flexitarian Diet, Dawn Jackson Blatner outlines how to begin eating flexitarian and include certain amounts of meat every weeks in her guide.
But, adhering to her specific guidelines is not necessary to begin eating in a flexible manner. Certain individuals who are following the diet might consume greater amounts of animal-based products than other people.
In the end, the aim is to eat more healthy food items and less meat.
Possible Health Benefits
Eating flexitarian may provide several health benefits
Since there’s no precise definition of the diet, it’s hard to determine if and how the the benefits from other diets based on plants can be applied for this Flexitarian Diet.
However, research on vegan and vegetarian diets can be helpful in revealing how semi-vegetarian diets could improve health.
It’s important to consume a lot of legumes, fruits, vegetables along with whole grains, and other foods that are not processed whole foods to benefit from the health benefits of eating plants.
The reduction in meat consumption, while eating refined food which are packed with salt and sugar will not provide the same advantages.
A diet high in fiber as well as healthy fats can be beneficial for heart health.
A study that followed 45,000 people over 11 years discovered that vegetarians had an 8% lower risk of developing heart disease, when compared to non-vegetarians.
This could be because vegetarian diets are typically high in fiber and antioxidants , which can lower blood pressure and raise good cholesterol.
A study of 32 studies regarding the effects of the vegetarian diet on blood pressure found that those who ate vegetarians had an average blood pressure of seven percentage points lower than the blood pressure of those who ate meat.
Because these studies focused on only vegetarian meals, it’s difficult to determine whether it’s true that the Flexitarian Diet would have the similar impact on blood pressure and cardiovascular risk.
However, flexitarian diets are designed to be mostly vegetarian and may provide benefits similar to vegetarian diets.
The flexibility of eating could be healthy in terms of your waist line.
This is partly due to the fact that the flexitarians avoid high-calorie, processed food items and consume more plants which are naturally lower in calories.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that those who adhere to the plant-based diet can lose weight faster than those who don’t.
A study of more than 1,100 individuals revealed that those who adhered to an all-vegetarian meal for 18 months lost 4.5 kg (2 kilograms) higher than the people who didn’t
Other studies indicate that people who adhere to vegan diets are more likely to shed the most weight when compared to omnivores and vegetarians.
Because this Flexitarian Diet is closer to the vegetarian one than it is a vegan and may aid in weight loss, but perhaps not in the same way as a vegan diet.
The type 2 form of diabetes has become a major health issue. A nutritious diet and, in particular, a largely plant-based diet, can aid in preventing and managing this condition.
It is because plants-based diets help in weight loss and are packed with items that are rich in fiber, and are low in unhealthy fats and sugar.
A study involving more than 60 000 participants revealed that the incidence of diabetes type 2 was 1.5 percent lower in semi-vegetarians, flexitarians or vegetarians when compared with non-vegetarians.
Another study found that people suffering from Type 2 diabetes that consumed vegetarian diets had 0.39 percent lower hemoglobin A1c (three-month daily average blood glucose readings) than those suffering from the disease who consumed animals’ products.
Nuts, fruits, vegetables whole grains, seeds and legumes all contain antioxidants and nutrients that can aid in fight cancer.
Research shows the vegetarian lifestyle is linked with a lower rate of all cancers, however, colorectal cancers are the most common.
A study that lasted seven years on cases of colorectal cancer in 78,000 individuals found that semi-vegetarians are 8% less likely to be diagnosed with this kind of cancer as compared to non-vegetarians.
Thus, adding more vegetarian food choices through flexitarian eating could reduce your risk of contracting cancer.
May Be Good for the Environment
The Flexitarian Diet can be beneficial for your well-being as well as our environment.
Consuming less meat will save natural resources by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in addition to water and land use.
A study of research into the long-term sustainability of plant-based diets showed that the switch from the standard Western diet to a flexitarian one in which meat is partially substituted with plant-based foods, can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 7.7%.
The increased consumption of plant food items will also increase the need for more land which can be used for growing vegetables and fruits for humans instead of feeding livestock.
Growing plants requires a lot less energy than raising livestock for food. Actually, the process of the production of plant protein requires more energy and energy per square meter than making animal protein.
Downsides to Eating Less Meat and Animal Products
If flexitarian and others plant-based meals are properly planned they can be extremely healthy.
But, certain people could be susceptible to nutrient deficiency when they cut down on animal products based on the quality of their food choices.
The possible nutritional deficiencies that you should be aware of when eating the Flexitarian Diet include
- Vitamin B12
- Omega-3 fat acids
A look at the studies about vitamin B12 deficiency has revealed that vegetarians of all ages are at risk of being deficient as are 62% of vegetarians who are pregnant and as high as 90% of older vegetarians deficient.
Vitamin B12 can only be found exclusively in products made by animals. Based on the quantity and type of animal products that a person who is flexible can choose to include B12 supplement could be suggested.
Flexibles also may be less able to store iron and zinc since these minerals are most easily absorbed by eating animal food. Although it is possible to obtain enough of these nutrients through plants alone but flexitarians should make their diets more specific to achieve this
A majority of seeds and nuts as well as whole grains and legumes have zinc and iron. The addition of a vitamin C is an excellent method to improve the absorption of iron from plant-based sources
Certain flexitarians are able to reduce dairy consumption and consume calcium-rich plant sources to obtain adequate quantities of this essential nutrient. The calcium-rich foods in plants include the bok choy, kale sesame seeds and chard.
Additionally, flexitarians must be cautious about consuming enough omega-3 fatty acids. These are usually found in fish that are fatty. The sources of the omega-3 derived from plants alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) include walnuts, chia seeds , and flaxseeds.
Remember that eating flexitarian food gives the option of eating varying amounts of animal products. If your diet is planned and incorporates a wide diverse range of whole foods nutritional deficiencies shouldn’t be an issue.
Foods to Eat on the Flexitarian Diet
Flexitarians focus on plant proteins as well as other complete, minimally processed food items while restricting animal products.
Foods that you can eat frequently include:
- Proteins: Soybeans, tofu, tempeh, legumes, lentils.
- non-starchy veggies: Greens, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, green vegetables, carrots, and beans.
- Vegetables with starch: Winter squash, corn, peas sweet potato.
- Fruits: Apples, oranges, berries, grapes, cherries.
- Whole grain: Quinoa Teff, buckwheat farro.
- Nuts seeds, nuts and other nutritious fats Flaxseeds, almonds Chia seeds, walnuts cashews, pistachios, cashews avocados, peanut butter coconut, olives.
- Alternatives to plant-based milk: Unsweetened almond, hemp, coconut as well as soymilk.
- Herbs Spices and seasonings Oregano, basil mint cumin, thyme turmeric and ginger.
- Conditions: Reduced-sodium soy sauce, apple cider vinegar and mustard, salsa nutritional yeast, ketchup, without sugar added.
- Drinks: Sparkling and still tea, water, coffee.
When you incorporate animal products, select the following items when it is possible:
- Eggs Organic or free-range.
- Poultry Free-range, organic or pasture-raised.
- Fish: Wild-caught.
- Meat Feeding on grass or pasture-raised.
- Dairy organic milk produced from animals that are fed on pasture or in grass.
The Bottom Line
Semi-vegetarian Flexitarian Diet concentrates on healthy plant proteins as well as other minimally processed plants-based food items but also encourages the consumption of animal and meat products, but in moderation.
The flexitarian diet can help with weight loss and decrease the chance of suffering from cancer, heart disease as well as type 2 diabetes. It could even be beneficial for the environment.
But making your flexitarian meal choices carefully is essential to ensure that you don’t suffer from nutritional deficiencies and reap the greatest health benefits.