Flexitarianism

October 20, 2019

Flexitarianism

What is the flexitarian diet?

The flexitarian diet is a plant-based diet with the occasional addition of meat. Flexitarians are also known as flexible vegetarians, casual vegetarians or vegivores. Quite simply there are no rules. Some flexitarians will have a meat-free meal once a week while others will only eat meat on rare occasions.

The flexitarian diet is increasing in popularity especially with people who do not want to commit to a full vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. It allows them flexibility that they can adapt to their lifestyle, social life or health conditions. Surprisingly the adepts of flexitarianism are not only people who want to reduce their meat consumption but also vegetarians or vegans who decide to reintroduce meat into their diet.

Why do people decide to reduce their meat consumption?

The motivations behind adopting a flexitarian lifestyle are quite diverse. 

  • Health – red meat is high in fat and reducing the amount you eat can have positive on your weight, health as well as preventing heart disease. Salt and chemicals in processed meats are now linked to cardiovascular disease and cancer. Overuse of antibiotics in intensive factory farms is reportedly contributing to increased resistance to antibiotics in humans.
  • Animal Welfare – many flexitarians strive to buy meatless but buy organic or free-range meat (ideally from a local butcher) where the animals have been raised to higher standards of welfare.
  • Environment – from CO2 emissions to the increasing need for space to grow animal feed crops (resulting for example in deforestation of the Amazon rainforest), meat consumption takes a high toll on the environment.

Veganism is tough. It requires sacrifice, careful decision-making and despite several major brands offering more vegan options, your choices are still limited. Being a flexitarian is less rigid and allows you to make your contribution to helping the planet and eating healthier, while still allowing for the odd, drunken Donner kebab. 

But there has been some furor over the growth of flexitarianism. Some people have claimed that it’s not a thing, or it’s just a cynical marketing ploy to pander to guilty meat-eaters. So what’s the answer? Is it legit? And are there any benefits? Nutritionist Charlotte De Curtis thinks there are. 

‘It’s much less strict and often easier to adhere to than a strict vegan diet,’ Charlotte tells  Metro.co.uk. ‘And usually, there aren’t any strict measures like counting calories or macros. ‘The biggest potential benefit is the fact that a typical Western diet is a red meat, dairy, artificially sweetened and processed foods with minimal plants. ‘A flexitarian approach will likely see an increase in micronutrients being consumed (vitamins and minerals), which is a huge benefit for overall health.’


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