January 16, 2019 6 min read

Eating a plant-based diet is slowly becoming more popular with a lot more people wanting to live a healthier lifestyle that not only impacts on their health, but also impacts the environment and their day to day living. Because going on a completely vegetarian or vegan diet may be too daunting for some people, there exists a diet that has more flexibility when it comes to the consumption of meat products. This diet is calledThe Flexitarian Diet.

What Is The Flexitarian Diet?

Dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner created the flexitarian diet as a remedy for those who would like to follow a more plant-based diet yet still have the freedom to occasionally enjoy the meat products that they have grown accustomed to. It’s one of the least restricting diets out there that promotes a healthy balance of food choices and focuses more on the creation of healthy eating habits. The diet does not put a limit on the number of calories that you can take throughout the day, nor does it have a specific macronutrient requirement that you need to attain in order to stay true to the lifestyle. The only thing that you need to focus on is creating a lifestyle that is intended for holistic growth.

Food Guide For The Flexitarian

Because this diet does not define calorie intake, nor does it restrict you from eating any type of healthy and natural food, the diet is considered to be the most flexible in terms of achieving a healthy eating pattern.

Generally speaking, when you embark on the flexitarian diet, you eat more plant-based food items such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains, and incorporate a certain amount of protein from animal sources from time to time. The difference with the flexitarian and the vegetarian diet is that the vegetarian diet does away with all meat products with the exception of some dairy and eggs; the flexitarian allows meat products to be included in the diet occasionally as a source of protein and also to avoid feeling deprived or cut-off completely from the [healthy] food that you usually enjoyed prior to being on this diet.

A flexitarian diet encourages you to eat more vegetables than meat

The flexitarian diet, as discussed by Blatner, comes in three phases: in the first phase wherein you avoid having meat in your diet for two days in a week, and to limit the meat intake to no more than 26 oz. The second phase suggests eating a vegetarian diet for three to four days in the week, and to limit meat intake to 18oz. The third phase recommends following a vegetarian diet for five out of the seven days in a week, and to limit the meat intake to 9 oz for that week.

The diet intends for a person to derive most of his nutritional needs from plant-based products which includes getting protein from plants such as nuts, seeds, and greens, and having a good amount of soluble fiber in their diet. When eating meat, the best choice would be to go for organic and grass-fed meat products or to include fish in their meals, and avoid highly processed ones such as salami, bacon, and ham, as they not only contain high levels of fat, they also contain a lot of salt. The preservatives used in these products are known to be cause allergic reactions and may also lead to certain types of cancer.

Sugar-filled food is not definitely not allowed in the diet

Foods high in refined sugar or those that contain added sugar are also not allowed in the diet. Theseadded sugar can cause terrible health issues such as diabetes, cancer, and obesity. For this reason, the inclusion of food that are naturally sweet is very helpful in countering any sugar cravings that a person may have. The idea in this diet is for a person to want to eat healthy and to avoid food items that may cause adverse effects in their healthy lifestyle.

Benefits of Being Flexitarian

Because there are no hard and fast rules about the food that you will be eating while on this diet, the benchmark for the benefits of going on this diet relies mostly on the idea that eating more plant-based food items will inevitably lead you to live longer and healthier because of the change in your diet from a meat-based one to a primarily plant-based diet. The goal is to slowly get used to eating more plant-based products until such time that you would no longer feel it necessary to eat meat products yet know that you have the freedom to do so if you wanted to.

  • Decreased Risk of Type II Diabeteswhen you follow a diet that is more plant-based, it decreases the fat that lines your muscles, the fat that is contained within your muscles, and the fat that is directly under your skin. The reduction of this fat reduces the chances for insulin resistance which can lead to type II diabetes. When you eat a diet that eliminates sugar-laden food products and one that is high in soluble fiber, it can allow you to significantly lose weight, and therefore, fat.

The flexitarian diet helps prevent Type II diabetes

The diet can also help prevent high disease because of the high levels of fiber that is included in the diet

  • Prevents Heart Diseasea diet rich in fiber not only helps in losing weight, it is also incredibly helpful in lowering your risks for heart disease. Not only that, a plant-based diet also means that you get more antioxidants from your diet, especially if you include eatinguncooked and unprocessed vegetables and fruits into your diet. A diet high in fiber and antioxidants are especially helpful in lowering cholesterol level in the blood and in so doing, helps in keeping the heart strong and healthy.

  • Reduces Risk Of Cancerwhen you follow a wholesome diet that involves eating more plant-based products, reducing meat intake, and eliminates highly processed food from your dinner table, you can almost be assured that the risks of cancer developing will be significantly lower, particularly the development of colorectal cancer. The high levels of antioxidants you get from food and the nutrients that you derive from the whole food that you eat helps in keeping your cells healthy and functioning well, and also helps in eliminating cells that may go rogue and turn into cancer cells.

  • Earth-Friendly Dietbecause cultivating plants is definitely more cost efficient than raising animals for food, it can help in reducing the carbon footprint that you inevitably leave when you consume more meat than vegetables or fruits. Not only that, reducing the amount of processed food items lowers the demand for these items which actually require a lot of manufacturing processes and therefore, a higher rate of greenhouse gas emissions. Going on a primarily-plant based and whole diet not only does you a lot of good, it also helps our environment.

The diet includes food that are high in antioxidants that can help prevent cancer

Going on this diet helps reduce carbon footprint because you consume food that require little to no processing at all

Are You Meant To Follow This Diet?

A lot of people may have some worries about not getting enough of the nutrients that you can derive from meat from a plant-based diet. Firstly, plants are known to contain a lot more nutrients that can actually act as a counterpart to meat which is whyplant-based meat substitutes, also known as vegetarian meat, is becoming more and more popular and available in the market. Second, the diet does not restrict you from eating meat, you just have to eat them in moderation and learn to eat a diet that is not focused on being a meat-based in its entirety.

The flexitarian diet is a great way of introducing and including more plants into your diet. The diet itself does not require you to get through the three phases immediately, you are free to work at your own pace and to learn to enjoy the process. This diet is a great gateway diet for those looking to eat healthier and to follow a diet that requires a more conscientious approach to living and eating patterns. It is flexible for all the right reasons and it is definitely something that you can try to do and feel easily comfortable with.