The Flexitarian Diet – Smart Eating for Our Times – The Many Benefits of this Type of Eating
The Flexitarian Diet is an Easy Way to Eat Sensibly and Ethically in the Twenty-First Century.
With many benefits to our health, our household budgets and the environment, it’s a simple road map for sensible, sustainable eating without the need for any major lifestyle changes. It’s an eating plan that is versatile enough for anyone to follow.
Vegetarian and vegan diets are now mainstream, even trendy, but even the most willing of us can find the effort in eating this way heavy-going. It can mean more cooking from scratch, extra expense sourcing ingredients without animal products, and a whole lot more careful reading of the labels on the food we buy. For people who’ve grown up eating – and enjoying — meat, eliminating that burger or barbecue isn’t always easy. Enter the Flexitarian Diet, or ‘semi-vegetarianism’, for the best of both worlds.
The Flexitarian Diet Makes Sense – You Don’t have To Cut Out Meat –
Health professionals have been advising for years that a diet rich in plant foods and low on meat, such as the Mediterranean diet, is the most sensible option.
The Flexitarian Diet offers ways to do that without demanding the major commitment that cutting out meat involves. It could mean:
- Never eating meat during the day. Bacon with breakfast, a tuna sandwich for lunch and a meat-based meal at night adds up to a lot. Think of it as boosting your plant intake, rather than cutting out meat.
- Reserving meat for nights out or special occasions, or perhaps a Friday night feast or Sunday lunch at home. Historically, meat was always a treat, not daily fare, and it tastes all the better when you don’t have it all the time.
- One day on, one-day off. If meat has been an almost daily staple on your menu then you won’t miss it as much.
- Extend your recipe repertoire to include meals where meat is the compliment to the main dish, not the centerpiece with a few vegetables around the edges. Foodies of the world know that there’s a far greater wealth of fabulous flavors in plant-based dishes. It’s about opening the mind to new taste sensations.
The Pros of Flexitarian Eating
The health benefits of a mostly plant-based diet include better gut health, cancer prevention and, potentially, weight loss, but a Flexitarian Diet has many other bonuses too. Eating more fruits, vegetables, and plant foods is almost always cheaper, and the savings can go towards buying really good quality meat (free range or organic, for example). Avoiding cheap, intensively farmed meat is an eco-friendly option and an ethical stance in favor of animal welfare. It also tastes better and is better for your overall health.
There are many healthy and delicious protein substitutes such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, eggplant and nuts to name a few.
The environmental effects of industrial meat production are now notorious. Flying cheap meat in from afar increases your carbon footprint. Livestock farming itself is a well-documented contributor to global warming, and thousands of acres of land are cleared each year for grazing and growing animal feed.
Friends of the Earth report that in parts of South America, 63 hectares is cleared for land-intensive modern farming every hour, leading to deforestation on an enormous scale. It’s not just the suppliers that are to blame; what we eat drives their actions, and with global populations growing it’s a recipe for future eco-disasters.
What’s the downside to the Flexitarian Diet?
There really isn’t one. Some critics regard flexitarian eating as a fad that is no more than trendy eating. After all, there’s no such thing as ‘semi-vegetarianism’. If you eat meat you’re not a vegetarian. In practical terms, this all-or-nothing approach, perhaps with a side-serving of finger-wagging, does little to encourage people to eat more healthily or ethically. The reality is that vegetarianism isn’t for everyone, but any movement in that direction has to be a good thing.
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