What is the Flexitarian Diet?
One of the latest diet options gaining popularity is known as ‘flexitarian’ and mostly stands for flexible vegetarians. They eat significantly less meat than most people, but can still occasionally enjoy a steak or other type of meat. The point of the diet is to help people lose weight and get healthier by focusing on getting the vast majority of their calories each day from plant sources.
The diet is based on a plan created by Dawn Jackson Blatner, who is a registered dietitian and an author who advocates this way of eating. While there still needs to be more official studies on this type of eating, common sense and anecdotal evidence shows that it can be extremely effective for many people.
How Much Meat Can You Eat?
The biggest question people ask when learning about this diet is about how much meat they are permitted to consume. While there are no hard rules, the guide for this diet says that beginner flexitarians are people who cut meat completely out of their diet at least two days per week.
Eliminating meat two days per week is a relatively easy place to start and allows people to move slowly into this type of lifestyle. Once you have adjusted, you can work to become an advanced flexitarian, which is someone who eliminates meat from their diet 3-4 days per week. Finally, an ‘expert’ flexitarian will not eat meat 5 or more days per week.
Most people will also work to reduce their meat consumption on the days that they decide to eat meat. For example, going vegetarian for breakfast and lunch, but having a delicious pork chop for dinner. Simplifying the transition since most people already don’t eat meat with every meal.
Benefits of the Flexitarian Diet
There are many great advantages of the flexitarian diet, which makes it a very attractive option for many different people. The following are some of the biggest perks of choosing this diet:
- Easy to Follow – You don’t need to count calories or points or anything else. Just choose which days of the week you want to avoid meat, and plan vegetarian dishes. It is even easier because if you have an important event on a day, you were planning to skip meat, you can just choose an alternate day.
- Naturally Move to Healthy Food – When done properly, this diet will have you naturally eating healthier foods. As you replace meats with vegetables and other foods, you will be getting more vitamins and minerals that you almost certainly lacked before.
- No Explaining – Many people have a hard time being a vegetarian because lots of people judge them or poke fun. With the flexitarian diet, people won’t even notice a change. While it may seem unimportant, this can be a huge help to many people.
- Moderation – Most people have heard the saying, “all things in moderation” and that is exactly what this diet does. While meat certainly has some health benefits, almost all studies show that most people eat too much of it.
Challenges of the Flexitarian Diet
As with all diets, it isn’t a magic bullet that will have you in perfect shape overnight. There are some things that you need to watch out for when you adopt the flexitarian diet, including the following:
- Processed Foods – Like vegetarians and vegans, it is only healthy if you consume healthy alternatives to meat. It is very important to be careful with which processed foods you choose as some may be extremely unhealthy. There are lots of highly processed non-meat dishes out there that are not good for you at all. When adding non-meat dishes to your menu, make sure they are right for you.
- Getting Enough Protein – If you’re used to getting most of your protein from meat, you will need to make an effort to get enough protein in your diet. Some people will add soy, but that is not for everyone. There are plenty of vegetables and other options that have a good amount of protein in them, so with a little research, you won’t have any trouble.
- Weight Loss – While most people who use this diet do lose weight, it is not specially made for that goal. If you want to lose weight, you will also have to practice portion control and choosing healthy alternatives to meat.
Is the Flexitarian Diet Right for You?
The flexitarian diet has a lot of attractive points to it, and it can make becoming healthier a lot easier for many people. Of course, like all diets, it is not for everyone. Take some time to think about your personal eating habits, health goals, and other factors before deciding whether or not to follow the flexitarian diet.
Even if you decide that this isn’t the right diet for you, you can benefit from choosing to go meatless once or twice per week. This is an excellent way to add vegetables and other healthy foods to your diet without having to go without meat too much.