What are the benefits of following a flexitarian diet?

It is impossible to miss the current trend for adopting a plant based or vegan diet, and recently I’ve started to notice that I’m becoming more and more meat adverse, and naturally making more plant based choices.  Now this could be because all I ever see on Instagram is delicious looking veggie meals……but now I’m finding that I enjoy plant based food much more than meat dishes, and although I can’t see myself cutting meat out of my diet completely I have definitely adopted a more flexitarian style diet.  But what is a flexitarian and what are the benefits of this lifestyle choice?

First things first what is a flexitarian?

a person, who eats a mainly vegetarian diet, but eats meat, fish and dairy occasionally

For once something that actually sounds simple and straight forward to adopt.  Compared with say a vegan diet which has lots of merits and works for some people, but for me personally I hate restrictions and don’t want to source vegan alternatives to treats or eggs to bind my fritters.  The key with a flexitarian diet is that it is flexible and therefore much more easy to follow at home, eating out and at friends, making it an easy choice to follow and become habit.

Unlike a lot of diet and lifestyle choices flexitarianism, promotes including new things into your diet rather that excluding things. In practise this means eating more vegetables and legumes such as butter beans, lentils and chickpeas, and reducing your meat, fish and dairy consumption.  This inclusive approach will help you to naturally eat a more balanced diet, helping you to get all of your essential nutrients and vitamins.

As this approach doesn’t have a set of rules, to get the most benefits from a flexitarian diet, it’s best to avoid processed foods including processed meats and increasing plant based foods.  A benefit of this healthy approach is  that it may help with weight loss, and have similar health benefits as associated with vegetarian and vegan diets.  At present though there is little research into specific health benefits, however making healthy choices should have a positive impact on your health.

In addition to the potential health benefits, a reduction in meat consumption is good for the planet too, in helping to drive down greenhouse gas emissions due to less demand for meat resulting in a reduction of meat production.

Following a flexitarian diet does have lots of benefits, and by making balanced choices including dairy, fish and meat you should be able to get all of your essential nutrients.  If you are cutting out a lot of dairy, meats and fish though, it’s worth looking into taking supplements particularly for B12, zinc, iron and calcium.  By following a flexitarian diet, you can adopt a flexible healthy balanced approached to your diet that benefits the environment and may lead to health benefits….what’s not to love?!?!

If you are thinking about adopting a flexitarian diet, start by dedicating a few days of the week to going meat free.  Try new foods, experiment in the kitchen or choose something different when you eat out.  But most importantly let it be a gradual and natural process and overtime if it fits with you will become lifestyle.

To help inspire you to try some different meat free meals across November I will be posting a meat free mid-week meals every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, if you want to include more plant based options in your diet, follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, for some meal inspiration that’s simply…..easy to make and yummy to eat.

If you have any go to meat free meals I’d love to hear about them, leave a comment below and I’ll look forward to giving them a go.

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