Understanding the Flexitarian Diet

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This is a collaborative post.

Did you know? Studies have shown that daily meat consumption in the UK has fallen by 17% in the last decade. In other words, eating meat has never been less popular. But while the once-ever-popular carnivore lifestyle has decreased in favour, we can’t quite say we’re a nation of plant-based eaters just yet. 

Enter: flexitarianism. Also known as ‘casual vegetarianism,’ the flexitarian diet encourages plant-based eating, but the occasional consumption of meat is also permitted. Here’s everything you need to know about the flexitarian diet:

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What is a flexitarian diet?

As the term ‘flexi’ denotes, the flexitarian diet is a semi-vegetarian diet usually favoured by those looking to slowly adjust to a more plant-based way of eating – but want to ease their way in slowly, choosing a snack bar full of nuts instead of a sausage roll for example. Flexitarians try to mostly centre their diet around plant-based foods, but also treat themselves to meat as and when they fancy it. 

5 health benefits associated with the flexitarian diet

There are several health benefits associated with the flexitarian diet. Since flexitarians are eating less processed foods higher in unhealthy fats, they can enjoy just some of the following benefits to their health:

  • Lower risk of cancer or heart disease
  • A healthier body weight
  • Improved markers of metabolic health
  • Reduced blood pressure 
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes

How Flexitarianism benefits the environment

Inspired by the idea that plant-based diets are better for our health and also for the planet, there are of course also environmental advantages to the flexitarian diet. Since major studies have found the use of animals for food causes twice the pollution of producing plant-based foodstuff, reducing your consumption of meat can have a more positive effect than just on your physical health.

Possible nutrient deficiencies to be aware of when cutting out animal products

Unlike a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, flexitarianism is often favoured for not cutting out all the food groups at once – and all the nutrients. However, some people may still be at risk of nutrient deficiencies when they cut back on meat and other animal products in their diet. 

If you’re thinking about taking up the flexitarian diet, you should be aware of these possible nutrient deficiencies and adjust your diet accordingly: 

Good food examples for the flexitarian diet

In order to combat the possible nutritional deficiencies from this diet, there are some recommended foods that experts say you should introduce into your food plan instead.

  • Nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes for iron and zinc.
  • Vitamin C to increase iron absorption from plant-based foods.
  • Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines to get Omega-3.

Due to its flexible approach to plant-based eating, the flexitarian diet is quickly increasing in popularity around the UK. And with its numerous benefits to both your health and the planet, it’s not hard to see why.

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