Flexitarianism and the importance of having a flexible life, one of our favorite guest posts by Joe Robinson. What it means to be a flexitarian and the benefits of this for both health and living a more adjustable and fulfilling life.
Being flexible is not about being weak, placid or passive.
Plant-based diets are becoming increasingly popular, especially among the Millennial and Gen Z generations. There have been a couple of highly talked about documentaries that persuade the viewers plant only diets are the best way to go for health and environmental factors (I am sure you know which ones I am talking about).
What are the argued benefits of a plant-based diet?
Health — some meat can be high in fat. Reducing the amount of fat we eat can have a positive effect on your weight and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Animal Welfare — the way in which animals are raised and treated before being eaten is often questioned on a humane level.
Environment — Farming animals is said to cause higher CO2 emissions and needs a lot more space compared to growing plants. Reducing the demand for meat is claimed to reduce our carbon footprint.
There are of course arguments for eating meat as well. The other end of the spectrum in diet is only eating meat, which also has advocates for: The Carnivore Diet
As with most areas of my life I have a balanced view and tend to sit in the middle of the spectrum; maybe a little more towards the plant eating side. With this being said I introduce Flexitarianism!
I said that like I introduced flexitarianism the world. I did not. However, it certainly seems that way as more often than not when I use the term most people have not heard of it. From what I have read it was first coined in the mid-90s and in 2012 was listed in mainstream dictionaries.
What on earth is Flexitarianism?
Flexitarianism is mainly a vegetarian diet with the occasional addition of meat. Basically, increasing plant-based meals without completely eliminating meat.
Flexitarians, also referred to as semi-vegetarians, casual vegetarians, flexible vegetarians, meat reducers or vegivores have no specific rules. Some flexitarians only eat meat on very special occasions while others may only choose to have meat free days throughout the week.
I believe this diet is becoming increasingly popular due to the flexibility. There is no commitment to being fully vegetarian or vegan and this allows ‘flex’. The option to be able to adapt to social circumstances, health conditions or changing lifestyles.
Flexitarians are generally people who want to reduce their meat consumption, but can also be vegetarians who what to re-introduce meat into their diet.
I’m thinking of becoming a Flexitarian. Where do I start?
Transition into reducing meat slowly. For example, one meat free day a week. The McCartney’s launched the Meat Free Monday campaign and this is a good way to start.
Buy more vegetables and plant products and less meat / fish.
When eating meats choose the most humane sources. Choose free range, animals that are grass-fed, born and raised outdoors.
Eat sustainably as much as possible. It helps to buy locally and seasonally.
There are a huge amount of balanced, diverse, tasty and filling vegetarian meals out there. A lot of restaurants are offering more variety in vegetarian and vegan options as well. Have some fun adding new foods to your diet and experimenting.
Value your body and what you put into it. Ask where your food comes from? How it is produced? Even when eating out. In fact, a lot of restaurants take pride in serving high quality foods.
You may get mocked by both meat eaters and vegetarians mainly due to the fact that flexitarians do not entirely fit into either camp. Often in a light hearted way I would like to add. However, if you do want a great response to being mocked try this:
“It is about adding new foods to my diet as opposed to excluding any, which can be extremely beneficial for my health.”
Top tips for being a Flexitarian
When you are choosing to eat meat choose good quality lean meats such as chicken or turkey.
Processed meats such as bacon or sausages are high in saturated fat and salt and provide limited vitamins and minerals. In addition, the World Health Organisation has linked high amounts of processed meat with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Therefore, I would advise to limit processed meats.
Eat plant based foods with every meal. At least the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables daily and include wholegrain foods.
Eating less meat means you should be eating alternative sources of protein. I highly recommend lentils, peas, nuts, seeds, beans, and rice. All are excellent plant-based sources of protein.
Nuts and seeds tend to have more heart healthy poly-unsaturated fats to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and also providing essential fatty acids. Lentils and beans have good amounts of soluble fibre. Great for aiding digestion and also reducing high cholesterol
Eating less meat may also mean you have to find alternative iron sources. For example, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale or broccoli or fortified breakfast cereals (low sugar varieties of course!). Furthermore, Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron so citrus fruits, sweet peppers and tomatoes are a great compliment to iron rich foods.
Living a flexible life
I personally find the biggest stressors in my life are in areas when I am not being flexible. When I am being flexible I am more calm, relaxed and able to handle life in a better way.
In a world that is becoming increasingly connected and switched on through the advancement in technology our flexibility and ability to adapt is becoming even more challenged. Often due to our own fear or stress we can put up resistance to this and end up being inflexible.
Being flexible is not about being weak, placid or passive. Flexibility is a powerful skill and about intentional choices to approach an ever-evolving world. It is possible to stay true to who you are, be firm in your decisions and also be open to change and new ideas at the same time.
Being a Flexitarian is about adding new foods and being flexible with your diet as opposed to excluding any. Life should be viewed in the same way.
Closing gratitude: I am grateful for my body. It has always been there for me. Supporting me in the best way it can. In return I aim to feed it with the right nutrition to be as physically healthy as I can be.
Are you a flexitarian? Do you think this could work in your life? We would love to hear from you in the comments below! Be sure to subscribe so you never miss a post and check out our FREE antioxidant health assessment here.
Love and Light