How to be a flexitarian

A flat lay of ingredients for a flexitarian diet

If you’re trying to eat less meat but don’t want to go completely plant based, give this flexible eating trend a try - Credit: Getty Images

It wasn’t that long ago when vegetarians and vegans couldn’t enjoy eating out – but how times have changed. With the increase in people opting for a plant-based diet, vegan and vegetarian restaurants have popped up all over the UK and the options have multiplied, but you don’t have to go the whole distance to reap some of the benefits of a plant-based diet. 

Flexitarianism – also known as ‘The Flexible Vegetarian’ – is a lifestyle where meat consumption is minimal, but the key word is ‘flexible’. For some that means they go one day a week without eating meat, for others it means they only eat meat on rare occasions. This diet is increasing in popularity as it essentially helps those who aren’t ready to fully commit to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. It allows room for flexibility so it can be adapted around a person’s lifestyle, whether that be for social, economic or health reasons. It also helps in allowing an increased intake of plant-based foods such as beans, lentils and seeds that are also highly beneficial for your overall health. 

The motivations for choosing to adopt a flexitarian lifestyle are incredibly diverse and vary from person to person, and one factor that leads many to embrace it is the impact it can have on health. High red meat consumption has been linked to a host of diseases such as cancer, high cholesterol, heart disease and obesity. Reducing this and replacing it with a varied plant-based diet including pulses, tofu, beans and whole grains with the occasional addition of higher welfare meat can provide all the proteins needed. 

A tasty Chickpea salad, one of many flexitarian meal ideasA tasty Chickpea salad, one of many protein packed flexitarian...

A tasty Chickpea salad, one of many protein packed flexitarian diet meal ideas - Credit: Getty Images

People tend to adopt the 5:2 schedule whereby they eat vegan during the week and allow themselves to indulge in dairy, meat and fish over the weekend, so it allows yourself some leeway. 

Another benefit of this is that increasing a diet of vegetables, grains and pulses is usually much cheaper, which gives you the added bonus of being able to spend more on organic and good quality pieces of meat. 

Being flexitarian has many other positive benefits and the major plus is that it comes with no added pressure other lifestyles tend to bring with it. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Whether you’re embracing meatless Monday or only eating meat once a year at Christmas, it’s a diet to suit your lifestyle. It’s also suitable for those who want to reintroduce meat into their diet. Though if you are thinking of cutting down on your meat and dairy consumption, make sure that you’re still getting the nutrients you need for a healthy and balanced diet.  

The good news is that the more people who are embracing different diets, whether that’s veganism, vegetarianism, pescatarianism or flexitarianism, everyday supermarket shelves are being filled with a wider array of options. Modern cookbooks are being published to help make cooking delicious plant-based cuisine super easy. Choosing what to eat has never been so much fun. 

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