Created by Dawn Jackson Blatner, the flexitarian diet focuses on plant based food, limiting the intake of meat and other animal based products. The flexitarian diet is not the same as vegetarian or vegan diets, it is more flexible.
Vegetarian or vegan diets have plenty of health benefits, but are too restrictive for alot of people to follow. The flexitarian diet is a combination of the works flexible and vegetarian, as this is what it actually is. This is more of a lifestyle than a diet.
Vegetarians eliminate meat, and often eliminate animal products too. Vegans eliminate all meats and all animal products including fish, dairy and eggs.
Main components of being a Flexitarian
- Each high protein foods from plants, rather than animal protein
- Eat loads of fruit, vegetable, whole grains and legumes
- Limit processed foods to a minimum, always choose natural, unprocessed foods
- Limit sugar and refined foods, colourings, additivies, preservatives
- choose healthy and fresh, over processed and long life
- choose plant based foods
Health Benefits of the flexitarian diet
Good for your Heart
Diets which are Rich in fiber and antioxidants, and low in unhealthy animal fats, are good for your heart, as you would have lower blood pressure and you would increase your levels of good cholesterol.
Good for Weight Loss
The basis of the flexitarian diet is to focus on Plant based foods. Plant based foods are high in fiber and lower in calories, helping considerably in losing weight naturally.
Good for the environment
Animal based foods consume large amounts of land and water in their production. Switching to plant based foods is good for the environment as it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Less land would be used to grow feed for livestock, and instead this land would be used to grow fruit and vegetables for human consumption. Growing plant based protein consumes about 10 times less energy than growing animal based protein.
Good for Diabetes
Plant based diets may help prevent or control type 2 diabetes. The flexitarian diet is low in unhealthy fats and added sugar, and high in fiber, which therefore leads to a healthier lifestyle and a loss of weight. Diets which include animal based products would cause a higher blood sugar reading, therefore plant based diets help control blood sugar levels naturally.
The flexitarian diet is full of antioxidant rich foods such as:
- whole grains
These antioxidant rich foods help reduce the risk of cancer, especially colorectal cancer.
When limiting animal based foods, one should consider taking food supplements to ensure they are taking sufficient amounts of the following;
- vitamin B12
- omega 3 fatty acids
Most of these elements are rich in animal based foods, therefore when switching to plant based foods, one should consider taking these food supplements.
Nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes all contain iron and zinc. If one increases their intake of vitamin C, this helps the absorption of iron from plant based foods.
Plant based foods rich in calcium include kale, bok choy, chard and sesame seeds.
Omega-3 fatty acids are usually found in fish, but plant based foods such as walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds also are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
What to eat when on the flexitarian diet
Fruit: Apples, oranges, grapes, cherries, bananas, kiwi
Vegetables: green beans, carrots, cauliflower, squash, peas, corn, potatoes
Protein: Lentils, Legumes, Soybeans, tofu
Whole grains: buckwheat, farro, quinoa
Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, ashews, pistachios
Milk alternatives: soy milk, Unsweetened almond, coconut, hemp
Herbs and spices: tumeric, ginger, Basil, oregano, mint, thyme, cumin
Drinks: water, tea, coffee, fresh fruit and vegetable juices
The flexitarian diet is good for weight loss and reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. It may even be good for the environment.