The Flexitarian Diet – What is it?

By Kamyra La Fauci, Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD)

You may have heard of the latest diet trend “the flexitarian diet” from a friend, or seen it on your social media threads, but what does it actually mean?

Flexitarianism has grown in popularity in the last 6 months and is a dieting approach that involves eating more plant-based foods and reducing the consumption of meat and other animal products, without completely eliminating them from the diet.

There are no clear-cut rules when it comes to the flexitarian diet, which provides more flexibility compared to a vegetarian or vegan diet, hence its given name.  The diet is more of a lifestyle change and is based on the principles of eating more wholefoods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and wholegrains, less processed foods and focusing on consuming proteins from plants instead of animals. The rise of this diet phenomenon is mainly a result from people taking an environmental stance to benefit the environment. Cultivating plants is much less resource intensive than livestock production and produce less greenhouse gas emissions.

What are the benefits of the Flexitarian Diet?

  1. It may improve your health
  • Diets that are low in red meat (specifically processed meats) and refined/processed foods may decrease diabetes, cardiovascular and cancer risk
  • Plant based diets may lower Blood Pressure, Cholesterol and BMI (Body Mass Index)
  • Likely to increase fibre intake due to consumption of whole foods, legumes, beans, fruits and vegetables which is known to decrease bowel cancer risk
  • May avoid nutrient deficiencies versus vegetarian and vegan diets
  • May assist with weight loss
  1. It will help the environment
  • Livestock requires more water, food, land and energy to produce and transport animals versus plants – it is estimated that over 25% of greenhouse gas emissions are a result of livestock production (don’t forget the impact of deforestation too!)
  • Eating more plant-based foods will also support local produce
  1. Offers more flexibility to those who aren’t ready to entirely give up animal products
  • A diet that focuses more on what you can have in moderation versus what you must exclude
  • Provides more flexibility in social scenarios
  1. It is cheaper!
  • Consuming less meat and animal products will reduce the cost of your grocery bill!

What does a typical day on a flexitarian diet look like?

Breakfast: free range eggs with mushrooms, spinach and avocado on sourdough toast

Lunch:  Haloumi and Lentil Salad

Dinner: Tofu stir-fry with brown rice and quinoa

Snacks: a piece of fruit, almond latte or a handful of nuts

Our Verdict:

Whilst us Dietitians are usually cautious of fad diets, we hope the Flexitarian is here to stay! There are so many things to love about this diet, as listed above. If this diet interest you and you would like to learn how to slowly transition to flexitarianism, ask your BMI Clinic Dietitian today!

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