The Flexitarian Diet

A diet rich in plants is the key to promoting the overall health and wellbeing of ourselves and the planet, but vegetarian and vegan diets can restrict our intake of important nutrients. These meatless diets can lead to low levels of vitamin B12 and iron, which can drain our energy and leave us feeling tired even after a restful night’s sleep. Enter the Flexitarian diet, created by Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD, the term ‘Flexitarian’ is a combination of the words flexible and vegetarian. An individual following this type of diet mainly consumes whole grains, fruits, and vegetables with most of their protein coming from beans and legumes. What sets this diet apart is that meals containing meat are usually eaten 2-3 times a week. However, there are no clear rules and restrictions to following this diet, and it is entirely based around an individual’s commitment to reduced meat consumption.

Statistics show that 95% of restrictive diets fail within the first 4 months, which is why going completely meatless isn’t necessarily the answer. Instead, incorporating a plant focused diet that is non-restrictive into your life, like the Flexitarian diet, can pave the way for lifelong healthy habits. Plant focused diets with an emphasis in whole grains starches are shown to reduce overall inflammation, help with healthy weight maintenance, and lower the risk for cancer and other chronic conditions. To get started, try getting excited about new ideas such as ‘Meatless Monday’ or ‘Tofu Tuesday’, which can both encourage you to maintain a routine or try out new themes and recipes, whichever fits into your lifestyle. Flexitarian diets could be the solution to the all or nothing concept of putting plants first without cutting our favorite lean meat proteins from meal plans or cutting important nutrients from our diet.

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