What is the flexitarian diet?
The flexitarian diet is a plant-based diet with the occasional addition of meat.
Flexitarians are also known as flexible vegetarians, casual vegetarians or vegivores. Quite simply there are no rules. Some flexitarians will have a meat-free meal once a week while others will only eat meat and other animal products such as fish or dairy on rare occasions.
The flexitarian diet is increasing in popularity especially with people who do not want to commit to a full vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. A semi-vegetarian diet often feels less daunting to embrace, allowing flexibility to adapt to individual lifestyle, social life or health conditions.
Surprisingly the adepts of flexitarianism are not only people who want to reduce their meat consumption but also vegetarians or vegans who decide to reintroduce meat into their diet.
So why would people decide to reduce their meat consumption?
The motivations behind adopting a flexitarian lifestyle are quite diverse.
Health – red meat is high in saturated fat and reducing the amount you eat can have a positive impact on your weight and health as well as helping to prevent heart disease. Salt and chemicals in processed meats are now linked to cardiovascular disease and cancer. Overuse of antibiotics in intensive factory farms is reportedly contributing to increased resistance to antibiotics in humans. Reduce meat and saturated fat from your diet can have many health benefits.
Animal Welfare – many flexitarians strive to buy meatless but buy organic or free-range meat (ideally from a local butcher) where the animals have been raised to higher welfare standards.
Environment – from CO2 emissions to the increasing need for space to grow animal feed crops (resulting for example in deforestation of the Amazon rainforest), meat consumption takes a high toll on the environment.
Also in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, many have lost confidence in the integrity of our meat supply chain and decided to do without meat.
Where do I start?
- Take one step at a time. Commit to one meat-free day a week at first such as Meat Free Monday. When you eat meat, think better meat and think smaller portions.
- Change the way you shop: go local, go seasonal, go sustainable. Buy more fruit and vegetables and less meat, fish and dairy.
- Value your food: inquire where it comes from, how it is produced and make sure you do not waste it.
- Choose organic or free-range meat.
- Choose sustainable fish (looking at local species, seasonality and fishing methods)
- Gone are the days when a good meal had to include meat. Vegetarian food is fun, balanced, diverse and filling. Surf the web for recipes inspiration, browse our own recipes selection and invest in a few vegetarian cookbooks.