Flexitarianism is a relatively new term, describing a mostly vegetarian rather than a strictly vegetarian diet. Hence, it’s also called semi-vegetarianism.
Diet science has been full of fads and trends that ebb and flow. However, it looks like flexitarianism is here to stay. It’s one of the healthiest and most ethical, yet most sustainable diets.
Going flexitarian is based primarily on the one constant simple rule amid a sea of constantly changing diet science; eat mostly plants and little meat.
What is a Flexitarian?
Although the term has been around since the 90s, it has recently gained popularity and has been coined in the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary in 2012.
The diet has been adopted by more and more people amid the recent environmental and ethical awakening. The reason for that is the flexitarianism is a godsend.
A flexitarian is basically a vegetarian with benefits. It’s eating a plant-based diet all week and still getting a burger on a Saturday night out. It’s having your steak and eating it, too.
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, it’s still a moral dilemma. But a good amount of it actually is. Humans are imperfect and the sudden transition into a completely vegetarian or vegan diet is certainly difficult.
Flexitarianism finds a middle ground between our moral conscience and our lives in a society constantly luring us into consumerism.
Why Become a Flexitarian?
There are two main very compelling reasons here, health and the environment.
First, the WHO has listed both red meat and processed meat as carcinogens since 2015 advising the public to completely avoid processed meat and to decrease their red meat consumption to 250 grams/week.
The risks of poultry and fish were not assessed but are estimated to be healthier to consume.
Second, meat is rich in saturated fats causing dyslipidemia. It’s a silent killer, one that’s responsible for most cases of heart disease and hypertension in the world today.
Concerning climate change and man’s seemingly inevitable doom, the meat industry has a huge carbon footprint and is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases.
How Can One Become a Flexitarian?
The flexitarian food pyramid is the same as Harvard’s pyramid of healthy eating. It’s one with vegetables, fruits, whole-grain foods, and plant oils at the bottom along with exercise.
Then at the top used only sparingly is red meat, butter, and processed carbohydrates. In between, there’s nut and legumes, then fish, poultry and eggs as well as dairy.
The NewYork Times also provides a great guide for transitioning, The Meat Lover’s Guide to Eating Less Meat. You’ll find more and more recipes on the internet as the lifestyle gets more fashionable.
However, one important tip to remember is vitamin B12. It’s extremely important in the health of nerves and blood cells.
In conclusion, flexitarianism isn’t just a great way to give back to your body and the planet, it’s also a way around the happiness pump. It’s honestly a rational stance to the state of the world, rather than an emotional one, which is why it works.
As a fellow aspiring vegetarian, I don’t particularly enjoy the guilt trips but I am physically incapable of complete commitment. That’s how I found flexitarianism.