As veganism becomes more and more popular, an increasing number of people are toying with the idea. However, the thought of going completely cold turkey (excuse the pun), is a little too much for some. Thus, the concept of a flexitarian diet is very appealing.
How it works
Being flexible is a good thing in many different aspects of life, and this is exactly what the flexitarian diet proposes. Essentially, rather than go 100% plant-based, the idea is flexitarians choose 5 days of the week where they are vegan/vegetarian. The other 2 days, they let themselves eat meat and other animal products. Most choose these couple of days to be social-heavy, where they have less control over what they eat; for example, on the weekend where they’re eating out with friends and family. The main purpose is to reduce the consumption of animal products overall.
Why do it
The arguments behind going vegan may really appeal to you; for example, the large effect of meat production on the environment or animal welfare issues. You may have also seen the flawless look of celebrities and influencers who go vegan and heard of the potential health benefits that accompany this way of eating.
However, you may also LOVE meat and dairy products. The smell of bacon and delectable taste of cheese makes going vegan impossible for you. You may have also read about the potential health risks of going vegan and that in doing so you could be putting yourself at risk of several nutritional deficiencies (think iron, vitamin B12 and omega 3).
Flexitarians don’t have to make this compromise.
What to include
However, there are some nutritional considerations you still need to make. During the days when you go plant-based, make sure you plan your meals carefully so you’re fuelling your body adequately. For example, make sure you’re getting enough protein at each meal; remember, 20-30g is ideal. Lentils, chickpeas and beans are great, yet they can leave some people feeling bloated. Nuts and seeds are also fantastic sources of protein and healthy fats, but they are also high in calories so be sure to manage your portion size. Additionally, tempeh, tofu and plant-mylk yogurts (think almond, soy and coconut) are good items to include in your repertoire. Get all the vitamins and minerals you need in our convenient Swisse Me vegan smoothies; our favourites include Replenish Me Spirulina and Boost Me Spinach.
Similarly, on days you eat animal products, be mindful of your nutrition. For example, make sure you’re choosing lean cuts of meat and low-fat dairy for your protein (think our Start Me Quinoa blend as an example of the latter). This is because processed and fatty alternatives, such as the aforementioned bacon and cheese, are high in saturated fat (the stuff linked to LDL, AKA ‘bad’ cholesterol). That’s not to say you can’t treat yourself occasionally; after all, the flexitarian diet is all about balance and flexibility.
A flexitarian approach to eating is an attractive in-between for those looking to reduce their impact on the environment and improve their health. However, as with any changes in eating habit, it’s important to plan things out carefully and allow your body time to adjust to new ways of eating. Use the above guidelines as a springboard and consult a registered nutritionist for more specific guidance tailored to you and your lifestyle.