Many people intuitively understand the benefits of vegetarian and/or vegan eating, but they don’t like the idea of cutting meat or animal products completely out of their diet. That’s why flexitarianism was pioneered; flexitarianism encourages people to live a vegetarian lifestyle as much as possible while allowing for occasional indulgences of meat. You can even call yourself flexitarian if you make an active effort to reduce your meat consumption (even if you still eat it on a semi-regular basis).
So what are the benefits of flexitarianism? And why are so many people flocking to this eating lifestyle?
The Benefits of Flexitarianism
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of flexitarianism:
· Simplicity. Flexitarianism is simple and easy to understand. You don’t need to learn complex new nutritional concepts, nor do you need to adopt a specific tracking system or buy into the teachings of a specific organization. All you need to do is make an effort to reduce your consumption of meat and animal products. Some variations of flexitarianism also encourage you to reduce your reliance on refined sugars and simple carbohydrates – but that’s really it.
· Flexibility. Flexitarianism is, as the name itself suggests, flexible. If you want to strive to be mostly vegetarian with rare exceptions, you can. If you want to cut meat out of your diet only 2 days a week, you can do that too. You’re the one in control.
· Access to innovative food products. One great advantage of flexitarianism is its sheer popularity. People all over the developed world are adopting flexitarian eating, leading expert food innovators like Griffith Foods to create exceptional new food products that fit the lifestyle. You can find meat substitutes that taste like the real thing, vegetable- and fruit-based dishes that make your mouth water and create new ingredients and food products that reshape your entire culinary world. It’s a great time to be practicing flexitarianism.
· Weight loss. Though not a guarantee, many people who switch to flexitarian eating enjoy some level of weight loss. Cutting meat out of your diet and substituting more lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and complex carbohydrates tends to give you a net calorie reduction. If combined with a healthy exercise regimen, your chances of losing weight will be even higher.
· Decreased risk of heart disease. After even a few weeks of practicing flexitarianism, you could sharply reduce your risk of heart disease. Heart disease is often a result of unhealthy eating patterns, such as eating too much, too frequently, and over-relying on saturated fats. By contrast, flexitarian eating tends to focus more on unsaturated fats, nutritious foods, and lower overall caloric contents.
· Decreased risk of type-2 diabetes. Similarly, flexitarian eating can decrease your risk of type-2 diabetes, and help you manage pre-diabetic issues. Steering away from calorie-dense meat products and away from refined sugars can help you maintain a healthy insulin response, lowering your risk of this (mostly) preventable disease.
· Environmental benefits. No matter how much you love meat, it’s impossible to ignore the environmental impact of meat production. Calories for calorie, meat, and animal products are much more resource-intensive than other types of food; it takes far more calories of energy to produce a calorie of meat than to produce an equivalent calorie of a food product like rice or vegetables. Beyond that, raising livestock is a major source of methane gas production – one of the most negatively impactful greenhouse gases in today’s climate crisis. Eliminating meat from your diet entirely would have a significant positive benefit for the environment, but reducing your consumption is a great start.
· Self-confidence and wellness. Many people who switch to flexitarian eating enjoy the benefits of higher self-confidence and greater feelings of overall wellness. They lose weight, they feel lighter, they have more energy, and they feel good about the eating choices they’re making. It’s a perfect incentive to continue this eating pattern.
Are There Any Downsides to Flexitarianism?
Though the benefits of flexitarianism are significant, there are still a handful of downsides for some members of the population. For example, reducing your meat consumption could deprive you of certain nutrients like vitamin B12, calcium, and zinc; if you’re not making a conscious effort to supplement these nutrients, you could wind up with a deficiency. Fortunately, this is an easy problem to solve if you eat a varied diet and take an occasional multivitamin. Additionally, some people with IBS or other digestive issues suffer from plant-based diets.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before committing to any new dietary regimen. But for most people, flexitarianism is a simple, flexible eating plan that can lead to improved personal wellness and a reduced environmental impact – with practically no downsides.