By Christine Dailey
The Flexitarian Diet is the marriage of being a vegetarian and being flexible. In her book, The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Year to Your Life, Dawn Jackson Baltner, RD, LDN, explains how you don’t need to eliminate meat to reap the benefits of a vegetarian diet.
Baltner points out that “on average vegetarians weigh less than their carnivorous counterparts; have fewer diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer; and live an average of 3.6 years longer!” However, becoming completely vegetarian is easier said than done. Not to mention, avoiding meat can be difficult, especially when you have to dodge the summer BBQ favorites or opt-out of enjoying a hot dog at a baseball game. The Flexitarian Diet solves this problem by gradually guiding you towards a casual vegetarian lifestyle.
The foundation of this diet is to ease into it and do what your body is comfortable with and capable of. No need to create a whole new routine – just move one step at a time toward your healthy ideal. Being a Flexitarian doesn’t mean you have to change your lifestyle to eat healthy. You simply mold and bend the diet to fit your needs.
Benefits of being a Flexitarian:
Weight loss: Vegetarian diets are typically lower in calories, higher in fiber and have lower proportion of calories from fat.
Improved heart health: Lower cholesterol and blood pressure will lead to reduced risk of heart disease.
Decreased risk of diabetes: A low-fat, plant-based diet reduces the risk of developing diabetes and its complications.
Decreased risk of cancer: People who eat a semi-vegetarian diet have about 40 percent less risk of dying from cancer than people who eat meat.
Longer life expectancy: Studies suggest people with a semi-vegetarian diet live 3.6 years longer than meat-eaters.
Fewer cravings: Vegetarian diets expose you to new food, which means you can extend your palate and taste buds. A physiology and behavior study claims that a monotonous diet increases cravings.
Healthy earth: Meat and dairy products have a bigger carbon footprint than vegetarian meals because they take more energy and resources to prepare.
If you’re going to give a semi-vegetarian diet a shot, the first thing to do is learn about alternate sources of protein – nuts, beans, soy, etc. Now that meat is off the table, protein, veggies, fruits, grains, dairy and spices will be the staple of your diet. Since the Flexitarian Diet aims to go with the flow of your everyday routine, there are no exotic ingredients or groceries required. Flexitarian recipes can be found on Dawn Blatner’s website among hundreds of other websites offering vegetarian and semi-vegetarian recipes.
Already a vegetarian or semi-vegetarian? We would love to hear your thoughts on living a meatless life. Comment below and tell us what you think about a semi-vegetarian diet. If you’re interested in incorporating a more plant-based diet into your life, talk to one of our nutritionists at your local Sports Club/LA.