Flexitarian diets are picking up in popularity, and many have the idea that adopting it could be a way for us to help the environment.
But what is flexitarianism, and how could it be beneficial to the Earth?
So you’re interested in a flexitarian diet?
Flexitarianism – or “casual vegetarianism” – is a plant-based diet that allows meat and other animal products, but in moderation.
As it’s more flexible than vegetarian or vegan diets, the name flexitarian naturally took hold.
Most give credit for the origins of flexitarianism to the registered dietitian and nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner who developed the diet to provide the benefits of being vegetarian while still enabling those who wanted, to include some animal products in their food.
Flexitarianism could be described as a lifestyle, and is a popular choice for those looking to eat more healthily, with no clear-cut rules or calories to be counted.
What foods are included?
Being flexitarian is about adding to your diet rather than excluding anything, with a focus on plant-based proteins, that include lentils, beans and peas as a mainstay. Nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds, pine nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and walnuts are recommended to help maintain a healthy cholesterol level. When one does decide to include meat, quality lean meats, such as chicken or turkey are in general the way to go.
The flexitarian diet is loosely based on the following:
- Focus on fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
- Source the majority of protein from plants and less from animals.
- Be flexible though, and include meat and animal products occasionally.
- Wherever possible select the least processed, most natural form of foods.
- Limit sugar and sweets.
Could flexitarianism help slow down climate change?
The increasing popularity of flexitarianism is one of the results of consumers adopting more environmentally sustainable approaches to their lifestyle and to food.
Scientists have concluded that eating less meat could significantly help reduce the environmental pressures of our modern global food production. The University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Population Health’s Dr Marco Springmann has said that “without concerted action, we found that the environmental impacts of the food system could increase by 50 to 90% by 2050 as a result of population growth and the rise of diets high in fats, sugars and meat.”
The study found that adopting flexitarian diets could significantly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
Photo by Bob Blob