Can't be a vegetarian? How about a flexitarian?
A semi-vegetarian or flexitarian diet is one that is plant-based with occasional inclusion of meat. All you meat lovers out there, if the thought of turning strictly vegetarian scares you, fret not. You can follow a flexitarian diet and still indulge in your favourite meat once in awhile. The idea behind the theory is largely to add more food to your meals instead of removing them.
Still have a lot of doubts? Let’s talk them out
Flexitarian or Semi Vegetarianism or Vegivores
Well, as the name suggests, flexitarian is a flexible vegetarian. The concept has been around for long, however it came to limelight in 2003 – after being chosen as the most useful word of the year by the American Dialect Society. According to Whole Foods, flexitarianism - eating predominantly, but not strictly, vegetarian - is going to be one of the biggest food trends of 2017.
Also this style of diet allows one to be a vegetarian by choice – without having to adhere to a strict set of rules. It is flexible and convenient.
What's so nice about flexitarianism
Anybody can decide to follow a flexitarian diet. If you are one of those who feel extremely guilty after a piece of that succulent roasted chicken, then flexitarianism is the right choice for you. Besides this, there are several reasons why increasing number of people are switching to this style of eating. Here are a few:
- Ethics – It is not a secret that our ethics discourage killing a living being to satisfy our own hunger. Hence this forms a major reason for some to primarily follow a vegetarian diet – no matter how much they love meat.
- Animal welfare – Animals can not be treated as objects that can be killed as per our whims and fancies. Using animals for personal desires is unacceptable.
- Animal rights – Non-human animals have rights on their own lives that need to be accepted and maintained as the rights of human beings. The view says that animals can not be used for research purposes, as food, to make clothes or other accessories, or even for entertainment.
- Environmental vegetarianism – According to this view, industries that thrive on animals destruct the environment. To learn more about this click here.
- Economic vegetarianism – Some people are forced into being flexitarians as they cannot afford to eat meat more than once or twice a week.
- Health issues – It has been proven that vegetarianism is the healthier way of living. What's more, it makes you less prone to cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, and helps you trim that waistline too. A typical non-veg diet leads to increased cholesterol levels, fat accumulation, and blood pressure.
- For a healthier planet – As per some organisations, 51% of global greenhouse gas release is due to the livestock sector.
- For a better budget – When you cut down on meat you will end up saving. Fish and meat products are much more expensive than vegetarian ones – you can spend the money saved on buying other healthy things for yourself.
The most important question – how much is not too much?
Well, isn't this query playing on your mind? We understand. You are not parting from non-veg food altogether – you are just embarking on a healthier way of living and eating. ‘Plants are nature’s pharmacy. They are brimming with protective nutrients and antioxidants that you just can't get from animals,’says Kate Geagan, RD, author of Go Green Get Lean.
After much fuss over clean eating and going vegetarian or vegan, flexitarianism has emerged as a more satisfactory and doable option. The most awesome part is, it gives you the freedom to dig into your favourite steak meal – only on weekends. Still wishing for more? It also allows moderate consumption of alcohol and eating out too.
Do you fit in any of these?
- The novice – One who has just started. This stage calls for shunning meat for at least two days in a week. For the rest of the week, stock up all the healthy alternatives to your staple meat and poultry items.
- The advanced – One who is halfway through. This stage involves avoiding meat for a minimum of 3 to 4 days a week. With a prominent increase in consumption of vegetarian food.
- The pro – One who is hardcore. These people observe five meatless days per week. And by this time, they can already feel the influence of healthy meatless eating on their mind and body.
That is not it. Besides avoiding meat, a major part of the concept propagates eating vegetarian food – variety of authentic beans, whole grains biscuits and other snacks, authentic assorted nuts, lentils, oatmeal, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, chickpeas and other sources of veggie protein.
So in layman terms, substitute animal protein with plant protein as much as you can.
Besides these, here is a myriad of superfoods you can try and say hello to a hale and hearty way of living.
It is not as difficult as you think it is, here are some simple steps you can follow
Start your journey to healthier living. Watch this video to understand how you can begin with the flexitarian diet.
Heard of Meatless Mondays?
Meat-free Monday is an international non-profit movement started by famous marketing professional Sid Lerner in 2003. Monday – the beginning of a new week – must start on a healthy note. It is the perfect day to remind us to make informed food choices throughout the week. This initiative has its base in the same concept as flexitarianism – to consume meat but not be dependent on it. This can be your starting drive to successfully become a flexible vegetarian.
So all you have to do is trigger this lifestyle change: begin with a few meat-free days a week, and increase them gradually.
It can be really tempting
A typical flexitarian schedule involves three meals and two snacks a day. Rest assured, the options are hearty and substantial mostly made of all this and more :
Here are five simple steps that would help you take up the flexitarian routine easily. Check them out here.
Let this only make you stronger
There has not been a person or a concept that does not find itself face-to-face with some or the other form of criticism. Vegetarianism with cheating, immoral, have-their-beef-cake-and-eat-it-too, and vegetarians-with-benefits are just some of the names given to flexitarians.
However the trend has been advocated and appreciated even by some staunch vegetarians. After all, two individuals reducing their meat intake by half are equivalent to one person going totally vegetarian. So certainly, two flexitarians would mean three people turning completely vegetarian. A benefit worth noticing.
Suzanne Havala Hobbs, a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill opines, ‘Whether you make a commitment to eating strictly vegetarian or not, cutting back your dependence on meat is something most people acknowledge they know they should do.’
Finally a simple solution that makes everyone happy – our precious animals, planet, our pockets, and of course us. For people who love to indulge in a well-cooked poultry or meat meal, go ahead and do so guilt-free, but sparingly. Eating flesh of another being is not something we should be proud of anyway. So minimise it and live a happy and healthy life.
We are privy to the fact that following a hardcore non-vegetarian diet not only harms the environment but our health as well. To pass on a safe, less polluted, and beautiful planet is something we owe to the generations to come. And to maintain a healthy environment and body is something we owe to ourselves for a better living. Know what you eat, eat what you know.
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