5 Tips For Becoming Flexitarian
What exactly is a flexitarian? It’s a vegetarian who occasionally incorporates meat into their diet. There are no hard and fast rules to the flexitarian diet; instead it allows you to get the health benefits associated with vegetarianism while giving some wiggle room to have the odd steak, making it an ideal entryway to a plant-based diet.
Dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner first introduced the concept in 2008 when she published The Flexitarian Diet, sparking interest in this new, more balanced way of living that allows you to enjoy the health benefits—and do your part to tackle climate change—while not feeling like you're "missing out".
Looking to eat less meat? Here are five steps to follow to help with the transition.
The first step is to get informed to ensure you make the transition in a healthy way. Technically, margherita pizzas, french fries and sodas are all vegetarian, but that doesn't mean they are giving you the macro and micro nutrients you need. Making the move to a primarily plant-based diet requires preparation to ensure you’re getting the nutrition you used to get from meat. Check out sources such as The Vegetarian Society to plan your meals properly.
Make A Gradual Change
It’s completely up to you how quickly you make the jump to a flexitarian diet, though Blatner recommends that beginners start with two meatless days per week, before moving to three to four, and eventually to five days without meat every week.
As the founder of several vegan concepts, Gen.T honouree Kelly Chen is a vocal advocate for plant-based living. She says the key to success is to take it slowly and to not—if this isn't an inappropriate idiom—go cold turkey. “First, try to change one of your daily meals to be plant-based," she says. Then, after time, make the move to eat a vegetarian diet one day a week.
The growth in popularity of plant-based diets has seen a burgeoning market for meat alternatives. From Impossible Burgers to Omnipork, there are numerous plant-based "fake meat" options to satiate the occasional cravings.
But remember that while these alternatives are generally better for your health—and the planet—than meat, they're not necessarily healthy. If you have the time, try to make your own meat-free alternatives, like a beetroot and bean burger patty or tofu scramble.
Stick To It In Social Situations
One of the hardest parts of making a big diet change is sticking to it in social situations. Startup abillionveg, founded by Singapore-based entrepreneur Vikas Garg, helps solves that very problem. "Our app helps people find and review plant-based dishes at any kind of restaurant, anywhere in the world,” says Garg. For abillionveg, it's about climate change as much as diet change: "We’re only going to become more sustainable if all businesses embrace having great plant-based options.”
See also: abillionveg: The New Must-Have App For Plant-based Living
Build A Routine
Being flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan requires you to pay more attention to what you're eating to ensure you have a balanced diet. Having a routine can make all the difference in how well you stick to your new lifestyle.
Try to prep your meals two to three times a week so you always have a spare dish at home for a quick-and-easy dinner. Cooking a big vegetable soup or curry on Sunday nights also makes navigating your hectic weekday schedule that much easier.