Consumers in the United States (and to some extent, all over the world) are turning to flexitarianism as a way to improve their diet for the better. Flexitarian eating, in case you aren’t familiar, is a plant-based diet designed to encourage consumers to pursue a vegetarian diet free of meat (and in some cases animal products), but not on a strict basis. As a flexitarian, you may eat meat or fish occasionally – but when possible, you’ll choose plant-based meals and ingredients whenever possible.
So why are so many people choosing this approach to eating and how can you get started?
The Benefits of Flexitarianism
Different people pursue flexitarianism for different reasons. For some, it’s a way to eat more nourishing plant-based sources of food, keeping a healthier weight or tapping into the amazing health benefits of these foods. For others, it’s an ethical choice; they may believe that meat consumption is ethically dubious, especially with the prevalence of factory farms, and that leaning to a more plant-based diet can lessen their personal impact on this. For still others, it’s a way to be more environmentally friendly, since meat production has a detrimental environmental impact.
Tips for Starting a New Flexitarian Eating Regimen
These are just some tips for helping you get started:
- Don’t be too strict or hard on yourself. First, don’t be too strict or hard on yourself. One of the greatest advantages of flexitarianism over vegetarianism or veganism is that you can decide what’s right for you. If you want to have a cheeseburger, you can. If you want to have a steak, you can. If you eat meat in moderation and keep the rest of your diet as plant-based as possible, there’s nothing wrong with it. Don’t let anyone else tell you what is or isn’t okay; this is something you can decide for yourself. And of course, you can break your own rules on occasion as well.
- Come up with a strategy. Some people find it difficult to transition to a flexitarian eating regimen overnight – especially if they eat a lot of meat regularly. That’s why it pays to come up with a strategy. For example, some people designate specific days of the week to be vegetarian (such as “meatless Mondays”), while allowing themselves to eat whatever they want the other days of the week. Some people choose to eat meat only for specific meals, such as once per day. Consider a few different approaches and find what works for you.
- Remember why you started. What are your motivations in becoming a flexitarian? Make a list of the benefits you’re trying to achieve or the motivations that made you get started. Remembering these and focusing on them will make it easier to make choices that align with your new eating philosophy.
- Try new ingredients whenever you can. Flexitarian eating is becoming much more popular, resulting in increased demand for new, innovative plant-based products. In response, more restauranteurs, chefs, and food manufacturers are attempting to incorporate new and interesting ingredients that flexitarians will love. If you want to make the most of these novel ingredients and keep your diet as varied and interesting as possible, it’s in your best interest to try them. Experiment as much as possible and keep trying new things.
- Find some flexitarian-friendly restaurants. Thanks to rising demand, we’re seeing an increase in the availability of flexitarian-friendly options at restaurants. Explore your city to find local establishments that offer a variety of plant-based meals, or even meat-plant hybrid dishes. Once you find a restaurant or two that you love, you’ll have a reliable source for some of your favorite food.
- Connect with other flexitarians. Flexitarianism is much more powerful when you’re using it to connect with other people. Consider reaching out to other flexitarians in your area, or encouraging some of your friends and family members to join you in this new eating habit. If you’re surrounded by other people attempting to achieve the same goals and eat the same foods, it will be much easier to stay on track – and you’ll probably learn something from them in the process.
- Consider other aspects of health and wellness. Finally, consider other aspects of your health and wellness. Changing up the foods you eat can help you find more nutritious, nourishing foods that have the potential to change your physical and mental health for the better. But you should also consider reinforcing an exercise regimen and getting plenty of sleep if you want to feel your best.
Flexitarianism isn’t going away anytime soon. Now is a perfect time to change up your eating habits, explore new restaurants, and get the most out of this new approach to eating.