Top 5 Benefits of a Flexitarian Lifestyle

July 1, 2021
flexitarian ingredients

There are new diets and meal plans popping up all over the place at any given time. From the keto diet to being a vegetarian or even a vegan, we’re being told different things are good for us from all kinds of different sources. But one diet that is actually pretty simple to follow is the flexitarian diet. The best way to make sure you’re sticking to your new diet is to make it into a lifestyle so it doesn’t feel like you’re having to constantly abide by rules. Thankfully, the ‘rules’ to the flexitarian diet are simple and your shopping list probably won’t change too drastically, making the flexitarian diet more of a lifestyle change than a diet. So let’s dive in and find out what is a flexitarian diet and what kind of items you’ll be adding to your shopping list.

What is a flexitarian?

A flexitarian is someone who doesn’t adhere to the traditional vegetarian or vegan diets but instead eats a mainly plant based diet with minimal meat and fish thrown into the mix. It’s a lot more flexible than being veggie or vegan whilst still enjoying the benefits of being mainly plant based. This means that you can still get all that yummy vegan goodness – just with the added treat thrown in here and there!

The best part of being a flexitarian is the lack of rules to follow. This means you’re more likely to follow it and aren’t going to find it as difficult to stick to as you’re not really denying yourself anything! The overall goal isn’t to cut back on animal products but to listen to what your body needs to function at its top level.

Health benefits of a flexitarian diet

The fact that there is no clear definition of a flexitarian diet means that it can be a bit tricky when we come to look at its health benefits. However, looking at vegan and vegetarian diets can be useful when finding out this information as the flexitarian diet is focussed on being a mainly plant based diet.

  1. Less risk of heart disease – diets that are rich in fibre are good for your heart health and although this has been looked into in terms of plant based diets, the fact that flexitarian diets are meant to be mainly plant based, this still gives us a good indication of what health benefits to expect.
  2. Weight loss – plant foods have a lot less calories so having more of them in your diet is going to do wonders for your waistline. And as long as flexitarians really limit their meat intake, there’s no reason why this wouldn’t help them lose weight too.
  3. Diabetes – there have been studies that support the fact that type 2 diabetes was less prevalent in flexitarians or semi-vegetarians than meat eaters. This is most likely due to the fact that these people were not eating as many processed products and foods with a high unhealthy fat count.
  4. Good for the environment – meat consumption has many detrimental effects on the environment so cutting a lot of meat out of your diet can help ease that. Eating more sustainable foods is good for your health as what is good for the earth is good for us!
  5. Sustainable – there have been studies that show that living by a flexitarian diet is a more sustainable lifestyle than even a vegetarian diet meaning that it is not only healthy for you but that you’re keeping the planet healthy too.

Flexitarian diet plan

Thinking of meals for the week can be an exhausting task but thankfully there are loads of sites and blogs you can follow for recipe ideas – like us! Here’s a bunch of flexitarian diet plan breakfast, lunch and dinner options to give you a better idea of what you can eat during the week. This doesn’t include snacks but having some fruit or nuts and seeds (or a TREK bar) will see you through those pesky elevenses!

Breakfast ideas:

  • Oats with apples, milled flaxseed and cinnamon.
  • Coconut yogurt with bananas and nuts of your choice.
  • Tofu scramble with mixed veggies and spices.
  • Whole-grain toast with avocado and poached eggs.
  • Poached eggs with sauteed veggies and fruit.
  • Smoothie made with unsweetened almond milk, peanut butter and frozen berries.

The beauty of a flexitarian diet is that on the days where you need more protein, you can add some eggs to your breakfast and then on your more vegan leaning days, stick to oats or dairy free yogurt and fruit.

Lunch ideas:

  • Burrito bowl with brown rice, beans and veggies.
  • Green salad, shrimp, corn, black beans and avocado.
  • Peanut butter sandwich with crushed berries on whole-grain bread.
  • Kale Caesar salad with lentils and tomato soup.
  • Whole-grain wrap with hummus, vegetables and chickpeas.
  • Quinoa salad with dried cranberries, pecans and feta cheese.
  • Chard or lettuce wraps with mixed veggies and peanut dipping sauce.

Dinner ideas:

  • Lentil soup with whole-grain bread and a side salad.
  • Courgette spaghetti with tomato sauce and white beans.
  • Grilled salmon, baked sweet potato and green beans.
  • Baked chicken, quinoa and roasted cauliflower.
  • Lentil stew and a side salad.
  • Black bean burgers with avocado and sweet potato fries.
  • Stuffed peppers with ground turkey and a side salad.

These are just a few flexitarian recipe suggestions(1) so feel free to mix it up a bit, swap out some cheeses or different nuts – whatever takes your fancy! But this is a perfect example of not completely cutting out meat but using it sparingly.

Challenges of a flexitarian lifestyle

The biggest challenge flexitarians face is getting the right amount of protein in their diet. We know that animal products contain a lot of protein but there are many high protein vegan foods to choose from as well. This is where TREK can help! TREK bars are made from 100% plant based ingredients and range from 9g protein in our flapjack bars and up to 15g protein in our power bars. Our bars also contain no artificial ingredients, are a source of fibre, are gluten free and vegan! This all contributes to living a sustainable lifestyle by consuming sustainable foods.

Flexitarian shopping list

Writing a shopping list(2) can be an arduous task but making sure you have enough of the following foods will ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need and enough variety to make some delicious meals.

  • Proteins: Soybeans, tofu, legumes, lentils.
  • Non-starchy vegetables: Greens, peppers, Brussels sprouts, green beans, carrots, cauliflower.
  • Starchy vegetables: Winter squash, peas, corn, sweet potato.
  • Fruits: Apples, oranges, berries, grapes, cherries.
  • Whole grains: Quinoa, teff, buckwheat, farro.
  • Nuts, seeds and other healthy fats: Almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, peanut butter, avocados, olives, coconut.
  • Plant-based milk alternatives: Unsweetened almond, coconut, hemp and soy milk.
  • Herbs, spices and seasonings: Basil, oregano, mint, thyme, cumin, turmeric, ginger.
  • Condiments: Reduced-sodium soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, salsa, mustard, nutritional yeast, ketchup without added sugar.
  • Beverages: Still and sparkling water, tea, coffee.

Remember that when you do come to buy animal products, you should try and choose the following types where possible to make sure you’re getting the best quality products without any detriment to the animals or environment.

  • Eggs: Free-range or pasture-raised.
  • Poultry: Organic, free-range or pasture-raised.
  • Fish: Wild-caught.
  • Meat: Grass-fed or pasture-raised.
  • Dairy: Organic and from grass-fed or pastured animals.

Now you’re all clued up on what a flexitarian is, you can now start on your meal plan and start noticing all the benefits. If you’re on the lookout for more nutrition info, why not check out our Making Nutrition Simple blog? We’ve also got a great blog on The Best Post Workout Recovery Foods and Drinks to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workout.

References

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/flexitarian-diet-guide#meal-plan
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/flexitarian-diet-guide#foods-to-eat