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Diets: Not a Committed Vegetarian? Maybe You're a Flexitarian

Reviewed by: Dr. Steven Knauf, D.C.

By Brandi Goodman

What Is A Flexitarian

Most people have come to understand the term “vegetarian.” It generally refers to a person who does not eat meat. But what about those who may not be fully committed to the cause, or who want to eat in a healthier way but still require some meat in their diet due to a lack of vitamins -- or they like an occasional steak?

Those people also have a category. They’re called flexitarians. Understanding exactly what a flexitarian diet is and the foods it entails can help you decide if this plan is right for you.

What Is a Flexitarian?

A flexitarian is someone who is more flexible with their vegetarian lifestyle. They follow the diet closely but still consume small amounts of meat along with their fruits and veggies. Some vegetarians, and vegans especially, even omit all animal products from their diet. A flexitarian is more likely to leave these things in the mix. Though they follow a primarily plant-based diet, they still allow eggs and milk in their meal plans.

What Do Flexitarians Eat?

Flexitarians often do their best to eat mostly plant-based foods. They’ll choose a plant-based protein over meat most days, and ensure plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are on their plates. However, they still allow themselves to eat the red meat and animal protein that typical vegetarians do not consume. Many follow a certain interval of days for their plan, meaning they’ll only consume vegetarian foods for five days a week, but they’ll allow the alternatives on the weekends. Some flexitarians may also lean more toward eating fish rather than other meats.

A Flexitarian Breakfast

During the week, flexitarians may stick with a fruit-based breakfast, such as a banana or grapefruit. On the weekends, they may be more likely to add other ingredients to the mix. A parfait with yogurt, berries, and granola is a worthwhile solution. Eggs are also a possibility.

A Flexitarian Lunch

A sandwich is a great lunch choice for flexitarians. Skip the store-bought lunch meat, though. Start with a whole-wheat bread and add a yogurt/herb mixture, avocado, cucumber, and alfalfa sprouts. It packs plenty of protein to fill you up, which is all you need -- to get from one meal to the next.

A Flexitarian Dinner

Plenty of dinner choices exist for flexitarians. During the week, enjoy a black bean quinoa bowl, buttermilk fried tofu, or roasted vegetable and black bean tacos. When you want to add meat to the mix, fry up some chicken and toss it in with your favorite veggies. Or enjoy a steak alongside a baked potato.

Flexitarian Snacks

Fruits and vegetables make great snacks any day of the week. Enjoy your favorites whenever you want them. Cut up some celery sticks and pair them with a Greek yogurt dish or mash up some cooked sweet potatoes and top them with cinnamon.

Is a Flexitarian Diet Healthy?

This semi-vegetarian diet is actually a healthier alternative. Though it isn’t recommended to eat red meat in large quantities, a serving here and there is beneficial for its protein, iron, and zinc content. Managing your overall meat consumption ensures a reduced risk of heart disease. Since a flexitarian only eats meat some of the time, or in small quantities, and mostly focuses on the usual fruits and vegetables of the vegetarian meal plan, there are many health benefits. You can expect weight loss, a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, less inflammation, and sharpened mental clarity. It is one of the few diets that is generally safe to maintain long-term, as long as it is cleared by your doctor.

How Popular Is the Flexitarian Diet?

The flexitarian diet is becoming one of the more popular diet options among today’s many dietary choices. Approximately 47 percent of Americans between the ages of 24 and 39 years old consider themselves flexitarian. Amongst all ages in all parts of the world, roughly 15 percent of the population falls into this category. Doing what you can to eat more plant-based foods and consume less meat is a goal that’s easy to strive for and healthy for your mind and body.

Do Flexitarians Need to Take Supplements?

Flexitarians generally receive an adequate intake of the nutrients and vitamins they require. However, you may need to take additional supplements if you are not consuming enough of a particular one, such as Vitamin D or iron. This is not a flexitarian-specific thing, but one that is specific to each individual. Always speak with your doctor to ensure you are well and receiving the adequate nutrition that you need for your ultimate well-being.

What Are Some Good Flexitarian Recipes?

Plenty of delicious recipes exist that flexitarians can enjoy eating.

Green Goddess Sandwich

The Green Goddess sandwich is a filling choice. Create a condiment to make it creamy using yogurt, lemon zest, garlic, lemon juice, capers, chives, parsely, and tarragon. Add the mixture to both pieces of your whole-wheat bread. Then, layer slices of avocado, cucumber, watercress, and alfalfa sprouts between them.

Slow-Cooker Mediterranean Stew

For a meal you can make ahead of time, try a slow-cooker Mediterranean stew. You’ll begin by letting broth, onion, tomatoes, garlic, carrots, oregano, and crushed red pepper simmer in your slow cooker for a full six hours on low. Add chickpeas to a bowl and include a little of the cooked liquid to it and ensure it gets mashed up well. Then, add the mashed chickpeas, some kale, and lemon juice to the slow cooker and give everything a good mix. Let it cook for another 30 minutes before you enjoy it.

Sheet-Pan Caprese Pizza

If you’re in the mood for pizza but want a healthier choice, try a sheet-pan caprese version. Prepare a whole wheat pizza dough to start, sprinkling it with olive oil and pepper to taste. Add thinly sliced mozzarella and halved cherry tomatoes. Bake until the cheese is melted, then sprinkle on some basil and balsamic glaze.

Banana Chocolate Cake

For a delicious dessert, bake a banana chocolate cake. This is essentially banana bread with chocolate in the mix. Mash up some bananas and mix with them sour cream, vanilla extract, baking soda, baking powder, salt, flour, sugar, eggs, unsalted butter, and unsweetened cocoa powder. Add more chocolate if you desire by creating a chocolate ganache. This makes it more like cake than bread if that’s what you prefer.

Be Even More Flexible With Chiropractic Care

Flexitarians are flexible by nature, easily adapting their dietary habits to what is right for them at the time. With chiropractic care in the mix, you can ensure your body is just as flexible as your mind. Get a spinal adjustment from The Joint Chiropractic and achieve limber joints that can help you move through life more freely. Paired with a nutritious diet, you’ll have the ability to maintain optimal well-being and take a giant step forward in your health journey.

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