Is the Flexitarian Diet for You?

By Amber Page

Going vegetarian can be great for your health -- and could help save the planet. But giving up meat altogether is a serious challenge, and not a commitment many people are ready to make.

However, there is a middle ground between choosing a full-on carnivorous diet and spending a lifetime eating nuts and seeds. It's called flexitarianism.

Flexitarians rely on plant-based foods for the majority of their diet, but still make room for goodies like steak and bacon. 

It allows you to reap the benefits of vegetarianism, including lower risks for diabetes, heart disease and cancer, without giving up summer barbecues or holiday turkeys.

How much meat you cut out is up to you, although practitioners recommend consuming no more than 28 ounces each week in order to make the most of potential health benefits.

Start at the Beginner Level

A beginner flexitarian only eliminates meat and poultry from one meal each day for a total of seven meatless meals each week. 

You can choose to cut meat from the same meal each day by having a smoothie for breakfast, for example, or switch it up to best accommodate your weekly plans.

It's fairly simple to do -- which is the whole point.

When You're Ready, Try the Advanced Level of Flexitarianism

Once skipping meat for one every day is fairly easy, ramp it up to two meatless meals a day.

This takes a little more work, but with planning, can still be fairly easy to pull off. Remember, you can still eat cheese, yogurt, eggs, and other dairy products, so there are a lot of options still on the table. 

Have a salad for lunch and an omelette for dinner. Or try subbing vegetarian meat crumbles for ground beef in your next batch of chili. The possibilities are endless.

Ready for a Real Challenge? Advance to the Expert Level

Expert flexitarians eliminate all meat from their daily diet -- but enjoy meat on special occasions.

For all practical purposes, you're a vegetarian on a day-to-day basis. But when there's a family barbecue on the horizon or Thanksgiving looms, you can indulge in all your meaty favorites without feeling any guilt.

For some, it's the best of both worlds. You get all the health benefits of vegetarianism, without any of the sideways looks vegetarians tend to get when a special occasion revolves around meat.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Phoenix, Ariz.

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