What's a Flexitarian Diet?
I bought this book, The Flexitarian Diet, off the shelves in one of the book sales of Kinokuniya. It's written by Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, LDN, a flexitarian cooking instructor and a national media spokeperson for the American Dietetic Association. According to Joy Bauer, author of Joy Bauer's Food Cures, the Flexitarian Diet is "a smart new approach to cooking and eating".
The term flexitarian diet certainly has a ring to it. It's a flexible vegetarian. It's having to be a vegetarian with the perks of eating meats. This is my perfect set-up! As much as I love eating vegetables, beans and nuts, I don't think I can give up meats in my diet.
A flexitarian is someone who (should) eats more of vegetables and less of the meats. It's not about the prohibition of eating meats, as what vegetarians strictly follow. Rather, the flexitarian diet encourages us to eat more of the plant-based foods; and if we want meats, that's ok, too. Note that the emphasis is on the eating of vegetables, not the "not eating" of meats.
I am nearly certain, that I am a flexitarian. I know that vegetables, beans, fruits and nuts are healthy, nutritious foods with anti-oxidants and cancer-fighting agents. I always have them in my plate. I try to eat most of them. However, I don't think I can be fully satisfied without having meats in my diet every now and then. And so, for that reason, I think I may be in a flexitarian diet.
Benefits of a Flexitarian Diet
Blatner mentions several benefits of a flexitarian diet. These life-changing benefits are noteworthy for everyone - vegetable lovers or otherwise. These benefits include:
- Weight loss
- Improved heart health
- Decreased risk of diabetes
- Longer life expectancy
- Improved taste and fewer cravings
Let me just add here that you may also save several bucks with a flexitarian diet. And perhaps, even time in preparing your foods.
What's in a Flexitarian Diet?
The flexitarian diet offers the best of both worlds; at least, that's how I take this concept. Since being a flexitarian is nothing more but a flexible vegetarian, it's a yes to both vegetables and meats. Well, actually eating as much vegetables as possible (at least 25% of what you eat, according to the book - it's not a strict rule, just a decent one), with the option of meats when the carnivore in you awakens.
Some meat substitutes that The Flexitarian suggests are:
- Beans, peas, lentils
- Nuts and seeds
Most of the time, you should satisfy your hunger and food cravings with - you guessed it! - vegetables! There are dark green vegetables (e.g. broccoli, spinach, kale), orange vegetables (e.g. carrots, squash, pumpkins), legumes (e.g. mostly beans, tofu), starchy vegetables (e.g. potatoes, corn, squash) and the all-inclusive general vegetables (e.g. tomatoes, mushrooms, onions).
There are also the grains. The book discusses the benefits of whole-grain products, various options and ways to cook grains. Some of the grains Blatner mentions include brown rice (which I use at home), rolled oats, amaranth (you may have read this in one of my hubs), quinoa and more, more, more.
Dairies such as milk, cheese and yogurts, is another food group in the Flexitarian diet.
The last one as sugar and spices. This group consists of mostly herbs, spices and healthy sugar/sweet options that provides a lot of flavor, less calories and more nutrients into your food.
After reading through the book, I felt more conscious of what I should eat more of. The meat still says in my diet, though. What I can do is to add those meat substitutes at least, to lessen the fatty proteins in my system. Also, I was inspired with using more spices and herbs in cooking. I do love to cook; and I'm not a fan of MSG.