What’s a Flexitarian anyway?

‘Flexitarianism’ is an all-inclusive approach to eating, that can reduce your impact on the environment and add a variety of new culinary experiences to your diet. All without completely cutting out the enjoyment and nutritional benefits from meat. It’s a win for your health, the environment and your wallet too!

 

How is it healthier?

Consuming a variety of colourful fruit and veggies is directly linked to better health. The colours aren’t simply colours, they are natural substances that carry their own set of disease-fighting chemicals called phytochemicals. Your body will benefit from more nutrients (such as vitamins and minerals) and other necessities like fibre too. If you’re worried about protein, do not fear. There are plenty of delicious protein-rich options available including; tofu, lentils, chickpeas, pumpkin, beans, peas, seeds, nuts and of course natural Tahini and a variety of Nut Butters.

 

How is it better for the environment?

Growing plant protein uses approximately 10% of the energy that animal farming needs, meaning you as a living, breathing being can make a direct impact on greenhouse gases, land space and global warming. Growing plants has the additional benefit of requiring far less water too (up to 50%) allowing us to make the most of one of our most precious resources.

 

How can it save money? 

Meat, especially sustainably-sourced or free-range options, is often the most expensive part of the weekly shop. By buying a variety of pulses, tofu and versatile veggies (think pumpkin, cauliflower, zucchini and cabbage) you’ll be able to fill up the trolley without spending your whole paycheck. Opt for seasonal produce for fresh food at the best prices. Buy pulses in bulk to soak at home before cooking and freezing in ready-to-go portion sizes. Forty Thieves offers bigger 500g jars of nut butter at great pricing too.

Ready to give it a go? Here are 4 ways to reduce your meat and dairy intake, without committing to a completely vegan diet overnight.

 

1. Meat-Free Mondays

This can be a fun way to try new dishes and gives you an opportunity to invite your vegetarian and vegan friends over for dinner. You’ll have the whole week to plan for an exciting new recipe meaning it doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. Week-by-week, you can expand your comfort level and knowledge base, building an impressive repertoire of culinary delights. Once you’ve built up a few favourites, you might even find yourself craving more meat-free days to taste them more regularly. A great way to begin!

 

2. The Daily Approach

This involves consuming less meat every day. You might switch to half portions of meat and make up the rest in veggies or other plant edibles. Or if you normally eat meat at both lunch and dinner, convert one of the meals into a vegetarian option. A chicken salad could become this rainbow chickpea salad or experiment with veggies skewers over meat skewers. If you’re interested in making a day-by-day impact, this approach is your cup of tea!

 

3. The Mixed Approach

One day on, one day off – or two on, two off – any combination that involves less meat consumption than usual is a great way to mix things up. The choice is yours, just remember to include those lentils, beans, peas, nuts and seeds to add some extra heartiness and goodness to your meals.

 

4. Cheat Weekends

If you’re after an even bigger challenge the ‘cheat weekend’ might be right for you. This includes eating meat-free for 5 days and then enjoying your favourite meat dishes during the weekend. It’s a great way to reduce your impact on the environment without feeling guilty over a couple of gourmet snags at a weekend BBQ. It’s important not to fill up on pasta bakes, noodles and hot chips but instead, opt for a variety of healthy vegetarian meals. Increase your Vitamin C intake with broccoli, tomatoes and kiwifruit as this helps the absorption of iron – an important mineral that is harder to find in veggies. B vitamins is another one to look out for – choose fortified cereals to start off your day.

 

For many of us, the idea of completely cutting out meat from our diets seems unachievable not to mention undesirable. Embracing a flexitarian diet is a positive way to acknowledge the health environmental and financial benefits of reducing your meat consumption without completely breaking up with chicken schnitzel or spaghetti bolognese. Even the smallest change each week will make a huge impact over the course of a year!

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