The battle of balance in our diets is more real than ever with many of us wanting to go ‘greener’ by eating more plant based foods whilst still understanding there are benefits to eating meat. Maybe you’re a vegetarian who craves a steak every now and then or a straight up carnivore looking to lighten your meat eating ways for health reasons?
Enter the ‘flexitarian’ approach; where ‘flexible’ and ‘vegetarian’ combine to describe those who eat mostly plant based fare while still enjoying the occasional meaty meal. I personally love the tastes and textures, as well as the health and budget benefits of feeding my family this way.
The best part about being flexitarian is you can be more selective of the animal products you do eat with more emphasis being placed on ‘quality’ and less on ‘quantity’. This means choosing organic, free range meat and grass fed dairy over their conventional counterparts.
With the cold of winter behind us, spring is the perfect time to shake up your food choices and give your digestive system a little break.
How can I start my flexitarian lifestyle?
- Try committing to eating 1 to 2 vegetarian meals per week then work your way up to more. Meat free Monday is a fantastic initiative designed to encourage eating a vegetarian meal one night per week. As soon as you realise how easy, delicious and budget friendly it can be, you’ll soon be increasing to more.
- Replace some of your meat based meals with legumes. For example, shepherd’s pie with lentils in place of mince, chilli or tacos using refried beans, and soups made from lentils, beans or veggies served with a side of crusty sourdough.
- Make the vegetables the ‘hero’ of the plate with the meat as an accompaniment. You can still enjoy your favourite cut of meat by serving a smaller portion (size of your palm or less) with the rest of your plate filled wholegrains, salad or vegetables in an assortment of different colours, flavours and health benefits.
- Consider writing up a meal planner – I spend 10 minutes sitting down on a Sunday to create the meal planner for the week ahead. It means I can choose four plant based dinners with a fish, chicken and red meat option for alternate nights. This is especially helpful for families with children or those with limited meal prep time.
- Ensure your ‘meat free’ meals contain enough protein. Sometimes meals consisting of purely vegetables can leave you feeling hungry or unsatisfied. Look to include plenty of protein packed pulses, plant based protein powders or grains such as buckwheat and quinoa in order to get your fill.
The flexitarian way is a great choice for those who don’t want to be pigeon holed into eating a specific way that’s either too rigid or excludes whole food groups such as dairy, meat and grains. For more info on the health benefits of eating a more plant based diet check out ‘ready to eat less meat?’.
written by Emma H for go natural foods