What is a flexitarian diet and should you be following it?

A Flexitarian Diet is a good option for people who want to eat healthily without going full vegetarian or vegan.  The diet encourages you to eat mainly plant-based foods, with the option of adding meat and other animal products in moderation.

Research on flexitarian diets

New research suggests eating meat less frequently can almost halve your risk of obesity.

The eating habits of 16,000 people were monitored over a period of ten years. And over this period, 584 people became in the study obese. Taking into consideration the age, starting weight and unhealthy habits such as infrequent exercise of the participants, the study still found that the more fruits and vegetables people ate and the less meat they ate, the less likely they were to become obese.

The study found that the risk of becoming obese was 15% higher in the 20% of participants who ate the most meat.  But those who ate the least meat were 43% less likely to become obese.

Why is a flexitarian diet healthy?

Meat is thought to increase weight gain as it contains more fat and calories than fruits and vegetables. This causes people to consume more calories before feeling full.  Many meat-based products, such as bacon, sausages, salami and lunchmeats are also highly processed.  Processed foods contain more fat and additives than non-processed alternatives. And previous studies have linked these types of foods to the onset of cancer.

The author of the study concluded that a “flexitarian” diet may be the best approach for those who want to ensure good health but aren’t prepared to fully give up meat.  A good place to start is by replacing a few meaty meals per week with vegetarian alternatives. Or if you want to keep eating meat, try eating smaller portions of meat at mealtimes.  You could also substitute processed meats for non-processed alternatives like fresh chicken or fish.