Flexitarianism gives people the ability to follow a mostly vegetarian diet without having to completely give up meat and meat products. Eliminating just a few servings of meat every week in favor of plant-based meals is all it really takes to label yourself a flexitarian enjoying this growing movement.
But is this eating system “good for you?” And can you count on feeling better about your food choices after you start eating this way?
Flexitarianism isn’t an eating regimen that is strictly defined. Flexitarian eaters make a concentrated effort to reduce their meat consumption, though they still do eat meat on occasion. The exact amount of meat tolerated in a flexitarian diet isn’t precisely defined; some flexitarians may only eat meat once a year, while others eat a little bit of meat almost every day.
What Is “Good for You?”
One thing that makes the question difficult to answer is the nebulous nature of the phrase “good for you,” and by extension, the broader topics of health and nutrition. Nutrition is a complex subject, and health is an even more complex subject, so it’s almost impossible to say whether a single style of eating is healthy for a wide variety of different people.
That said, we can look to leaders in the topics of food sustainability and nutrition for guidance in this area. For example, Griffith Foods is a global food product development company specializing in high-quality food ingredients, focused on creating nutritious, delicious, and sustainable food products with their customers. They’re committed to creating better products and a better, more sustainable world.
The Potential Risks of Meat Consumption
In moderation, eating meat doesn’t pose much of a health risk. In fact, meat can be beneficial for you, since it’s loaded with protein – and vitamins and minerals like niacin, iron, and zinc.
When it comes to eating meat in high quantities, scientific evidence is mixed. Some studies suggest that excessive consumption of red meat can lead to an increased cancer risk. Others suggest this correlation is negligible. Some studies suggest that excessive meat consumption, in general, can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes – while some researchers point out that this could be due to a high-caloric diet, rather than a high-meat diet, specifically.
It’s not entirely clear that cutting meat out of your diet, or reducing it in your diet, is directly beneficial for your health. However, with known risks related to food preparation and the potential risk of excessive meat consumption, it certainly won’t hurt you to reduce the amount of meat you’re eating on a regular basis.
As an added bonus, meat is generally considered environmentally unsustainable, at least with this scale of meat production we have today. Meat is extremely resource intensive to develop, requiring far more water, nutrients, and energy to develop than other forms of food. Accordingly, reducing your meat intake even slightly could have a positive impact on our collective environmental sustainability.
The Benefits of Flexitarianism
Beyond cutting meat out of your diet, there are some health and wellness benefits associated with flexitarian eating, such as:
- Cost savings. Though saving money can’t have a direct impact on your health, it is nice that most plant-based foods are less expensive than their meat-based counterparts. Switching to a flexitarian style of eating can help you save money, especially if you cut out significant quantities of meat over a long period of time.
- Introduction to plant-based foods. Switching to flexitarianism also forces you to pay more attention to plant-based foods that you might not have otherwise noticed. Plant-based foods, especially fruits and vegetables, tend to be highly nutritious and delectable.
- Creative and innovative eating. Once you cut meat from your diet, or at least reduce your consumption of it, you’ll have the opportunity to explore more creative and innovative eating. You can explore a much wider range of potential ingredients and experiment with different cooking styles.
- Diverse nutritional choices. You’ll also have far more diverse choices for foods you consume, ultimately improving the range of your nutritional intake.
Flexitarianism isn’t the right eating approach for everyone, nor is it a sure way to improve your health or feelings of wellness. But it can be a valuable way to improve the environmental sustainability of your food choices and potentially enjoy some positive health outcomes.
At the very least, you’ll open the door to a new style of eating that changes how you see and think about food.