Let me see you FLEX! No, not your muscles, your plate!
Research continues to support the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet loaded with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, so many people have adapted their meat-eating ways to include a more plant-based emphasis while drastically lowering their meat consumption. Those who eat this way are referred to as flexitarians.
A flexitarian is a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat or a meat-eater who most often eats vegetarian. Either way you slice it, these folks are deciding to switch up their protein and load up on colorful, nutritionally-dense plant-based meals more often than not.
Instead of signing up for a lifetime of tofu burgers and kale chips (although there are so many additional, non-threatening vegetarian options these days!), you can dabble in the fun, all while bettering your health. In a society of extremes, this is a brilliant surprise. There is no need to make dramatic shifts to see results. Just a few adjustments, a switch here and a swap there, could be all you need to jumpstart your journey to wellness. Choose plant-based meals more often and touch it up with some sustainably caught fish, organic poultry, or organic/grass-fed meat on rare occasions.
As someone who follows a vegan diet, I can attest to the difficulty of making the transition to an entirely vegan or vegetarian diet. The Vegetarian Resource Group estimates only about 3 percent of adults are “true vegetarians” with a subset of that group being vegan. So what is the difference? Let’s break it down from least restrictive to most restrictive; keep in mind, it’s more of a continuum than an exact profile. I’m almost certain that as health consciousness becomes more prominent in our society, classifications such as this will continue to emerge.
- Omnivores - Those who eat without restriction.
- Flexitarian - People who eat some quality meat, fish, pork, fowl, or poultry, but consider themselves “mostly vegetarian”.
- Pescatarian - Someone who shuns meat, poultry, pork, and other animal flesh, but include fish, and most often continue to eat dairy and eggs.
- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian – This is also classified as the most common type of “vegetarian.” This is someone who eats both dairy and eggs, however dismisses any animal flesh such as meat, poultry, pork, or fish.
- Lacto-Vegetarian – Same as above, except does not consume eggs.
- Ovo-Vegetarian – A variation from the traditional vegetarian to include eggs, but not dairy.
- Vegan – Does not eat dairy, eggs, or any other animal product. Most vegans also avoid animal products such as silk, leather, wool, etc.
- Raw Vegan – An extension of the vegan diet where one will abstain from any animal product and also chooses to only consume plant-based foods that have not been cooked above 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Raw Vegan Locavore - The most extreme. In addition to all raw, plant-based foods, this group chooses to only eat foods that have been grown locally.
In the end, the title is not important. What matters most are the health benefits you may obtain by incorporating more phytonutrients (that is, plant-based nutrients) into your diet and cutting out foods that have been shown to be less beneficial.
Need a place to start? Try swapping out one of your meat-centric meals with a nutrient-rich NutriBlast and take part in Meatless Monday!
For additional information about the Flexitarian lifestyle, check out Dawn Jackson Blatner’s book, The Flexitarian Diet.