What’s in a name? The rise of the flexitarian

By Elizabeth Jarrard on September 11, 2014 , categorized in Plant-based Nutrition

flexitarian

Sick of diets that are trendy one year, only to be revealed as shockingly unhealthy the next? While there will always be nutrition heros and devils, something we can all agree on is the importance of produce in our lives. This is just one reason more and more North Americans are calling themselves flexitarians.

No cookie cutters allowed

Here at Vega, we avoid confining definitions and welcome everyone on the spectrum of a plant-based diet (and by diet we mean a “way of life” rather than a “get-thin-quick plan”). Every eater is unique. We bring a variety of experiences, opinions and beliefs to the dinner table, and as such there’s no one way to define a plant-based eater. But you may recognize yourself falling into one of these groups:

Veg-curious

It’s a good thing to be curious! A great introduction to a plant-based lifestyle is by participating in Meatless Monday, or going plant-based before 6 PM. You may choose to base your Monday meals around beans, rice and veggies, or turn to faux-meat products (which taste infinitely better now than they did 5 years ago).

Flexitarians

No longer a made-up word, flexible vegetarians are now recognized in the dictionary. Many flexitarians would agree with Michael Pollan’s mantra of: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” You may consider yourself a plant-based flexitarian, or even a vegetarian. Maybe you cook exclusively plant-based at home, but enjoy meat, dairy and eggs when dining out with friends and family. Or maybe you save your meat-eating for special holidays or dishes.

Vegan

The furthest end of the plant-based spectrum is those who commit to a completely vegan diet, avoiding all animal products in food, cosmetics, and apparel. (Remember, there are also flexitarians who avoid cosmetics tested on animals and leather).

Bottom line: Focus on adding more plant-based foods

The moral of this story? No matter how you choose you define (or not define) your diet, your health will benefit from adding more plant-based foods. There are many reasons you may want to eat more plant-based foods—whether it’s for ethical, environmental or health reasons. If you’re worried about whether you can meet your nutritional needs with a plant-based diet, this plant-based starter guide breaks down everything you need to know. Luckily plant-based foods are not synonymous with cardboard-esque “hippie foods.” Start at the Vega Recipe Center and get cookin’!

Would you call yourself a flexitarian? Any tips to share with the veg-curious? 

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Elizabeth Jarrard

Elizabeth Jarrard is a registered dietitian in Denver, CO who specializes in medical nutrition therapy and plant-based nutrition. She educates clients and consumers on how to optimize their health through nutrition.

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