How Parents Can Implement and Stick to the Flexitarian Diet with Tara Haddad
Plant-based diets are on the rise — and for good reason. In recent years, a growing body of research suggests that meatless diets offer a wide range of both environmental and health benefits. Not shockingly, many health-conscious and eco-minded families are seeking to transition towards diet plans that either reduce or eliminate meat consumption. While vegetarian and vegan diets might be the first options that come to mind, Modern Meat CEO Tara Haddad highlights the presence of a third choice: flexitarian.
Flexitarian diets are semi-vegetarian lifestyles that prioritize the consumption of wholesome plant-based foods without fully excluding animal products and meat. While most flexitarian diets consist largely of vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, they also allow for animal products in moderation. Because of their adaptable nature, flexitarian diets are the ideal middle-ground for health-conscious families who want to reap the benefits of a plant-based diet without adopting the restrictive rules that define both vegan and vegetarian lifestyles.
Of course, regardless of their versatile nature, adapting to a flexitarian lifestyle may still present challenges for those who are traditionally accustomed to diets relying heavily on meat and dairy products. When faced with altering the eating habits of an entire family, these challenges may multiply to daunting proportions. For parents wishing to alter their family’s eating habits for the best by switching to a plant-based lifestyle, Tara Haddad has outlined the following tips and tricks for implementing and sticking with the flexitarian diet.
Use Meat Replacements
Many parents mistakenly believe that switching to a plant-based diet will require them to learn and master a whole new arsenal of recipes — a feat which can be a challenge for the guardians of young children who are notoriously leery of new foods.
To cut down on the stress and make the transition straightforward and painless, Tara Haddad recommends turning to plant-based meat replacements such as Modern Meat’s selection of plant-based burgers, crumbles, meatless meatballs and sauces that can be seamlessly substituted into your family’s favorite recipes. In short, switching to a flexitarian diet and reducing your family’s meat intake doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating favorite foods like burgers, chilies, or stew — it’s as simple as swapping out the recipe’s meat component for wholesome plant-based alternatives.
Plan In Advance
It takes time and energy to transition your family’s diet, learn new recipes, and source new foods. If you’re wanting to implement and really stick to a flexitarian diet, Tara Haddad recommends planning your family’s meals in advance.
Outside of preventing the headache of having to ask yourself what’s for dinner each night, meal planning also eliminates the temptation of slipping back into old habits for the sake of convenience. Tara Haddad also recommends that parents keep a backup arsenal for of 1–3 “fallback” meals that require little ingredients, are easy to make, and fit with the family’s flexitarian diet. Fallback meals will save families from resorting to unhealthy or meat-centric options on days when there is little or no time for food prep.
Involve the Whole Family
At the start of each of week, strategize in advance which meals will be fully plant-based and which — if any — will incorporate reduced portions of animal products and meat. Then, with the help of other family members, devise a “menu” that outlines the week’s meals.
Outside of reducing the stress on your own shoulders, opting to share the responsibility of meal planning, even with younger children, will give your family members a sense of agency and excitement over their new lifestyle. Rather than focusing on what’s being eliminated, this method encourages kids to become excited about what new favorite foods can be added to the week’s grocery list.