What Is the Flexitarian Diet? Tara Haddad Explains
A growing body of research suggests that plant-based diets are better for both the environment and our bodies. Outside of their clear ecological benefits, diets that prioritize fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods are shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, ward of type 2 diabetes, and lessen your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
Of course, abandoning animal products and transitioning to a fully vegan or vegetarian diet is easier said than done for many. Thankfully, Tara Haddad says going plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up meat entirely. For those who want to reduce their consumption of animal-based products and prioritize wholesome plant-based alternatives, the flexitarian diet presents the perfect compromise.
Over the last several years, a growing number of plant-based meat alternative companies have sprouted up, offering consumers the opportunity to reduce their meat consumption while still indulging in their favorite meat-based dishes. Modern Meats based out of Vancouver, BC, is one such company. According to company CEO Tara Haddad, Modern Meat’s range of plant-based foods and sauces cater to everyone, not just vegans and vegetarians.
The future of diet and nutrition may not be fully meat-free, but it is definitely plant-based. Defined by its commitment to prioritizing the consumption of wholesome plant-based foods while still allowing for the consumption of meat and other animal-based products, the flexitarian diet is quickly gaining traction worldwide.
Here’s a quick overview of the flexitarian diet’s primary goals, functions, and benefits as outlined by Tara Haddad.
What Is the Flexitarian Diet?
Created by dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, the flexitarian diet is intended to help those who are unwilling or unable to fully eliminate animal products from their diets enjoy the health benefits of plant-based lifestyles.
While it does prioritize the consumption of wholesome fruits, vegetables, seeds, whole grains and legumes, the flexitarian diet’s adaptable rules still allow for meat, cheese, and egg consumption in moderation. In truth, the flexitarian diet has no hard rules — it is quite simply a commitment to reducing animal-based foods in favor of healthier, more wholesome alternatives. According to Tara Haddad, this is exactly what makes it a promising, flexible alternative for those who want to practice healthy, ethical food consumption without drastically limiting their options.
Benefits of the Flexitarian Diet
Because of the flexitarian diet’s adaptive nature, it’s hard to relay its benefits in concrete, measurable terms. That said, most research which speaks to plant-based diets will also apply to variations of the flexitarian diet.
In general, decreasing or eliminating meat consumption while prioritizing fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains is shown to boost heart health, prevent overeating and obesity, lower your chances of contracting type 2 diabetes, and even lower your overall chances of developing some types of cancer according to many experts. On top of their benefit of disease and illness reduction, a recent Harvard Nutrition Study found that plant-based diets may even lengthen your lifespan and improve your overall quality of life.
Best Foods for Flexitarians
If you’re curious about transitioning to a flexitarian diet, you may be wondering what kind of food options are available. According to Tara Haddad, flexitarian meal choices emphasize plant proteins such as soybeans, tofu, tempeh, legumes, and lentils. Plant-based meal alternatives such as those offered by Modern Meats are also a popular choice for helping flexitarians reduce their meat consumption using plant-based burgers, minces, sauces, and ‘crab’.
Of course, flexitarian diets do permit the consumption of animal products in moderation. When consuming animal products, it’s recommended that flexitarians stick solely to foods such as free-range or pasture-raised eggs, organic poultry, wild caught fish, grass-fed meat, and organic dairy products.