Benefits of a Flexitarian Diet
Still sticking to your resolutions? If one of them is eating less meat, why not try a “flexitarian” diet? The term, coined by registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner in her 2009 book The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life, suggests you don’t have to give up meat completely to gain the health benefits of a vegetarian diet. Its main premise encourages increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet while eating less animal protein in the form of meat and dairy. Alternate protein sources include tofu, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and eggs. Adding wheat germ to alternate-protein dishes, like in this lentil salad, boosts protein (and other nutrients) even more.
Research shows again and again that eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains helps prevent disease. Flexitarian living varies by person — thus the flexibility! For example, you might start by giving up meat one day a week. Meatless Monday started a campaign in 2003 with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with the goal “to reduce meat consumption by 15 percent for our personal health and health of the planet.” Check out their website for recipes and other tips.
A flexitarian diet can help you boost your healthy-food intake while still allowing you to enjoy your favorite meat and fish dishes. Eating less animal protein can also save you money since animal protein is typically more expensive than other sources. Going flexitarian is also better for the environment. According to a study from the British Medical Journal, eating less animal protein reduces greenhouse emissions.
Weight loss the flexitarian way works depending on whether you can decrease your calories: If you’re filling up on more fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, you’ll likely lose weight. For meatless recipes, including Spinach Lasagna with Wheat Germ, Homemade Basil Pesto with Wheat Germ, Roasted Vegetable Gratin and more, check out our Kretschmer Wheat Germ recipes.
Do you have a favorite vegetarian dish you’d like to share? Let us know!