What is a Flexitarian Diet?
Flexitarianism or 'casual vegetarianism' is an increasingly popular, plant-based diet that claims to reduce your carbon footprint and improve your health with an eating regime that's mostly vegetarian yet still allows for the occasional meat dish. The rise of the flexitarian diet is a result of people taking a more environmentally sustainable approach to what they eat by reducing their meat consumption in exchange for alternative protein sources.
What are the healthiest meats to include?
When people do choose to eat meat, opting for good quality lean meat is best, such as chicken or turkey. I would advise having processed meats such as bacon, sausages, salami, ham and pâtés very occasionally as they are high in both saturated fat and salt and provide very little in the way of vitamins and minerals. Research from the World Health Organisation found that eating 50 grams of processed meat every day may increase in colorectal cancer so it's best to limit these foods.
How can I ensure I’m getting all the nutrients I need from a flexitarian diet?
If you're thinking about changing to a flexitarian diet, I would advise plant-based foods at every meal, at least five sources of fruits and vegetables a day and wholegrain foods. It is a good idea to include alternative sources of iron that may be lacking due to a low intake of red meat. Good sources include low sugar, iron-fortified breakfast cereals and dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, kale and broccoli. As vitamin C increases iron absorption, a small glass (150ml) of fruit juice or salad items like sweet peppers, lamb's lettuce and tomatoes with meals is recommended.