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Many of us, when we consider a healthier diet, we begin by progressively leaving red meat, reducing its weekly consumption, then we are leaving chicken and finally fish. But there is an alternative that conceives eating meats sporadically, without damaging our health and is called ‘flexitarianism’. What does a flexitarian eat?
The name of this diet is easy to guess where it comes from. It is the combination of the words "flexible" and "vegetarian" and has been growing as a food option for a few years.
This new diet emerged in the 90s, at the hands of Chef Helga Morath who defined the menu of her restaurant as "flexitarian".
VB6: Vegan starting at 6
One of the characteristics of ‘flexivegetarianism’ is the lack of norms. For a flexitarian, it is not defined which days and times to add meat or eat vegetables, nor does it establish the amounts of food. That freedom makes it increasingly gain more followers. You can eat meat one week and not the next, or even be and not be for a day. This is the case of the journalist of the ‘New York Times’, Mark Bittman, although he prefers to call himself an “intelligent and conscientious omnivore”.
In one of his weekly columns, he presented his theory of the perfect diet to his readers, which he later embodied in a book: "Vegan Before 6" ("Vegan Before 6"). The 'crux' of the matter was simple: in the morning vegan and in the afternoon 'flexitarian'. Why? The doctors forced him to be a vegetarian for health reasons, and he decided to be half a vegetarian for two reasons: first, that it is difficult to go out to dinner with colleagues being a vegetarian; the second, that he liked meat and fish.
Although for health reasons, it would be best to eat lighter foods for dinner.
Balance is the key
Leaving aside the ribeye or hake, even occasionally, is a disorder if the body is used to a Mediterranean diet. Cristina Santiago Prieto, nutritionist and vegan, believes there is no nutrient mismatch for those who decide to adapt their diet. The key is balance. "Meat is not essential, no food is. Even a vegan person (which excludes all food of animal origin, such as eggs or milk) can eat a healthy diet, as long as it is well planned“.
That is why he believes that reducing or eliminating meat in the diet does not have any negative aspect. "Legumes, nuts and quinoa. Like meat, they are rich in protein, iron and zinc, with the advantage that vegetables provide less sodium and saturated fat, more fiber, antioxidants and no cholesterol". In case the daily diet contains little red meat or fish, the nutritionist should assess “if a ‘flexitarian’ person needs a vitamin B12 supplement“, Which is found almost exclusively in meat, fish and eggs.
These 'entitled' vegetarians also enjoy the positive side of basing their diet on the plant world. In the long term, some studies reveal that those who do not eat meat are less likely to suffer from chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Not only health care moves theflexitarianism. Sustainability is its other line of argument: since, in general, fishing or producing meat has a higher ecological cost than that of growing vegetables, its defenders maintain that it is the most sensible option for anyone concerned about the environment. planet that does not want to do without the delicacies of a ham, a hake or a steak from time to time.
Like everything, this diet also has its followers and detractors. Kathy Guillermo of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) disagrees that this type of diet is ethically correct. “Being vegan is best, being vegetarian is fine, and being 'flexitarian' is like smoking two packs of tobacco instead of ten, beating a pig to death instead of two, and pouring a pint of gasoline down the sink. instead of four ”.
For better or for worse, this is a diet style, although it may not be so new. Our grandparents could have been "flexitarians," in those days when meat was a luxury, and they just didn't know it.
A website for "flexitarians"
The site https://delokos.wordpress.com/, includes recipes that fit with the principles of this way of eating, practical advice and fairly clear definitions of what it means to adapt your diet to the model. "It is the frequency and quantity of meat or fish that they eat that defines flexitarians ”, explains the founder of the site, Eugenio García. "They are not a subtype of vegetarians, although their diet is mainly vegetable and the word comes from the union of 'flexible' and 'vegetarian“.
Theflexitariansthey do not have, in principle, prohibited foods. "The prohibitions are decided by your own convictions. I avoid products that imply unnecessary suffering to animals, such as game, foie, or products from poultry or intensive livestock, to give a few examples. But each one will have their criteria“.
Eugenio García recognizes that beingflexitarianit is "socially easier" than being a vegetarian or vegan. “But when you make an option, you don't ask yourself if it's more or less simple. I have been a vegetarian for a few months and have never gone without food. In any case, in theflexitarianismyour diet adapts to your life, not your life to what you eat. At home, when I cook, my food isvegetarian ovolact and, when I eat away from home, there are usually the momentsflexible in which I take some fish and meat ”.
The most optimistic see theflexitarianismas a first step that can teach people the benefits of a vegetarian diet or encourage restaurants to include more vegetables in their menus. "Many people are flexitarians even though they don't know the term“, Reflects García. "And obviously a more vegetal diet will break possible taboos and fears, when you discover how healthy and tasty vegetarian cuisine is and how good it feels to your body“.
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