Looks yum huh?! Before I get to esplaining what Flexitarian is, let me share that the blueberry, granola parfait and the Grilled Garlic Jalapeno Havarti with Roasted Tomato and Basil sandwich is dairy and egg free. The yogurt in the parfait is coconut milk Greek-style yogurt. The dinner plate is ground turkey with chard, roasted cauliflower and red Quinoa. The green salad has flowering radishes, purple curly kale, and English Peas, and for dessert we have a vegan hot fudge sundae.
Eating healthier just got a bit more fun didn't it? Welcome to eating Flexitarian!
Philosophically, I practice "eating wellness" here which is basically as Hippocrates said, "let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food." I believe in the Farmacy before the need for the Pharmacy. Farm over Pharma.
Flexitarian is eating mostly plant-based with occasional meat, dairy, eggs and seafood. Flexible is the key word. It's essentially going vegetarian with the ability to eat the incidental cheeseburger, chicken tikka masala or tuna sandwich without getting the evil eye from others or you feeling guilty for being a bad, cheating vegetarian. I know so much judgement sometimes. So, we are trying to vanquish the judginess.
I also like the concept of flexible to represent mostly healthy for your body with the occasional vice eating that allows room for the junk, decadent, and processed foods. I am realistic. Healthier eating does not mean perfect eating. There is a difference between eating a candy bar once in awhile versus three times a week every week. Healthier eating means balance and flexibility - incorporating both health and fun! If plants and animals can co-mingle, so can kale and Quinoa with donuts and fried chicken. Again, the key is flexible so your psyche knows that there is no deprivation. Nothing is forbidden.
According to Wikipedia, "in 2003, the American Dialect Society voted flexitarian as the year's most useful word and defined it as "a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat". In 2012, the term was listed for the first time in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary."
More recently in 2013, Mark Bittman came out with a book called, "VB6" meaning Vegan Before 6pm which is his version of being Flexitarian. His new column in the NY Times is called, "The Flexitarian." I first read about Bittman's VB6 philosophy in 2009 when he was embarking on a new health journey. That column inspired my version of Flexitarianism which I was calling, "80/20 Plant-based Eating" which incorporated eating 80% plant-based/vegan and 20% meat and seafood.
I started eating more plant-based in the early 2,000's after I was forced to change my eating habits because I discovered that I was allergic to dairy and eggs. Initially, I couldn't imagine my life without pizza, ice cream, and mac and cheese, but fortunately because food producers are getting more creative and there is more customer demand, there are many options for dairy-free, and egg-free eating.
To make things easier, and since the NY Times has now essentially socially validated the term Flexitarian, I'm going to go with Flexitarian instead of 80/20 Plant-based eating. I envision the Flexitarian style of eating becoming the next big trend because it gives people the ability to eat healthier by eating more plants and yet being able to still eat things like cheese and chicken on occasion. There is no living without nor cheating because we get the flexibility.
Flexitarian is different than being an Omnivore, in that Omnivores eat everything, where Flexitarians are more conscious and mindful of the type and quantity of animal and seafood products they eat. Flexitarian eating is also more plant-based versus vegan in that the emphasis is more on eating plants versus just eating animal-free.
You can eat vegan an entire day and actually not eat a single vegetable or fruit. Kellogg's Unfrosted Pop-Tarts, Bisquick biscuits made with soy milk coupled with peanut butter, French fries, and Kool-Aid are vegan, and for some people that is breakfast and lunch. And while we're at it, Crisco and high fructose corn syrup are vegan too.
For the time being, I will intermittently use both the terms plant-based and vegan because although the word vegan can be a polarizing word for some people, it's still a good descriptor nutritionally for foods that are dairy, egg, and honey free for those of us who have food allergies. It still sounds odd to me to call a vegan muffin a plant-based muffin. Plus, saying vegan muffin is shorter than saying, "It's a dairy, egg, and honey free muffin." I'm thinking Twitter 140 limitations.
You don't have to be vegan to eat vegan foods. But I get it. I've had the vegan food police come after me before when I've mingled beef meatloaf posts with vegan enchiladas.
Going Flexitarian is a great way to transition into vegetarian or vegan eating, or to cut down on your consumption of animal products for health, environmental, or monetary reasons. Flexitarian is pro-plant and not anti-meat.
I LOVE. love, did I mention love, farmers markets. In fact, there is a whole category on Noshtopia dedicated to the cool foods I find at farmers markets. It's my fruit and veggie inspiration for you all!
I do my best to eat meat that is humanely raised, grass-fed, free of antibiotics and hormones, and for seafood, I eat wild versus farm-raised. I like to buy seafood that has the Marine Stewardship Council ecolabel because it means that brand has made a commitment to seafood sustainability. I do eat cheese and meat alternatives that are GMO-free which I also lump in the "on occasion" category. A couple of my favorites include, Beyond Meat plant-protein chicken-free strips, and Daiya dairy-free cheese.
I eat real foods and as much organic and GMO-free as much as possible looking for the USDA organic and Non-GMO Project Verified symbols. If the ingredient list sounds like a chemistry project, I don't eat it.
Going Flexitarian not only helped me feel better, it helped me get back in and healthily stay in my skinny jeans - 40lbs gone and stayed off for over five years now!
And unlike most weight loss diets, there is no cheating or dieting here. There is no more worrying or obsessing like I used to. I just eat!
Along with being Flexitarian, I am also gluten-little and soy-little meaning I have cut my gluten and soy consumption way down like 80% down. Although I am not allergic or intolerant to gluten, I started going gluten-little because I noticed I just felt better with less gluten in my daily eating. I only eat organic soy because I know it's GMO-free.
I am also avoidant of High Fructose Corn Syrup, Artificial Sweeteners, Sugar Alcohols, Artificial Food Coloring & Food Dyes, MSG, and Preservatives. We're keeping it real!
For sugars, the American Heart Association recommends that women consume around 25 grams of added sugar per day, and for men 37 grams. I try and stick to that guideline +/- 10%. Cutting down on the sugars was and still is one of my personal eating challenges because oh how I love donuts, cookies, and sugary drinks. But the more my body gets used to the healthier eating, the easier it becomes to not want the sugars.
At Noshtopia, my intention is to help you eat your way to a life full of healthiness and have fun along the way! If you are new to eating Flexitarian, I welcome you and please let me know in what ways I can make eating more of a pleasure.