How & Why to Eat Plant-Based If You’re Not Ready to Become Vegetarian
If you’re looking for a way to improve your health and positively affect the environment, one change could be to move to a plant-based diet. While going full vegetarian or vegan could be restrictive for those who enjoy eating meat, eating more veggies and less meat is also beneficial. Here’s how to incorporate a more “flexitarian” diet into your day-to-day life and why you should give it a try!
The Flexitarian Diet is primarily plant-based but does include meat, dairy, fish, and poultry on occasion. There are no specific rules to “follow.” This flexibility makes it a great introduction if you are trying to become a vegetarian or vegan, which are much more restrictive.
Flexitarian, vegetarian, or vegan diets also have environmental benefits. One infographic about veganism and the environment states, “the diets of meat-eaters create seven times the greenhouse emissions as the diets of vegans” and that “nearly half of all water used in the United States goes to raising animals for food.” Not only will lowering or stopping the consumption of animals help the earth, but it can also result in reducing the amount of processed foods you eat, and increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables.
There are additional health benefits to eating more fruits and vegetables, and less meat. For instance, being flexitarian can reduce your risk of obesity by up to 50%. Yet being flexitarian doesn’t mean you're instantly going to be healthy; there are just as many unhealthy vegetarian and vegan snacks. For example, did you know Lays Potato Chips and Oreos are vegan? Sticking to whole, natural foods will benefit your health the most.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are the foundation of a flexitarian diet. Fresh produce is a natural source of vitamins and minerals, which are essential for a functioning body. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables also provides you with energy throughout the day. Consuming fresh fruits and vegetables regularly will help eliminate vitamins and mineral deficiencies that can be caused by a poor diet.
If you’re out and about and don’t have access to fresh fruit, dried fruit is a great alternative. It has the same vitamins and nutrients as fresh fruit, but has been dehydrated to remove water content so that it becomes less perishable. Be careful to read ingredients lists - try to find brands that don’t add artificial ingredients like preservatives or added sugars. Fruit For Thought is a great example of a brand that keeps things natural.Now that you know more about the Flexitarian Diet, why not try it out for two weeks? Making small changes to your eating habits will benefit you and the planet!