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Why the flexitarian diet is better than being vegan

Lana Bandoim's picture

If you are struggling with the restrictions of a vegan diet, then it may be time to switch to the flexitarian diet.


Are you constantly craving burgers and sneaking small pieces of cheese into your meals despite declaring you are now vegan? The vegan diet is not easy to follow for everyone, and many people end up giving into temptations. Dairy, especially cheese, is difficult to eliminate, so you end up ignoring your vegan diet and feeling guilty about it. However, the flexitarian diet may be the answer to your struggles.

What is the flexitarian diet?

The flexitarian diet focuses on plant-based foods, but it is more flexible than the vegan or vegetarian diets. Instead of eliminating all meat and dairy, it allows for occasional meals with these ingredients. By having fewer restrictions, the diet eliminates temptations because nothing is forbidden.

It is sometimes called the semi-vegetarian diet, but the rise of veganism has made it even more popular. Most flexitarians avoid meat during the majority of their meals, so they have meatless dishes 4 to 5 times a week. However, there is no stress or guilt over eating a piece of cheddar cheese or allowing your family to have grilled chicken on occasion.

Flexitarian diet tips and advice

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Researchers have pointed out the multiple benefits of vegan diets, and vegetarian diets can also help improve your health. By being flexitarian, you can take advantage of the best parts of these diets without feeling deprived or obsessing about everything on your plate. The flexitarian diet gives you more freedom and is easier to follow than other regimens. It is also a more realistic approach to eating because many vegans and vegetarians end up cheating on their diets but will pretend it is not happening.

It is estimated that 22.8 million people in the U.S. follow the flexitarian diet, but you are probably wondering what they actually eat. The answer is simple since they focus on vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains. The majority of the meals mimic typical vegetarian or vegan diets with tofu, soups, salads, beans and other healthy options. However, flexitarians do consume small amounts of meat, fish and dairy throughout the week.

Different diet approaches

The flexibility of the flexitarian diet means you get to decide how often you add meat or dairy to your meals. Some experts recommend following an easy plan such as eating meat-free for 5 days a week but allowing meat on weekends. Others suggest that you eliminate meat from breakfast and lunch but allow it at dinner. The key is to find a plan that works with your work schedule, so you do not feel deprived or hungry.

You want the main part of your meals to consist of grains, legumes and vegetables. For example, your lunch can be rice with steamed vegetables and lentils with a delicious sauce. You want meat and dairy to be small side dishes that do not take up your entire plate. It is important to change your mindset as you plan your meals, so plant-based foods are at the heart of your preparations.

If you simply cannot stop eating cheese or ordering chicken, then the flexitarian diet can help. It is easier to follow than the vegan or vegetarian versions and allows you to eat the foods you love without feeling shame or guilt. You want to consult your doctor or dietician before making any diet changes, but most experts agree that the flexitarian diet is a better option than consuming junk food or other unhealthy options.