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The 'Flexitarian' Diet - is it safe, healthy, and effective?

FAQ The 'Flexitarian' Diet - is it safe, healthy, and effective?

The flexitarian diet can be summed up as a style of eating that is similar to vegetarianism that focuses around mostly plant based foods, but also allows some flexibility for meat and other animal products. It’s also been touted as ‘semi-vegetarianism’ or ‘weekday vegetarianism’.

What's involved?

The flexitarian diet is very easy to follow, as there are no strict rules, calorie counting, and it incorporates all the food groups. It is based around:

  • Focusing mostly on vegetables, fruit, legumes, and wholegrains.
  • Focusing on protein from plant foods, rather than legumes.
  • Be flexible in incorporating animal products.
  • Focus on whole, unprocessed foods.
  • Reduce intake of ultra-processed foods that are high in salt, saturated fat, and sugar.

Pro's

This style of eating is great for people who aren’t quite ready to commit to full vegetarianism, or veganism, but is a great stepping stone. It allows for greater flexibility with your diet, and does not impose any strict guidelines, and is able to include all essential food groups. It’s also great as it encourages you to include more plant foods and reduce your intake of highly processed foods which helps to increase intake of dietary fibre, essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and decreased intake of saturated fat and salt - all of which have well researched health benefits. Plus, it’s a more environmentally sustainable way of eating.

Con's

Depending on how often you include meat and animal products, you may still be at risk of animal-specific nutrients, including;

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin B12
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

People on strict vegetarian or vegan diets can easily become deficient in these nutrients, so if you are rarely including animal products it can be a good option to choose fortified products such as calcium fortified plant milk, omega-3 fortified eggs and milk, using nutritional yeast as a substitute for B12, and eating plenty of plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

The bottom line

Overall, the flexitarian diet can be a great alternative for those who aren’t ready to commit to vegetarianism or veganism and can be a very balanced and varied eating habit by making a few small changes. It is great in that it can be sustainable and doesn’t restrict any core food groups and encourage more plant foods.

Try experimenting with some of your meals and swapping meat options for plant-based alternatives or simply start with Meat-free Monday. Plus, you can check out our recipe pages for some flexitarian inspiration.

Your Personal Healthy Eating Quiz

What you eat or don’t eat affects how you look, feel and perform. Take our short quiz to find out what foods you could introduce to help you be your best.

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What is healthy eating?

Eating healthy is making sure you enjoy a wide variety of foods from each of the five major food groups daily, in the amounts recommended. The five major food groups as recommended by the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating are:

  1. vegetables and legumes/bean
  2. fruit
  3. lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes/beans
  4. grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
  5. milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.

Foods are grouped together because they provide similar amounts of key nutrients and eating a variety of foods from the list above helps to promote good health and reduce the risk of disease.

How do I improve my diet?

If you want to improve your diet you have come to the right place. By completing the Healthy Eating Quiz you’ll receive instant personalised feedback and a report on your diet quality to highlight any areas where you can improve your overall eating habits. Your score is based on the frequency and variety of the foods consumed from the five major food groups mentioned above. No Money No Time can help you improve your score by providing tips, goals and suggestions. On top of this we will provide quick, cheap and healthy recipes as well as credible answers to diet hacks, myths and FAQ’s.

Is my diet healthy?

Dietary habits are different between people. Some people choose to follow a particular diet (i.e., Keto diet or vegan diet) while some have to make changes due to certain food restrictions or health conditions. If you want to know if what you usually eat is healthy, then do the Healthy Eating Quiz today to give you the answers in less than 10 minutes.

Why is healthy eating important?

Your HEQ score and personalised feedback report is based on the frequency and variety of healthy core foods you usually eat. This is important because no single food contains all the nutrients we need to stay healthy. Some foods are higher in nutrients than others and people who have a lot of variety in the foods they eat are more likely to be healthy and to stay healthy. In other words, if you can eat a large variety of vegetables as opposed to only 2-3 types of vegetables, the benefits are much greater. This type of diet also helps you to feel better, think better and perform better during your usual daily activities.

Take the Healthy Eating Quiz