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Thinking of going veggie? Try flexitarian instead

By Rachel O'Regan |


Keys2words - Thinking of going veggie? Try flexitarian instead

Could you be a flexitarian… a flexible vegetarian? Take our totally not very official IQS quiz to find out…

TRUE or FALSE? You eat plant-based at home, but order a BLT at brunch on Sundays.

TRUE or FALSE? Your fridge is stocked with kale, carrots and a single chicken leg.

TRUE or FALSE? You consider yourself vegetarian, but you’ll have slow-cook lamb shanks if your friends are cooking.

If you answered true to one or more, you might be a flexitarian! Which would mean what, exactly?

Being flexitarian is good for your health.

There’s no denying the of a plant based diet. A mindful vegetarian (who prepares their beans and legumes well and doesn’t resort to crappy carbs and soy frankenfoods) can have lower risk of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes and even certain cancers than their carnivorous friends.

Unfortunately, cutting meat also has its costs and strict vegetarians often end up deficient in iron, calcium and amino acids. Occasional meat eating offers a balanced approach – like rate of heart disease, without having to fill in the gaps with supplements. And, yeah, frankenfoods.

It can be better for the planet.

In some parts of the world the meat industry requires 160 times more land and produces 11 times the greenhouse gases of plant-based staples. Although not in Australia and not if you are a mindful meat eater, choosing grass-finished meat instead of grain-fed. Indeed, an unmindful vegetarian diet can have a huge carbon footprint. To read why, check out Sarah’s research on the

How much meat can you eat to be a true flexi?

Some flexitarian aficionados recommend eating meat no more than twice a week, before you cross over into being a regular omnivore.

But, from what we can tell, the beauty of being flexitarian is that it’s not a strict diet. There are no rules – one week, you may have meat four times, and then none the next week. Flexible is the operative word.

Some ideas for easing into flexitarianism

  • Start out with a Meatless Monday – that you’re more mindful on your health on Mondays.
  • Save meat for weekends and special occasions – a “Meat Treat”, if you will. Much better than indulging on sweets!
  • Don’t worry about being super strict. Many vegetarians won’t touch food with gelatin or animal rennet, but we think if you’re gonna eat meat, you should use the whole animal. And is pretty darn good!
  • Sarah suggests opting for meat stocks and using meat to flavour dishes, rather than making meat the hero of the dish. Plus, you can get bones and offcuts much cheaper!
  • Keep a diary of your meatless spendings – you’ll be surprised (and motivated) by how much you’ll save!
  • If you’ve got the hankering, opt for organic grass-fed, free range meat – at least you know it’s a better quality, more ethical product.

Would you go flexitarian? Let us know in the comments below.

Please be respectful of other participants in the conversation. We'd love you to keep your comments respectful, friendly and relevant. Differences of opinion are welcome, but trolling and abuse of other commentators and the IQS editorial team is not and will result in blacklisting.

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