What Led Me To A Flexitarian Diet Lifestyle (And What Is It?)

Over the years my eating style has changed based on my living habits and increased knowledge of the food industry’s manufacturing procedures.

It’s evolved from no diet to vegan to pescatarian and finally to flexitarian.

Pescatarian and flexitarian are similar but often misunderstood terms, sometimes unknown to many.

I settled from pescatarian to flexitarian after doing a lot of research to find out what best fit my moral compass and satisfied my taste.

My Eating Style History

I used to eat meat. A lot. I loved steak and pork chops mostly.

After learning more and more about the food industry’s mistreatment and handling of cows, pigs and chickens, I would get a little twinge in my stomach every time I’d go to eat meat. It just became a habit to avoid it and limit my consumption for my own self.

It was then that I became a vegetarian which led me to eating a vegan diet on and off. This was actually fairly easy for me since I’ve really always loved salads and vegetables.

But I found myself eating tuna or salmon and other seafood sneaking in.

So I then switched to a pescatarian diet which was basically a vegetarian but with seafood.

This allowed me to also get the omega’s I craved for my body.

But, while I was a semi-vegetarian (slash) pescatarian, my husband was a big meat eater. So, over time we started looking at healthier meat options that I felt better about buying, especially organic.

What is Flexitarian?

Flexitarian Diet

A flexitarian (also known as semi-vegetarian) is an eating style that does include meat, but it is based mainly on plant or plant-based foods, incorporates dairy, eggs and very little meat and/or fish if any at all.

This diet not only limits red meat, poultry, fish, and animal products but also is limits highly processed foods, refined grains, and added sugar.

Foods to minimize daily are processed meats (bacon, sausage, bologna) and refined carbs (white bread, white rice, bagels, croissants).

Foods to eat on the flexitarian diet

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Plant proteins (beans such as black, kidney or navy, edamame, chickpeas, lentils, tofu)
  • Whole grains (brown rice, oats, barley, quinoa)
  • Plant-based milk (although dairy milk is OK in moderation)
  • Eggs
  • Dairy (cheese, yogurt or dairy alternatives)
  • Red meat, poultry, and fish are allowed in very small quantities

Foods to avoid on the flexitarian diet

  • Processed foods
  • Avoid large amounts of red meat and other meat products
  • processed meats (bacon, sausage, bologna)
  • Simple refined carbohydrates – AKA SIMPLY BAD, these are sugars and starches that have been refined and stripped of their natural fiber and nutrients such as white bread, white rice, bagels, croissants, cereals, candy, table sugar, syrups, fruit juice concentrate and soft drinks

In regards to lifespan effects, flexitarians have been found to live longer than those eating the standard American diet, however, vegetarians live longer than flexitarians, so long as they get enough B12.

Plant-based diets contain plenty of protein and often provide more nutrients than omnivorous diets.

The 7 Benefits of a Flexitarian Diet

1. Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
2. Better for the Environment
3. More Affordable
4. Benefits for Weight Loss
5. Potentially Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
6. It’s Nutrient Dense
7. It’s Easier to Follow than Vegetarian or Vegan Diets

The Cons of a Flexitarian Diet

B12 Deficiency

I was only able to find one real con of the flexitarian diet which is that vegetarians and flexitarians are more likely to suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency than meat-eaters. This is because vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal foods such as poultry, fish, meat, eggs, and dairy.

You can easily balance this out with a daily one-a-day multivitamin that provides not only your daily needed B12 intake but plenty other of beneficial vitamins and nutrients.

Natural B12 sources include (non-meat):

  • milk
  • yogurt
  • eggs
  • shitake mushrooms
  • yeast
  • Fortified breakfast cereal
  • nori

Labeling Information for Meat and Poultry

The labeling (aka marketing) on products can be a bit overwhelming and deceiving.

We did a lot of research to find out what the difference was in the labeling of meat and poultry products.

When it comes to beef and other animal products, labels like organic, free-range, cage-free, grass-fed, grass-finished, and others can be very confusing and even misleading.

The Different Labels of Meat and Poultry

  • Organic – *Most ethical* 95% or more of the ingredients in the product are certified organic. There is a USDA-approved Organic seal using cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. The National Organic Program – part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service – enforces the organic regulations, ensuring the integrity of the USDA Organic Seal.
  • Free range – “Free-range” or “pasture-fed” are animals raised outdoors or with access to outdoors
  • Cage-free – The USDA states that cage-free are hens housed in a building, room, or enclosed area that allows for unlimited access to food, water, and provides the freedom to roam within the area during the laying cycle. Typically a barn or poultry house.
  • Grass-fed – Used to be labeled as such if the meat fom cattle that were started on a grass diet but have either received supplemental grain feed or are finished on a fully grain-based diet. But now, beef can now only be labeled as grassfed if it received grass for 100% of its life, as in grass-finished from weaning to harvest.

Eventually, with better purchasing choices and more knowledge of those terms, we were able to start buying only meat and poultry products that manufactured the animals humanely, USDA approved and organically fed and treated properly during their breeding and processing.

This meant a lot to us and we wanted to be sure we were doing our part to support a better industry standard.

The changes we made also allowed me to incorporate meat and poultry into my diet with a healthier outlook on my conscious.

And that is how I became a flexitarian, eating mostly a vegetarian diet but incorporating very small amounts of meat, poultry and fish.

What are your thoughts about your own diet in comparison to a flexitarian diet? I’d love to hear more from you down below in the comments!

~~ And as always friends, take care, be kind to yourself and others and always keep learning to be better and do better.


You may also like:

Vegetarian Recipes

Flexitarian VS Vegetarian – What’s the Difference?


Find Us on Instagram!

all my favorite things on instagram

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.