Source: Louis Hansel 
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Although going vegan is better for the planet, your health, and of course, kinder to the animals, the idea of saying goodbye forever to your Grandma’s rendang or your favorite Italian restaurant’s beef lasagna may seem too much of a sacrifice. But with the Flexitarian diet, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Here’s what you need to know about the semi-vegetarian lifestyle with Burgreens, a culinary brand that has been serving plant-based food since 2013, as well as their newest line Green Butcher (frozen food made with 100% all-natural ingredients) that is ready to make your shift easier with an array of delicious, yet wholesome protein options from made from plants!
What is the Flexitarian Diet?
The Flexitarian diet, or also known as the semi-vegetarian, focuses on plant-based food but also leaves wiggle room for the occasional meaty indulgence. It’s made of two words “flexible” and “vegetarian” , which emphasize the fact that it is a less strict eating pattern when compared to other plant-based eating patterns.
What does a typical flexitarian meal look like?
Source: Charlotte Karlsen 
Complex Carbohydrates = rice (white/red/brown), pasta, potato, quinoa, beans (which contain resistant starches) (30 - 40%)
Plant Protein = beans, peas, nuts, tempeh, tofu (10 - 15%)
Animal Protein = as minimum as possible (5 - 10%)
Veggies = include a wide variety of non-starchy grilled/steamed vegetables, leafy greens, soup (40%)
Fats = healthy oils (olive, coconut) or nuts (10 - 20%)
Another alternative diet lifestyle that is getting popular is the Planetarian Diet - which consists of eating foods that are produce as least carbon footprint in an effort of eating sustainably as possible to reduce environmental problems. The diet is represented by half a plate of fruits, vegetables, and nuts; while the other half consists primarily of whole grains, plant proteins, unsaturated plant oils, and least amount of meat/dairy & added sugars.
How often do flexitarians eat meat?
“Well, there is not exactly a standard agreement on the definition of “occasional” inclusion of meat,” said Max Mandias, the co-founder of Burgreens. “Some flexitarians eat meat once a day, or once or twice a week. It is up to the individual to decide which suits them most.”
What meat should be included/avoided on a flexitarian diet?
Although the flexitarian diet is not as strict as other plant-based eating patterns, says veganism, there are a few things that one should consider: health and sustainability.
Considering both reasons into account, here is the ranking of animal protein, from 1 = worst (both for health and the environment) to 6 = healthiest.
Beef (high fat, cholesterol, antibiotics, and heavy GHG emitter)
Pork (high fat, cholesterol, food-borne pathogens)
Chicken (high fat, cholesterol, antibiotic-ridden)
Seafood (high contamination)
Egg (people with high cholesterol & hypertension should avoid)
If you are going to eat meat occasionally, the source also matters, and the more natural, the better.
What are the health benefits of being a flexitarian?
Not only is the plant-rich diet forgiving and easy to follow, but it also brings real results. The longest living people on the planet are those who eat a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet, according to The China Study by Dr. Campbell. A 2017 review found that people who follow a semi-vegetarian diet had lower body weight than those who regularly ate meat, as well as lower incidence of metabolic disease and lower risk for type-II diabetes .
Mandias also noted that going flexitarian can also improve digestion, sleep quality, and life expectancy in addition to gaining a feeling of fullness.
How will a flexitarian diet benefit the environment?
Besides having a good impact on health, the flexitarian diet also has a good impact on the environment. Just by going meat-free twice a week alone , you save 4163 liters of water, 20 kg of wheat, 20 sq. feet of forest, 9 kg of CO2, and 2 animals! A substantial body of evidence suggests that agriculture and livestock industry are the third-largest generator of greenhouse gases, right behind transportation and fossil fuels. By going meatless for 1 day/a week for a year, it’s the same as taking out 200.000 cars from the world!
According to NBC News, if we as a planet adopted a more plant-based diet, we can reduce up to 8 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year .
Is the flexitarian diet for everyone?
“Since the flexitarian diet doesn’t completely exclude any particular food groups, there shouldn’t be any health risks if it’s adhered to in a balanced fashion,” said Mandias. “One needs to understand that it’s not just about eating less meat, it’s about eating nutrient-rich foods as well. So you can’t eat just Oreos and lettuces; it needs to be a well-balanced meal.”
Any tips on how to start a flexitarian diet for beginners?
Identify your favorite recipes (keep the spices, but switch the protein from animal to plants)
It starts with the shopping list. Buy fewer animal products and replace them with more plant-based ingredients. Healthy eating depends on the things you put in the fridges and pantries!
By switching to the flexitarian diet, we are making both our health and nature a priority. For those of you who want to give this diet a try, check out Burgreen's menu and meal plans for starters or healthy plant-based options for home at Green Butcher Foods!
Wondering which vegan restaurant you should visit next? Check our Green Living Project page HERE!