Michael Pollan’s advice to “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” reflects a flexitarian way of life.
What is a flexitarian diet?
According to research published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics less than 4% of the population consume the minimum recommended number of serves of vegetables and legumes/beans on a usual basis. Among children, it was estimated that less than 1% usually met their recommended number of serves.
Five serves of vegetables per day are recommended to provide the vital vitamins, minerals and fibre that needed to keep you energised and well, as well as reducing your risk of developing chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancer.
So what does a serve look like?
- ½ cup cooked green or orange vegetables (for example, broccoli, spinach, carrots or pumpkin)
- ½ cup cooked dried or canned beans, peas or lentils
- 1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegetables
- ½ cup sweet corn
- ½ medium potato or other starchy vegetables
- 1 medium tomato
As scientific evidence of the benefits of a plant-based diet continue to mount, interest in a ‘flexitarian’ diet is beginning to grow. This way of eating is predominantly vegetarian, but occasionally includes meat, fish and other animal products. There’s no hard and fast rules associated with being a flexitarian, just a commitment to limit meat and eat more plant-based meals.
While meat can provide some good nutrition like iron, zinc and protein the World Health Organisation has classified read meat as a Group 2A carcinogen, while processed meats like salami and hot dogs are classified as a Group 1 carcinogen, which means there’s evidence that they increase the risk of cancer. Therefore by reducing the amount of meat you eat – even if it’s just cutting it out one day a week – and increasing your intake of vegetables, you are making a positive contribution to your health.
Need some inspiration? Here are some recipes to get you started.