The popularity of flexitarianism may have you wondering how to transition to a flexitarian diet. At the core of this diet is flexibility (hence the name!), so the transition to flexitarianism is actually easier than you might expect.
Flexitarianism Transition Basics
If you’re reading this, chances are you have decided transitioning to a flexitarian diet might be the right choice for you. Some people have a short-term goal of shifting to a flexitarian plant-based diet with a long-term goal of becoming a vegetarian or vegan— and that’s the beauty of it!
Whether it’s for health reasons, a concern for the environment, or just a desire to eat more plant-based whole foods, you are not alone in your decision. Flexitarianism is so popular today that about ⅓ of all U.S. households claim to have at least one member described as flexitarian because it isn’t a restrictive diet, but rather a diet based on eating minimally processed, whole and plant-based foods.
The flexibility comes from the concept that you can eat animal-based foods on a somewhat regular basis, if you prefer. A typical flexitarian eats meat about 1-3 times per month. So transitioning to the flexitarian lifestyle is more about adding new foods than restricting an entire category of food. This makes the diet easier for many to adapt to the new way of eating and living.
There’s an adage- take small steps every day and one day, you’ll get there; this holds true when you’re attempting a switch in your lifestyle. If you want to succeed, make a plan and decide on a timeline that fits your lifestyle and the steps you’ll need to take to meet your goal.
Following these steps can help you make the transition to flexitarianism simple and at a pace that works best for you to succeed:
1. Make a meal plan
2. Go shopping
Your initial shopping list may not look too different than it normally does when you make the transition to becoming a flexitarian. Since the basic idea is that you are limiting your intake of animal-based foods, you will want to replace these items with foods like dairy-free cheese, meat-alternatives, beans, and vegetables.
3. Explore new recipes
It’s about the journey, not the destination. Along the way to becoming a flexitarian, consider exploring new recipes to make the process more enjoyable. For example, if you love Asian foods, this BBQ’ed Teriyaki Tofu Bowl is satisfying and delicious and is also an easy recipe to transition from having meat as an ingredient to being a plant-based dish. For more mealtime inspiration, check out these plant-based recipes.
4. Be kind to yourself
If you always eat a turkey sandwich for lunch, or can’t start the day without a scrambled egg, consider keeping these faves in your diet initially. If your goal is to eat less meat, you may always keep these old standbys in your diet, or you may find something new you prefer. Remember, it’s all about flexibility.
What do Flexitarians eat?
Since flexitarianism is less of a diet and more of a lifestyle adjustment, the array of foods flexitarians eat is wide and varied. Flexitarians are sometimes also referred to as semi-vegetarians or semi-vegans, as their diets typically include mostly plant-based foods. As with any dietary change, you should consult a healthcare provider to ensure that the switch is best for you. And, consulting with a dietitian is a good option that can provide you with a delicious plan to help you meet your lifestyle goals.
The flexitarian transition can be more enjoyable when you discover new foods or dishes to enjoy. One of the easiest ways to start the process of transforming your diet is to take your favorite dishes and experiment with replacing meat and dairy products with dairy-free foods.
Here are a couple easy and delicious recipes that can easily be transitioned from meat-based dishes to vegetarian to vegan with very simple substitutions.
Lunch or Dinner faves
Chick’n Philly Jack sandwiches are a great lunch or dinner option. Since this slightly spicy sammie features both a meat-alternative and a dairy-free cheese, this recipe is perfect to include in your new meal plan. First, experiment with this recipe by using chicken, but using the Vevan P’Jack-Melts. Now that’s the epitome of a Flexitarian sandwich. When you are ready to start experimenting with meat alternatives, substitute the chicken for the vegan Chick’n patties.
In the same spirit, these Crunchy Vegan Taco Wraps are a great gateway meal choice for new flexitarians. Experiment with swapping out cheese with dairy-free Vevan cheese and switching ground beef for one of the popular ground meat alternatives.
If you can’t imagine your life without a grilled cheese sandwich, we get it. This recipe creates an indulgent sandwich that may make you second guess whether you used dairy cheese or not. Not Your Mama’s Grilled Cheese sandwich is so versatile you can add meat if you prefer.
Another dish most of us can’t live without is pizza. This simple and satisfying Vegan pizza recipe is perfect for substituting ingredients to tailor to your lifestyle and your tastebuds.
Making the shift to flexitarianism can be simple and enjoyable when you realize this lifestyle is more about exploring and adding delicious new foods to your life and less about restriction! Enjoy the journey, and when you explore new foods and recipes, you may find the transition happened more organically than you anticipated.
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