There is a new word on the table and its called flexitarianism.
It transcends the "isms" and provides a vernacular that anyone can be successful with. It provides the opportunity for people to acknowledge their own reasons for eating the way they do at any given time while providing a meaningful, relevant and actionable framework for eating better, based on the cornerstone of nutrition, nutrient density; what we refer to as Nutrient Rich.
Flexitarianism is the practice of being "flexible" about the degree to which one is actually a vegetarian. A "flexitarian" might make only vegetarian dishes at home, but eat dishes including meat at the home of family or friends. Or, they may try to stick to a vegetarian diet but are often unsuccessful because they enjoy non-vegetarian foods. In 2003, the American Dialect Society voted flexitarian as the year’s most useful word, and defined it as "a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat." – WikiPedia
Being a flexitarian is someone who aims to eat a plant based diet but is practical about the reality that it’s not always possible for a variety of reasons.
But here’s the issue with flexitarianism.
Most people don’t want to turn food consumption into a religion. Whenever you add an ‘ism’ to an idea it becomes a doctrine and you have to stick to it; this is hard, it promotes idealism which is very often impractical and it sets you up for failure and poor quality of life, which leads to the whole idea of being diet trapped.
There is a difference between living ideally and being an idealist. The later is a hard way of life. Asserting your preferences for reasons that are wholly yours and not evangelical is a different story, but when you are inflexible it can have an effect both personally and socially, and this is the likely reason flexitarianism has taken off.
Although in the case of the flexitarianism, one would think they are free of diet traps, which is why they wanted the ability to be flexible in the first place; so they don’t run into situations where they have to be guilt ridden for doing something (eating) differently than their value’s uphold. They don’t want to have to be perfect!
But being a flexitarian does not neccessarily free you from all the diet traps. While the intent is there to eat a plant based diet, without defined goals and good reasons why those standards are in place, being flexitarian can be a diet trap itself.
A flexitarian may
- consider a vegetarian diet to be healthier, but enjoy eating meat.
- prefer a vegetarian diet, but would not restrict themselves from eating if vegetarian options are not available.
- not be ethically opposed to eating meat, but find a vegetarian diet to be less expensive.
- Other members of their household might be vegetarian and a flexitarian diet is more convenient.
- believe vegetarian food conserves water and land resources and thus feeds more people.
- may believe it is rude to refuse a meal cooked by a friend, even if it contains meat.
- may oppose the poor conditions or environmental consequences of certain practices in animal husbandry, and hence will only eat what they consider "ethical meat".
- may believe in minimizing their environmental footprint by eating less meat.
- may be unwilling to invest in the sanitation needed for keeping meat safe to eat.
- may favor a vegetarian diet, but may think they need to supplement it with added protein for health reasons. See Diet Trapped
- Strict Diets can be very unhealthy. Diets have an 80% failure rate. flexibility is an important factor for success.
All this is understandable.
But being a flexitarian, could be an everything in moderation, diet trap in disguise, if it’s not backed up by the intent to eat a predominantly Nutrient Rich whole foods diet, at least 80-90% of the time or more.
Flexitarianism, is not a destination, like being a vegan or a vegetarian, which have clear lines drawn in the sand. Flexitarianism may have some virtues, listed above, and it’s a very helpful mindset, but it needs guidelines if you are going to be successful as a flexitarian; what you call yourself when the question is asked "are you a vegetarian?"
Why would someone call themselves a flexitarian? Because they have the intention to eat plant foods, at least most of the time; that’s the goal, but they realize they have to transition from the foods they are currently eating which by most people’s standards is over 90% animal products and refined foods.
See Dietary Transition System.
For most flexitarian’s they don’t have a framework for success, it’s based on intuition. We need structure, and we need to know what things mean in addition to having a philosophy that serves us. The key is not be bound by it when it doesn’t serve us.
Let’s face it, just because a food is not Nutrient Rich, doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable or can’t be eaten in smaller quantities from time to time if one decides to. Depending on your goal, and the way you set it up in your mind, you will likely need to be able to be flexible from time to time, even if your goal is to be vegan or vegetarian.
If you’re going to maintain quality of life and not feel like you’re going to trip an emotional wire, knowing how to transition successfully to a Nutrient Rich diet, is a great skill to have. Knowing how to eat that is always promoting your health AND success is the ace.
- You know longer have to stick to diets.
- You know longer have to feel guilty when you are doing your best, but don’t live up to your intentions due to circumstances.
- You can feel good about what you eat all the time.
This is why being a flexitarian, if you need the term, is helpful. It helps you on the road to eating a Nutrient Rich whole foods diet, 100%, 95%, 90%, 85%, 80% of the time. You have to start where you’re at that’s why taking a flexitarian approach is so valuable.
But there’s the key, the idea is to take a flexitarian approach, not become one. There is no such thing as being a "flexitarian" if there is no definition for what it means. You don’t want to have an identity that stands for nothing do you? You want your intention to be at the forefront, otherwise the moderation myth will take over.
And where are you headed? Healthy High Achievers like to know where they’re headed, they need to have a goal, but they are realistic in terms of getting there. That’s why the Nutrient Rich System exists. It helps you transition to a better quality diet and get the benefits. It sets you up for success!
This is why nutrientrich.com, which is growing as the home of the flexitarian, exists. We provide the guideliness for people who need to be flexible for one reason or another, in the process of improving their diet and establishing a new standard, so they can be successful!
We help define the goal for the flexitarian (a goal you can take as far as you want) and show you how to transition.
In the process you learn the Revolutionary Way to Eat Nutrient Rich whole foods for optimal health and natural weight loss; the new trend in eating for health and success.