The flexitarian diet has ten benefits and only one potential pitfall. This makes it one of the best diets to follow for optimal personal and environmental health in 2019 and beyond.
There are no specific rules on a flexitarian diet, making it an appealing option for people who are looking to follow a healthy diet and cut back on animal products at the same time. Becoming a flexitarian is about adding and balancing the food groups in your diet – it’s not about taking any away.
The flexitarian philosophy is that you don’t have to eliminate meat completely to reap the health benefits associated with vegetarianism – you can be a vegetarian most of the time, but still chow down on a burger or steak when the urge hits.
The flexitarian diet – a sustainable eating plan that makes you feel freaking fantastic, and that is as flexible as your eating habits. In short: it’s the perfect foodie friendly healthy eating plan.
10 Benefits of the Flexitarian Diet
#1: It’s A Lot Easier (and more fun) To Follow Than Vegetarian or Vegan Diets
Vegan and vegetarian diets all have rules which can make them hard to follow, both in the short and long term. Flexitarian diets on the other have no rules.
Because your overall goal is to decrease your consumption of animal protein you can cycle through all the recognized vegetarian types which makes life a lot easier. And your diet a lot less boring.
For example, you can be a vegan for most of the week and then you can have fish or shellfish (pescetarian) on Friday. Or you can have a traditional roast (red meat) or oven baked chicken (pollotarian) on Sunday.
This flexibility also makes the flexitarian way of eating very socially friendly. No need to worry about the menu when visiting friends and family, or when eating out.
#2: High Nutrient and Fiber Density
One of the biggest benefits of a flexitarian diet is that you’ll consume more nutrient-dense foods. Nutrient-dense foods are ones that pack in a lot of nutrients for a relatively small amount of calories. In short, these are foods that give you a lot of what your body needs but don’t contribute many ’empty’ calories.
Apart from the plant-based macro-nutrients, flexitarians also include many herbs and spices which are known for their nutrient density and health benefits.
There’s no arguing the importance of fiber for a healthy gut and microbiome and plant-based diets are exceptionally high in dietary fiber.
#3: Exceptionally Family and Budget Friendly
Food budgets vary greatly, but because you won’t need to buy special and hard to find ingredients on a flexitarian diet, there’s no additional pressure on your budget. If you currently include a lot of meat in your diet, you’ll actually save money because you’ll be replacing expensive animal protein sources with more affordable plant-based proteins.
Research has backed this up, too, with vegetarians saving up to $750 per year on food.
The flexitarian diet is probably the most family friendly of all diets because there’s no need to prepare special meals for one or two persons in the family. Everyone can enjoy the same meals. And there is not a shortage of meal plans and recipes catering for all levels of cooking expertise.
#4: You Can Grow Your Own
Not everyone can farm their own meat but almost everyone can grow a few herbs and veggies. Even if is just a few sprouts on a windowsill. This is a big benefit of the flexitarian and other plant-based diets.
According to the Herb Academy, a small door-sized food garden can supply a family of four with all the herbicide- and pesticide-free salad greens they need – and it’s far easier than you might imagine. If you like the idea of better nutrition for your family and a bit more self-sufficiency, too, then you’re in luck with a flexitarian diet.
What’s more, one can also keep a few free roaming hens which gives you access to high-quality eggs which is one of the best sources of animal protein.
#5: Good for the Environment
Research reveals that environmental and health benefits are possible by shifting current Western diets to more sustainable dietary patterns. Reductions in environmental footprints were generally proportional to the magnitude of animal-based food restriction. Dietary shifts also yielded modest benefits in all-cause mortality risk. 
Health Benefits of the Flexitarian Diet
#6: Decreases Risk of Heart Disease
High consumption of plant-based foods such as fruit and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains is associated with a significantly lower risk of coronary artery disease and stroke. The protective effects of these foods are probably mediated through multiple beneficial nutrients contained in these foods, including mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, n-3 fatty acids, antioxidant vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fiber, and plant protein. 
According to U.S. News Best Diets 2019, the Flexitarian Diet ranked number 7 in Best Heart-Healthy Diets.
#7: Lowers Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
A study in over 60,000 participants found that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes was 1.5% lower in semi-vegetarians or flexitarians compared to non-vegetarians. 
According to U.S. News Best Diets 2019, the Flexitarian Diet ranked number 2 in Best Diabetes Diets.
#8: Lowers Risk of Cancer
Research suggests that vegetarian diets are associated with a lower overall incidence of all cancers but especially colorectal cancers. 
#9: Helps With Weight Loss
Several studies have shown that people who follow a plant-based diet may lose more weight than those who do not.  If weight loss is a goal you can follow either a ketotarian or a slow carb (low-GL) diet. Both of which have impressive results for weight loss.
According to U.S. News Best Diets 2019, the Flexitarian Diet ranked number 3 in Best Weight-Loss Diets.
#10: Contributes To A More Energetic and Longer Life
Following the Flexitarian Diet should provide an overall sense of well-being, including more energy and less fatigue
Research also suggests that flexitarians may live about 3.6 years longer than their carnivorous counterparts, likely as a result of the reduced risk of disease. Meanwhile, a study of over half a million people published in Archives of Internal Medicine found that red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total death rates, death by cancer, and death by heart disease. 
1 Potential Problem of a Flexitarian Diet
Because you’ll be eating a variety of ingredients the possibility of experiencing nutrient deficiencies is very low. Studies have however shown that limited consumption of meat and other animal products may lead to some nutritional deficiencies, particularly B12, iron, zinc, and calcium. 
With a little bit of planning, you can easily overcome this potential problem
 The Impacts of Dietary Change on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Land Use, Water Use, and Health: A Systematic Review NCBI PMC
 Plant-based foods and prevention of cardiovascular disease: an overview. PubMed
 Type of vegetarian diet, body weight, and prevalence of type 2 diabetes. PubMed
 Vegetarian diets and the incidence of cancer in a low-risk population. PubMed
 Vegetarian Diets and Weight Reduction: a Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. PubMed
 Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people. NCBI PMC
 Vegetarian diets, low-meat diets and health: a review. PubMed