Could Your Family Go Flexitarian?
If the buzz around Veganuary has sparked your interest but you’re not ready to give up animal products altogether, why not consider going Flexitarian? Never heard of it? Let us fill you in.
Flexitarians eat a plant-based diet with the occasional dish made from meat, fish, and dairy products. Unlike vegetarians or vegans, flexitarians adapt their eating habits to their lifestyle, social life, or health. Eating a flexitarian diet focuses on increasing your consumption of protein from plants, and adding more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains to your meals. You are encouraged to shop locally and seasonally, purchasing ethically sourced meat and sustainable seafood. Whist on the surface purchasing locally or organic can seem expensive, the goal of a flexitarian diet is to reduce your overall animal product consumption, and thus how much you spend on them. True flexitarians avoid processed foods and limit sugar, but for most families this isn’t always possible, especially with fussy eaters in the house!
Going flexitarian is about easing your family into reducing your meat, fish & dairy consumption, so a great starting place is Meat Free Mondays. Started by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney in 2009, Meat Free Mondays are an easy way to test the waters with your family. Ease them in with familiar dishes such as baked potatoes topped with veggie chilli or Jamie Oliver’s veggie shepherds pie for dinner. Transitioning to vegetarian or vegan meals can be easier with meat substitutes. Try swapping your meat-based spaghetti bolognese with a Quorn mince version, then take it one step further and make a red lentil bolognese. Italian inspired meals such as spinach and ricotta cannelloni, pesto gnocchi, or veggie lasagne are great filling family meals. For anyone in your family who thinks plant-based food is bland or boring, curries like roasted vegetable and chickpea curry, thai vegetarian curry, and aubergine peanut butter curry, are flavourful meatless dishes that will have them salivating.
Once you’ve conquered Meatless Mondays and introduced your family to vegan and vegetarian dinners, you can start replacing more family meals with plant based options. There are 21 meals in a week to play with so get creative. One of the easiest meals of the day is breakfast because most bread or fruit based breakfast items are already veggie or vegan. If you have the time try starting the day with blueberry pancakes or a veggie cooked breakfast. Lunches too can go plant based or meat free with carrot, beetroot and harissa hummus flatbreads, butternut squash & tomato soup, or red pepper & halloumi wraps.
The potential health benefits of a flexitarian diet can include a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, lower mortality rate, and lower risk of heart disease and cancer. Plus reducing your meat, seafood, & dairy intake is great for the environment as eating more plant based food can help reduce your carbon footprint. In a study by Oxford University, researchers found food production to be responsible for 25% of global greenhouse emissions with 58% of those emissions coming from animal products. According to the BBC's diet carbon footprint calculator, eating beef 3-5 times a week annually contributes 1,611kg to your greenhouse gas emissions, which is the equivalent of driving a regular petrol car 4,112 miles. Eating chicken 3-5 times a week uses 19,025 litres of water, equal to 292 showers lasting eight minutes. Following a flexitarian diet, as the name suggests, is a much more flexible and gradual way to modify your eating habits and helps reduce your family’s impact on the planet.
Hopefully we have given you some food for thought (see what we did there?!) Check out our Pinterest board that is chock full with our favourite vegetarian and vegan recipes to get you started. If you try any of our pinned recipes we would love to see your photos. Follow @UIAinsurance and tweet us your meals! Have you tried eating a more plant-based diet? Tell us how you got on via our Facebook page or Tweet us your thoughts.
Making simple, greener choices can make a real difference. There’s only one planet earth, let’s protect it together. At UIA Mutual we have been providing value for money home insurance to trade union members and their families for 130 years. Protect your family as well as the planet and get a home insurance quote today.