Flexitarian diet goes mainstream
The flexitarian diet is also known as the semi-vegetarian movement has been around since 2019, but it seems to be gaining in popularity as we head into 2022.
So what constitutes a flexitarian diet? This is a type of practice that promotes a high plant-based eating plan while allowing meat and other animal products in moderation. Thus it's as the name suggests - it offers a more flexible alternative to a fully vegetarian or vegan diet.
The diet plan is ideal because it focuses on what to include rather than what to restrict. It is a popular choice for people looking to eat healthier and those trying to ease their way into a vegan diet into the new year.
What are the basic principles of a flexitarian based diet?
According to research, the flexitarianism diet has the following benefits:
- Could contribute to weight loss
- Improved markers of metabolic health
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
A move away from curative to preventive health
With a new strain of COVID-19 wreaking havoc around the world, many people have had to redefine and rethink the nature of health. With a move away from just a long lifespan, to more of a healthier lifestyle and better quality of life overall. This is a shift that sees people invest time, energy and money into building a quality of life instead of just lengthening it - ensuring that they live a longer and healthier life that’s free of disease so they are still able to be present for their families while maintaining an active, happy and fulfilling lifestyle.
The pandemic has taught us that our lifestyle has a big impact on our overall short and long term health (1). And the preventative health movement inspires people to invest in avoiding sickness as opposed to waiting to get sick before taking any curative steps (1).
Eating to support a healthier environment
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year. This higher mortality is attributed to health illnesses that are exacerbated by pollution, such as stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections - leading to reduced health span. This makes it important for people to protect themselves from the negative effects of air pollution through better food considerations. The younger generation is becoming increasingly conscious of the processes that go into the food they consume and understanding certain farming practices that can contribute to the effect of air quality, thus leading the way to eat for a healthier environment.
As more people become aware of climate change, they also learn about the effects that their choice of diet can have on pollution and deforestation. What we choose to eat has implications for soil quality, pollution, greenhouse gases and deforestation. This means understanding that things, like the palm oil that is found in everything from bread to ice cream, is destroying Sumatran rainforests. Sugar cane fertilizers are devastating the Great Barrier Reef. And meat consumption results in 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. As more consumers shift towards more ethical food consumption practices in order to reduce their own contribution to the climate crisis, they are becoming more open to supporting businesses that minimize negative effects on the environment (1).
According to research, climate-friendly nutrition takes into consideration factors that drive consumers to choose a higher plant-based diet - choosing food that is farmed organically and free-range animal products, decreasing meat consumption and opting for seasonal and locally farmed produce to reduce the cost of air pollution that's caused by food being transported from far. The year 2022 will also see people prioritize fortifying their bodies against pollution by optimizing foundational nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, as well as other nutrients like sulforaphane, all of which have been shown to protect against the negative health effects of air pollution.
Carbon labelling is here to stay
Carbon labelling is a practice that empowers people to know the sustainability credentials of the products they consume. Through carbon labelling, producers and manufacturers have an opportunity to highlight and be transparent about the carbon footprint of their products (1). This happens because as more consumers lean towards ethical consumption, it becomes pivotal to know that the brands they buy champion sustainable practices, carbon labelling makes it easier for them to access that information up front. This is an important step in the fight against climate change because research has found that food consumption is the main factor of environmental degradation.
We’re seeing brands, retailers, and restaurants starting to focus on on-pack carbon labelling as a way to promote transparency and spread awareness of our impact on the planet and appeal to environmentally-conscious consumers.
Brands like HelloFresh are already playing in this space by making an effort to help customers understand the carbon impact of recipes and to make more sustainable choices. Thus the Meal kit group launched a climate labelling initiative - the Climate Hero tag will appear next to recipes that fall under the top five lowest carbon-intensive recipes of the week, signalling that the meal generates at least 50% fewer CO2 emissions than the average HelloFresh recipe.
Healthy snacking at the forefront
For the many people who are working from home, snacking has become a big part of their eating habits in-between zoom calls and helping kids with their online classes. This shift in work and life saw many people try to find snacks that are indulgent but healthy-ish. So in 2022, the rise of a movement titled "sensible indulgences" will be at the forefront.
Sensible indulgence is a practice that encourages people to opt for healthier but still enjoyable snack alternatives such as unsalted or lightly salted popcorn, nuts and seeds, dried fruit and baked treats like whole-grain muffins (instead of for example deep-fried chips). This means those who participate in sensible indulgence, get to enjoy snacks guilt-free, and without worrying about undoing the work they put in by eating healthy and working out. This form of snacking strategy easily fits into the schedule of a healthy eating plan.
So going into the new year, remember to design a nutritional plan that works for your individual lifestyles and genetic needs. Remember to set an eating plan that is realistic and sustainable. We hope you have a healthy and happy year of eating your way into a healthy mind and body.