As an ever growing nation of vanity, we are generally only ever one scroll away on social media from a topless torso or a bulging bicep, flexing its hard-earned muscle definition in the reflection of the gym mirror. However, flexing has become more than just something for the muscles to do in pictures and has become more imprinted in the lives of many individuals who are navigating their way to good Health in something known as flexitarianism.

Flexible + Vegetarian = Flexitarian

With more and more people now choosing a life of meat-free and dairy-free products alongside The Veganuary campaign having a record 50,000 people signed up, it appears that the medium-rare steaks are being thrown out and the tofu cheese being churned in.

However, ethical reasons aside, is a balanced vegan diet actually doing anything for our health, or is it depriving people of the nutrition they need to concord with a healthy lifestyle?

So what is Flexitarianism?

Flexitarians have a plant-based diet with the occasional addition of meat. This can be a meat-free meal just once a week or only eating meat on the odd occasion; perfect for those who are not yet ready to commit to a full vegetarian lifestyle.

It can be an incremental diet that starts with just a few days a week that progressively turns into full blown plant power.

Why enter into flexitarianism?

Each temporary tofu-eater will have different motivations. Some might see it as a quick way to shed the Christmas signs, a good way to detox, or if you’re celebrity Beyonce and rapper husband Jay-Z, a way to be a part of a “spiritual and physical cleanse”.

However, according to Juliet Gellatley, director of the vegan group Viva, it mostly comes down to two main reasons: health concerns, and greater awareness about how animals are treated.

Going actual cold turkey, after the lavish indulgence of the 3-in-1 Turducken over Christmas, could be a tall order for some, so finding a middle ground between the craving for meat and the desire to avoid any cancer-causing claims of meat, a flexitarian lifestyle might be the way to go.

Flexitarianism allows the individual a diet that can be adapted to their lifestyle and social life that doesn’t interfere with their routine activity.

Health benefits of flexitarianism

Though the main slogan assigned by the Flexitarian diet, is “Go meatless and lose weight” there can be other useful health benefits for adopting a part-time life of veganism.

According to leading dieticians, you do not have to give up on meat completely to obtain the health benefits associated with a vegetarian diet. All you need to do is eat less meat and against their carnivorous counterparts, they had a lower rate of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Why flex and go meat-free?

According to a study published in the journal Nature Medicine, a compound in red meat called carnitine has been found to cause atherosclerosis - the hardening of the artery wall so the increased levels of this compound can increase your risk for cardiovascular diease.

As well as red meat, processed meat can over time increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, something that has been on the dramatic increase in recent years and most commonly associated with high sugar levels.

Most recently revealed, the hormones added to red meat boost breast cancer risk, according to a large study of more than 90,000 women published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Women who ate more than 1.5 servings of red meat per day had nearly double the risk of developing hormone-sensitive breast cancer than women who ate 3 or fewer servings per week.

The answer?

Combining both ethical and health reasons, a flexitarian lifestyle seems to come out on top. While still keeping our carnivourous cravings at bay and our protein levels satiated as well as reaping the vast amount of benefits associated with veganism, a flexitarian lifestyle seems to have it all. It certainly has my vote!