A growing number of experts and common folk in the US are becoming fans of ‘flexitarianism’-being a vegetarian of convenience. They say that cutting back on meat, rather than abstaining completely, may be a practical compromise that benefits our bodies and our environment.
“It gives you the health benefits of a vegetarian diet without having to follow the strict rules,” Newsweek magazine quoted Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian and author of The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life, as saying. “We know that people live longer and live healthier when they eat vegetarian, but it’s just too darn hard to do it 100% of the time.”
Its unclear how many people are official “flexitarian” converts, but nutritionists believe there are a growing number of people who are simply eating fewer meat entrees whether it’s for health, or economic reasons or because there are more good meatless dishes on offer, the magazine reported.
And while only 2 to 3% of Americans are traditional vegetarians, who shun anything that ever had a face, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group, vegetarian foods have become increasingly popular among non-vegetarians. “If you look around at grocery stores, you have soy milk right next to regular milk, you have veggie burgers in the frozen section, and tubs of tofu sitting there in the produce section,” says Blatner.
She suggests that many of those who buy these products may be flextitarians and not even realize it. Even dedicated vegetarians say they are somewhat flexible. A 2003 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that two out of three vegetarians say they can’t stick to a pure veggie diet all the time.
Many former vegetarians turn to fish or meat because they feel they need more protein. And of course there are those who start adding a little fish or meat to their diets because what their friend or roommate is cooking simply smells too good to resist.
Many famous vegetarian cookbook authors like the idea of flexitarianism-though they tend to dislike the name. “How about just moderation?” says Deborah Madison, author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Though she eats mainly a plant-based diet, she indulges in meat about once a week.
Some vegetarian advocates hope that a movement that begins with eating less meat might lead to more people embracing a no-meat, no-fish and no-fowl lifestyle. Vegetarian Resource Group co-director Charles Stahler calls it a “step in the right direction.” It should also inspire more restaurants to create veggie options, and more people to realize that it’s “easy to be a vegetarian”, he says.
Still, not everyone agrees that it’s a great idea to be mostly vegetarian instead of going whole hog-so to speak. “Given the environmental, cruelty and health impact of a meat-based diet, going vegan is best, going vegetarian is good, and being a flexitarian is like smoking two packs of cigarettes instead of ten, beating one pig down the slaughter ramp instead of two, and pouring a pint of gasoline down a drain instead of pouring down a gallon,” says Kathy Guillermo, director of research for the Peta.
Sources:The Times Of India
Vegans and vegetarians are the most likely to be deficient because the best sources of the vitamin are meat, particularly liver, milk and fish. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause anaemia and inflammation of the nervous system. Yeast extracts are one of the few vegetarian foods which provide good levels of the vitamin.
The link was discovered by Oxford University scientists who used memory tests, physical checks and brain scans to examine 107 people between the ages of 61 and 87.
When the volunteers were retested five years later the medics found those with the lowest levels of vitamin B12 were also the most likely to have brain shrinkage. It confirms earlier research showing a link between brain atrophy and low levels of B12.
Brain scans of more than 1,800 people found that people who downed 14 drinks or more a week had 1.6% more brain shrinkage than teetotallers. Women in their seventies were the most at risk.
Beer does less damage than wine according to a study in Alcohol and Alcoholism.
Researchers found that the hippocampus-the part of the brain that stores memories – was 10% smaller in beer drinkers than those who stuck to wine.
And being overweight or obese is linked to brain loss, Swedish researchers discovered. Scans of around 300 women found that those with brain shrink had an average body mass index of 27 And for every one point increase in their BMI the loss rose by 13 to 16%.