Are You a Flexitarian?

Or would you like to be one? Here are some easy steps.

By Rebecca Heaton

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Are you a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat? Or a meat eater who occasionally seeks out vegetarian meals? ? You can call yourself a flexitarian. The term has been around since at least 2003, when the American Dialect Society selected it as the “most useful word of the year.” The official definition is “a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat.”

“All of us are flexitarians to some degree already,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., author of The Flexitarian Diet (2010, McGraw-Hill). “If you have ever enjoyed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a slice of cheese pizza, a vegetable egg roll, a bowl of pasta with marinara, or a bean burrito, you are already on your way to flexitarianism.”

Here are Blatner’s tips on how to become more flexitarian.

  1. Replace. You can keep eating what you’re eating, just increase plants and decrease meat and fish. Instead of a larger piece of meat, drop to 2–3 ounces. When buying meat and fish, get the highest quality that you can afford, even if you have to buy a bit less.
  2. Reinvent. Switch out favorites: If you love tacos, use lentils instead of ground beef, and season the same way. That way you can say, “I’m eating the same thing I still love, I’m just doing a protein swap.” Try to eat at least one vegetarian meal a day.
  3. Refresh. Grow your recipe repertoire. Read food magazines and websites; talk to friends and family. Try adding one new recipe a week. By the end of the year, you’ll have 50-plus recipes.

For help with meal planning, try theme planning—Italian, Asian, Mexican, Greek—and then build meals around that. For example, on Italian night, make lentil meatballs, quinoa pasta and broccoli.

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