FOODvember: Flexitarian

Fancy becoming a weekday vegetarian?

A “flexitarian” is someone who cuts back on their meat consumption for ethical, health and environmental reasons.  Becoming a weekday vegetarian is one way to do this.  The benefits are many: Buying less meat will save you money (lentils, beans, rice and vegetables cost less than meat); youflexitarian‘ll contribute to better living conditions for livestock because of the lower demand; you’ll help to reduce the effect on the atmosphere of methane produced by cattle; and your life expectancy will increase – on average, vegetarians live about eight years longer than meat-eaters, and a vegetarian diet reduces the risk of developing heart disease by 32%.  Even gradual changes toward more plant-based diet can have a positive effect on your health and on the well-being of the planet.

Listen to the Yuppiechef Podcast here.

So, is being a flexitarian really any different from being an omnivore, pescetarian, or just an ordinary meat eater? Flexitarians have gotten flak from vegetarians and vegans for being noncommittal or just plain lazy, but the dietary choice is more than being a vegetarian who cheats.

The flexitarian label suggests an active and purposeful movement away from a meat-heavy diet. It’s a healthier way of eating that includes significantly more whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables than the Standard American Diet (or SAD), says Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer of The Cleveland Clinic and co-founder of RealAge.

In 2003, the American Dialect Society voted flexitarian as the year’s most useful word.

flexitarian-fbmeme-01

How to start Flexin’

So it’s simple, right? Just eat less meat and poof—you’ll be healthier, happier, and have basically saved the world. Not so fast. Technically, a “plant-based” diet could consist of Pop Tarts for breakfast, cheesy nachos (hold the meat!) for lunch, and a veggie burger slathered in mayo and onion rings at dinner, washed down with a large Coke (it’s vegan!).

As all of these flexitarian advocates point out, it’s not just about eating less animal products, but also making smart food choices in general. This means minimally-processed, nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, grains, and dairy.

To get started, try these easy ways to cut back on meat in your own diet.

  • Load up on greens. For a salad that actually fills you up, mix three to four cups of lettuce, kale, or arugula with tons of other veggies like carrots, beets, corn, broccoli, and onions, along with a plant-based protein (or two).
  • Substitute a cup of beans or lentils for the chicken, beef, or pork on a salad or in a rice bowl—they’re just as filling and usually cheaper!
  • Eat legumes, like white beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
  • Try meat substitutes—tofu, tempeh, and other soy-based products—along with tons of veggies, whole grains, and fruits
  • Focus on eating “calorie-poor but nutrient-rich”. This means bulking up your meals with fiber-rich veggies and plenty of other protein sources like those listed above.
  • Don’t forget about quinoa, a super-versatile grain that also contains a good amount of protein (8g per cup, cooked) and can take on almost any flavor—from sweet to savory.

 


Taken from Yuppiechef Table magazine; issue 4 (page 10).

 

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