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Friday, October 30, 2009

Flexitarian: Mostly Meatless

Back in the '60s and '70s, when vegetarianism was first catching on in the United States, the term was used more loosely than it is today. Any modern vegetarian, used to being offered fish or chicken by well-meaning hosts, will tell you that this word usage just isn't practical.

Today, vegetarians generally agree that they won't eat any food with a face. Still, with more and more households interested in the vegetarian movement but not willing to forgo meat entirely, there's a growing need for something new. Thus, flexitarianism.

Flexitarian is a loosely defined term, by its nature. In general, flexitarians eat some animal proteins, perhaps just fish and poultry. Most also limit consumption, for example by preparing small portions, focusing on vegetable-based meals at home, or limiting meats to one or two days per week (or less). While not strictly flexitarian, this concept can also be applied to mixed-diet households, where preparing completely separate menus for different people can be a real challenge.

Luckily, this is a common enough situation these days that there are lots of great resources for flexitarians. Almost Meatless is an intriguing new cookbook of vegetable-based meals incorporating a small amount of meat. The Flexitarian Diet includes lots of useful health and menu information (as well as plenty of simple and tasty recipes) for people making this transition. Many Moosewood cookbooks, including Moosewood Restaurant New Classics, even feature a section on seafood in addition to lots of vegetarian favorites.

Since going vegetarian can reduce the average American diet's carbon footprint by half or more, this is a new trend that we can all benefit from, regardless of eating style.

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