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Could You be a Flexitarian?

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You’ve heard it a million times. Eating less meat and more vegetables is better for your body and better for the environment. Raising animals for food creates more greenhouse gas emissions than growing vegetables and grains.

Still, many people love eating meat. This Earth Day 2011, why not consider becoming a flexitarian?

In a recent interview with the Nature Conservancy, Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill, said that over the years his tastes have changed to become more flex.

“I used to think of meat in the center of the plate,” Ells said. “Today, I am a meat reducer. This means I eat less meat and make sure that the limited meat I do eat is of the highest quality. My plate is comprised of seasonal and local vegetables with meat as an accompaniment.”

Ells is not alone in this philosophy.

You can call it meat reducing or flexitarianism, or as long-time New York Times food writer Mark Bittman calls it “less-meatarianism.”

“Longer term, my hope is that we’ll see increasing numbers of people recognizing the secular benefits… of relaxed food-related self-discipline, represented by flexitarianism, by the Meatless Monday campaign, and by my own (perhaps badly named) crusade for ‘less-meatarianism,’ all of which can have positive effects on the environment, on our personal health and on world hunger,” Bittman said.

You can flex your vegetarian muscles just one day a week with Meatless Monday, a public awareness campaign created in 2003 by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future. Their goal is simple: help Americans reduce their risk of preventable disease by cutting back saturated fat.

“Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity,” according to their website. “It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.”

The Mayo Clinic now endorses a flexitarian diet too. In a February 2011 article Mayo Clinic nutritionists Jennifer Nelson and Katherine Zeratsky give this advice:

“You can still eat meat, poultry and fish in moderation as part of a plant-based diet if you're willing to be flexible. Indeed, many people who eat this way call themselves flexitarians. Start by going meatless one or two days a week. On those days, plan menus that feature entrees you like and that are typically meatless, such as veggie lasagna, minestrone soup and pasta salad. If you need a snack, try a handful of nuts and some fresh fruit.”

Meatless Monday

Mayo Clinic

Add a Comment3 Comments

Very interesting to find that there is a name for "my kind." I naturally am more of a "sides" kind of woman. I prefer to eat more veggies, and compliment them with meat. Many meals, I don't eat meat at all, just as a taste preference. When I was pregnant I also couldn't eat meat for much of the pregnancy. I had an aversion to chickem and could only eat a very small amount of other meats, but could always eat bacon.

April 24, 2011 - 6:19pm
EmpowHER Guest

The Flexitarian Diet by Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD is the leading source of information on this lifestyle and provides a straightforward plan to make your diet more plant-based.

April 22, 2011 - 7:54am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I have recently started this way of eating. I feel better after each meal, I still feel full after each meal with less meat and more veggies and have more energy. Not to mention, my body just feels better but my skin looks better too!

April 24, 2011 - 11:05am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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