When I first heard the term flexitarian, I thought someone was inviting me to do a new form of yoga. Nope, not at all. As a matter of fact, the only thing I had to flex was my mind by opening it to this relatively new concept.
A flexitarian is someone that’s a vegetarian and a carnivore, but not at the same meal.
A flexitarian is not an oxymoron. Your meals are primarily vegetarian, but once in a while you eat meat. There is no standard agreement or definition on the frequency of how often a flexitarian will include meat in their diet; it’s really up to the individual.
What is interesting about this concept to me is that most meat eaters cringe at the thought of tofu, tempeh, texturized vegetable protein or any other kind of meatlessy meat type product. Seriously, wherever I go with my sack lunch I’m ALWAYS greeted with the usual, “Hey Bea, what do you have for lunch today? Tofu egg salad? Tofu BLT? Tofu Hotdog?” Then it’s usually followed up by “let me know if you need some ground beef to make that taste better. [Snicker. Snicker.].” Little do my friends know I have not been a vegetarian since 1993. Don’t tell. Nevertheless, the typical meat eater likes their meat and don’t want to compromise for something that doesn’t have that same taste, texture and aroma. This is why the flexitarian diet is redefining vegetarian meals by holding them to a stronger meat-like standard.
Maybe you’re a vegetarian and offended by this idea of a part-time meat eater being defined in your garden, or maybe you’re a meat eater and holding your nose at the idea of eating anything that doesn’t smell, taste or look like real bacon.
Reasons I encourage trying the flexitarian diet:
- Pros for meat lovers: You still get to enjoy the flavors you love! Being a flexitarian does reduce your meat consumption, but it’s not only good for the environment, it’s good for your health. This is a great way to lose weight, lower cholesterol and open your dining experience to new foods. Changing things up is good. Diversity!
- Pros for vegetarians: You’re gaining new recipes that are closer to some of the traditional meat-based favorites. Following a flexitarian diet means looking for plant-based substitutes that look like meat, taste like meat, but are mock-meat. One of the top foods I missed as a vegetarian was bacon. Just the aroma alone would make my mouth water. Thank flexitarianism (is that a word?) because it’s helping vegetarian food become more meaty tasting, but without the meat.
- Last, one of the most compelling reasons about becoming a flexitarian is the realization that the fastest way to making a difference in your health is through the food you eat. Who doesn’t want to be healthier? Lil’ veggie, lil’ meat, lil’ veggie-meat. It’s all good.
This brings me to a new product we’ll soon be carrying called Beyond Meat. This is a plant-based meat substitute that looks like chicken, cooks like chicken and tastes like chicken. I know, what doesn’t taste like chicken, right? Tofu does not taste like chicken. Trust me.
Anyway, Beyond Meat is one of the only non-meat substitutes that truly is interchangeable with chicken and works with any poultry recipe. Some other great qualities of Beyond Meat is that it’s gluten free, GMO free, and has 18 grams of protein per half cup serving (real chicken has approximately 20 grams per half cup). Beyond Meat will hit our stores October 15 and will be located in the dairy department near the other vegetarian protein offerings.
Stretch yourself and go flexitarian!
Bea James, senior manager of organic, natural and sustainable programs