Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Flexitarian Family

I've recently come to the decision that we, as a family (but especially DH and I), can and should be eating less meat (red, white, fish, etc.). I'm aiming for vegetarian-ish, which apparently is called flexitarian. This means that we will endeavour to eat vegetarian as much as we can. So far, so good.

Why not go "whole-hog" (if you'll pardon the pun)? Most importantly: DH and I love meat and I don't especially love vegetables. In fact, I'm a very reluctant vegetable eater and I've struggled hard to incorporate them into my meals. Give me boiled or steamed veggies (with a very few exceptions) in a pile on my plate and I'm unlikely to eat them. For this reason, despite the fact that I've long aspired to vegetarianism, I didn't think it was realistic and figured I'd probably starve.

So why on earth do I want to do this? Good question. Without getting into the many long and difficult arguments, I'll give you my main reasons:
  • Ethical and Financial - The more I learn about how the majority of food animals are raised, fed, bred, and slaughtered I don't want to be a part of it. There are better alternatives, but doing things "right" costs much more money than assembly-line, corner-cutting factory farming. So either we find more money in the budget, or we treat meat as a treat. The big bonus to the alternative sources I've found is the taste - unlike anything I've ever tasted before and so delicious.
  • Health - I want to eat delicious food. I don't want to feel that I'm missing out on meat. If that happens, this will end up as a short-lived experiment rather than a lifestyle change. So I've got to find great-tasting meals with lots of variety. It also means that eating out will become even more of a rarity. I'll be cooking more of our meals and by default, we'll be making better choices with our food.
What spurred this on? Mostly a lot of reading and a lot of thinking. About a year ago I read The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food. Excellent books, great reads and really thought-provoking. I think they should be required reading. A month ago, I finally watched Food Inc. and my mom's group book club started reading Omnivore's Dilemma (at my request). I just finished the short and sweet Food Rules and have started our next book club selection: Eating Animals. But long before all of this, I took a first year university philosophy course on ethics, where we discussed the philosophical arguments for and against vegetarianism. The seed was planted then, so to speak.

So we've been at this for over a week, officially, and I'm thrilled both with how much we're enjoying our new way of eating and with how easy it has been. DH has been wonderfully supportive and on-board. He is a pretty adventurous eater and has loved sampling the new recipes like this 4-cheese Manicotti.

4-cheese Manicotti - unbelievably delicious

I followed the recipe, but for these exceptions: omitted the spinach - didn't have any, used our favourite Zarky's sauce (no extra anything in it, as close as you can get to making your own) instead of following the marinara recipe. I served it with a cheese garlic bubble bread. Words can't describe how tasty this meal was. I asked my husband at the end of the meal, "did you miss the meat?" His answer, "no way!" While the example may not have fulfilled the "healthy" motivation, it sure was encouraging and satisfying.

Which brings me to my next post... My Quinoa Obsession


  1. This is cool. I never realized there was 'term' put with eating a 'bit' of meat. I think this is the direction we're headed too. Being Vegan for 2 years was CHALLENGING. And, frankly, unhealthy for my hubby. Vegetarian is doable but we'd miss a lot of our fish, turkey, etc. that I feel the kids kind of need right now. Great idea. :) Thanks.

  2. What I didn't get into in the post is the argument for eating ethically raised meat. Michael Pollan says it much better than I ever could, but basically I feel it gives me a leg to stand on should I be confronted by hardcore vegetarians. I don't think I could sustain being vegetarian let alone vegan. Flexitarian is something we can do. F loves poultry and "burger", so I'd be hard-pressed to tear him away from that. I'm working on giving him alternatives, though. K seems to be an easy sell on non-meat meals though. My goal is to try very hard to avoid meat, but it makes its way in about once a week at this point.

  3. Hi! My blog is especially for flexitarians! Stop by once in a while and check out some recipes!

  4. Hi RFR, I've just visited your blog. It looks great and I will definitely stop by once in a while.