Last spring, as part of our webinar series, we presented on the Flexitarian Diet. Defined as a diet that removes meat from the center of the plate, the flexitarian diet has many benefits for us, our budget and our environment. Aligned with campaigns such as Meatless Monday, the flexitarian diet movement encourages us to consume less meat without expecting us to give it up altogether.
Why flexitarian? For many of us, adopting a vegetarian diet is unrealistic. However, America’s love of burgers means that many of us could do with a little less meat in our diet. In fact, when we move meat from the center of our plate, our diet improves because we likely increase our intake of fiber and nutrient-rich grains and vegetables. Consuming less meat and more grain, beans and vegetables is also good for our food budget, as meat tends to be the most expensive food on the plate. Lastly, there are many positive environmental impacts when we decrease demand for meat.
With all of these benefits, the idea of consuming less meat may sound good to you, but actually doing it could be another thing. As your family isn’t likely to embrace a plate full of tofu and a diet very high in cheese isn’t a great idea either, we need creative, flavorful meal suggestions that don’t leave your family asking, “Where’s the beef?”
There are a few approaches to a flexitarian lifestyle, which all center on helping your family consume less meat. In some cases it may mean choosing a couple nights per week where you have vegetarian dinners or creating more meals that emphasize grain and vegetables, while shifting meat from the center of the plate. You can also make traditional foods, such as a meatloaf, with less meat by incorporating beans, oats or other alternatives.
I’ve rounded up some recipes, tips and ideas to help your family embrace a flexitarian diet and consume more vegetables, beans and grain. Start here and before you know it your family won’t be missing their meat as they reach for another helping of beans and rice.
Southwestern Rice & Pinto Bean Salad (3 Guiding Stars)
Black Beans Curry with Garbanzo Beans (2 Guiding Stars)
Veggie Loaf (a vegan alternative to meatloaf) (3 Guiding Stars)
Bean and Oat Burgers (2 Guiding Stars)
Mediterranean Vegetable Stew (3 Guiding Stars)
Tips for Flexitarian Eating