Saturday, February 2, 2013

What's a Flexitarian?

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I feel like I am already becoming a Flexitarian and I just found out what one is: I stumbled on a blog written by a woman explaining how she eventually became a vegan. I don't feel that veganism is necessary, but I want to consume much less meat.  I've watched a lot of documentaries on the food industry, the poor treatment of animals, and the unsustainable nature of our nation's animal product over-indulgence.  I've been eating less meat and I really would like to stop purchasing meat from large meat producers.  Kellie (from the blog) read this book by Michael Pollen, In Defense of Food  (he also is behind the film Food, Inc which is in my netflix instant cue :o)

 In Pollen's book he promotes eating less meat, because:

“The more meat there is in your diet -- red meat in particular -- the greater your risk for heart disease and cancer. Why? It could possibly be its saturated fat, or its specific type of protein, or the simple fact that all meat is pushing plants off the plate. We should treat meat as a side dish or flavoring to be used sparingly.

Much of the recipes I've been making are just that.  For example: I add just a little burger (preferably venison-thanks to my wonderful husband) to my pasta sauce just for the flavor (like 1/4 pound). I can stretch our meat consumption out much further this way, and with our family we only consume 1 deer in a year or a year and a half.  I've also been planning our meals around vegetables and legumes and occasionally including some meat for a little more oomph.

He also encourages us to: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”  

A Flexitarian generally eats 2-3 meat inclusive meals each week. Lately I've been eating maybe 1 meat meal per-day but the portions are very small.  I think that's pretty close.  I've been adding lots more vegetarian meals to our diet and we're eating much more fresh fruits and vegetables (did I mention that when I started this transformation I also lost 30 lbs of baby weight in about 9 months-when I hit a plateau with the exercise regiment that I could fit into my schedule). 
The Mayo Clinic wrote a simple article on the health benefits of becoming a flexitarian, "Should you be a flexitarian"  and they offered wise council on how to make the transition:

Start by going meatless one or two days a week. On those days, try the following protein-rich foods instead of meat:
  • Beans and legumes — great in casseroles and salads
  • Vegetarian refried beans — good substitute for meat in burritos and tacos
  • Tofu — perfect addition to stir-fry dishes
Build up your meal repertoire with more meatless (or meat added just for a bit of flavor) meals.  Fill up with more whole grains and plants instead, you won't be starving yourself.

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or a Mormon).  We have always been taught to eat a variety of foods and to enjoy them in moderation (See Doctrine & Covenants Sec. 89- "The Word of Wisdom") .  We are encouraged to eat meat sparingly (verse 12).  I don't feel that this counsel works well with the typical "American" diet where meals are built around meat. Excess in almost anything is not good.  This is also why we avoid substances that are addictive in nature.

The promises made to those who follow this counsel (in the entire section) are:

18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, ashall receive bhealth in their navel and marrow to their bones;
 19 And shall afind bwisdom and great ctreasures of dknowledge, even hidden treasures;
 20 And shall arun and not be bweary, and shall walk and not faint.

I believe this is true. If that makes me a flexitarian,  Awesome.  I just feel like I'm trying to more-fully live my beliefs and be healthier in the process.  Those blessings for myself and my family are all the motivation I need.

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