By Emma Grace Fairchild:
Does being a vegetarian sound to you like a big commitment? Maybe you’ve been flirting with the idea of trying a vegetarian diet with your family, or you’ve switched to eating organic or pasture raised meats. Perhaps “Meatless Monday” is a success in your home and you’re ready to take it a bit further!
There’s no rule that says you have to abide by someone else’s expectations in order to eat a plant based diet. Maybe it includes a bit of meat once a day, once a week, or once a month. I believe that people should always feel comfortable with their decisions regarding dietary choices and not let anyone else tell them to eat a certain way. It’s especially important to love the food you are eating and cooking, so if eating more vegetables, grains, fruits, and legumes is what you’re loving, then go for it!
There are many ways to have more plant based meals without labeling yourself a vegetarian. You can even opt to use the term “flexitarian,” which implies that while you eat primarily plant based foods, you have flexibility in your diet for other foods.
You can set a goal of eating a plant based diet throughout the weekdays and incorporating animal products on the weekends, as does Graham Hill, the founder of TreeHugger.com, a self-described “weekday vegetarian.” This arrangement works for him and might work well for others who are interested in exploring a plant based diet! By adding more vegetarian meals into a daily routine, one can save a bit of money, reduce the impact on the environment, and even improve health, all of which are common results from eating plant based foods.
Need some inspiration for meatless meals? Check out the Kitchen section of Green-Mom.com here. Experiment with having breakfast for dinner a few nights a week with a veggie frittata or savory pancakes with herbs and yogurt. Or try cooking with new proteins like tofu and tempeh. Joining a CSA program for local and seasonal veggies and fruits is another excellent way to incorporate interesting and fresh plant based foods into a weekly meal plan. Additionally, CSA boxes often include recipes for unusual ingredients.
What has been your experience incorporating more vegetarian meals into your diet? Did foregoing meat “cold turkey” work for you, or are you finding more success with a flexitarian approach? Let us know in the comments!