Although, it often feels more like an inquisition when it's posed as "You don't eat meat, do you?"
The truth is I am a meat-eating vegetarian. (Huh?)
Meat-eating vegetarians and part-time vegetarians are more commonly known as "flexitarians". We avoid meat most of the time, but with the occasional indulgence: think a hot dog at a baseball game, a filet mignon at a gourmet steakhouse, turkey on Thanksgiving or a hamburger at a famous burger joint.
We flexitarians thoroughly enjoy eating meat, but we also know that meat and dairy too (sigh!) are higher in artery clogging fats and calories. Plus, we know vegetarians have been shown to live longer and weigh less.
Not to mention that eating less meat is better for the environment, and our bank accounts. A 16-oz. package of dry black beans, which contains 12 servings, goes for approximately $2 in New York City--that's 17 cents per serving--versus a pound of meat that sells for about $1.50 per serving.
Vegetarian diets also tend to include more fruits and vegetables, something Americans just don't eat enough of. These provide important nutrients and help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, including cancer.
A common question about vegetarian diets is how do you get get enough protein in your diet if you're not eating meat. Good sources of plant-based proteins include legumes (beans, lentils and black-eyed peas, to name a few), nuts and nut spreads, tempeh, tofu and whole grains.
So while it's ok to enjoy a greasy burger every once and a while, don't make it a regular event! The next time you're jonesing for a steak, try some of these delicious vegetarian meals instead:
- Baked eggplant parmesan
- Black bean burgers or cakes
- Pasta and cannellini beans
- Vegetarian chili
- Vegetable frittata or crustless quiche
- Pasta with mushroom or bean Bolognese sauce
- Pasta primavera
- Vegetarian curry
- Tofu and/or bean tacos with guacamole