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Part-Time Vegetarianism is Gaining Ground

By , SparkPeople Blogger
If I lived alone, I would probably be a vegetarian. I was a vegetarian for a year or two before I got pregnant with my first child, but started eating meat again because I craved it. That’s the only time in my life I would say that I "craved" meat. In general, I tend to gravitate to the vegetarian items on a restaurant menu and if I’m making a meal for just myself, it doesn’t usually have meat in it. But cooking for one is rare in my house. I have a husband who likes meat, and two children who need at least some of the protein that meat provides. My daughter is great about eating alternate protein sources like beans, but my son won’t touch them. In order to provide a balanced diet to my family, I make meat dishes at least a few times a week. And I’m slightly lazy, which means I’m not going to make one thing for them and something different for myself. So I end up eating meat whether I really want to or not.

I would consider myself to be a part-time vegetarian, also referred to as a "weekday vegetarian" or flexitarian. It’s a movement that’s gaining new ground, designed to encourage people to go meat-free on certain days of the week. A few years ago, the Meatless Monday movement was started, which now has support from celebrities and other prominent figures.

So what’s the reason for encouraging this style of eating? The effect on the environment is reason number one. "According to the United Nations, the livestock industry produces 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases." Therefore, consuming less meat could mean a positive effect on global warming.

Encouraging part-time vegetarianism is also easier for most to incorporate into their lives than becoming a strict vegetarian. I give strict vegetarians a lot of credit, because it’s not always a convenient lifestyle. It’s easy to see how some people could be intimidated by that style of eating, but would be more willing to just try and cut back on the amount of meat they consume.

What do you think? Is part-time vegetarianism something you’d be interested in trying? Why or why not?

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DEE107 11/16/2019
thanks Report
GRAHANGE 4/7/2019
I'm a vegetarian now and have considered eating no animal products for a month this summer. I love eggs for easy protein though. Report
Why does not eating meat at some meals and not others require a label? It's just eating a varied diet. Report
For health reasons I'm pesco-vegatarian or pescatarian which means I follow a ovo lacto-vegetarian diet with some fish. I generally eat 2 or 3 oily fish meals a week, about 3 or 4 eggs and small amounts of cheese and greek yogurt. I'm lactose intolerant so hard cheeses, goats or sheeps and lactofree cheeses are fine and fermented milk products such as yogurt or kefir. When I cook vegetarian meals they tend to be curries, chillies and stir-frys made with beans and lentils, tofu or quorn. I do eat some bought convenience foods but far fewer now than when I was a meat eater. I'm only cooking for myself so to cut costs I cook family size meal once a week and freeze individual portions for convenience. I usually have portions of 3 or 4 different meals in my freezer on a rolling schedule. I have a lot of variety in my diet and keep a close eye on the nutritional content of what I eat. Report
I guess I'm already leaning toward the flexitarian style of eating. I very rarely have any kind of meat for breakfast, and if I make a big salad for lunch I'll use some cheese. We usually eat chicken, lean pork, or fish at dinner (beef maybe 1x a month); and when we do, it's now only about 3-4 oz. per serving. I love making 1 dish combination meals because I can use 1 pound or less of meat and lots of veggies and get 4 meals out of that (usually dinner and leftovers for lunch). We used to eat beef regularly, and a lot of it, now our "red" meat is pork tenderloin (less fat). When I think back on how much meat we'd eat at one sitting I am amazed; we started to eat less meat about 10 years ago and eating more plant protein about 3 years ago and are now eating much more plant protein. Report
My diet is largely plant based, with FF Greek yogurt my only dairy and occasional chicken, fish and eggs; partly because of environmental reasons, partly health and partly I'm just not a big meat eater to begin with. On burger night, I fix a veggie burger for myself and on taco night I eat lots of onions and peppers and sauce and salsa, but avoid the meat. Report
I love corn and will most likely try that one. Thanks! Report
many days Dearly Beloved and I do not eat meat Report
Love being a part time vegetarian! Started with Meatless Monday and moved on from there. Rarely if ever have meat for breakfast & most lunches are vegetarian. Dinners about half vegetarian and when we eat meat look for grass fed with no antibiotics or hormones. Feel much better and has helped me keep my weight off. Report
I’ve been a full time vegetarian for over 3 years and have never felt better. Truly changed the way I cook for my family of 4... I do incorporate meat dishes for them as they have no desire to adapt Report
good points Report
Now I know what to call myself! Report
Great article! Report
I have been mostly vegetarian since 2004. When I say mostly vegetarian I mean that there are times when the menu options are limited to a seafood dish if I am supposed to eat. Also in 2014 I spent 2 months in West Africa and there were, surprisingly no meatless options. The last 2 years were spent in Jamaica, again surprisingly unless you went into a Rasta Shop, there are no vegetarian options. I learned at that point to just pack and carry my lunches daily.

I went vegetarian not entirely by choice. I was a struggling mother of two picking up whatever part-time work I could. I ended up going to the food bank often and learned how to cook beans. Once I found ways to make them that my kids enjoyed I realized how much less expensive it was. Also at that time WW had considered veggie crumbles a no point food, so I was sold on this idea that these veggies options were "free food". Later I dated a vegetarian who showed me how to really cook and explore other cultural foods. I discovered Indian foods and Ethiopian foods and loved them very much. I have never really regretted that decision to cut out meat based on expense. Report
We started doing Meatless Monday and now I'm probably eating vegetarian over half of the time. Feel much better. I put together big delicious salads and have fun trying new recipes. When we do eat animal products we look for those NOT raised in a factory farm environment. Report
I relate very much to the author's viewpoint. At this point I have a very small serving of any meat once or twice a week. I love vegetables, and have loved them since childhood -- and have tried eating vegetarian a good bit over the years. The only problem is working with other family diet needs and not feeling as inspired or time-capable of making the vegetarian dishes I would like to for myself. Part of the reason I am pro-vegetarian is, also, as a Christian -- a sense of consciousness about the many people throughout the world who are hungry or starving and do not have meat or even the basics for a meal. ( I would recommend two good reads (although somewhat dated) - "Diet for a Small Planet" and "More With Less" -- both are cookbooks that also have a lot of philosophy re these issues -- that both affected a lot of my thinking. ) Report
Inspired by my roommate in college, I tried veganism. I just couldn't do it. I had two cookbooks with recipes for one or two servings, and even if it made two servings, I ended up eat all of it because I was so unsatisfied all the time. i tried a diet that focused on grains, fruits, and one teeny, tiny serving of meat a day, and I went nuts. I just needed the protein.

I have been able to do the flexitarian thing, though. There are days when eating nothing but salads and fruits feel really good, but I just can't make a regular habit of it, nor do I have any desire to.

In defense of meat-eaters, my roommate went vegan to protest cruelty to animals. Then she did what none of us expected and put her money where her mouth is -- she works on an organic farm. Now, she eats modest amounts of meat because it really is the best source of protein, and because she knows exactly how the animals were raised and treated. It's the whole respect for life thing. Report
There are days that I prefer to not eat meat and just have vegetables or something else. Also, my husband likes to eat meat, so most meals do have meat with it; but I am having him eat healthier versions! Report
I am an ex-vegetarian in my twenties and before having a child, to a live alone, flexatarian because it is healthier and I do like to eat meat sometimes! I don't do it for the Stop-the-world-cruelty to animals, cause I know that my not eating meat isn't making any dent whatsoever for that cause....BUT being healthier and spreading that knowledge around WILL someday make a dent in the cruelty to animals front! The more people become smarter about saturated fats and cholesterol, the better our whole world will become and the animals we consume out of glutton and selfishness, will balance out. Just like the way the Indians did it! Only out of NEED...NOT GREED!!! Our society is so self-absorbed on all levels that I am guilty of allot of it too,just to co-exsist. Not making excuses, just stating a fact that it is easier when dining at friends homes and being around the people I love who do not yet get the health factor nor care. Food and feeling nourished is so primal and it gets allot of MEN up in arms to go meatless for ANY reason! Sometimes it is the ONLY thing on my son's plate and he was raised by me, a most times meatless meal maker!! And he now hunts!!! I can't win!!! I do like venison when someone offers it to me, but you won't catch me asking anyone to go get me one to put in the freezer!!! It is healthy fat-wise, just like all grass-fed, organic, meats are and that is the only reason I accept it from those who hunt around here, and there are many who do! It is a fine balance to feed ourselves properly and honestly. I could definately LIVE without animal meats, but the world isn't made up that way and I cannot change it. Would I have Thanksgiving dinner without a turkey, I have in the past for vegetarian reasons, but it is the tradition that the indians and the whitemen decided to kill that turkey in celebration and a token of friendship to bring the two together at one table! And that is the reason for family dinner and for gathering around the table. But our culture has taken it way too far and it shouldn't be at all meals, not even once a wk, maybe once a month or even less!!! Once a season!! Report
Yes I am trying to incorporate more raw foods into my diet, so being a part time vegetarian would work well for me! I think I will start right away and see how it goes :o) Report
I consider myself to be a "flexitarian" I too cook meat more for my family than for myself. I have started fixing meatless meals for my husband and so far he has enjoyed some of the changes. I am always on the lookout for some good, simple meat free meals to try. Report
It just seems weird to me that this is something out of the ordinary. I dont even think of the food I make without meat as being vegetarian. I think of it as some of my favorite meals. I dont have to "try" to not eat meat once, twice, thrice, whatever, a week, it just happens naturally. I grew up what way. I feed my family that way now. I guess I have been a part time vegetarian before I even knew what it was. Report
I figure we are up to at least 30-40% vegetarian meals now without my husband noticing. Learning to do more with beans and fish is helping out a lot with this. This has been easy and comfortable. We could maybe go a bit higher but I don't think we'll ever be complete vegetarians. Also important is the fact that it is possible to very much reduce the amount of meat you eat at one meal without anyone realy noticing if you are trying to put on over on the family. Just put all of the meat on top of what you are serving. Report
I do try to incorporate more meatless meals into my program.
Thanks for the article. Report
In Europe, many people only eat meat maybe once a week, and then only a small portion. Vegetables, fruits, grains and beans are the mainstays of their diets. Report
I loved this blog.
My sister has been a vegetarian for about 8 years now and she's lost a lot of weight and always says she feels great. She became one because of how animals are treated and what they're fed.
A few weeks ago we watched a video in biology about how meat is made- it made me not want to eat meat anymore.
Then a few nights ago I watched a video about how animals are treated. It was horrible.
I since then I have thought about becoming a vegetarian, but I don't think that's possible because the rest of my family and friends love meat. I've decided to only eat meat when it's served and I can't make something else for myself (that will probably be a few times a week), and when I can control my meals not to add meat. I feel very good about my decision. Report
Very interested in being flexitarian and am moving toward that goal. I've never been a big meat eater, but getting enough protein via veggies and non-meat sources is a challenge! Report
I love my vegetables and sometimes go days without meat. I actually forget to eat meat, but do have it for DH frequently. Report
After learning of my high tryglyceride and cholestral levels, I have definately made the shift towards more plant based foods for almost every meal. I have lost some weight and will have my levels tested next week , I feel hopefull going part time vegitarian has helped. Report
I absolutely love the comments by ATEAMCOWGIRLS and KBUCKMASH. I learned in my Chemistry class in college that there is a certain protein that humans NEED that can only be provided by meat. This protein is not found in vegetables at all.
When I was in college, I was a vegetarian and ate a lot of ice cream and bagels. My husband, who was a vegetarian for years, jokingly calls ice cream "the other food group" for vegetarians. Today we eat local and organic and because we have chosen to eat a lot more veggies, meat tends to be much less important. But I am severely anemic and absolutely crave beef at times. Report
I recently decided to turn vegetarian for awhile and try it out mostly for the health of it. I was worried that I was going to feel weak all the time without the protien because I have a tendency to anemia and B12 deficiency. But I have not had that problem so far, I only started in July sometime. I feel fine but I don't feel better because I have been falling into the trap of eating too many simple carbs like bread, pierogis, pizza and white pasta instead of whole grain rice and other whole grains. And I don't know if I will stay vegetarian for life. I may go back to eating meat sometimes but only fish and chicken and only if it is organic because there are just so many unhealthy additives added to most commercial meats and the grass-fed tastes totally different to me. I am going to wait until my next check-up and blood work-up to see if it affects my cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar positively. I haven't missed it so far even though my husband still eats meat and I have to cook it for him. It smells good when it's cooking but I still haven't been tempted to eat it. I'll probably have some turkey on Thanksgiving, though. But in the meantime, it will be easier for me to see I'm getting my protien quota now that I will be tracking my nutrition on Spark People. Report
I don't think I could ever become a vegetarian. For me, meat is a very efficient way to get enough protein. And it's a very usable source of iron.

I eat a lot of vegetables too. I eat more vegetables (and more variety of veg) than the average vegetarian. Being veggie doesn't mean people eat more vegetables than meat eaters, they tend to just eat more pasta and grains - things I don't eat.

I usually eat at least 5 portions of veg a day, plus 2-3 portions of fruit. I just eat them alongside some fish or meat.

2/3 Report
I don't think I'll ever be a strict vegitarian, but I am going that route for the month of September. I think this will be a great challenge in adding more fruits and veggies to my diet. Plus, I do get bored easily, so this month, I will try as many different vegitarian recipes as I can. The ultimate goal is that when I add meat back into my diet, it will be only 2-3 times per week instead of 2-3 times per day. By then I'll have a wealth of new ways to eat my 5-a-day. Report
My husband and I try to eat vegetarian meals most of the time at home. If I see a great deal on fish, we might have that, or if he's going to give blood, we'll eat a lot of meat for a week or two before and after -- that kind of thing. But since most of our home-cooked dinners are vegetarian and since we use the leftovers for our lunches, most of our meals are vegetarian. However, if we go to someone's home or we're eating out, we allow ourselves to eat anything we want.

This has worked pretty well for us. I definitely think of us as omnivores, not vegetarians, however. Report
I get around the meat-eating family by making a meat dish separately. For example, I recently made a big pot of ratatouille, and baked some chicken breasts for everyone else. That way they can have both and I can just have a double helping of the veggies. I am also slowly weaning them off meat for dinner every night (shhh, don't tell!!) Fortunately my husband likes lentils. Report
I am in the opposite situation: I married a man who eats only the occasional piece of fish, but otherwise vegetarian. It's been harder to maintain my carnivorous previous life. Eating higher on the food chain (larger animals like pigs and cows) is far more intensive in terms of space needed, chemical use, waste products, and water consumption, and I'm not interested in supporting that any more than a few times a year, from a known, local, ethical rancher. With 7 billion of us, the planet's getting far too small to warrant that kind of eating...regardless of what "Beef Magazine" has to say about it ;-)

I also feel far better, have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, fewer illnesses, and lower grocery bills since switching. I don't particularly care what anyone else does - but it works great for me. Report
I've been moving this direction for some time, and for me, its a great balance. Extremes of "allowed" and "not allowed" food don't work for me. I have been embracing less meat, more fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, etc and it feels right. I am with those of you who have family members who eat meat. I only cook one meal and I'll eat the meat/chicken with them, and try to eat less or no meat the rest of the day and on "Meatless Mondays" which I embraced about a month ago. Report
I'm going to have my steak and eat it too. With a nice, large salad. Report
All of these different variations of 'vegetarianism' are just silly. Eat according to your taste and morals, as healthy as you want/can/have to. Don't look down on people because they're not 'vegan', 'vegetarian', 'flexitarian' or whatever.

That aside, look at your teeth. There's a reason they're shaped like that: humans are omnivores. Report
Five months ago I chose to become a full time vegetarian as my 16yr old son had requested that we try it for some time. As I am learning how to balance dietary needs, I find that I feel so much better than I did in the past. My sleep is more restful, energy higher, and my endurance has greatly improved. I have 2 daughters away at college and 1 of the 2 has also decided she enjoys this lifestyle. I find that I do not miss animal byproducts at all and enjoy the wonderful bounty of vegetables, beans, etc.., that I am now focusing on. My 16yr old has decided to make this a lifetime committment and his friends applaud his decision. Always remember that this is a decision that we make for ourselves and to feel better about our health. If others don't like our choice, they don't have to...it's not their life! Report
Reading this article has definately made me think about it, I do not eat much meat during the week to begin with, without even thinking about it , but I like this concept. It so simple and like others have said, less expensive then the alternative. Tonight I am going to consciously make a vegetarian meal, and now i'm super pumped to go home and cook! Report
I've eaten in this way for years, long before it was trendy, because it was so much less expensive, less wasteful, and felt good. Legumes, grains, and such go along with 'veggies' so well and provide good, inexpensive protein. Nice when something I've long believed in becomes fashionable! but I try to avoid labels. Report
I read Skinny Bitch and could not put another piece of flesh in my mouth. Unfortunately, I am not a full fledged vegetarian as I sometimes eat fish. Not often, but i do. There are so many labels for vegetarians and it seems mine is pesco ovo according to my vegan friend. I am not much on labels but do not want to offend a true vegetarian as I make the transition from fish to no fish- which I am working on and it is easy as I do not like fish, but seafood is another story. It is a great change that I made in my life and I feel so much healthier, not so bogged down inside and even lost weight, yay! If you try it I suggest the book "Being Vegetarian for Dummies". It was a great help. Report
I can relate to the author in that I don't eat meat much myself but my husband loves it. In fact, before we were married, I had never cooked "fresh" (i.e. not from a can or in a frozen meal) meat. And, while there's a "meatless Mondays" movement, there have been other traditions as well. Almost everybody knows that Catholics aren't supposed to eat meat on Fridays during Lent. But it used to be that they were never supposed to eat meat at all on Fridays (and then not at all during Lent.) I've found myself intentionally avoiding meat on Fridays for religious reasons, but also for the health, economic and environmental reasons as well. And, when we do eat meat, I try (although it doesn't always happen) to buy the grass fed, pastured meat from my local farmer's market--not so good on the pocketbook, but better for health and the environment. (And, the cost often evens out in the long run with the meatless days.) Report
well, i can't call myself a vegetarian, but maybe it's more accurate to call myself an accidental flexitarian. i had no idea that this word even existed. my family used to live in japan, and we came to the conclusion that americans, in general, eat too much meat. when i make something with meat (rarely), such as a casserole or bolognese sauce, i just use half the meat called for, because i'm not a big fan of red meat. i do like chicken and fish, but i don't want it every day. and certainly not more than 3 or 4 ounces at a time. i love beans, and occasionally eggs and cheese and tofu. and whole grains, and veggies. i guess i am describing the mediterranean diet! oooh, red wine... Report
I've become a part-time vegetarian by medical necessity. Hard to manage cholesterol levels cause me to avoid red meat altogether and just eat poultry occasionally. I find that beans, in the form of hummus or vegetarian chili have become my preferred protein. Report
I run into the same problem as many of the previous commenters and Jen. I live with a meat eating, meat loving man, who won't eat a lot of things. We usually are able to do at least 2 meatless meals a week.

I have actually taken to eating vegetarian for every meal except for the few dinners we have containing meat. I am not a big fan of meat, I very rarely crave it, but I find that I crave broccoli or grilled asparagus. Report
I am actually going to be eating less meat and more vegis since in the last 12years I have had my dad, an aunt, a sister, my mom, a brother, and an uncle all pass away from cancer. I have done a little bit of researching and read that a diet with lots of vegi's lowers your risk for cancer. I have 5 kids, so any lowering of cancer is the better..lol. Just looking for lots of vegi recipes now. Report
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