Annie finished putting the remnants of the last meal she and LJ shared with Allen and Rene after a relaxed weekend, into the fridge as LJ put the final dish in the dishwasher. “That was fun, and I miss them already,” she said. LJ agreed, and then added, “I have to say I liked all of the dishes we made for them and even liked that meal we ordered to share family-style at the Slanted Door, but I’m still not sure about not having any meat.” “Maybe you could be a flexitarian for a while?” “Annie, if being a flexitarian means that I eat a mainly vegetarian diet, but occasionally get some ribs, then alright, call me a flexitarian.” Annie laughed, kissed LJ, and added, “You are like the best human being ever! I know leaving life-long eating habits isn’t easy, and you are such a good sport about the whole process. I agree with you, being a flexitarian, for now, is the way to go.” LJ said, “Do you mind getting some more information on this whole part-time vegetarian, flexitarian thing, so I have a better idea of what I’m agreeing too?” “Once again, you are giving me an opportunity to pursue one of my favorite past-times,” said Annie, “research!”
A few days later, Annie made Pasta with Roasted Mushrooms for the afternoon meal and added lamb chops for LJ. “Now, this is what I’m talking about wife! This is delicious.” “This is what being a flexitarian is all about, and I’m okay with it too, said Annie. Even though research consistently shows that a vegetarian diet helps people live longer and healthier, but for some people it’s just too hard to make an overnight transition, so practically speaking, doing it in steps prevents hangry.” “Hangry?” “Yes, hangry is when you feel angry, but it’s only because you’re hungry, and for some people, they are hungry for meat too.” “Ok, is there a guide for steps to becoming a flexitarian?” “Yes, apparently, even part-time vegetarianism is a positive, so:
• Small Steps – commit to eating 50% of your meals vegetarian for the first month. Then increase by 10% every month following, until you reach vegetarian status.
• Flex and Accommodate – Like LJ, everybody is not excited to jump on board the vegetarian train, so being patient and accommodating is key to maintaining harmony during the transition.
• Vitamins – Making sure you get sufficient vitamins and minerals from a plant-based diet takes diligence. Vitamin supplements like iron, vitamins C & B12, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids are a good option.
• Watch Your Weight – The only way to lose weight is to eat less, whether vegetarian or omnivore. Vegetarians who are aiming for weight loss too should focus on eating whole foods. Beware of the protein trap. Although protein is essential for weight management because it increases your metabolism and helps decrease appetite, the body does not store protein for later use, so any excess protein will lead to weight gain. If you are trying to build muscle as a vegetarian, then adding protein powders to your diet is a good idea. If not, use protein powders sparingly.
• Healthy Proteins – Getting protein from foods such as soybeans, tofu, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and quinoa will help you reach and maintain daily needs. An average of 45 grams of protein per day is sufficient for most.
• Cook Your Own Food – This guarantees that you know exactly what you are eating, meaning more control over your weight and health. Keep the basics stocked in your kitchen to make cooking easier and simpler. Vegetarian basics include beans, couscous, quinoa, black rice, dried fruits, nuts, whole-wheat pasta, sourdough bread, flash-frozen fruits, and vegetables that are additive-free. Cook more than enough for one meal so that a late-day doesn’t turn into a very late meal.
• Hydration – It goes without saying that drinking water is a one hundred percent benefit. Vegetarians tend to feel fuller longer from the water and fiber content of fruits and vegetables. An average woman should aim for 11.5 cups of water daily, and men 15.5 cups.
“LJ we’re going to have a lot of fun with this new adventure. There’s even a cookbook, The Part-Time Vegetarian I think we should get it.” LJ, paused thoughtfully and….