What to call myself? Flexitarian?

This last year has been quite the change for us on the diet front. With Courtney’s sugar allergy, we’ve both been much more aware of what and how we eat. In Courtney’s searching for understanding and growth in her food selections, we’ve encountered a lot of really good information and a lot of very strong opinions. Coming away from it, I think the best book Courtney would recommend is Intuitive Eating. I’ve personally never read it, but Courtney and I have had numerous deep conversations on the theories, opinions, and facts that make up the book.

It’s on the reading list.

But that’s not my question today. Some of our best friends (Nosurfgirl and co) are vegetarians. I was roommates with her husband when I first came home off the mission, and back then we had numerous conversations on vegetarianism. Frankly, it’s a lifestyle that I’ve always found interesting though not one I’m prepared to commit to. Back then, I did briefly try being a vegetarian, but I found myself unable to get the balance of nutrition I felt was important. I’m sure trying again today would be much different, but….

I have long been disenchanted with red meat, so it was with great interest when Courtney presented a new word to me the other day: Flexitarianism. The basic concept is vegetarian with very limited meat, typically fish and poultry. Another word for that is Polpescetarianism, formed from the roots POuLtry, PESCe, and vegeTARIANISM.

So I suppose that’s what I am…. I guess.

With the new year, Courtney and I, like many, have committed to better, healthier eating. Courtney has indeed decided to make a six month foray into the world of vegetarianism. It’s a decision I support fully because my own experiences with vegetarianism, both inside and outside, are largely positive. I’ve always found vegetarianism to be somewhat of a noble ideal. Much of that comes from my experiences with Nosurfgirl’s family. Jeff, her husband, believes very strongly in a spiritual basis in vegetarianism. In many ways, I agree with that belief in that our bodies are indeed temples,  and we should take care to treat them as such.

Beyond that, however, Jeff and I both recognize vegetarianism as a generally earth-friendly practice. It’s undoubtedly true that the average vegetarian diet strains the food chain less than the average American diet. I once read that it takes 100 pounds of grain to build 1 pound of beef. That number just staggers me in the face of localized and potential global food crises.

For my part, I find Flexitarianism a happy middle ground; a place where I can comfortably eat food while feeling that I’m doing my part to keep the balance. To be honest, it’s not something we consciously chose to do, but rather something that just happened.

In the past, like many Americans, I would eat meat with every meal. However, as time has gone on and I’ve learned more and more about alternative health and diets, I’ve found a subtle shift. First, beef dropped from the menu. Then, with Courtney’s sugar allergy, went anything cured and processed. Now, with only chicken and fish left, we find that the meat dishes in general have steadily decreased to include one, maybe two meals a week where sensible portions of chicken or fish are served. And now Courtney has decided to pass on even the chicken (fish stays in for the time being).

Beyond that, we now produce almost our entire diets from scratch within the walls of our own home. In the last eight months of 2009, we went through over 300 lbs.  of flour from Courtney’s baking alone. We’ve learned to make our own butter and cheese though we typically don’t. We eat more rice, potatoes, and beans than we ever had before, and in a sure sign of the Apocalypse, I’ve already eaten three salads this year BY CHOICE!!! Let me put it this way, before last year, I could count the number of salads I have ever eaten on two hands. Not kidding. I used to hate salad of any and every kind… something about that veggie crunch. But now? I actually put the word “salad” on our menu planner myself not just once, but twice in the past two weeks. And that doesn’t count the salad I made myself for lunch on Sunday.

Would I say vegetarianism or even flexitarianism is the right choice for everyone? No. It’s entirely personal and such a choice would have to be for it to have any lasting effect. But I will say that I’ve felt much better physically and emotionally as our diets have naturally shifted from processed to whole. From packaged to natural.

Personally, I think that Courtney will find the next six months of non-meatedness to be enlightening. I think that she’ll come away from the experience with a testimony of what she’s decided to do. I also think that she’ll eventually settle somewhere very near to what Nosurfgirl does: vegetarian with the VERY occasional piece of meat. As for me, I think I’ll eventually follow in her footsteps. I still have some concerns about maintaining proper nutrition, especially proteins, but those will fade as a continue to learn and grow.

And no matter what happens, I’ll always have a very fond place in my heart for a good roast beef sandwich. 🙂

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7 Responses to What to call myself? Flexitarian?

  1. nosurfgirl says:

    Just so you know.. my own “flexitarianism” has really suffered under the advent of Arby’s new dollar menu.


    But… this year my committment has been more extreme, like yours… we’re trying to do vegan and a certain percentage (I’m trying for 40-50) raw. Because of issues related to Skywalker’s health, specifically.

    It really sucks when you realize you can’t always continue to eat the way you did as a kid, or a teenager, or even a young adult, and remain healthy. It’s been a slap in the face to me to see the way Skywalker has changed under my own brand of cookign (using more dairy and wheat than he’s used to, especially) and I find myself scrambling for answers… just the way you guys seem to be doing. So we’re on this journey together 🙂

  2. daveloveless says:

    Arby’s is a huge weakness of mine. Love that cheddar melt….

    I don’t know that we’d ever go to the extreme of raw or even vegan, but I don’t know that. Five years ago I would have told you that vegetarian for Courtney was out of the picture, too.

    Ah… the scrambling. I definitely remember that feeling when we discovered Courtney’s allergy.

  3. Anthony D. says:

    Well it’s a good thing I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten at Arby’s or even if I’ve ever eaten there. I’ll just keep it that way I guess. Wow Dave, I thought I’d never hear you talking like this!

  4. daveloveless says:

    You know, Anthony, I’ve “been” like this for quite a while. Talking yes, but being? Oh no, it’s been a while. 🙂

  5. aleisha says:

    so the other day i ate a larger than normal carb brunch and had a migraine for 2 days…so i did a carbohydrate intolerance websearch and found an idea for you. I wondered if you had ever come across the idea that sucrose intolerance is most common among the inupiat native american in alaska? what type of native american heritage does courtney have? wikipedia even has this listed under sucrose intolerance…i won’t be trying the vegetarianism diet because of my opposite problem: obesity and carbs…i need to cut down on carbs of any kind and eat protein and vegetables only….sigh…good luck on your health goals!

  6. ThirstyApe says:

    If you are looking for a great resource on flexitarian eating I would highly recommend the book The Flexitarian Diet by Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD. She is pretty much responsible for the surge in awareness on the topic of flexitarianism. The book is available at most big box retailers and on Amazon.com. I also recommend her website for additional information and recipes. She has a ton of videos on her site as well as articles she has written for major magazines. Check her out if you have a moment: http://www.dawnjacksonblatner.com

  7. daveloveless says:

    ThirstyApe–Thanks for the tip. I’ll keep an eye open for that book.

    Aleisha–Travis did mention to me that you had found that article. Courtney is Aleut, but the Inupiat and Aleuts are at least somewhat related.

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