Source: Courier Post Online
Years before she wrote her first book, Dawn Jackson Blatner, a well-known registered and licensed dietician and cooking instructor, had been hiding a secret. Despite her passion for a healthful vegetarian lifestyle and serving as a nutritional expert on CNN and NBC Nightly News, she was, in fact, an occasional “closet meat eater.”
“I was a vegetarian, but I’d ‘sneak’ meat,” said Blatner. “I didn’t want to say no to a burger at the family barbecue, or a hot dog at a ballgame, or to the turkey at Thanksgiving. I never felt bad about it, but I was calling myself a vegetarian.”
Then she came across a word that had been coined back in 2003 and was selected as the American Dialect Society’s Most Useful Word of the Year: flexitarian.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines flexitarian as “one whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish.”
in 2008 she wrote and published her first book, The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life.
“I call them meaningful meat moments because they’re usually social, such as a juicy burger at a summer barbecue or a traditional dish at family dinner,” said Blatner. “I think the idea is that if you want it, you can have it: but not just eating it randomly or by default. I usually pair it with vegetables, paying homage to them on my plate. And I think it’s a personal thing as to when and how to have it. “
The other key, she said, is to fill your plate with plants that have more of what makes meat so appealing to the palate: umami — a savory taste.
“When you miss meat, most of what you miss is that flavor. You can redirect some of your meaty cravings with vegetarian sources of umami,” advised Blatner. She points to soy sauce, mushrooms (including truffles), Parmesan cheese, tomato sauce, green tea, potatoes (both white and sweet), and walnuts as satisfying sources of umami.
“As a family at my house, we love pizza or taco night. We’ll eat them a lot — but you can experiment with new ways to make these things,” said Blatner.
“Can you swap the ground beef or turkey in your tacos out for beans or tofu, for example?”
“Maybe you can ask friends what vegetarian recipes are they trying and try them for yourself. Some will be a keeper and some won’t, but even if all you pick is one per week, that’s 52 new meatless favorites in a year!“
Although approaches to food have come and gone, proponents of flexitarianism are certain that the idea is here to stay.