A flexitarian lifestyle is about eating less meat. By this, I mean not only eating meat less often but also consuming it in smaller quantities. There would be not much point in forgoing meat during the week and gorging on it at the weekend.
When I’m talking about the flexitarian diet, I often hear that “being vegetarian is too complicated. It is so much easier to cook a steak or a chicken breast and put a few vegetables around it”. This is a big misconception. Generally, vegetarian food is not more complicated nor does it not take more time than cooking meat dishes.
Here are a few tips from The Flexitarian on how to eat less meat and make meat the new side dish. This will help change your habits and attitude. This is not about adding bits of bacon to a dish. That would be too easy!
- Go Small: Start by serving smaller meat portions. You could cut a breast of chicken in half horizontally or into smaller chunks and split it between 2 people. Try also “pounding” the meat to thinner fillets. It will not only soften rougher cuts but also give the illusion that more is there. If you are going for seconds, go for the vegs, not for the meat.
- Plan Differently: When you plan your weekly shopping see what vegetables are in season. Plan a meal around them. Don’t make the meat aisle “the destination”. Avoid it if you can and if not limit the amount of meat you buy to 1 or 2 pieces a week. Don’t forget to make it organic or higher welfare standards meat.
- Get a Veg Box: Delivered straight to your door, vegetable box schemes bring you the best of the season and sometimes surprise you with something you would not normally buy. This is a great way to try something new. Check out Riverford Organic www.riverford.co.uk or Abel & Cole www.abelandcole.co.uk.
- Eating Out: Vegetarian food is now widely available, but unfortunately in some restaurants, this is still limited to the timeless vegetable lasagne. If meat is the only thing you fancy on the menu, don’t go for the 8oz-plus juicy steak on your own, limit yourself to a smaller size or ask if someone at your table wants to share. If you feel the menu could benefit from more veggie inspiration, make sure you mention it to the waiter or the owner.
- Entertaining: Friends might not embrace your newfound lifestyle but try to avoid serving a meat/fish appetiser followed by a meat/fish main course. Soups, composed salads, grilled vegetables make fabulous appetisers while vegetarian curries, casseroles and pasta make more than satisfying mains. Surprise them with tasty meatless dishes. Who knows when they see how easy it is, you might even convert them to the flexitarian diet!
- Get Creative: try out recipes that need less meat or spin-off your leftovers. Stir-fries, skewers, pies, chillies, soups all can help you cook with less meat. Check out the following books for some great recipes: Less Meat More Veg: The eco-friendly way to eat (by Rachel de Thample) or The Vegetable Bible (by Sophie Grigson). And of course, visit our recipe section for some delicious vegetarian and vegan ideas.
Do you have any recipe or tip on how to cook or how to eat less meat? We would love to hear them!