To be clear, I don’t consider myself a vegan, nor do I follow a vegetarian meal pattern. But that doesn’t mean that I eat meat at every meal either.
Flexitarian is probably a better descriptor for of my eating style. As long as the meal represents the primary macronutrients – protein, fat, and carbohydrate – then I consider it to be balanced.
Yesterday afternoon, I realized that I hadn’t yet planned our dinner menu for the week. Typically, I do my menu planning on Fridays, before our weekly grocery shopping trip on Saturday. But this week was one of those who-knows-what-we’ll-be-doing weeks. My husband had been out of town traveling for business earlier in the week, and I had been juggling some atypical meetings and deadlines of my own. Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure if we would be eating dinner at home that night at all.
But as I laid fully relaxed on the massage table that afternoon, it dawned on me that I hadn’t planned anything for dinner.
Fortunately, I have a few go-to menus that I rely on in a pinch. Spaghetti, tacos, and “breakfast for dinner,” to name a few. Visions of fajitas popped into my head, so on my way home I made a 5-minute stop at the store to grab some veggies.
Dinner ended up being a cross between fajitas and veggie tacos with charro beans. But for whatever reason – maybe it was the pulled pork sandwich I had for lunch – I didn’t feel like eating meat. My husband grilled up a chicken breast for his tacos, but I was happy with grilled veggies, avocado, sliced cabbage, tomatoes and cheese. And the beans filled the protein gap.
As a dietitian nutritionist, I understand there are many different ways to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. Personally, I believe meat can fit into a healthy eating style quite nicely. It’s when we consume it in excess of what our body needs that we get into trouble.
I do realize we eat a LOT of meat in this country, and, as you might imagine, there are a lot of emotionally charged opinions and controversies about that. High meat consumption (especially high-fat, processed meats) have been linked to cancer and heart disease consistently. Add to that the fact that there are plenty of known plant-based protein sources, and it stands to reason that meat isn’t necessarily a requirement.
That’s why I choose to forego meat sometimes – and not just on Meatless Mondays. But that’s what’s right for me. You are the only one who can decide what’s right for you.