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 is representative of the primary macronutrients–protein, fat, and carbohydrate–then I consider it to be balanced.
Yesterday afternoon I realized that I hadn’t planned our dinner menu. Typically, I do my menu planing 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 was 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 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 anything in excess of what our body needs (or can process) 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 pretty consistently.
Add to it 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 Mondays. But that is what’s right for me. You are the only one who can decide what’s right for you.