The Flexitarian Next Door


You may have heard the term “Flexitarian” tossed about in the last decade or so. In case you are not familiar with the meaning, a flexitarian is not a vegetarian.  It refers to a person who eats a primarily vegetable/fruit diet that is supplemented with grains and legumes and, yes, still eats meat…occasionally.  That is the key differentiator from a vegetarian.

Although the name has gained a little momentum in the last few years, most people still do not know what a flexitarian is/does. In fact, a large portion of the population is already living as flexitarians with no knowledge that there is a name for it.  Many people favor a diet that limits meat consumption strictly for the health benefits.  That makes a lot of sense, since red meat has long been attributed to a host of health issues when over-consumed.  However, there is no proof that a person must completely sacrifice their favorite steak or burger, totally eliminating red meat.  Just practice a balance and make that the sporadic treat.

Another great benefit of the flexitarian lifestyle is the ability to practice social responsibility. If you have a diet high in fruits and vegetables, you have the option to purchase large quantities of these items locally—at least seasonally.  We live in Minnesota.  We are not going to find many fresh vegetables grown locally in the winter!  But we sure can do our part the other seasons when we don’t have to look too far for great fresh foods that are supporting local growers.  And the same can be said for your occasional meat/fish option, just look a little closer to home.

Still not sure a flexitarian diet would work for you? Try this great meatless soup.  I swear you won’t miss the meat!

Southwestern Meatless Chili

1 cup wheat berries—find by rice/lentils at supermarket or at whole foods bulk store

1 can/bottle beer-I use light                           1 can tomato soup

1 green bell pepper diced                                1 can creamed corn (14.75 oz)

1 sweet red pepper diced                                 1 can tomatoes w/chilies (14.5 oz)

3 stalks celery-with leaves-diced                   1 can black beans-rinsed

½ onion diced                                                   3 T dry ranch dressing mix

Big pinch of red pepper flakes                       2 T dry taco seasoning mix


Soak wheat berries overnight with at least two inches of water covering them. In a soup pot sauté peppers, celery, and onion until softened.  Drain and rinse wheat berries and add them to the pot with the remaining ingredients.  Simmer covered, stirring often, over low heat for about 1-2 hours.  (You could also put all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low all day.)  To serve, add a dollop of sour cream, broken tortilla chips and shredded cheese.



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