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July 21, 2011

Flex Appeal: Eating Humanely Doesn't Have to Be All-or-Nothing

Take steps toward a healthier, more humane diet

Guide to Meat-Free Meals

  • David Sack/Getty

For many, the idea of overhauling a lifetime of dietary habits can be intimidating. Not everyone is willing to switch from eating meat every day to becoming a vegetarian overnight.

But it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Whether your primary incentive is helping the environment, improving animal welfare, or addressing health concerns, you can take a significant first step by becoming a flexitarian. The term blends “flexible” and “vegetarian” to describe those who take a part-time approach to avoiding meat.

“A flexitarian is waking up every day and trying to be more vegetarian,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and author of The Flexitarian Diet. “It’s not going to be perfect; it’s about progress.”

In promoting conscientious eating, HSI embraces the Three Rs—reducing the consumption of animal products; refining the diet by avoiding foods created in the worst production systems (for example, switching to cage-free eggs); and replacing animal products with plant-based foods. Popular programs such as Meatless Mondays—adopted by colleges and school districts around the world—have helped people see, one day a week, how easy and delicious vegetarian cuisine can be.

Whatever your approach, there is an abundance of tasty and easy vegetarian recipes. There are also easy ways to substitute the dairy and eggs in your favorite recipes with plant-based ingredients. Check out our meat-free recipes from Latin America, China, India and elsewhere, as well as our Guide to Meat-Free Meals for more tips on humane eating.

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