Flexitarian (flěk'sĭ-târ'ē-ən) n. One who normally maintains a vegetarian diet but occasionally makes exceptions and eats meat or fish.
A wise person once told me that she eats mostly like a vegetarian but enjoys a good cut of steak when her body really wants it. I don't know why I hadn't thought of that before, but WHAT A REVELATION it was!
While I don't mind being a vegetarian, the idea of completely, utterly eliminating meat, poultry, and fish from my lifestyle is horrifying. There is nothing in the world that can replicate their texture and flavor. And what if I want to satisfy my foodie-ness by indulging in fine dining? Passing up pan-seared scallops at Thomas Keller's Buchon would be like wringing my insides s..l..o..w..l..y.. with the strong tentacles of an octopus.
Meatless Monday is exactly a flexitarian lifestyle. I can enjoy my veggies and grains but answer to my body's animal protein craving once in a while. I can have the cake... and eat it without guilt! In the process, I know I'm helping to halt the melting of glaciers in some small, minuscule way.
As for health benefits, vegetable-based diets are becoming increasingly popular exactly because of this reason. Depending on the plants to meat ratio in a person's flexitarian lifestyle, this type of eating pattern can reduce risks of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammation, and certain cancers significantly.
Fun fact: The American Dialect Society deemed flexitarian the "most useful word of the year" in 2003.
Photo: Me enjoying a flexitarian meal at Little India, Singapore.