5@5 - Chef Annie Somerville
March 9th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Anyone remember the Outback Steakhouse commercial with Jemaine Clement of "Flight of the Conchords" fame touting his diet as "semi-veg?"

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

OK ... so maybe we're the only ones.

In any event, there's a growing movement of people, aptly dubbed "flexitarians," doing just that – living a predominantly vegetarian lifestyle with the occasional pork chop here and there.

One such person is Chef Annie Somerville of the vegetarian Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, California. She certainly doesn't have beef with folks eating meat - she just thinks you might want to consider doing it a little less often.

Five Reasons to Be a Flexitarian: Annie Somerville

1. You can be a vegetarian most of the time
"I’ve cooked at Greens for nearly thirty years, think of myself as a vegetarian, and I am 99.99% of the time - but because I occasionally eat chicken or fish, I’m a flexitarian.

When dining with family and friends it’s sometimes easiest to go with the flow. If meat, fish or fowl are being served, you can take a small portion or a tiny taste. And serve yourself larger portions of salad, vegetables and grains."

2. It’s a great way to make the transition to becoming a vegetarian
"Sometimes it’s easiest to become a vegetarian by taking small steps. Find those recipes you love to prepare and keep cutting back on the animal protein until it’s a small part the dish. Once you’ve made the adjustment to eating more lightly, take the next step and become a full-time vegetarian."

3. It’s a fun and healthy to eat low on the food chain
"You’re doing great things for the environment by going lightly on meat, fish and fowl.

You’re saving water, pastureland and fresh air. You’re cutting down on greenhouse gasses and you’re cutting back on the demand for those endangered wild fish.

You can eat lots of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains, tofu and soy, artisan cheeses, oils and nuts.

Think of meat, fish and fowl as accent ingredients and use them to punctuate your cooking.

If you’re eating leaner and lighter, you’ll become leaner, lighter and more energetic."

4. Being a flexitarian is great for the pocket-book
"You can eat simply, well and inexpensively with a diet based on fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains and a touch of animal protein. You can stretch your food dollars by shopping at farmers markets and/or shopping the perimeter of the grocery store."

5. Support your farmers market and/or CSA
"Think of all those delicious, locally grown fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and fish you can shop for at the farmers market.

Farmers markets are unscripted. You get to taste everything! You get to know your farmers and producers. You can get great recipe tips from your farmers and market friends. Think of the small growers and producers you’re supporting by joining a CSA. Plus, it’s exciting to receive your box every week, and you can come up with exciting new recipes for those exotic vegetables you’ve never cooked before."

Are you a flexitarian? Is it OK to be a vegetarian who occasionally enjoys meat? Discuss in the comments.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Bite • Cuisines • Diets • Eating Habits • Health News • News • Think • Vegetarian


soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. B-Real

    This woman must have just got done reading The Flexitarian Diet by Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD because she is basically espousing everything Ms. Jackson preaches about eating mostly vegetarian and all of the benefits of a flexitarian lifestyle.

    March 11, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  2. futurist

    This whole meat vs veggie argument will be moot in a decade when vat grown tissue is available. The environmental impact will be LESS than farming, and no cruelty issue. "Farm grown" will become an expensive novelty, for the elite and rich.

    I'd eat a vat grown Kobe steak. Wouldn't you?

    March 10, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  3. Jerry

    Vegetarian meals are usually cheaper, think of when you go to a restaurant, the cheese pizza/pasta is always cheaper than the one with meat. The only real reason people don't go vegetarian is because they're too lazy and scared of change! it's pathetic, if everyone ate less meat/went vegetarian we could solve the hunger crisis, right now we have to use land for livestock rather than growing food. it's ridiculous

    http://www.fourgreensteps.com/infozone/lifestyle-health/a-vegducation-in-veganism-five-reasons-to-eat-less-meat

    March 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  4. Sistuh in the Middle

    People who choose the Vegan diet or way-of-life are completely within their rights to make their own choices for their own reasons – just like Buddhists, Catholics, Muslims & omnivores make choices. Some answer to a calling, others make a change-by-choice. But how 'bout practicing a bit of quid pro quo and let others make THEIR own logically informed choices, too.

    If you believe that you, as one person, can make a difference, then MAKE THAT DIFFERENCE as one person. No one minds if, WHEN ASKED, you offer the facts so that others can be informed and make decisions. But when you rant, generalize, lecture and preach, you will turn off more people than you will convert.

    March 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  5. Mitch Morgan

    My wife has been a vegetarian for the past year and a half with zero complaints (we're both 29). About six months in to her new eating habits, I began to adhere to the same diet, eating meats less and less. I'm thinner and more energetic than I ever was when meats were a large part of my diet. The broad range of new, tasty veggie-only dishes we've discovered together has definitely helped keep me on the right track. It's easier to do than most think and, as stated here: it's better on the checkbook and quality of life!

    Flexitarian is a great term to describe folks like me who venture outside those strict vegetarian boundaries for the occasional meat snack (usually turkey bacon or sushi). Great article.

    March 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
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