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The Flexitarian Files
  1. The Hamburger Dilemma

    March 3, 2013 by betaman

    So many meatballs… sigh. Too bad they weren’t my wheatballs.

    Wimpy Burger RegretThe pile of big meatballs in the leftover spaghetti the other day looked rather appealing, but not enough to make me break my flexitarian promise. I’ve never used a recipe to make wheatballs, instead wingin’ it each time with TVP, some flour, spices and a bit o’ honey – from a jar, not the bar.

    As for all the burgers last night, that was a bit of a challenge. Call it practice for this summer when I’ll be working the grill serving up hundreds of Charbroiled Angus burgers every Friday at the ranch. My veggie burger was just fine thanks, and I’m ready for any ridicule I may get.

    Except for very rare cases (pun intended) what makes a good burger is the quality of he fixins. If I can find good veggie patties back in the mountains, I may just settle for a big toasted bun with fresh lettuce, ripe tomato, sweet onion, and plenty of mayo with a mess o’ beans. Mmmmm… guess I’ll be picking out the bacon!

    Note to Self: Add to Reading List…

    The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet

    Veggie Burgers Every Which Way

    Vegetarian Burgers


  2. Eating out as a vegetarian

    February 26, 2013 by betaman

    Visiting friends and dining out can be a challenge as a vegetarian. Especially when some of those friends will wave a warm piece of bacon under your nose like the Pusherman. Other friends will get it and simply prepare a wonderful root vegetable terrine and salad without asking any questions.

    It’s imperative, however, to inform your host when your visit includes any meals. It’s only fair, and no feelings will be hurt.

    When it comes to dining out, the choice is up to you but your options are limited, especially when it comes to good old fashioned American diner food. It’s hard to limit ourselves when presented with so many scrumptious options, but that is what we must do since restaurant owners are clearly going to cater to the masses.

    The good news? There are actually restaurants out there that make their biscuits and gravy without sausage in the gravy. Finding them is the hard part.


  3. My Compensation Plan

    February 21, 2013 by betaman

    Making the decision to go vegetarian was actually easier than I expected. Likely because I justified it with a compensation method.

    I’ve always firmly believed that life is all about give and take. So for this little experiment of mine, I’m willing to give up the few steaks I have each year for a few extra cocktails.

    I’ll gladly pass on the pork chops for a bit more ice cream once in a while. I can even  live without bacon, if I can indulge in an extra donut once in a while.

    A bit more cheese, if I’m missing out on burgers? Sure.

    Forget that pulled pork. Bring on the Bombay!


  4. How do you feel at the end of the day?

    February 20, 2013 by betaman

    When it comes to your health, and all is said and done, what matters most is how you feel at the end of the day. Not just physically, however, I mean feelings. Are you satisfied with your physical state of being, and the personal choices you made to get there?

    Lately I’ve been feeling pretty good. I can’t quite say yet if this is due to the lack of meat products in my diet, the fact that I’ve been running further and more regularly, or that I am paying more attention to portion control. Or just maybe, it is an overall sense of satisfaction that I am keeping a promise to myself. Most likely, this new found sense of fulfillment is due to all of the above.


  5. The Bacon Test

    February 19, 2013 by betaman

    I haven’t had any major meat cravings, and I’m happy for not indulging myself in the choices available to me in the house where I’m currently staying.

    I am particularly proud of myself for not grabbing for the pile of bacon sitting before me as the wife prepared a cake for the dog party we had scheduled. Nor did I even snag a pinch of the bacon bits when cleaning off the plate once the dogs had finished off the cake.

    Yes, it would have been crisp and salty. And yes, the dogs eat more meat than I do. But, bacon? I mean seriously! It did feel pretty good knowing I had the will power to pass on that.


  6. Life is Give and Take

    February 18, 2013 by betaman

    I’ve always believed you get out of life what you put into it. It’s a game of give and take, you get to take as much as you give. Or in my case, I get to take away a healthy feeling and positive sense of solidarity with others I love who have made their own personal sacrifices in exchange for giving up something I love, but can certainly live without.


  7. Respect Thy Food

    February 17, 2013 by betaman

    It’s been quite a few years now since I first realized the importance of quality over quantity when it comes to liquor. The times of consuming mass quantities just for the drunk are long gone. I know now that life is way too short for cheap gin.

    The same is true when it comes to eating meat, though it’s only been a couple years since I first started focusing quality over quantity. I haven’t eaten meat just for meat’s sake in a long time. Movies like Food, Inc. and Baraka helped me become mindful about my meat consumption, but I still enjoyed an organic lamb chop or the occasional local grass fed beef from a farmers market.

    I understand why the wife made me eat the whole shank of lamb I was given one day while working at the ranch last summer. It took me a few days, but to not finish it would be disrespectful to the animal. I respected every last savory bite, believe me.

    Having been vegetarian now for only a week, I’m already developing a new found respect for my food and where it comes from. After watching Dive!: Living off America’s Waste, I am also growing more dumbfounded at how much food Americans throw out every day. Meanwhile those pork chops still lie buried in the fridge, though they are no longer calling my name.

      


  8. Want Not. Waste Not.

    February 16, 2013 by betaman

    I know, the proverbial saying – Waste not, want not. – goes the other way around. But I believe we should put more thought into what and how much we’re going to eat before wasting what we don’t want.

    It just pains me to see good food go to waste, and just as I expected there are now three leftover pork chops calling my name. Prior to my flexitarian diet decision, I could see myself gobbling them up a number of different ways the very next day… in tacos or a burrito with beans and lots of cheese, sliced thin and sautéd in barbecue sauce on a bun, or cold by the mouthful while squatting in front of the fridge drawer where they are currently buried and probably already forgotten.

    Oddly enough, I don’t have craving to go chomp on the lost chops, as much as I have a sadness that they are going to waste.


  9. Portion Control Is Key

    February 15, 2013 by betaman

    We seldom repent of having eaten too little.
    — Thomas Jefferson

    I’ve always been one to enjoy a great big meal. The feeling following a major food fest always seemed worthwhile for enjoying mass quantities of flavorful food.

    Not so much anymore.

    Hara Hachi Bunme

    Or, “Hara hachi bu” (腹八分). The literal translation of this healthy Japanese saying means to eat until you’re 80 percent full, a common practice of the Okinawan diet. On the Japanese island of Okinawa, natives have practiced this for hundreds of years, and they are among healthiest, longest living people on the planet.

    Another healthy lifestyle proverb throughout Japan and Korea recommends we “eat like a crane” which eats slowly and delicately, picking at its food deliberately so as not to damage its pointed bill. Perhaps this is where the ancient cultures learned the benefits of using chopsticks.

    When we eat slowly and stop before we are full, we give our bodies a chance to digest our food completely and properly, signalling fullness before we have overeaten. As a Westerner who commonly eats too much too fast, this is proving to be a challenging task to master.

    A lack of meat should not be compensated with huge helpings of whatever is for dinner. I have discovered it is still easy to overeat when going back for seconds of fried rice or tuna caserole. So it is without regret I say goodbye to my megameals of yore.

    Florida's Southern Fried Food Platter

    I now look forward to greater satisfaction from the food I eat based on a few simple rules.

    1. Eat until you are 80% full.
    2. Eat more healthy foods, primarily veggies (especially greens) and whole grains.
    3. Get necessary protein from tofu, fish and other legumes.
    4. Drink plenty of water.
    5. Stay active to burn extra calories.

     

    Recommended Reading:

    Simple Living in Japan: National Geographic Profile

    The Okinawa Diet Plan: Get Leaner, Live Longer, and Never Feel Hungry

    The Okinawa Program : How the World’s Longest-Lived People Achieve Everlasting Health–And How You Can Too

    50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People


  10. My Flexitarian Diet Logistics

    February 14, 2013 by betaman

    First, don’t call it a diet. Diets don’t work, ask Dr. Jenn. This is a lifestyle choice for better health and nutrition.

    Second, I’m sure there are hard core vegan types who would laugh or call me a hypocrite. Well I’m not going there. I’ve enjoyed plenty of tasty vegan meals, but it’s better we just not go there.

    Third, I am not nor am I sure I ever could be a strict vegetarian. I am now one of those lacto-ovo-pesce types. I am an omnivore and I like my cheese, eggs, and fish.

    What I have done is given up consuming land animal meats, for now. That means no more chicken. No more steak, pork chops, or hamburgers, and no more lamb, mmm… lamb.

    I Am:

    Flexitarian

    This semi-vegetarianism is defined by various sources as one who eats a primarily plant-based diet with the occasional inclusion of meat products. For this little project of mine, however, my only meat product shall either swim, crawl, or attach themselves to the ocean floor. Any questions?

    Recommended Reading:

    The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life

    Spice Up Your Life: The Flexitarian Way

    The Part-Time Vegan: 201 Yummy Recipes that Put the Fun in Flexitarian

    The Healthy Hedonist: More Than 200 Delectable Flexitarian Recipes for Relaxed Daily Feasts

    Almost Meatless: Recipes That Are Better for Your Health and the Planet