Part time vegetarian

For years food writers including Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Ben Hewitt, and Barbara Kingsolver have extolled the pleasures of responsible omnivorism, urging people to know where their meat comes from, but not necessarily to stop eating it. They all recommend seasonal, local eating, that may include meat, but is probably more plant-based than not.

This morning venerable vegetarian activist Frances Moore Lappe spoke with the always awesome Brady Carlson on NHPR’s The Exchange. She told listeners they can improve their health and that of the planet if they eat a “plant-centered,” rather than strictly vegetarian, diet.  I was surprised, since she has written very convincingly in favor of giving up meat altogether.

Diet for a Small Planet was the first vegetarian guide I read (about fifteen years ago), and it really changed the way I looked at nutrition and the ethics of eating. I’m married to a carnivore who doesn’t care for the texture of most veggies and fruits, so I wasn’t trying to set a trend when I switched my family’s diet to semi-vegetarian, it was just what I thought was workable for my family. We’ve tried to eat at least one meatless dinner a week ever since.

In Lent that meant meatless Fridays like those of my childhood. Lately I’ve heard about Meatless Mondays, which even some schools are embracing. Over the weekend I read that iconic designer Stella McCartney co-wrote the Meat Free Monday Cookbook with her sister and father. I’m wondering if vegetarians are simply realizing that with all the food choices available to first world shoppers, working towards part-time vegetarianism is better than nothing? Like many trends, I think this idea has been around for some time, but seems to be gaining momentum.

Are you a part-time vegetarian? Is it for health or budget reasons, ethics, or some combination?