For the last 15 years, Dawn Jackson Blatner has been what's now called a "flexitarian" or "almost vegetarian." She eats lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, barbecued tempeh and veggie burgers with guacamole. But she sometimes indulges in a pork chop or her grandma's pot roast.
It might seem like being a vegetarian of convenience isn't particularly inspiring, but a growing number of experts and even some famous foodies are fans. They say that cutting back on meat, rather than abstaining completely, may be a practical compromise that benefits our bodies and our environment.
"It gives you the health benefits of a vegetarian diet without having to follow the strict rules," says Blatner, a registered dietitian and author of "The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life" (McGraw-Hill, October 2008). "We know that people live longer and live healthier when they eat vegetarian, but it's just too darn hard to do it 100 percent of the time."