If you've ever tried and failed at cutting out meat, you're not alone: Turns out 84% ofÂ vegetarians and vegans revert back to their omnivorous ways, according to a new study by the Humane Research Council. More than 50%Â said they went back to eating meat within aÂ year.
Why are so many vegetarians and vegans giving up? Though more than half ofÂ former veg-only eaters said their main motivation was health, they had plenty of reasons for calling it quits: Many (63%) said they didnât like that their lifestyle made them stand out. Lack of community also played a role; 84% reported that they were not active in vegetarian or vegan clubs or organizations.
I cook a lot of vegetarian and vegan foodâI studied at Natural Gourmet Institute culinary school, where theÂ curriculum focused largely on a plant-based dietâand I post a lot of my concoctions on Instagram, so people are always asking meÂ if Iâm vegetarian.
But in fact, my approach is more flexitarianâthat is, mostly vegetarian, but I do eat meat occasionally, as well as fish, eggs, and some poultry (though chicken isnât my personal fave). Like my vegan friends, Iâm very concerned about animal welfare and the environment, so I stick to humanely raised meatÂ and always buy organic eggs and dairy. Similar to my Paleo pals, Iâm careful to avoid processed foods and steer clear of refined sugar as much as possible. And in line with the much-lauded Mediterranean diet, I tend to load up my plate with fresh produce, enjoy lots of fish, and am not shy with the good-quality extra-virgin olive oil.
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Flexitarianism to me is the best of all worlds. I love vegetarian food and enjoy the challenge of cooking it as many ways as I can (bonus points if I can get my carnivorous friends to gobble it upÂ it, too). But if I go to a friendâs house, or a special restaurantâor if Iâm just craving a burgerâthereâs no guilt. Why back yourself into a corner if you donât have to, especially where food is concerned?
If youâre interested in exploring recipes and more information about lesseningâbut not necessarily eliminatingâyour meat eating, here are some books to get you started (they would all make great gifts, too):
RELATED: 10 Reasons To Try A Vegetarian Diet
The Flexitarian Diet by Dawn Jackson Blatner ($15,Â amazon.com)
The Flexitarian Table by Peter Berley ($15, amazon.com)
The VB6 CookbookÂ by Mark Bittman ($13, amazon.com)
Almost MeatlessÂ by Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond ($17, amazon.com)