Yes, flexitarian is the fancy cool word to describe vegetarians who eat meat? Or are they omnivores that don't eat as much meat as someone who is self described as a "meat eater"?
I have known for some time that Dawn Jackson Blatner was working on a book on "The Flexitarian Diet." My immediate question to her at the time was how much meat constitutes a flexitarian. At the time, she didn't give me an answer. This was not a surprise, after all, she was still working on the book.
Well, the book is now out, and we have an answer. She took the figure from mypyramid.gov that apparently gives out 5 ounces of meat per day or 35 ounces of meat per week. Blatner rounds that up to 36 ounces, and proceeds to give three different classifications of a flexitarian.
Beginners have 2 meatless days/week and 26 ounces of meat per week. Advanced have 3-4 meatless days/week and 18 ounces of meat/week. And Experts have 5 meatless days/week and 9 ounces of meat per week.
In the book, Blatner says you can still eat 12 ounces of seafood per week. Still not sure why seafood is different from meat.
Now, for most women, limiting yourself to 35 ounces of meat per week, especially when you can eat 12 ounces of seafood seems very reasonable. And in a number of cases, reducing the figure to 27 or 18 ounces might not be that much of a sacrifice.
But I have to speak up for the men, when we might laugh a little at the prospect of limiting ourselves to as little as 35 ounces a week. Think 2 8-oz. burgers, 4 4-oz. meat sandwiches (think Subway or Quizno's), 3 3-oz. servings of bacon or sausage, and we are already up to 38 oz. of meat in a week. And that is a conservative guesstimate. Some men eat way more than this.
Now Blatner does suggest ways to try and get people to eat less meat. She speaks of umami, defined here as "a pleasant savoury taste imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate, which occur naturally in many foods including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products." Not sure how well or even how this works.
And she does give a conversion of 1/2 cup beans = 1 ounce meat to help those trying to ease into the transition.
But this approach ignores the realities of how people consume meat, especially those who are "addicted" to meat in their diets. If you are close to where these standards are, then you probably don't need a book. But if you're not, there's no real bridge to help you.
I agree that reducing the amount of meat helps people feel healthier. And even a drop of 25% of what a normal American male eats (way more than 35 oz. a week) is a comforting sign. But this book seems set up for those who pretty much are pseudo-vegetarians instead of trying to bring wayward sheep into the fold (without eating them). Those who really need help are still waiting for that book.