Although Flexitarianmany Americans are familiar with the concept of vegetarianism, only a small percentage of individuals identify themselves as non-carnivores. A 2012 Gallup survey reported only 5 percent of Americans consider themselves to be vegetarians, a decrease of one full point from a similar survey conducted in 1999. An even smaller segment of the population—2 percent—report being vegan.

The benefits of a plant-based diet have been well documented, raising the question, “Why are there so few vegetarians in America?” The answer may lie in the “morality” campaign waged by some vegetarians. “The argument against eating animals is powerful on ethical, environmental, and heath grounds,” states a 2011 article in Psychology Today. When surveyed, self-proclaimed vegetarians steadfastly pledged their dedication to legumes and lentils but admitted that behind closed doors they are noshing on chicken nuggets and sirloin. 

The number of Americans forfeiting cheeseburgers for tofu-burgers isn’t even holding steady; it is declining. Sidestepping the morality of vegetarianism and focusing on the nutritional benefits of a plant-based diet, I suggest we stop trying to convince Americans to go cold turkey when it comes to going meatless. Instead, let’s embrace part-time vegetarianism A.K.A. flexitarianism.

My challenge to non-vegetarians is this: consciously choose to go meatless one day a week. If that isn’t doable, aim for one meal a week. You might be surprised to realize you’re already eating vegetarian meals on occasion.

In case you need a few ideas, here are five easy meatless meals:

carrotSautéed veggie omelet

carrotWhole wheat pasta with pesto and toasted pine nuts

carrotGreek salad

carrot Kidney bean nachos

carrot PBJ sandwiches

Do you have advice on transitioning from carnivore to herbivore? Do you have a favorite vegetarian recipe? Share with other readers!

Image courtesy of BrianHolm /