The key words here are flexible and vegetarian. For a long time, I didn't know how to categorize someone with eating habits like myself. Although, I can't say I was looking for a group to belong to. Most people would just call me a picky eater whose eating choices were based on what mood she was in. But it just so happened that there were other people out there like me, who mostly avoided meat and animal byproducts weeks at a time, but could go for chicken strips or a cheeseburger occasionally.
According to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, a flexitarian is one "whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish." Although I don't eat meat regularly, I also make it a point to avoid eating eggs and drinking milk. That said, I'm a flexitarian whose diet is more vegan than anything. But Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet, says opting to become a flexitarian doesn't require you to remove anything from your diet, but instead to simply add more vegetables to your plate.
Blatner suggests that there are three levels of flexitarianism: beginner, advanced and expert. Beginners start with two meatless days per week (or cutting down to fewer than 26 ounces of meat or poultry per week). You gradually decrease the amount of meat you eat until you reach expert level, which is five meatless meals every week. This means you're consuming about nine ounces of meat or poultry per week. "It’s about building a mindset that promotes healthy eating habits for the rest of your life," Blatner said.
Not only is it about eating fewer animal products, but also making smarter food choices in general. This means little-to-no processed foods, more nutrient-dense and organic fruits and vegetables and healthy, gluten-free grains. The flexitarian lifestyle is one that leaves a lot of room for interpretation, but one thing is for certain — it's a conscious effort to actively and intentionally move away from a Standard American Diet, and toward ingesting more life-sustaining foods.