Cast your vote for flexible eating

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer

The plethora of current television commercials touting one candidate over another is a sure sign that in a matter of days, our nation’s polling places will be filled to capacity with constituents eager to cast their votes.  If ever there was a time for black-or-white thinking, this seems to be it.

Some of us categorize ourselves as staunch Democrats, Republicans, or even Libertarians. While there has been more than enough news coverage on these topics over the past few months, it is good to remind ourselves that in other aspects of our daily lives, we don’t always have to be quite so rigid in our thinking. To that end, please welcome what is rapidly becoming one of the hottest new food trends…”Flexitarianism.”

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While this term may conjure up even more political images in our minds, it really refers to the decision many individuals are making to remain flexible in their meal planning, especially when it comes to vegetarian consumption.

When a research lab at the University of Chicago published its findings that a vegan diet was not only healthy for the body but also much more environmentally friendly to the planet than consuming meat and dairy products, it grabbed the attention of a growing body of “green”-conscious individuals. Yet for many, adopting such a lifestyle 100 percent of the time was not to their liking, but meeting in the middle, or becoming a “flexitarian,” enabled them to consume a mostly vegan diet, while enjoying some animal products on special occasions or on the weekends.

Noting this trend, food manufacturing companies have responded dynamically, offering newly created lines of meatless foods (other than tofu!) that might appeal to this new body of consumers.  The use of black beans in burger-like patties, chickpeas in burritos, or even pea protein in a pizza crust, appeases these flexible culinary vigilantes while still allowing them to enjoy more standard-type fare.

Declaring oneself a “flexitarian” absolves one of the guilt formerly associated with the occasional dalliance in the animal world, while still doing one’s best to maintain a healthy body and save our planet.  Most individuals who have adopted this lifestyle strive to select organic meats and dairy products when they do indulge, thereby removing the possibility of ingesting harmful pesticides.

It’s always nice to have choices in life…and as the flexitarians are fond of saying, “We can have our meat and not eat it, too!”

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, is a Lifestyle/Weight Management Coach and Fitness Instructor at the Jewish Community Center.