On the Merits of Being a Part-Time Vegetarian

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The following is a guest post from Daniel Koontz of Casual Kitchen.

manDaniel says:

In the 1970s when I was growing up, the vegetarian movement in America was just getting off the ground in places like Berkeley, CA and Ithaca, NY. Practically everywhere else in the country, however, vegetarians were seen as sandal-wearing kooks and derided for their food choices.

Fortunately, attitudes have changed quite a bit since then. Thanks to a greater understanding of the adverse environmental and health impact of a meat-heavy diet, more and more people are thinking carefully about the nature of the meat they buy–and they are starting to ask how much meat they really need.

Let’s face it: the Western diet contains meat and saturated fats in amounts far beyond a human being’s daily needs. And vegetarian meals are typically far healthier, much lower in fat and loaded with healthy vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. Best of all, most vegetarian dishes can be made for a mere fraction of the cost of the typical meat-centric meal.

Today, most of us understand and identify with the logic and philosophy of going vegetarian, and while we might not choose a 100% plant-based diet for ourselves, we fully respect why others might make that choice.

But what if there was a solution that let us capture the best of both worlds?

Enter the concept of Part-Time Vegetarianism.

Forget about being a sandal-wearing kook. Instead, try replacing two or three of your weekly meat-centered meals with vegetarian meals. You don’t have to switch to 100% vegetarianism to take advantage of the dietary, environmental and cost benefits of vegetarian food.

A number of years ago our household made this transition, and we saw an immediate 25-30% reduction in our weekly food bill. Our diets became much healthier, we felt better, and most importantly we never missed the extra meat. It was a surprisingly easy transition to make, and the results were so clear and compelling that we never went back. We’ve been embracing part-time vegetarianism ever since.

And the lower cost and lower environmental impact aren’t the only advantages of a part-time vegetarian diet. An often-overlooked advantage of vegetarian cuisine is its extraordinary diversity. Most of the world eats a very low-meat diet, so the part-time vegetarian can choose from cuisines all over the world.

If you need some cookbooks ideas to get started with vegetarian and low-meat cuisine, here’s a brief list of the cookbooks that grace the shelves at our home:

1) Sundays at Moosewood RestaurantA wonderful cookbook, jam-packed with all kinds of ethnic recipes.
The New Moosewood CookbookOne of the original veggie cookbooks and a highly regarded classic.
The New Vegetarian EpicureAn early and influential vegetarian cookbook, in a newly updated edition.
Almost MeatlessAn exceptional cookbook centered around low-meat eating.

You can help your pocketbook, your health and the environment by eating less meat. Try experimenting with part-time vegetarianism in your home and get the best of both worlds!

Daniel Koontz proves that real men cook and can be found at the food blog Casual Kitchen.

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5 thoughts on “On the Merits of Being a Part-Time Vegetarian”

  1. Hi Vera, my sentiments exactly. We were very pleasantly surprised by the costs savings.

    Thomas, thanks for the positive vibes! There are a lot of people out there who can't really deal with the idea of giving up meat totally, so this is a good first step.

    Stacy: I hear you–many people believe that a meal doesn't really "count" unless it is centered around meat. It's a limiting belief. And we have the original Vegetarian Epicure too, hard to believe that Anna Thomas wrote that amazing book in her early 20s!

    Olga: That's an excellent way to describe degrees of vegetarianism! I like it. Thanks for your comment.

    Casual Kitchen

  2. Nice post.
    here is the new name for people who occasionally eat vegetarian in addition to the "flexitarian" that I have heard before 🙂
    Seems like on the scale of how vegetarian you are, first you become a part-time vegetarian, then flexitarian, then a vegetarian with occasional slips into the the meat-eating… and then, vegetarian or vegan!

  3. Sounds great, Daniel! As a full time vegetarian I encourage anyone interested in reducing their meat intake to "dip their toes in the water", so to speak. Part-time vegetarianism is, in my mind, better than non-vegetarianism, so I think this is a fantastic idea! Well done, Daniel.

    Take care.

  4. Thanks for your ideas and book recommendations. I guess I'd say that I'm already a part-time vegetarian, but I never called it that. However, my husband is a full-time non-vegetarian, so it makes cooking a challenge at times. Also, I have the original Vegetarian Epicure and like it.


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