Every so often when I am doing research for an article I come across a word or term that I’m not familiar with. So when I saw the word Flexitarian I had to find out more about it. It turns out that a Flexitarian is an offshoot of vegetarianism. A Flexitarian has adopted a semi-vegetarian diet where meat is consumed on an occasional basis. So you might be thinking what does this have to do with gardening? Well, it is more complex than just growing some vegetables.
There are a wide array of reasons that people are eating less meat these days. Some of them are doing it because they don’t want to eat meat in support of animal rights but many are doing it to have a more favorable impact on the environment. Plant-based foods require less land, water, fuel, etc. to grow than animal-based proteins and statistics show that meat consumption has fallen 15% per person in the last 10 years.
Whatever the reason 23 Million Americans now self-identify as Flexitarian. Nearly 40% will forgo eating meat once per week and Mintel Reports indicate that 30% of Flexitarians are eating more plants. You don’t need a high-priced report or survey to see that the number of vegetarian products has increased significantly over the past few years. Now, here is the gardening connection I’ve been promising. Many of these folks who are eating less meat are making sure not to lose the protein benefits that come from it by planting and growing foods that are particularly protein rich.
The desire for clean, sustainably sourced food from our own backyard gardens is no longer a trend; it is an absolute fact. Here is a list of some protein-rich vegetables that you can grow at home:
A 2014 report by U.S. News and World Report evaluated 32 diets for their health benefits, weight loss potential, and ease of following the diet and found that a Flexitarian diet rated #6 on the list. This was actually higher than a vegan or vegetarian diet. Perhaps we should all make some room in our gardens for these plants this year.