Are you a meat eater who -

  • Has bought a vegetarian cookbook lately?
  • Finds that the servings of vegetables and grains on your plate are increasing while the portions of meat are shrinking?
  • Is buying less meat due to your shrinking grocery budget?
If so, you may be a recession flexitarian. Are you thinking, "Huh?" right now? The term may sound like something you need a 12-step program for, but you don't. Read on. I'll explain.

Flexitarian: Someone who is mostly a vegetarian but eats meat sometimes.

Recession Flexitarian: Someone who eats “meat but suddenly find [himself] bypassing rib-eyes and tenderloins and heading straight for the chickpeas and lentils” to save money.

Gourmet recently cited an American Meat Institute report that said 51% of Americans surveyed are buying less meat because of the economy. Are you one of them?

Here are some other statistics that Gourmet reports.

·      Beef demand is down 7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2008—the equivalent of the entire metropolitan area of Atlanta becoming vegetarian.
·      Farmers across the nation, anticipating continued low demand, are planning to cut their production of beef, pork, poultry, and milk, along with corn, wheat, rice, and peanuts.
·      The USDA estimates that the production of meat from every major category of farm animal will drop for the first time since 1973

Considering the impact that the production of meat, especially factory farm meat, has on the environment, environmentally this recessionary flexitarianism is a good thing.

Not surprisingly, the beef industry is changing its advertising and trying to get consumers to buy less expensive cuts of beef. There is even a YouTube video by the American Meat Institute titled Stretching Your Meat Dollar.

One of my favorite recipes that is perfect for a flexitarian diet, whether it’s a recessionary one or not, is Yummy Honey Chicken Kabobs. Here’s why. You can use very little meat and stuff the kabobs full of whatever vegetables are available at the moment.

The other night I made them with a small amount of chicken and then filled the rest of the skewer with fresh, local mushrooms, onions, zucchini and yellow squash that I bought at the farmers market. The vegetable options are endless, and the marinade in this recipe works so well on the vegetables as well as the meat that you could skip the meat altogether if you wanted to.

Other vegetables that are fabulous on these kabobs are cherry tomatoes; baby red potatoes (cut in half to soak in the marinade), and red or green peppers. I can imagine that pineapple would work well on these, too, although I’ve never tried it.

Do you have a recipe that you would work well for a flexitarian? Let us know in the comments below.   

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.