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Maybe I am a flexitarian?

 Patty Johnson, CSJ

As part of our April Eco-Challenge: Use Your Plate to Help the Planet to eat less beef and dairy, some of our sisters and associates are sharing their reflections about sustainable food choices. Previously, Associate Kathy Fisher wrote about being a vegan. Here, Sister Patty Johnson offers a more flexible option.

A variety of fruits vegetables and some meat around a chalkboard with the word "Flexitarian"

I love to barbeque, eat hot dogs and ribs. I love milk and cheese. These food favorites did give me pause. The conflict between my values and my food choices was a constant nag. As I continue to contemplate the impact that my lifestyle is having on the planet, I think I have finally found something that will work for me.

I am now eating as a vegetarian for breakfast, a vegan for most lunches, and trying to make choices at dinner for the health of the planet.

I like the flexitarian idea because it allows me the freedom to eat what is prepared when visiting friends homes while still pushing myself to make choices in my food that most of the time match my values. It’s the pushing myself instead of depriving myself that I think will make this sustainable for me and encourage my ecological conversion.

When I first started eating vegan one meal a day, I was surprised that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I began to figure out other ways that I could move to more plant-based choices at other meals.

Recommended recipe: Hearty Low-Fat Vegan Italian Herb Stew

Recipe adapted from the original recipe by Peggy Mitchusson, St. Louis Post -Dispatch.

Yields 6 generous servings.


  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 oz. Vege Ground Round (a soy product)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups dry pasta shells, cooked (I prefer whole wheat bow-tie pasta)
  • 16 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 (16 oz.) can stewed tomatoes
  • 2 (16 oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup hearty burgundy or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
  • Ground pepper and salt to taste


  1. In a nonstick skillet or one lightly coated with cooking spray, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté onion, garlic, green pepper.  When they are done, add the ground soy.  After it has heated through, add mushrooms.
  2. In a large pot, heat the stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine and seasonings. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add pasta shells, sautéed vegetables and soy, stirring thoroughly. Heat through.

Reflection Questions

  • What am I thinking about my choices related to meat and dairy?
  • How does this relate to my concern for sustainability?

Share your thoughts in a comment below.

Category: Reflections

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The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are a congregation of Catholic sisters. We, and those who share our charism and mission, are motivated in all things by our profound love of God and our dear neighbors. We seek to build communities and bridge divides between people. Since our first sisters gathered in 1650, our members have been called to “do all things of which women are capable.” The first sisters of our congregation arrived in St. Louis, Missouri in 1836, and we now have additional locations in St. Paul, Albany, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Japan and Peru. Today, we commit to respond boldly to injustice and dare to be prophetic.


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